Wednesday, December 01, 2004

R. Broyde answers the critics

R. Broyde e-mailed me a response to the comments. Before I get to it, I want to note a few things. R. Broyde did not have to subject himself to our review and criticism, he very kindly offered his article for me to post, to engage in the conversation with us. Just so you don't think that I would only post from people I agree with(I actually am not sure where I stand, haven't had enough time to read it all, too many posts), if R. Falk sent me a response to something I wrote, I would post it also. The goal again, is not to win the arguement, but to find truth. I am now trying very hard not to sound like I am talking to my three year old, but some of the language used against R. Broyde in the commments is not acceptable and those who offered it should be ashamed of themselves. I am very glad to host the give and take, and argue over sources, and let everyone have their say,and I hope everyone does feel free to have their say and voice an opinion. But comments such as " the article is full of dishonest reasoning", and "I would hope that this R. Broyde is not in fact a model of the best in Torah and Maddah" do not add anything to the search for truth, and in fact, are tremendously insulting, and those who offered those words, and words similar, owe R. Broyde an apology. You dont have to agree with him, and its fine if you dont(I get more hits that way), but I ask again for a little derech eretz.

(some might say that I am guilty of lack of derech eretz in my post on R. Falk last week. My first response would be that it was a review of someone else calling him on the carpet, and that it was done as a review of a printed work, rather than as someone engaging in a conversation or debate. Also, I felt that there were deliberate falsifications for a purpose(which I do not support, obviously) and this deserved the response I gave it. In addition, the comments were made with R. Falk in absentia, as the chance of him seeing them and responding to them would be about nil. That being said, I probably am guilty of lack of derech eretz, and I do apologize, although deep down, truth be told, I would be hard pressed not to write it the same way the next time.)

Here is R. Broyde's reply:

Putting aside the general issue of tone (polite discourse seems to be
quaint custom of past generations on this web site!) responses to my
post seem to fall into two categories. There are those that question the
sources and those that raise social issues. I find the former much
more pressing than the latter, and thus I answer them here.

One writer denied that the I was reading the shulchan aruch correctly.
I quote the shulchan Aruch Even Haezer 114:1,4 for the reader.

115:1 The following women are divorced without payment of the ketubah:
One who violates dat moshe and yehudit. What is a dat moshe? She
feeds him produce that is not tithed or any other food prohibition or she
lives with him as a nidah and only tells him afterwards..

115:4 What is a dat yehudit? It is the modest customs of Jewish women,
and these are the matters which if one violates one of them, one
violates dat yehudit. One goes out in a Market place (shuk) or an open
courtyard or a yard which many go in with ones hair uncovered, and without a
covering like all women, even if her hair is covered with a napkin..

At no place does the Shulchan Aruch or Tur ever classify hair covering
as a dat moshe. The claim to the contrary is simply wrong. (Indeed,
Rambam clearly does call full uncovering a dat moshe (see Ishut 24:11) and
this just sharpens the question why does the shulchan aruch and Tur who are
clearly operating from the languge of the Rambam switch hair covering
from the dat moshe category in the Rambam to the dat yehudit category in the
Tur and Shulchan Aruch. The Netziv gives one explanation to that as I
noted in the orginal post (which is that they did not think that the
gemera in Ketubot 72a-b was a real drasha min hatorah). Others provide
other answers to this question, (and I have a draft article in Hebrew
that surveys all those answers for those who are interested). So too, the
comment that one can find nothing like this in the beis shmuel is hard
to fathom. Beish Shmuel states this in EH 115:9, which notes that full
uncovering is a dat moshe (unlike the shulchan Aruch, which posits that
full uncovering is a dat yehudit.)

Jacobs comment that The Ben Ish Hai does not say that married women
don't have to cover their hair. is worth responding to. Ben Ish Chai writes
in Sefer Chukai Hanashim at page 55:

Our women have looked at the women in Europe and their custom not to
hide themselves from strangers, and notwithstanding that fact their closes
are proper and they do not reveal their body. Only, their faces, necks,
hands and heads are revealed. It is true that they do not cover their hair,
and according to our halacha (hadin shelanu) this is prohibited, but they
have justification because they say that the custom of hair covering is not
accepted by their wives, and both Jewish and Gentile women do not cover
their hair, as they do not cover their face or hands, and this does not
cause erotic thoughts in men.

People who are interested in determining what the sources actually say
rather than scream at each other about tone would be well served by
examining the central sources cited.

Michael J. Broyde

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