WATCH THIS! Yonatan Razel Performs At Concert With Eyes Covered Due To Tzniyus

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(VIDEO IN EXTENDED ARTICLE)

A video of a popular Chareidi singer and songwriter performing onstage with his eyes covered has elicited strong responses.

Yonatan Razel was playing his keyboard and singing at a concert at Binyanei Hauma in Yerushalyim on Sunday night, when he put the tape over his eyes during one song as women in the audience began to dance. Video of the incident was played on Hadashot television news.

Razel is an American-born musician, and one of most popular Chareidi performers in Israel. He recently released his third album.

The video has divided many in Israel, with some praising Razel’s actions while others say if he had an issue then he should not have accepted the money to perform at the concert.

Bechadrei Chareidim reports Razel has covered his eyes at a concert in the past, about a year ago while performing in Shiloh.

Razel issued the following response: “Yonatan Razel’s face was uncovered for the entire performance. The part in which he is seen with his eyes covered happened for mere minutes, when women formed dance circles at the foot of the stage. This was his personal decision so as not to remain with uncovered eyes in front of the dancing women. Afterwards, he removed the covering and continued to perform.”

Galia Wolloch, president of Israeli women’s rights organization Na’amat, slammed the singer for his extreme behavior.

“How far will this ostensibly religious extremism go?” she wrote on Facebook. “And who are the religious authorities who encourage this bizarre behavior?”

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)




32 COMMENTS

  1. I agree it is sort of bizarre. If you perform at a concert with a mixed audience you accept the likelihood that some will get on their feet and move to the music. Its the norm among the younger peopole at just about all these types of concerts with mixed audiences. I’m sure you will see a lot worse on the street. I find his behavior offensive to the audience, both men and women. I would have much greater respect if he simply said he would do men only concerts.

  2. I spoke with him a few minutes ago, he told me that he doesn’t have internet, so he won’t see this post.

    He has a niche with the Israeli non-religious. It’s a type of kiruv. He spoke with Rav Ganz about these types of concerts. Something along the lines of that he doesn’t initiate, but he’s allowed to play if invited – Please do NOT quote me! He constantly is in touch with rabbanim – he’s a real yarei shomayim.

  3. How about, let’s look at this rationally, in context. Yonatan Razel has performed for all kinds of crowds all around the world for well over a decade in nearly every conceivable venue and situation imaginable – and has always conducted himself with the utmost respect toward his crowd, be it women, men, charedi, chiloni. This man has absolutely earned the benefit of the doubt. Yet apparently now it’s OK to jump on some two minute video and make rash a judgment, without reserving judgment after we hear an explanation? Certainly, this is out of character (even if it’s true that he’s done this once before, what about the hundreds of times he has not? He just randomly decides to be extra machmir one day?)

    Anyway, his sister has responded, and explained that there were a lot of very religious women at this concert, the type that would otherwise feel uncomfortable dancing in front of a man. so he put the tape on in order to allow THEM to dance freely, as opposed to the alternative of putting up a mechitza (which would obscure them from seeing the concert during the dancing). (Also, she also kind of thought the choice of putting on black tape might have been a bit tongue-in-cheek).

    Certainly he is careful in halacha, and that played a role here. However, presumably, for himself he would have just looked away or closed his eyes (and probably that’s exactly what he’s done when faced with halachically problematic situations in the past). But perhaps for this sort of crowd, he felt they would feel more comfortable knowing his eyes were clearly closed. Hopefully he will respond himself, and we can hear exactly what he was thinking.

    Either way, when a person conducts themselves in an exemplary way for years and years in the public eye, on TV and radio interviews, at concerts, etc., I think the very least he/she deserves is to be given the chance to explain, before the court of public opinion hands down their final verdict. Maybe it’s just me, though.

  4. Would all the complainers be happier if he had stopped and left the performance entirely??? Instead he found a creative solution for everybody.
    Probably he will make sure to bring darkened eyeglasses for future performances.

  5. GH-

    “I would have much greater respect if he simply said he would do men only concerts.”

    No , you wouldn’t.

    Then you (and everyone else complaining about this) would say “Discriminatory! This is a free country! How dare he not allow women to attend just because they may dance! If he has a problem with women dancing he should just close/cover/avert his eyes!”

    It amazes me that there are people criticizing this. He did not protest the women dancing. He could’ve stopped playing. He could’ve made some sort of announcement (that would have gone over well, I’m sure!)

    No. He took a personal step for his own needs without infringing on anyone else’s “rights”. And they’re still upset.

    Next, we’ll hear about how a woman walked down the street improperly dressed and a man looked away. How dare he!

  6. @Gadolhadorah- I’ve been to many mixed-crowd concerts, with young crowds, and have never seen girls start to dance in front of a crowd of men. The article states that Yonatan Razel covered his eyes for only a short time, after which he was able to remove the cover. It seems that this was an atypical event, which ended shortly after it began, and he was not expecting it to occur.

  7. The world is absolutely loosing their minds it needs no argument .
    Chofets chaim Rav Dessler Rav Avigdor Miller spoke in front of Ladies only audience .
    If one can’t master הסתכלות without the audience openly noticing it. Stay home , there are plenty of singers to fill the gap .

  8. Oshriv-

    If you bothered to read the article, you would clearly see that the issue was the dancing. Not just the presence of the women.

    The Chofetz Chaim, Rav Dessler, Rav Miller spoke in front of crowds of sitting or standing women. I highly doubt anyone was dancing during their speeches.

  9. I understand it’s different but the idea still holds as the problem of הסתכלות is still an issue .and there is a normal way of dealing with such issues .
    Rav Auerbach z”l was on a bus and a lady sat herself next to him , he remained seated .

    But for sure it’s no venue for a frum Yid to preform in front of dancing women
    דרכיה דרכי נועם

  10. It’s a start, but what if the tape had C’V fallen off?? Or if had put it on too late or taken it off too soon? I don’t see what the heter is for having a mixed concert at all. In general, males and females should not be in the same room together unless they absolutely must (very rare situation by the way!!!!).

  11. the women who were actually at the event are saying that they wanted to dance but they wouldn’t do so in front of a man, so he obligingly took a piece of tape off the mic and half-jokingly used it to cover his eyes. The idea that he was disrespecting his female audience seems absolutely ridiculous when that’s exactly what the female audience members at this particular concert wanted! The fact that he used tape, a) he was kidding around, and the women thought it was funny, and b) it made them much more comfortable to dance than had he just closed his eyes.

    He obviously has a p’sak that he is allowed to appear in front of women, and as to how he handles potential dancing – I’m sure that varies by the particular type of concert. In this case, it was clearly a MUTUAL decision in which the audience and performer were both in sync, and yet the media manages to make a huge deal out of nothing. He was obliging his audience, he was making a joke too (apparently the humor police don’t allow that anymore), he acted al pi halacha.
    The secular Israeli media is all focused on Charedi men who “can’t control their yetzer hora” (aka follow halacha), but they don’t seem to realize that Charedi women are just as careful to not do anything immodest in front of men, and just as adamant to follow halacha!
    (perhaps there was someone at the event who took it the wrong way, and maybe that’s why they took the video of him with the tape on. If so, these women were very much at odds with the bulk of the crowd which was clearly a charedi, all-women concert, and certainly he wasn’t intending to embarrass or disrespect anyone.)

    P.S. Props to Yonatan’s blindfolded piano skills :).

  12. oshriv you need some guidance speak to your rav…cuz you make absolutely no sense comparing the 2 and honestly I don’t care enough to even try and start explaining.

  13. Not having been there it is hard to judge, but perhaps for the future his crew should look for means to allow women to dance without compromising halacha. Now that people are aware that he will cover his eyes when women are dancing, the idea suggested to wear darkened sunglasses may be a viable option. He can even place duct tape to the inner side of the lenses. We have to admit that placing duct tape over the eyes seems bizarre in nature. However, we also see how Rashayim take incidences like this and run with it w/o even investigating. If any of the explanations above are true then it is clear that this incident was taken out of context.

  14. To the person who wrote that Raz’el performed to the mixed audience. That is false, he only performs to audiences with separate seating. In this case it is an all female audience of YUd Tet Kislev celebrations in Binyanei HaUma in Jerusalem.

  15. corrected !
    לא יגעת ולא מצאת תאמין
    don’t give up trying
    just a little story which i hope the readers will enjoy ,heard from the baal maase a few bachurim went to moshav Modiin for the davening and they heard the women joining in the singing ,they asked Reb Shlomo how do you allow it ? he replied if you hear them and cant raise yourselves above hearing them then you should not be here ,
    don’t bother please asking questions ,just take from this what you want .

    lives of great people have to be studded and learnt ,it takes 40 years of constant study to start understanding (heard From Rabbi Avigdor Miller )

  16. oshriv the primary thing you can learn from Shlomo Carlebach is how insufficient standards regarding women at covers can lead you astray. See Reb Moshe’s teshuva about him for a start.

  17. oshriv, how dare you apply Rav Miller’s 40-years comparison to Reb Shlomo.
    If here were here, Rav Miller would slap you in the face and say, “This is for kavod hatorah!”
    He was describing the European greats and gedolei oilam from the old generations. Get yourself a gadol who you can be close to, and you’ll see the difference. But your rebbe was niftar, so you probably have no other rav to ask, but the European greats were literally malachim as compared to any rav that exists today.

    Yonatan is a fine person, a personal friend, and a yiras shomayim.

  18. Could it be a shame on this publication
    for publishing something out of context?

    Anyone criticising his behaviour, shouldn’t be on the internet

  19. oshriv – I think you put your foot in your mouth when you decided to use Carlebach as an example. There are several stories out there about where he faltered in this area. I heard one of them directly from guys from my yeshiva that went to a concert of his and after a certain incident occurred there they lost total respect for him. (Incidentally, it’s not for not that his smicha was pulled from him by Rav Aharon Kotler, zt”l.)

    I suggest that next time you want to make a point use someone that is respected by all… like Reb Moshe zt”l.

  20. Obviously Oshirv had mistakenly used Carlebach as an example. We need to encourage those who have the strength and virtue to due something for the sake of Hashem, and keeping their neshomos pure.
    We commend you Yonattan – we admire you !
    It is rather pathetic- that in a world of so much filth and nisyonos that this act should be criticised in anyway. We should only be encouraging those who see their neshomoh has their most precious asset .