The tragedy that shook the chareidi public in general – and the city of Modi’in Illit in particular – the deaths of two of the city’s residents in the disaster of the bus overturning earlier in the week, led the Mara D’asra, HaGaon HaRav Meir Kessler Shlita, to evoke the women in matters of tznius and this led to an attack against him.
In his hesped, the rav commented on the issue in which he believes chareidi women should improve their behavior, and some understood that Rav Kessler blames the women of not upholding modesty for allegedly causing the serious accident.
As a result, several media figures, including women living in the city of Modi’in Illit, launched an attack against Rav Kessler, inciting and distorting his words.
For example, secular media personality Judy Nir Moses, who chanted: “It’s unbelievable, some stupid, dark city rabbi – and he receives his salary from taxpayers, and I call on the mayor of Modi’in Illit to send him home immediately.”
Penina Popper, a chareidi activist in the Labor party, wrote: “A man with a power and a microphone stands in front of women who cannot answer, and accuses them. He should strengthen himself a bit between man and his fellow man” – a response that repeated itself in one way or another in addressing the rav’s comments, primarily on social media.
In addition, unknown people used bulletin boards in Modi’in Illit to hang their message, which read: “You are not guilty” – as a message against the those attacking the rav’s statements during the hesped.
An exact quote from Rav Kessler’s hesped is: “I am not accustomed to traveling on buses, but I hear dear avreichim that you are very distressed by them, it’s hard to talk about it: women are talking on the phone. This appears normative today, but once, this was an unusual thing. A woman was ashamed to speak on the phone in the public domain.
“A woman sits on a bus and she speaks loudly. She speaks on private matters. She speaks about many things, and avreichim are seated [in her vicinity], youths are seated [in their vicinity], and they are not supposed to hear these things. At times, I hear, from my rebitzen as well, who says repeatedly, ‘Listen, they speak about shidduchim, and they speak about him and him’.
“A bit more tznius and a bit more shame” cried the rav, who added, I do not say that you have to scold … I want to make the women think a bit more: to be aware who is in the area when speaking… Should they hear these things or not? This is one of the road’s hazards.
“A woman who leaves the house, what should she think before she leaves the house? Do I now dress in the way that G-d is content with my appearance or, chas v’sholom, the opposite? Think a moment before you leave the house, “the rav continued.
The rav concluded the hesped saying, “In the vanities of time we sink and drift after consensus, without thinking. Think: You’re going to Jerusalem, they’ll suddenly tell you that the Moshiach has arrived – he’ll come distractedly – you’ll check yourself from head to toe; Dress in a way that makes you feel proud”.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)