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I guess blindfolds are better than segregation

shmiras eynaimLast week there were some interesting photos of chassidim leaving Israel for Uman, in them several folks could be seen wearing blindfolds. Naturally, I thought it was a joke, maybe a satirical piece run by the frum websites, because no one seemed to show any alarm. Alas, they were real and the fact no one seemed to be in an uproar was also troubling. If I wasn’t working my butt off, I would have sounded my alarm, but than I started wondering if Chassidim walking around in blindfolds would stop them from starting a riot every time 6 year old’s didn’t conform to their standards.

Could it be that those Charedim that are so into tznius have finally given up their fight against women and started to fight their own raging desires? Is it possible that some folks have decided to work on themselves, rather than blame the women? I wonder if that’s the case, but it seems alarming that these folks are trying to run away from something, rather than deal with it in a menchlachkeit way.

My father told me that when he was in Lakewood back in the day, they had to walk from the dorm to the beis medrish and in the warm months there was this lady who used to sun bathe on the way. All the bochrim would cross the street, but apparently Reb Ahron would walk right past her and look at her when he bid her a good day. I was just reading the biography of Yehuda Zev Segal (the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva) and in it he has story about a certian Chassidishe Rebbe he really respected because one time this Rebbe and his talmud were sitting on a bench, a non-Jewish girl sat down next to them and the talmud jumped up. The Rebbe motioned for him to sit down and a few minutes later, he looked at his watch and said “my the hour is late, we need to get going” so as not to make the girl uncomfortable. I’ve heard and read dozens of stories like this.

Sure, these people are gedolim and holy dudes, but can’t we learn from them? I’m not sure when this tznius madness started, but whenever I think we’ve seen the craziest of it, it gets worse. I remember saying years ago that it seemed as if the end goal was to ban women from the public sphere (the Rambam said that women should leave the house twice a month) I’m not sure that blindfolds are such a great thing, it appears to be one of those things that could become a crazy chumrah with the eventuality of halachic rulings. Can you imagine a world in which people don’t hold of the hechsher of folks who don’t wear blindfolds? Well, it’s not so crazy to think about anymore.

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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • A. Nuran September 8, 2013, 10:42 PM

    I suppose this is an improvement. They aren’t trying to make other people live up to their level of observance. But wouldn’t it be possible to, well, train their sons not to have such hair-trigger arousal? We’re very neuroplastic, and a lot of it really is a matter of training. If the gate for the yetzer hara is a mile wide and high you’ll have a lot of trouble making sure nothing gets through. If it’s a more modest size it will be more manageable. Or at least there will be fewer things that turn you into a raging stallion.

    • Heshy Fried September 8, 2013, 11:04 PM

      This is new, it never used to be like this. I’m not sure how it started, but the leaders are at fault for not standing up and saying it’s narashkeit. I’ve heard it’s because no one wants to pasken anymore and banning requires no Torah thought, after all, everyone wants to outdo their neighbor and feel self righteous. This is akin to people slashing the tires of SUV’s because they use more gas and than correcting themselves somehow.

      • David September 9, 2013, 12:06 PM

        A rabbi who won’t depart from minhagim and codes in order to make the hard calls using the principles inherent in the Talmud when confronted with real human situations is as useless as a general on the battlefield who won’t order an attack or retreat. Any boor with Hebrew skills can read the shulchan aruch, or say “I think its good to be strict.” The chumro brigade comprises an especially chutzpahdicka form of am haaretzkeit that embraces yehirut as virtue and struts around with the authority of empty titles appended to the names of people whose silence the nation would benefit from. A straight up premise from the Talmud: “The power to permit is greater than the power to forbid,” and “safek d’oraita l’humra, safek d’rabbanan l’kula.” Most of these people wouldn’t know the difference between biblical and rabbinic law, let alone custom, if it planted its foot squarely in their backsides. I will add: “safek d’mingah shtut.”

      • Talia bat Pessi September 9, 2013, 1:47 PM

        I’m not sure when it started, but my theory is that everyone has gotten so obsessed with tznius because of what I call the “outfrummingness factor” – http://starofdavida.blogspot.com/2010/11/gender-separation-on-buses-yes-its.html

  • tzfatisha September 9, 2013, 12:39 AM

    yes anyone can say ‘it’s forbidden.’.. it’s much harder to give a lenient ruling.. for that you have to know something… 🙂
    one of the problems is that in a lot of yeshivas/sems (especially baal tshevua ones)they teach chumra as halacha….and many people don’t know any better

  • BostonDave September 9, 2013, 8:57 AM

    Yeah, ’cause that won’t look wierd to the TSA…

  • Izzy September 9, 2013, 3:04 PM

    Look at the hat……I think the last one in line is Walter White (from Breaking Bad) and they are smuggling Schmeth.

  • dementors September 10, 2013, 11:35 AM

    dementors, anybody?

    • piggy September 11, 2013, 10:35 AM

      at least dementors will look you in the eye.

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