Chivalry & Yiddishkeit: A Foreign Concept

Home Forums Bais Medrash Chivalry & Yiddishkeit: A Foreign Concept

Viewing 50 posts - 1 through 50 (of 116 total)
  • Author
  • #589360
    Will Hill

    A trend that seems to have made some inroads amongst some (but B’H not many) Acheinu Bnei Yisroel, is the foreign concept called chivalry. We should be careful not to allow in this (or any) “hashkofos” from the goyim.

    In fact, al pi din it is just the opposite. The Mishnah in Horios (13a) states that in regard to sustaining and returning lost objects one should service a man first (Mishna Horayos 3:7, “A man has privilege over a woman, to be saved from death and to return his loss”, Rambam [on that Mishna], “You already know that men are obligated to keep all of the commandments while the women are obligated to keep only part of them, as is explained in Kiddushin (Mishna 1:7) and he is [thus] [a man and a woman] are going to drown in a river, one should save the man first”). Furthermore the Gemorah states (Brachos 61a & Eiruvin 18b) that if a man and woman simultaneously reach a narrow passageway the man should go first since it is improper for him to walk behind a woman. The Gemorah then adds that this Halacha applies even to a husband and wife, and Rashi (Eiruvin ibid.) explains since it is unbecoming for a husband to walk behind his wife.

    The time I hear this comes most prominently into play, is when dating some guys feel they must open/close the door for the girl. This is inappropriate for the above outlined reasons, as well as the halacha that a man is forbidden from walking behind a woman (even his own wife).


    Whilst not disagreeing with you, I do question the “bridging” to the car door. I am not sure one sufficient license to make that limud.

    I remember hearing a story (R’ Gifter, maybe?, if anyone knows help me out) Where a bochur asked whether he should open the car door for the girl from the outside (and thus let her in 1st) or if he unlock it from inside the car.

    The reply was use your head! If it is raining, open from the outside and let her in 1st, if it is hot, open the door from the inside so that some of the hot air had time to escape (and maybe the AC had time to start).

    Additionally, IMHO chivalry is dying, and women’s lib has killed it (I’m sure this will open a can of worms). Chivalry was based upon the idea of women being “weaker”, (and thus should be catered to in said fashion) and women’s lib preaches equality. Well, if a man now believe they are equal, why should he buy her dinner, open a door, or kill the mouse in the office, let her do it! She can do anything he can!


    Re W.H. There’s throwing the baby out with the bath water. I would hate for mentschlichkeit to be sacrificed because of dikduk not to be chivalrous.


    As with all things, good manners must be predicated on good sense. If a woman is holding a bunch of packages and a man does not open the door for her, he is a behaima. If we did not bring our bochurim up to believe there is something untzniusdig about opening a car door for their date, they would never view it as such, on their own. It is when you put certain ideas into someone’s head that those ideas take root.

    There is a world of difference between saying that something is assur (re: walking behind a woman, even one’s own wife) and saying it is not proper or “unbecoming.” In those days, across the board, it really was not done that any woman preceded her husband. The “little woman” knew her place (I am not a woman’s libber, by the way, believe it or nto I am very old-fashioned). So in that time, it takeh would have been very unbecoming for a man to walk behind his wife. Even the non-Jews held by this idea, with the exception of the very upper echelons of the British elite, who prided themselves on their drawing-room manners. And even then, there were instances where a woman would never preceed her husband, lord of the manor.

    We do not live in a day and age where woman are regarded as chattel. If something is assur it is assur. But if it is less halachic and more the OPINION that it is “not becoming,” the notion of what is becoming DOES change with time. At one time it was not becoming for women to vote. At one time, it was not becoming for women to work outside the home. (Oh wait, I guess things DO change when it suits the ideology of the person who wants to see that change effected for his own purposes). The point is, halacha is halacha, and what is considered proper sometimes changes within the context of the times in which we live. And i am not suggesting for one minute that this means we should do prutzadig things. Opening a door for a lady should not be such a gedilla. Sometimes I think men hold onto these “laws” (with righteous indignation) because it is a good excuse to continue their boorish behavior, and use the Torah to justify it.

    PS – My husband STILL opens the car door for me after 32 years.


    Chivalry and basic middos do not have to be equated. SOME things from the chivalric times are part of basic human decency that still should be kept even though chivalry in its basic form can contradict halacha. Men need middos classes if they say that any chivalric actions are contradictory to halacha. I understand that men should not walk behind women,but does that mean that the woman should walk in the street to be able to let the man pass them on the sidewalk? (This story is true. The man stomped his foot at the lady walking so he could pass her. the only place for her to go is the street. Why didnt he just walk on the street and pass them? They obviously did not know he was there.) Why should anyone be treated by garbage just to be able to be “extra machmir” not to follow the practice of chivalry? Opening the door for an elderly lady, or a mother with her hands full of packages or groceries, should not be an issue, especially if he walks in, and leaves open the door for her. He still is ahead of the woman. Or he can open the door, let her walk in, wait a moment and enter and pass her. There is a difference between “unbecoming” and halacha. Follow halacha but remember that you should not be machmir at another’s expense.

    Just a note: I am not a woman’s lib follower, I think that their ideas are full of problems.


    First of all, I don’t think that “chivalry” is a new trend. It’s something that’s been around forever – or at least since Medieval times. Chivalry is just decency in my opinion. No woman (at least no normal woman) expects a guy to go out of his way and be extra courteous to her but if the situation arose, men should act like gentlemen. Now as I type this, I’m thinking that every time I reach a door at the same time a man does, I don’t wait for him to open it for me. I hold the door for men too. It’s just decency, not chivalry and I’m not talking about a date here. Men should hold the door open for women and women should hold the door open for men. I think chivalry is thought too deeply into sometimes. If a guy was going out of his way to hold the door or be chivalrous in any other way to a woman when it’s not necessary and you’d say that that may be a breach in tsniut, I might agree but on a date, I think men should go out of their way to be courteous. That’s not to say the woman shouldn’t be courteous right back…and this should be something a man does forever, not just to impress a woman.

    I had a guy offer to carry a bag for me and the bag had a small, light item in it. That’s ridiculous, not chivalrous. When a guy runs across the store and opens the door for me and then bows as I pass, that’s ridiculous, not chivalrous. But when a guy reaches the door at the same time as I do and opens it for me, that’s just decency, not a lack of tsniut.


    A bochur on a date can hold open the door and still be walking in front of the girl, because he entered first (I do hope that this doesn’t need play by play explanation). He can also open the car door and let her close it herself if he doesn’t feel comfortable standing there as she gets in. I think we are all wise enough to figure out how to be menschlech, and in the bounds of halacha at the same time.


    some guys feel they must open/close the door for the girl.

    Sorry… I hold the door open for everyone. Men, women, children, Jewish, non-Jewish… it doesn’t matter.

    The Wolf


    Will Hill,

    Read your posting gain when people claim how women are always are treated with respect.


    It’s interesting. I have no memory of my father ever holding a door open for my mother. He may have done it, and I didn’t notice, but I have no memory of it. For purposes of this thread, I’ll be dan him l’caf zchus as defined by Will_Hill and assume he never did so as it’s proscribed by the Shulchan Arukh. (Not that my father lived his entire life according to the minutae of the Shulcha Arukh, but I’m making a point). Probably he didn’t do it. Indeed he was, in certain ways, a very gruff man; brilliant and compassionate and a fiercely devoted providor for his family, but in many every day mundane ways, insensitive to the people around him. I do however have vivid memories of him being mechabed my mother. He stood up when she entered the room. He never began to eat until she was seated at the table and had herself begun to eat. He said Eishet Chayil twice on Friday nights; once for the tradition of saying it and once specifically for his wife. Will’s charge to eschew chivalry out of deference for Halacha is wrong not because it goes too far, but becuase it does not go far enough. Whether to open a door for one’s wife is not the issue. The issue is for each individual to serach out and find appropriate ways of demonstrateing love and respect for one’s spouse. That’s a point Will failed to make.


    The front entrance to my company’s headquarters has really heavy doors. When I was pregnant, I was really worried about the strain of opening these doors and was very thankful to people who helped me (I work for a very chivalrous company, so its not really an issue of not finding help).

    Judaism is very respectful of women and middos are an important part. I think most men who want to be nice and respectful find ways to do things within halacha (including opening doors).

    My rule of thumb is to help everyone – so if a man needs the door opened, I will (many men have trouble with this). If an old woman needs help – I do it. And yes, my husband often opens the door for me when practical. [Sometimes people think I’m into women’s lib, but I don’t know if I agree. Different topic, different day]

    Pashuteh Yid

    This was discussed many months ago in YW, but it is nice to see that it is being refought with the same zeal it was first fought out.

    The ikar is menschlachkeit.



    thank you for saying what seemed obvious to me.


    havesomeseichel – are you me? 🙂


    I also agree with Jewess, and SJS. Good posts. Everyone should show good middos to each other. I also open doors for the person who is following behind me or if someone ahead of me is encumbered with packages, a stroller, or elderly and unable to open the door. It is simply good manners. And the Ribbono Shel Olom who was angered by Adam Harishon’s extremely poor manners when he told Hashem that the woman He gave him caused him to sin (what an ingrate – especially since it was his own fault for being mosif and goraya), is the same One who gave us lots and lots of mitzvos specifically designed to TEACH us menschlechkeit. I reiterate, a guy who (ab)uses the Torah as an excuse to avoid being well-mannered, is a boor.


    The opening the door for the girl (specifically) comes straight out of the goyish playbook. It is assur for both Chukas Hagoyim AND tznius. (Tznius is especially an issue by a car.)

    JayMatt: Assuming that came from Rav Gifter, what the Rav is stating is to mentchlich, not “chivalrous”. If there is inclimate weather or something, of course one must be mentchlich and help the other person if necessary.

    But assuming a normal situation with a healthy individual (not involving one party carrying heavy luggage), there is no more reason for a guy to open a door for a woman, than for a woman to open the door for a guy. In fact now that I am reading the first post with the meforshim it quoted, I believe it is correct al pi din for a woman to open the door for the man to go first.

    oomis1105: It is RASHI who stated that it is unbecoming for a husband to walk behind his wife. (Walking behind a woman other than ones wife, is outright assur.) You have no standing to dispute Rashi.

    kiruvwife: There is no more reason a bochor on a date should open (or especially close) a car door for the girl, than there is for the girl to do so for the bochor. THIS idea comes straight from the gentiles and has no basis in kedushas yisroel.

    cantoresq: I don’t know all the background of the situation you describe, but it is appropriate for a wife to stand up for her husband, rather than vice versa.

    So again; the idea of chivalry is “woman first.” This is incorrect from the Torah standpoint. In fact the Torah says men should go first. This fact does not negate the absolute necessity to be mentchlich at ALL times.


    charlie brown-you’re welcome.


    “Sorry… I hold the door open for everyone. Men, women, children, Jewish, non-Jewish… it doesn’t matter.”

    Sam Berger, are you trying to say that everyone (men, women children, Jews, goyim) are the same?


    oomis- If I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I than I am not I and you are not you. But if I am I because I am I and you are you because you are you then I am I and you are you…

    So am I, I, and you, you? Now I am confused…=)

    I guess the reason that we both posted similar things is because we both feel the same way about this topic: menchlakeit first! We are both not women’s lib people but still feel that everyone deserves respect and to be treated properly, and they can still remain within the boundaries of halacha!!!


    It is assur for both Chukas Hagoyim AND tznius.

    i’m not gonna ask about the tznius part because i have honestly no idea.

    but the chukas hagoyim?? why is it that every-day activities are suddenly deemed “chukas hagoyim?” maybe driving a car is? the goyim started that. or how about wearing pants? way back when we all wore those robe thingies. (ok maybe not the kohannim)

    give me a break. like i said, maybe it’s a tznius issue – i wouldn’t know. but don’t start with chukas hagoyim. that’s not an issue.

    Bais Yaakov maydel

    interesting point moish about driving…though i personally know someone who considered it too un-yeshivish to drive, and he was “forced” to take drivers ed when he started dating. lol i think its kinda funny


    oomis- If I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I than I am not I and you are not you. But if I am I because I am I and you are you because you are you then I am I and you are you…

    So am I, I, and you, you? Now I am confused…=)

    LOL!!! I actually have heard this one before, and it makes PERFECT sense. 🙂


    I understood the comment, I just was confused about who I was at that point… =)


    ujm-I assume a bochur would consider it quite odd for the girl on the date to go over to driver’s side door and open the car door for him. And it would surely throw him off if she would say “could I please have the keys to the car so I can open the door for you”……

    Women are quite capable of opening the car door, and I would agree that it is probably stemming from chukas ha’goyim, but I don’t think the bochur is b’sheeta opening the car door because he wants to be like his neighbor the gentile. He’s just trying to be a mentch–and yes, no need for him to watch her get in etc…..

    I had no problem in my dating years with the bochur not opening the car door for me. It was just frustrating when he would forget to unlock the door and I’d have to knock on the window. (nope-didn’t marry that one, but for other glaring reasons)(I guess part of this post can go in another thread too.)


    maybe this should be renamed the identity crisis thread. 🙂


    Chukas hagoyim – not

    Common courtesy/kibud – yes


    KiruvWife –

    And if the door was unlocked and they reached the drivers side first, would you say it is equally mentchlich for her to open the door for him?

    Or (better yet) if they reached a building door, should she hold it open for him, alts mentchlichkeit? (Afterall, he is required to go in first and not behind her.)

    If you say in the affirmative to these, I might be able to hear where you are coming from. Otherwise, clearly the reasoning is chivalry and not mentchlichkeit.


    Lets revisit where chivalry came from:

    Women are seen as weaker (lets talk physically). Women were also stuffed in corsettes and fainted all the time. Can someone who can barely breathe open a door?

    Some of the old style buildings have extremely heavy doors (where I work they do – anyone is welcome to come to Con Ed headquarters and try the inner set of doors). Since men are generally physically stronger it makes logical sense for him to open the door for her.

    We dont pasken like the gemara – we derive halacha from the gemara. Does anyone have a halachic source for a psak on opening doors? It makes a big difference. If it were bottom line halacha, that would mean under no circumstance (including elderly or someone carrying lots of packages) would a man be able to hold the door open and allow her to go through. Since I’ve seen many frum men hold doors open for women, I would say that there must be at least a difference of opinion in how people pasken.

    As to what I do: when I reach a door, I hold it open for the person who is behind me.


    R’ Joseph-yasher koach-I admire when people get me to re-think a point. I guess I have an issue with the term chivalry.


    1: mounted men-at-arms

    2archaic a: martial valor b: knightly skill

    3: gallant or distinguished gentlemen

    4: the system, spirit, or customs of medieval knighthood

    5: the qualities of the ideal knight :

    To be gentleman like doesn’t mean to be davka like a gentile. If it was considered chivalrous in the goyishe velt for the husband to take out the garbage, then the notion of mentchlichkeit would be out the window?

    I think it would be fine for her to open the door to the building if she got there first, but that probably wouldn’t happen because he’s walking in front of her anyway. So, he opens the door, walks in first while holding the door open behind himself and she proceeds. Everyone in still a mentch!

    If they reached the drivers side first, I think it would just be strange for her to open the door to the car that he’s driving. That would just be weird. For him to be expected to go to the other side of the car and open it I think would also be strange, and therefore fit in the category of chivalry.

    If the lines of mentchlechkeit get blurred and it becomes a concern of chukas hagoyim in other normal mentchlech areas of life, then there is a problem.

    (I think tzippi addressed that point wisely and concisely in her post)


    One more point. The concept that you bring about a man being saved over a woman is not carried out as black and white as you stated. The essence of the reason is true for the world in the galus we live in, because men are commanded in more mitzvos and therefore have the potential to bring more light into the world that results from doing the mitzva, but the determination of that potential is not to be taken lightly. And I think many who are not well versed in these areas would have a hard time integrated the understanding and overall meaning of the essence of what the mishna/gemorra is saying. Oh, and I just need to know this to answer those not yet observant Jews who come across this concept. I never learned it inside. I just know that the commentaries have said it’s not so poshut.

    On another note, the light that will come to the world after moshiachs arrival, from that which the woman is supposed to bring down will be on a higher level then in galus, which is allegorically referred to as the sun and moon giving light equally in that time.

    Just bringing this for the sake of those that might be appalled because of their misunderstandings. No underlying apologies or women’s lib flavor at all.


    One thing to keep in mind is that when a woman holds the door open for a man, there is no “walking behind a woman.” There is a difference between walking behind a woman 10 feet in front of you and walking behind a woman 10 inches (just when she holds the door open).


    Kiruvwife, re the situation of whom to save: if there is a man and a pregnant woman, whom to save?


    I should just add that I have no issues. I have no desire to learn gemara, and I have seen enough good men in my life to realize that Torah and halacha are perfect, it’s the followers who have work to do. I was just curious.


    tzippi-excellent question which brings home the point that this issue is not so black and white. I really don’t know the answers to the specific questions that arrise, just the premise of the are commanded in more mitzvos etc….It could also lead to the question of two men are drowning one is a kohein and one is a yisroel etc…..

    I don’t think it’s advisable for anyone to portray it as totally black and white.


    What is it considered when a guy walks a girl to her door after their date is over?


    I don’t think it’s advisable for anyone to portray it as totally black and white.

    Especially because we don’t pasken from the gemara, just derive.

    What is it considered when a guy walks a girl to her door after their date is over?

    Making sure she gets in safely.


    I always opened the car door for the young ladies I dated. It just seemed like “the right thing to do.” After all, my father always opened the car door for my mother – and still does, even after 50 years of marriage (bli e”h). My father was always a “menchlich” kind of person, and I’m sure that’s why he always opens the car door – to honor my mother. It has nothing to do with imitating Gentiles.

    (Let it also be known that my wife, even when we were dating, always leaned over after I let her into the car and unlocked my door from the inside.)

    (Let it also be known that the Rav of the shule where I grew up – someone who learned in Bais Yosef/Navordok before he escaped from the Holocaust – always opened the car door for his wife. I remember watching very vividly as they would leave shule functions over the years.)


    Kiruvwife, “It was just frustrating when he would forget to unlock the door and I’d have to knock on the window”

    LOLLLLL!!! are you serious?? you should have let him drive off without you!! I’m cracking up.

    I think the guy should definately open the door for his date, but not wait till she’s in the car to close it for her. I had that issue with some guys, and I was very nervous sitting down with him standing there in case my dress went up a drop. Just open the car door and walk around to your side, she can close the door herself


    “What is it considered when a guy walks a girl to her door after their date is over?”


    Will Hill

    When I posted this thread, I focused on the general idea of chivalry, not the fact that a man’s life has priority in being saved over a woman’s. That side point was mentioned in the mekors I quoted. They were direct quotes from the poskim, without any of my own commentary on that point.

    tzippi: All the poskim I’ve brought down in the OP, or have otherwise seen, make no distiction if one is pregnant or not. (In any event, it would be a difficult proposition to account for. Suddenly all the married’s will think the’re pregnant on a sinking ship?) What does the perfection of Torah & Halacha have to do with imperfect followers or with this topic?

    kiruvwife: The psak is very straightforward. There aren’t exceptions mentioned in Shulchan Orach.

    SJSinNYC: I quoted the poskim, and it is psak din that I’ve brought. (The psak brought down the Gemora the psak is based on.) And this issue isn’t a machlokes poskim. It is a clear-cut Shulchan Orach. (And I’ve brought various poskim down.)

    Now that this issue has been broached, it is an interesting observation that had the Titanic C’V been a Jewish sail, al pi halacha they would have had to save the men first – as there were insufficient facilities to save all. (And I don’t see how the gentiles could view that any more discriminatory than what they did – the exact opposite. They chivalrously saved the women first on the ship. All though this point is irrelevant, as we follow halacha, not worry about if by doing so the goyim won’t like it.)

    I always opened the car door for the young ladies I dated. It just seemed like “the right thing to do.” After all, my father always opened the car door for my mother – and still does, even after 50 years of marriage (bli e”h). My father was always a “menchlich” kind of person, and I’m sure that’s why he always opens the car door – to honor my mother.

    mamashtakah: And if your wife or mother was driving (assuming they drive), would it be equally “the right thing to do” and menchlich for her to open the door to honor her husband? Or do you just propose it is “the right thing to do” from him but not her? The idea that the reverse “would just be weird” is because that is how the goyim see it (chivalry). Which further demonstrates where this idea is emanating from.

    Let us keep things in perspective.


    my shadow, I was considering that the second time it happened on the way back from the hotel lounge, but it was freezing and I wanted to be mentchlech and I knew this was the last date. I was don l’kaf zechus though since it wasn’t his car, and he was so nervous as it was.


    Will Hill… would it be proper to call you a chauvanist pig here or not?

    menchlakeit is menchlakeit. One needs to act properly to everyone, regardless if they are the male/female. Someone has many packages in their arms- open up the door for them. Why does being a mench get thrown out when trying to be extra machmir?

    When regarding the titanic or any other sinking ship, what about the halacha that one’s life takes priority over saving someone else’s? If one knew that by giving up his/her seat in the life boat that someone else would live but they would not, then isn’t it their obligation to remain seated? Even if they were female? A woman must sacrifice her life for men?



    You said,

    “Now that this issue has been broached, it is an interesting observation that had the Titanic C’V been a Jewish sail, al pi halacha they would have had to save the men first”

    Seriously what on earth is the matter with you?

    The reason why on a sinking ship they would get the woman and children off first is because the men are usually physically stronger and have a better chance at survival (if they need to hang on to debris or whatever) then both of these groups. Nobody ever knows for sure if there is zero chance of survival in these situations.

    If you had been on the Titanic you would have got off the ship first and left your wife and child to fend for themselves??

    Also a man is supposed to BE A MAN and protect his wife and children NOT the other way around (if you think someone has broken into your house and you don’t have a phone do you send your wife or child downstairs to confront the intruder or do you go down??)

    Will Hill

    hss: No, but to have asked that question one must be a woman’s lib’er.

    You missed the point. The point is, to sum it up, “woman’s first” has no place in Yiddishkeit. “Woman’s first” is a purely goyish concept. By the goyim, “woman’s first” is a common thing you will see.

    Mentchlichkeit is always a must for male or female.

    No, a woman does not have to give up, or even risk, her life for anyone else – male or female. But if a third-party can save the lives of some – but not all – people in a life threatening situation, halacha states he must save the mens lives first.


    I agree with Will Hill. We have to follow Shulchan Aruch whether we like it or not and whether we understand it or not.


    will hill-yes the p’sak is very straight forward. All the conditions that are inherent in reaching that p’sak are not.

    And I agree with ujm-we follow the shulchan aruch whether we understand it or not.

    Just make sure that you’ve got all angles straight.

    Curious to know if you’ll address this which I previously posted-kohein over yisroel? same premise applies–don’t know the answer.


    One more question for you Will Hill:

    If all the Jewish men and women (in the world) were on a boat, and it capsized etc. and there were only enough sufficient facilities to save the exact amount of men there were, what would you say then that the shulchan oruch states?

    Will Hill

    kiruvwive – conditions? its a straight-out Shulchan Orach and Rambam.

    I don’t know that a Kohain is given priority over a Yisroel according to Shulchan Orach. If it is not, then there would be no priority in that case.


    SJSinNYC: I quoted the poskim, and it is psak din that I’ve brought. (The psak brought down the Gemora the psak is based on.) And this issue isn’t a machlokes poskim. It is a clear-cut Shulchan Orach. (And I’ve brought various poskim down.)

    You are correct, I wasnt reading carefully.

    I cannot imagine that its 100% that clear cut though. Some examples that may require some though:

    1) A man and woman are drowning. The man says “I think I can make it, save the woman who wont make it for sure.” He isnt sure he can make it, who do you save?

    2) A man and woman are drowning. The man says “I think I am fatally injured and have lost a lot of blood. Saving me wont actually keep me alive.” Who do you save?

    3) Your mother is drowning and a random man – does kibud aim trump this? To be honest, whether it does or not, I would save my mother. I could never be a part of my mothers death.

    I never learnt about this, so I don’t really know. I would just imagine its not this clear cut, since halacha is rarely so straightforward. I could definitely be wrong though. Is there absolutely no machlokes on this point?

    This morning, I actually held the door open for 4 men. Why? Because it just made sense based on how we arrived at the doorway at the same time. Yes, I open the door for my husband when the situation makes sense and he does the same for me.

    Wait!!!! So whats better – chivalry or feminism??? [I’m not really a feminist, but this does make me laugh]


    not sure if my other post went through-

    Will Hill another question-what if all Jewish men and women in the world were on a boat and it capsized, and there were only sufficient facilities to save all the men-what would you say the shulchan oruch says then?

Viewing 50 posts - 1 through 50 (of 116 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.