Tenor of Discussion on YWN: When Discussions Become Acrimonious

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    The Big One

    I’d like to open a discussion regarding the tenor of many threads on YWN.

    User “I can only try” made an interesting observation on another thread:

    I thought about this, and this is my thoughts.

    If a user jewishabortionist02 (to take one obvious subject) came by and sincerely and earnestly expressed his modern ideas and philosophies in a respectful manner, and was quite adamant about it, that abortion ought to be legal and unimpeded by any Rabbis through the 9th month, and comes not seeking to be convinced otherwise but to rather express his ideas as equal to the opposing view…

    What would the appropriate response be in your view?

    anon for this

    The Big One,

    I don’t think that analogy is appropriate here. First of all, do you truly think a Jewish feminist is the same as a Jewish late-term abortionist? Even if you think they are, again your analogy doesn’t apply here, since jewishfeminist02 hasn’t volunteered information about Jewish feminism. Rather, when asked she has referred posters to another website, which they are free to ignore.

    The Big One

    anon for this,

    Look at the point more, rather than any specific examples. That is my intent, and I think I was fairly clear in making it.

    The Big One

    Moving the message from the old thread to here (to keep it in one place):

    From “I can only try”:

    The Big One-

    “jewishabortionist02” would be an inflamatory screen name, no two ways about it. It would be extremely difficult to be melamed zchus for such a name.

    I have friends (some balei tshuva, some not) who believe abortion is OK.

    I certainly let them know that that is lo kihalocha, but I do not cut off my association with them.

    I have one friend who relies on an eiruv that I do not, and at my request he does not carry when he comes to us on Shabbos.

    The bottom line is I don’t have all the answers as to how to deal with different people (I asked Rav Feivel Cohen a shaila how to approach the Shabbos guest).

    The “abortion” question you posed is a lot more black-and-white than the “red clothing” question, and an aborted child is much more of a tragedy than the wearing of red clothing.

    To answer “What would the appropriate response be in your view?” – the first time, I would reply that is was kneged halacha, and show where.

    If the person kept insisting that they were right, then there are a few choices: 1) Continue to argue, and try to bring additional rayos. 2) Decide that continued discussion won’t change the person’s mind and end the topic. 3) Tell the person that they are a <>. 4) Etc.

    Part of chanoch lenar al pi darko is taking the best approach – factoring in the kavono and hashkofo of the other person, and in public (such as these threads) how your statements will affect and be percieved by others.

    There have been people here who identified themselves as baalei tshuva, geirim and yesomim. We also don’t know who may be “teetering” and turned off by a blast of what they perceive as harsh, intolerant rhetoric.

    One other factor is that unlike spoken conversation, these threads are close to ksav asher lo yimachek. Once something is posted it can’t be untyped.

    This is not the concise answer you probably requested, but this is my philosophy when answering others.


    The Big One-

    It seems we had the same idea about “continuing elsewhere”, but our posts crossed in the mail as to where that “elsewhere” would be.

    The Big One

    I can only try:

    What about the real concern that they may put anti-Torah ideas into an innocent readers head?

    Don’t we need to protest such a public (brazen?) display of wrongheaded anti-Torah ideas, lest another reader think it is an acceptable view?


    The Big One-

    Yes, absolutely.

    As a matter of fact that was a concern I had reading one person’s posts about the “maalos” of not being shomer Torah umitzvos r’l.

    When an incorrect or lo kihalocha opinion is posted, a correction, backed by mekor(os) is definitely in order.

    The method of correction is what I try to be extremely careful with.

    It struck me erev Rosh Hashana that I don’t know who reads my postings and potentially what harm we can do with a harsh word, mockery, or insults.

    A shogeg should be corrected with kindness.

    A mechutzuf/maizid/lehachisnik – some mechutzafim need the (verbal) potch, but I have seen rabeim and kiruv professionals “warm up” a cynical person as well with kind words and understanding.

    Honestly, I appreciate this web site tremendously, but I don’t envy the achrayos the moderators have.

    The Big One

    A problem I foresee, is that unless a responder refutes such sacrilege thoughts in very strong language, an observer to the conversation may think that the two opposing viewpoints are of equal stature.


    ICOT, I appreciate your thoughts on the situation. However, I do feel that in this case you are patronizing me. What did I say that gave you an impression of my age? I don’t know how old your kids are, so I can’t say if you were right or not, but your assessment of my knowledge of feminism’s core beliefs with regard to Torah values assumes that I am going through a “phase” and simply need someone knowledgeable to sit down with me and correct my “backward ideals”. Respectfully, I take offense at this.

    I also don’t believe that the “jewishabortionist02” example is a fair analogy. As anon4this pointed out, I have in no way tried to force my beliefs on anyone here. I did provide a website, which anyone who is interested can read, but I do not volunteer information on feminism because I sense that it would not be received well. I simply state my opinion on various issues as they come up in threads, and of course, when these issues deal with women’s role in Judaism, my responses will reflect my feminism. I do not pretend to speak for all feminists or all of feminism; as anyone who has studied feminism should know, there are various “streams” of feminism (liberal feminism, radical feminism, etc.)

    When I created my account on this website, it did not occur to me that my username might be perceived as inflammatory, and I certainly was not “looking to cause trouble”. Perhaps I should have realized, given the name of this website and the background of its readership, what the responses to my username would be, but I did not. Still, I don’t think there is anything wrong with my username per se; I was simply identifying myself as a follower of a particular ideological movement. (Not the case in the other scenario; there is no such thing as “abortionism”!)

    Finally, what troubles me most are the serious comments about my putting “sacrilegious, anti-Torah ideas” into “innocent readers’ heads.” I am not looking to corrupt people, and I don’t see how a humble person can state in no uncertain terms that he or she is right and everyone else is wrong. Of course, I believe that I’m right and you believe that you’re right; otherwise we would not act the way we do! But ultimately, this belief in one’s own rightness can only extend so far. We must all recognize that since we are not God, and since we have no direct contact with God, there is a very real possibility that we are wrong. We try as best we can to figure out what God wants from us and to do it, but perhaps we have misinterpreted what He wants or chosen the wrong outlet in which to carry it out. We simply do not know. So to state categorically that these two opposing viewpoints are not of equal stature is to place oneself on the level of a prophet or Mashiach or even on the level of God.



    I was afraid that some of what I said might come across as patronizing, especially since you told another poster in a different thread not to patronize you.

    That is not my intent, and I apologize for giving that impression.

    I do not say or imply that you are “going thru a phase” or have “backward ideals” – you took offense where none was intended.

    Your profile says “student” which I assume means college – late teens, early twenties was my guesstimate, hence my comparison to my kids’ age(s).

    “I am not looking to corrupt people” – if I thought you were I would not call you “a sincere and earnest person”.

    “Patronizing” means talking down to someone in the belief that you are better and/or smarter than they are.

    I don’t believe either of those to be the case.

    I am quite a bit older, and from a more “Black Hat” background and I inferred several things from your postings that I believed put you in a “better” light with some of our fellow posters.

    You took offense where (once again) none was intended – I felt bad for the way some threads were going, especially based on your comments of “leave my mother out of this” and “you truly hurt me” as well as “I am a Jew”.

    If your reaction to this is “I still think your patronizing me”, “I don’t need your sympathy”, or “stay out of my business” I will do so.


    The Big One-

    A large part of the achrayos I am referring to is that certain posts shouldn’t even see the light of day.

    There have been many times that inappropriate or inaccurate posts have appeared,and then the question is: what is the proper way to respond? (Or as jent1150 put it in another thread “V’da ma shetashiv”)



    One more thing:

    My earlier statement of “She (in all likelihood) doesn’t yet know all that ‘feminism’ entails and how many of its core beliefs are kineged haTorah”

    was based on this comment of yours from the “Peta” thread”

    “I would like to be in a place where I can be more consistent in my observance of halacha, and this is something that I am working on, but I am simply not there yet”

    “Respectfully, I take offense at this.” ah, well at least we’re being respectful 🙂


    I guess I dont see feminism as anti-torah. Where does it say that women are inferior? We have diffefrent tasks in life, but that doesnt mean women are LESS. Yes, radical feminism does conflict with Torah, but not all branches of feminism do.

    In fact, kollel society has created a really feminist base without meaning to. The WOMEN are the ones supporting the family. Sounds feminist to me 🙂

    Anyway – jfem has always been polite and thoughtful and unless she says something that is anti-halacha (and I mean clearly like “Pig is kosher” not like “pants are halachically ok” which is a debate by various poskim), there is no need to jump down her throat. You can respectfully diagree with her, but remember, her halachic psak is just as valid as yours.



    “Where does it say that women are inferior?”

    -Not at all what I meant. I am referring to being pro-abortion, and one or two other things.

    “The WOMEN are the ones supporting the family.”

    -I have the utmost respect for women who are willing to do so. The phrase “nashim tzidkaniyos” applies to them, IMHO.

    “pants are halachically ok”

    -When I was much younger I asked a rebbe why women’s pants have a “beged ish” problem, since they are not the same style at all as men’s trousers. He replied that there is a second problem, in that they are also untzniusdik. I haven’t done any research on the “pants” issue and am certainly not a baki in this.

    “her halachic psak is just as valid as yours”

    -I agree, but not for the reason you think. My “psak” would be totally meaningless and invalid since without smicha I have no authority to pasken.

    One misconception I think is being made here is confusing “merit” on a personal level with “opinion” and “halacha”. None of has has any idea as to who is more meritous in the eyes of H-shem. We don’t know the nisyanos that we each have faced, and the yetzer horas we have overcome. As a matter of fact, the concept of “kono oilomoi bisha achas” can apply to someone who has not been shomer Torah umitzvos his entire life. In my opinion Chaim Smadar z’l would be considered on a tremendous madreiga for his heroism and self-sacrifice.

    When it comes to actual halacha, we don’t believe “all opinions are equal” and “who’s to say who’s right”. There are sforim (Shulchan Orech, etc.) that contain the halachos, and rabonim whose opinions and psakim we must follow. That doesn’t mean that if I know a Mishna Berura I am “better” than you, but the Mishna Berura vs. a well-meaning and seemingly logical opinion really is no contest.


    I can only try – when I meant “her psak” I meant her following her halachic source, not her making up her own psak. There are poskim who agree that pants are ok (whether or not you hold by it) so you should respect her right to follow her posek. After all, “Asei L’chah rav.” If you are following an orthodox rabbi then yes “all opinions are equal” in terms of following halacha. Just because you (the general you) choose to be more machmir does not mean I (the general I) am not following halacha.

    Does that make sense? Its so hard to be clear on the internet.

    lammed hey


    I believe Hashkafa has women as inherently superior over men (See perushim on Shelo Asani Esha)

    The torah is pro-feminist.

    “In fact, kollel society has created a really feminist base without meaning to. The WOMEN are the ones supporting the family. Sounds feminist to me :-)”

    Like this point, and very true.


    ICOT, thank you for clarifying your intent. I understand now what you meant to say and I certainly will not ask you to “stay out of my business.”

    You’re right on the mark about my age. I have hesitated to reveal my age here for fear of not being taken seriously, but since you guessed, I’ll tell you- I’m eighteen, turning nineteen in a few months. I graduated high school last year and am spending a year in Israel before college.

    Regarding pants and tznius, I actually think that pants can often be more tznius than skirts. Have you ever been standing on a street corner in the fall and a strong wind comes along? Well…let’s just say I would much rather be wearing a pair of pants in that situation, especially if there are men around.

    Pashuteh Yid

    Jfem, I have cheppered (teased) you many times, but I hope you realize that it was only a joke. I plan to continue to do so in the future.



    But still the Torah said trousers are assur (Lo Silbash) so you gotta wear them even if you think otherwise. No offense!



    Now I understand what you were saying – thanks for elucidating.

    If someone is makil in on certain halachos in ways that I was taught or learned are wrong, but is following their orthodox Rav I will not disrespect them or their Rav.

    I was told by my Rosh Yeshiva that doing so is wrong and potentially harmful.

    I do request that Shabbos guests and people attending family simchos follow certain standards, hopefully in a non-insulting way.

    All rabonim issuing opinions are not equal (any more than secular professionals are), but I will agree that if you follow yours (whether he is makil or machmir) you are doing what’s right.


    Just a quick rejoinder on the “pants are ossur’ bit (noitallmr). Actually, you are wrong. Look in the BACH (surely an acceptable posek to you) concerning women wearing pants in the market place during cold days.He clearly says it is ok. And, for your info, the Torah said nothing about pants, only about “beged ish’ and only if it is actually “beged ish” (see the possuk))Plenty of modern day poskim have allowed ski pants and culottes, where the “zniudisk” aspect is not a consideration.I am not advocating wearing pants, all i am saying that it is not beged ish and certainly you cannot say that “the Torah said that trousers arw ossur” (BTW, just wondering ,are you english? the word trousers is only used in england)


    The Minchas Yitzchak 2:108, Shevet HaLevi YD:63, Tzitz Eliezer 11:2, Sha’arei Shalom on Kitzur Shulchan Arukh, Mevaser Shalom (notes 3:2) say that pants are Beged Ishm – “A man’s clothing shall not be worn by a woman” (Devorim 22:5). Lo Yilbash.

    Even those that don’t refer to Beged Ish, prohibit it due to tznius. (i.e. Yabia Omer 6

    Siman 14, Mekor Chaim, Rav Ovadia Yosef, Yaskil Avdi)

    Halichos Bas Yisrael quotes R’ Scheinberg and R’ Elyashiv as well as prohibiting it. iIt is clear that all thse poskim hold that wearing pants is prohibited.

    (Pesachim 3a states that it is not proper for women to straddle a horse or donkey because of immodesty.)


    well, joseph went to great lengths to do research on the issue of “beged ish”. Interestingly , he never contradicted my mention of the BACH. Can you tell me why the BACH’s pask (accepted by all early poskim) should not ber considered??


    I didn’t have access to it at this time. My point is that the poskim I quoted that don’t prohibit based on beged ish, DO prohibit it for another reason — tznius. What is the Bach’s position on it regarding tznius?

    Additionally, if someone based their wearing it on the Bach (assuming there is such a basis), that individual would be obligating themselves to accept essentially ALL of the Bach’s position — not pick-a-posek-where-it-suits-me attitude.


    So how would some of you feel about women who wear ladies’ pants with a skirt (that comes below the knee) OVER them? Would you still feel it is a tznius issue?


    (meaning accepting the Bach’s psak in all areas of halacha.)


    pants shmants. Sleepers are the way to go. Have you seen how comfortable babies are in them?


    rabbiofberlin, I think it is very safe to venture and say that the pants wearing crowd does not consistently follow the Bach’s positions in all regards.

    Do you disagree with that?


    joseph, I clearly said in my earlier comment that I do NOT advocate wearing pants.You are perfectly correct that the matter of “znius” is the one aspect on which the opponents of wearing pants should hang their (black?) hats. Clearly, the qearing of tight pants, even if made for women, or similar pants should be considered “unzniusdik’. We are talking about pants like the culottes (pants that look like a skirt), pants UNDER a skirt, ski pants (worn for protection), pyjama pants (very wide pants)and other such uses, whether they are OK. And- most importantly, how about in your own home where no-one sees you ? In the privacy of her own home, a woman does not even have to cover her hair(OK-unless she wants a son a talmid chochom-me-olom lo ro-u koros baisi…)), so why should she not be able to wear comfortable pants?

    My original comment was only on the fact that the poster said that “the Torah said that trousers are ossur” THAT, clearly is not the case. The matter of znius is a deterrent, for sure.

    BTW- thank you for your (extensive) research. I will try to look up most of these Poskim (don’t have access to all these seforim) and I will IYH quote you the exact place of the BACH. Also, If my memory serves me right, there were no cholkim on that BACH but I wil lendeavor to find the exact place.


    way to go joseph

    keep on pounding him!


    Btw rabbifofberlin, you said that “In the privacy of her own home, a woman does not even have to cover her hair”. See Mishnah Berurah 75:14 and Beiur Halachah where it says it must even be covered inside the home.


    notpashut….joseph and I have had strong disagreements on a number of issues….generally, our arguments have become fairly civil and, for your information, the actual sources were as much on my side as his( Joseph might disageree). So, your remark about “pounding him’ are as much the sign of your maturity as they are wrong.


    In this case clearly the consensus is against pants, be it on beged ish or tznius, it is assured on one or the other, or both.



    as far as the maturity issue, i guess you are right – i did get a bit carried away, sorry. i just very much agree with joseph on this one.

    how can you possibly say that the sources are as much on your side as on his?

    all you’ve (allegedly) got is a bach that is not brought l’halacha by a single acharon.


    Regarding the woman who said that the reason for her children being beautiful and her sons all being talmidei chachomim was that the walls of her house never saw her hair:

    THAT is not halacha l’maiseh. It is a really nice story (even possibly true), but it is just a story. It is also HER OWN OPINION as to why she was thus blessed. I know some very amazing Yeshivah bochurim, whose mothers never even went to the mikvah, much less covered their hair. They too have attractive siblings, and all the kids became frum within a short period of time from each other, though the parents did not go down the same road.

    There is a “danger” inherent in these nice stories, in that some people start to accord chashivus to them as if it were Torah m’Sinai, and it is not. The idea is to take from the story that which is important, namely, that it is a good thing to be makpid in the mitzvos that we do, because when we are, we are able to provide a good environment in which our children may grow up.


    Re: rabbiofberlin- yeah I am English…well spotted.

    I totally disagree with you. It is well known that Trousers (pants) are beged ish and even if you disagree, they definitely not Tznius.

    Re: oomis1105- So what if you know people who are modern and have excellent sons whats that got to do with anything? This woman might have been Zoche because her house never saw her hair but other people are Zoche for different reasons e.g Hashem wanting to pay them back in this world, Zchus Avos etc.


    joseph, I’ll check on the Mishna berurah you mention although ,from other sources ,it does not seem to be lehalocho.

    oomis1105…If memory serves me right, it was the mother of a Tannah who said this and I have no problem accepting it as is. True, it is her opinion but clearly the gemoro quoted he to show the “ammaloh’ of this behavior.

    notpashut….I’ll look up the Bach and will quote his exact words. Actually, there is no other acharon that disputes this ,so it seems to me that it is accepted as lehalocho by all his contemporaries. Just a little bit of patience till I quote the exact words.



    The Bach (Yoreh De’ah 182) says if it is needed i.e. it is raining and the only raincoat available is of the opposite gender, it is permissible to wear the opposite genders clothing IF one is not FULLY dressed like the opposite gender. Perhaps this is what you refer to. The Rambam disagrees with this Bach. In any event, it is only applicable in those conditions I mentioned, not a blanket heter.

    And like I pointed out on the previous page of this thread with the NUMEROUS listed mekoros, that the consensus is very clear against.



    how can you ignore the list of modern day poskim that joseph provided & still assert that the bach is not disputed? c’mon, be fair.


    the avnei nezer was R’ Avrohom m’sochatchov. R’ Vozner is the Shevet HaLevi


    How on earth did the comment “keep pounding him” (even if it was later retracted) appear in the very topic dealing with keeping a respectful tone of discussion?

    I don’t understand the practicalities of the sources that say that a woman is required to cover her hair even within her own home. Is she supposed to keep it covered while bathing? Sleeping? What if she is alone in the house with her husband? Isn’t it supposed to be “reserved” for him, or may he only see it while they are actually having relations?


    Re: jewishfeminist02

    Obviously not when in the bath which is simply impossible but every other time most definitely yes. Even sleeping one has to wear a head covering but if it slips off in the middle of the night it’s an Oinus (nothing you can do about it) and it’s OK.


    well, thank you, joseph, for having quoted the Bach I was referring to. Whatever the limitations the Bach puts on the wearing of clothing from the other gender, it is clear from this Bach (and no one disputes this) that it is not “Mi’doraisa”, but subject to prevailing conditions. In other words, the lav of “lo silbash” is subject to conditions of the day. I am not sure what the reference to the Rambam is, as he antedates the Bach by hundreds of years.

    No one has said that it is a blanket hetter, as the question of znius is present, but many Poskim have said that, depending upon the conditions, pants may be permitted. This includes pants UNDER a skirt, culottes (where you don’t even realize they are pants) or pants in the process of work or leisure like ski pants.

    So, maybe we are not really arguing the actual fact of ‘lo silbash’, just when it is applicable. I will try IYH to check the original sources on shabbos.

    And to notpashut,just because the Avnei Nezer has a hard line on pants doesn’t mean it obligates everyone. You are welcome to follow his Piskei halocho but there are plenty of other poskim who have a more lenient approach. Again, I realize that tsnius compels one to be careful, but it is not an absolute as you and others maintain.

    noitallmr, you are talking about middas chassidus. In the privacy of her owen home, I still maintain a woman does not have to cover her hair. (Yes, Joseph,I will also check your mishne berurah,IYH))


    My (Orthodox) Rav, gives the thumbs up on pants and uncovered hair.

    Who’s words do you respect more, anonymous internet posters, or your Rabbi?


    Yoshi – they do sell sleepers for adults. Yuck.

    I guess I’m a little late in the thread to make this point, since the berliner rav has indicated that he meant the above mentioned BACH, but I was going to suggest that the psak as it was mentioned by ROB was from a Johann Sebastian (note the “j”).


    hmmmm….yoshi, as much as I may want to symphatize with your Orthodox Rabbi, I have to say that I would like to see his sources for such a blanket “hetter”. Halacha does not work that way- it analyzes every question in its proper context. But i’d like to hear your rav’s comments. and REMEMBER- tomorrow is Shlomele’s z’l yarzeit! concert tomorrow night in Manhattan! GUT SHABBOS


    My (Orthodox) “Rav”, gives the thumbs up on driving to shul on shabbas.

    Who’s words do you respect more, Shulchon Orach written 100’s of years ago, or your “Rabbi”?

    (Besides he knows of the competition, and that his earnest parishioners will leave to the other “Orthodox” temple in town, who’s Reverend would be more than glad to accept new members and accept their donations, by accommodating their “religious” desires.)



    “Who’s words do you respect more, anonymous internet posters, or your Rabbi?”

    -Please take this reply from whom it’s coming, stam a baal habos, and certainly not a talmud chochom.

    Of course your Rabbi deserves your respect.

    I would not use anything anyone says here as a psak or a definitive answer to a halacha question.

    What I would do is look in halocha sforim and references brought up, especially when the precise location is listed, and possibly ask a question to someone who is more knowledgeable than myself – i.e. is this halocha limaseh, are there cholkim or alternative interpretations and so on.

    Any info posted here is nothing more than a starting point.

    I am not sure this is something you are comfortable doing, but would you consider printing out the various places others have listed here and asking your Rabbi (assuming he does not agree with them) how he interprets them and what the basis of his opinion is?

    I am not being sarcastic at all, or suggesting it be done in a disrespectful manner – once again I believe your Rabbi should be respected.

    Gut Shabbos.


    squeak, “Yoshi – they do sell sleepers for adults. Yuck.”

    Nooooo I love them! Seriously the most comfortable things! I wear the biggest size in the kids, I didn’t know they had for adults! Yay, now I know what to get everyone for Channukah! 🙂

    rabbiofberlin, ujm – I’ve asked my Rabbi personally, and he said it’s ok. I can’t speak for everyone else. It’s an Orthodox Shul, and I’m not sure about the other peoples donations, but mine would be nil (except for member’s costs). Tight with money these days with babies, food, insurance, other bills, & bills & more bills… But, if I win the lottery I’ll donate a lot to the shul. & don’t worry, I’ll share with you as well 😉



    What do you mean Avnei Nezer?! – did you not notice that he also mentioned R’ Elyasiv, R’ Sheinberg, Tzitz Eliezer, Shevet HaLevi & Minchas Yitzchok.


    maybe you should indeed ask your (orthodox?) Rabbi again like everyone is suggesting, ‘cuz that sounds reeeeaaaalllly strange.


    “Who’s words do you respect more, anonymous internet posters, or your Rabbi? “

    Regarding Chumros and stuff poeple accept upon themselves or questionable Halachos definitely rely on one’s own Rav and not the junk people post here. But regarding the issue of covered hair & pants you should be directed straight to Mishna Brura (or the Torah for that fact) which clearly states that it i Ossur in every case…

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