Mehadrin Bus Lines Becoming Increasingly Controversial

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Israel Radio Reshet Bet news magazine host Keren Orbach on Tuesday morning hosted a number of guests to comment on the controversial mehadrin bus lines, the compelled separate seating on public bus lines in chareidi areas with men in the front and women seated in the rear.

Har Nof resident Zahava Fisher told Israel Radio Reshet Bet host Keren Orbach she got onto a mehadrin line, sitting towards the front because “I don’t accept this decision to seat women in the rear”.

Orbach explains she is in her 60s, and a chareidi man approached her and instructed her to sit in the rear because it is a mehadrin line. “I told him I will not” and he responded “you are a fool”. She expressed an inability to understand how a significantly younger person is capable of just calling another “a fool” without hesitation, questioning what this represents regarding such people.

Orbach told Israel Radio that there is a famous p’sak from R’ Moshe zt”l that one can indeed travel on mixed public transport and those unable to endure this should remain home.

Fisher believes much of the drive behind the mehadrin buses is part of an effort to “elevate the status of men at the expense of women,” giving other examples, such as the fact in the frum world [in Israel] the name of a woman does not appear on an invitation to a simcha, just the man “and his wife”, another effort to make the women disappear she feels.

Fisher added she knows many women who are opposed, but they are compelled by their husbands or threaten the stability of their marriage. “Rabbi Rubin of Har Nof supports me and one can check with him” she concluded, a statement that elicited the ire of Rabbi Shimon Stern, who rejected the accuracy of her remark.

Avishai Ben-Chaim, a correspondent on chareidi affairs believes that at times, criteria are set forth based on the extreme, and perhaps this is the case here, and not only that, it is done with the approval and assistance from government agencies.

The chareidi leaders are using the government and public agencies to educate their constituents, somewhat bizarre he believes.

As a result, at the Kosel for example, photos of women may not be displayed, since they are trying to influence the public sector with their lifestyle. There is no doubt at some point; they will separate men and women at entrances to the Old City as they continue seeking to spread their influence.

R’ Shimon Stern, a spokesman of the Rabbinical Transportation Committee feels the opposition is true, explaining the secular committee seeks to impose its ways on the chareidim. Unlike the popular perception, cooperation from Egged and others is minimal and the vaad is constantly battling to implement its mehadrin lines, met with much resistance he explained.

Orbach: Correct you seek tznius, but there are hot days and there is reality, and what is the limit? Can you dictate how women dress?

R’ Stern: With all due respect to Fisher, she is not truly chareidi and she is not a posek, and does not set modesty standards for the community. She represents herself only. Har Nof is primarily chareidi and the mehadrin lines serve the overwhelming majority of the community. Most are pleased with the mehadrin lines and that is a fact.

R’ Stern added that statements that 95% of the chareidi community lives under terror are simply untrue and intended to paint a certain negative image in the public’s mind.

Orbach: When non frum get on the buses, then they are compelled to act a certain way which is not their way.

Stern: A woman who endured an unpleasant situation on a mehadrin line that does not justify outlawing all the lines, which are generally run without incident, serving commuters nationwide. There are 1,300 mehadrin trips daily, over 5 million annually, and how many result in incidents… the quote of R’ Moshe’s p’sak is simply out of context and Fisher and those working with her seek to present a picture based on untruths and slanderous at times.

We do not operate discriminatory practices. The mehadrin lines as the result of the community’s wishes. Just as the general public should not compel the chareidim to accept their lifestyle, we ask the same, nothing more.

Orbach – we can never really know what the chareidi women think since we know they cannot speak out for if they do, face the consequences. What if a woman boards a bus and sits in the front.

R’ Stern: no one has the right to assault others and while the woman may be asked to move, she can refuse and it should end here.

Ben-Chaim: Why not permit women in front and men in back?

Stern: We told the public committee we are fine with this for as long as there is a curtain behind the women’s section to hide them from the men’s view.

Fisher: Now you cannot even see the backs of the necks of the women!

The program ran short on time, ending here.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


18 COMMENTS

  1. I take the #40 mehadrin bus a few times a week and there is a very simple explanation for giving the women the back of the bus: there are much more seats! I can’t tell you how many times I was sitting in the back with empty seats all around me while men had to stand because there were no seats left in front. Fellow women, enough of your discrimination nonsense, we have the better side of the deal! (And besides it is so much fun to be able to click our own bus cards!:))

  2. Lol everyone writes mr & mrs (husband’s name) on invitations fool!

    And what is this woman doing in har nof I thought that was an ultra orthodox town?

  3. These bus lines are a joke. Men always sit wherever they want and even when you tell them to go to the front (where there is room) they don’t listen. It doesn’t work. Why can’t they just make separate buses for the men who it bothers so much? Or let them make their own buses and pay for it themselves. If it was really halachic that’s one thing, but the way it is now just doesn’t work whatsoever.

  4. More than a few charedim are opposed to mehadrin lines, realizing that it is a slippery slope to other chumros that have no place in toras moshe.

  5. What a chutzpah you have Mr. Stern. Who are you to decide if Mrs. Fisher is “not truly chareidi”. She does not claim to be a posek, she merely quotes the Gaon of his Dor Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l. She most certainly does not represent herself only. Har Nof is most certainly not primarily chareidi and the mehadrin lines annoy and are ignored by the overwhelming majority of the community. Most are highly displeased with the mehadrin lines – and that is the fact. The Rabbinical Transportation Committee is just another group of ‘askonim’ trying to force their narrow minded viewpoint on the world. Har Nof is a decidely mixed and harmonious religious neighbourhood.

  6. Rav Feinstein never denied that mehadrin buses were better. He just said it is ‘mutar’ to ride a mixed bus.

    It’s a shame people are twisting the meaning of his psak. If he said cholov akum was ‘mutar’, that does not mean that he denies that cholov Yisrael is better.

    I hope the people who are quoting him can learn a Tosefos better than this!

    Mehadrin lines are wonderful, and every–every!–yirat shamayim woman I know supports them fully.

  7. the whole keffafel reminds me of odom and chava and the nochsoh. The nochosh told chava not to “touch’ the eitz had-as, a ‘chumrah’ that was not part of the original issur. From this extra ‘chumro”, catastrophe ensued. Any additioal ‘chumro’ that is not the halocho (that this separation of the sexes on thue bus is) will only bring major catastrophes.

  8. #7 Ahe is quoting R’ Moshe? What chutzpah she has! She is misquoting him!
    R’ Moshe says, that since there is no other simple choice, it’s mutar, since there is no Kavanah. But if there is a choice, he agrees that you got to take it. I wonder when the last time this shark opened an Igros Moshe! I’m sure she doesn’t kbow from whuch side to open it! If she doesn’t like it, let her stay home!

  9. “Lol everyone writes mr & mrs (husband’s name) on invitations fool!”

    we are talking about the hebrew side where there are two choices for signing the invite either
    1. Avraham and Sora Horowitz* or
    2. Avraham and wife (rayuso) Horowitz*
    These two choices are more frequent in America than in israel, so instead of lol know the facts & was fool necessary when u disagree.

  10. Is it better now with the women at the back that they end up brushing passed the men twice to get their ticket after getting on at the back door?!!
    And for sure there should not be a chillul Haschem made by these ‘mehadrin’ people, who are so desperate to get their front seat.
    The idea of Am Yisroel out in the outside world is to make a Kiddush Haschem wherever we are.

  11. Mr Stern also cannot compel me to wear a black kippah and hat any more.

    I do not wish to belong to a society that forces separation onto people who do not want it, to this degree.

    Let them take a taxi.

    NO MORE MEHADRIN BUSES!

  12. #12 Who is brushing past who?! There is a puncher hanging at the back door for the women to punch their own cards. Women do not have to go up front to the driver.
    Are there any women here opposing the mehadrin buses? It seems like all these commenters are a bunch of American men are getting worked up over nothing. Read my first post (#2) – the mehadrin buses are so not a big deal.

    By the way, couples are allowed to sit together – in the middle of the bus. My husband and I always sit together on mehadrin buses.

    The 2 times I sat on the front of a bus without realizing it was mehadrin, most men did not say a word to me. Both times one sweet zaidy-type man came over to me and said in a soft voice full of respect and concern, I’m sure you didn’t realize that this bus is mehadrin…

  13. Let’s consider a few halachos: The Mishna Brura writes (75:(6)) that when a man looks at even a woman’s little finger to derive pleasure from it [and how much more so if he looks at other parts of her body that provoke him to think about her, however well they are covered], then even if he possesses Torah and good deeds, he will not be saved from Gehinom. If a woman is not properly dressed, i.e. doesn’t completely cover the parts of her body that the Torah requires, it is forbidden to make brochos or learn in her presence.
    From the woman’s perspective, this means that if she sits in a place where men are likely to look at her and be tempted to have improper thoughts, she is causing him to sin and has a part in his sin. Even if she is properly dressed, if her sitting in the front part of the bus will cause other women who aren’t properly dressed to sit there, she has a part in multiplying the sins of the men.
    There is a story of a Toldos Aharon woman who had a near death experience many years ago. When she came back to life, she told terrifying stories about how even though she always dressed and behaved according to strict Meah Shearim standards of modesty, she was attacked by hideous angels created by the thoughts men had had about her when she raised her voice in public places. This is no joke.
    If anyone says it’s impossible to maintain standards of tznius on public transport, look at the privately run buses between Yerushalaim and Beit Shemesh or Beitar, or even the Egged buses between Yerushalaim and Bnei Brak or Ashdod, where things are a lot better than on the lines within Yerushalaim.
    Again, this is no joke.

    TO MODERATOR (Below is a translation of the woman’s account of her experience. If you can post it somewhere it could help a lot of people):

    NDE Eng
    Story of a Yerushalmi Woman’s Nearth Death Experience
    Sivan 5757
    I have been asked to write down for the benefit of the public an experience I had eleven years ago, in Tammuz 5746. Before I start to relate this very frightening and inspiring story, however, I would like to describe myself as I was before then.
    Until that time I thought of myself as an entirely respectable and modest woman, just like every other Yerushalmi woman. I was very careful never to get out of bed in the morning without stockings on, I wore a tichel and never allowed my hair to be exposed (and indeed I kept my head shaved). I was very diligent in my children’s upbringing, with great self-sacrifice on my part. Still, I didn’t really know what true modesty and yiras Shamayim meant.
    I didn’t appreciate the great importance of never letting strange men hear my voice (since Chazal have said that a woman’s voice is equivalent to her private parts).
    Nor did I appreciate the great severity of the aveiros of lashon hora and rechilus (even though I was careful not to speak lashon hora).
    Nor did I appreciate how important it is to honor parents (always I thought I did well in this area).
    Nor did I appreciate the great importance of making every brocho was great kavana (I confess that in this area I didn’t make such great efforts).
    In any case, Hashem showed me how much I had to do teshuva for each and every one of these things.
    Ribbono shel Olam, help me write my story i the best way I can so that it will be a tikkun for me and a tova for Klal Yisroel!
    Friday night, parashas Pinchos, as I sat at the Shabbos table I didn’t feel well so I got up and went to my room. Suddenly I saw before my eyes an enormous terrifying sword and a part of a monstrous black angel (the yetzer hora) and I felt like my end had come! A horrible fear came over me, an indescribable terror, and in great panic I started to say goodby to my children. but I fell onto my bed in a faint. My husband didn’t realize exactly what was happening with me so he finished his Shabbos tish as quickly as possible and came in to see how I was doing, and found me in a deathly coma. He did everything he could you arouse me, but to no avail.
    When I saw the angel of death I started to say Shema but the black angel, the yetzer horai wouldn’t let me see the holy Shema and as I said each word he tried to snatch my soul away. and to strike me with indescribable terrifying blows. It was so hard even just to look at that black angel, I would rather have looked at the most horrible ferocious beasts in the world than to have to look at the yetzer hora for one instant, and he was giving me all kinds of terrible nisyonos. In one of them he showed he an incredibly desirable fruit, so attractive that I wanted to eat it even without making a brocho . I had a feeling that it was forbidden to eat that fruit but I had such a strong desire for it even though I knew it wasn’t kosher. but the yetzer hora tempted me with all kinds of persuasive arguments that if I ate it I would stay alive. This was a terrible battle and eery moment taht I stood firm and didn’t eat the fruit and went on saying Shema, it was like feeling what it’s like to die, to be killed!
    But Boruch Hashem, at the last moment, as the yetzer hora was trying to tempt me, the yetzer tov came along and helped me keep saying Shema and to with stand the tempotation to eat the fruit. kkThen I saw how how my body looked to my neshomo and I could see everything that had happened to me from the aay I was born and all the aveiros I had done, big and small, . From each aveira was ceated a black angel with terrifying gigantic eyes. each eye was as big as the whole world, from one end to the other. I also saw klipos that were so terrifying and so embarrassing that just looking at them I wnted desperately to run away but in that place there was nowhere to run to. — that was the world of truth and there you have to confront reality.
    In the distance, however, I could see beautiful white angels that had been created from the mitzvos I had done and there in the distnace I saw a great light, and I wanted to cryand I felt a great fear, because there you realize Who you’re really crying to.
    The black angels were hitting with enormous clubs and each one screamed at me in a terrifying loud voice what aveira had created him, and their enormous eyes were looking at me with penetrating, contemptuous looks that made me feel so ashamed and the klipos were screamed at me that I was guilty of everything and I didn’t have any exscuses to give them.
    As these voices were all screaming at me, I felt enormous irachmonus one one neshomo there that was screaming in terror, and suddenly it was said that this neshomo was going to be subjected to kaf ha=kele (to be dragged from one end of the world to the other with terrible contempt). The angel of dath asked me rejoicing if I wanted to watch this kaf ha-kele and I answered “yes,” but then my grandmother came to me and told me to say very quickly that I didn’t kwant to see it, and Boruch Hashem that I didn’t see it. Afterwards they came adn took out my eyes to see if ever in my life I had desired anything. The experience of having my eyes taken out was terrifying and I had to go through it even though I was very confident that I had never coveted anything,b ut there in heaven it’s the world of truth, up there they know everything and they’re very exactly about everthing, large or small, and on every transgression of lack of modesty that happened in this world. I was very confident that I was perfected in this area’ but in the world of truth each person knows the truth about himself, they show him the truth, which is why they were striking me with such powerful blows )and when I woke up again in this world I hurt from from those blow and I had black and blue marks — when I showed the marks on my legs to my sister she nearly fainted, and saidthat if someone would get hit with terrible blows for a whole lifetime they wouldn’t leave marks like that.)
    I received those blows over four main things:
    1) Because I wasn’t careful not to speak even one unnecessary word to strange men.
    2) Because I wasn’t careful about speaking too loudly in the street, and because I sang to myself in the house when I could be heard from outside.
    3) I really enjoyed wearing jewelry and nice clothes, and I really didn’t know that I was doing an aveira with this. When I argued in beis din shel maalah that I always dressed my nicely in the house than outside, this was not accepted as an excuser at all.
    4) Concerning lashon hora and rechilus I was complacent that I wasn’t doing anything so wrong, but in the world of truth I saw that this was the biggest aveira. When I saw how big an aveira it really it, however, and the enormous punishment I was getting for it, I decided that when they gave me back my neshomo I wouldn’t say even good things about anyone so that I wouldn’t ever come to do that aveira.
    For each aveira they gave me a special punishment there, and every moment of punishment there was worse than seventy years of the biggest and hardesh punishments and diseases in this world. Apart from the incredible distress which simply cannot be described in writing in a physical world, there is also the intense shame, which is far worse because there is the world of truth. This spiritual shame is a very real thing and in the world to Come there’s not just the fear and anxiety about pain and punishment, there’s an enormous shame over even the smallest aveira a person has done, because there in heaven they know everything and every small thing is given tremendous importance. and nothing is excused. Especially with tznius the punishment is so great and terrifying and Boruch Hashem that I was always careful about this and always went with long and broad garments, like a woman is supposed to, but because I have a loud voice I could be speaking in the street and a man passing by would hear me and look at me (even though I didn’t want that) but the klipos created by thoughts that man had attacked my neshomo as well which had caused him to be attacked by that klipa {I’m not sure I’ve understood this right} and those klipos caused me to suffer terrible blows, the marks of which stayed with me even after I returned to this world. Klipos don’t try to figure out which one is more powerful, they all attack as hard as they can and scream in all kinds of horrible and terrifying voices: “Why did you create me?” Each one says which he was created from and who he was created from, and they follow a person around, and the sensations are terrible because every moment in that world feels like seventy years, and every hour feels like thousands of years. Oy oy oy! Any Jewish woman or girl who doesn’t conduct herself modestly, every second that she thinks about making some man sin, or wants to do that, the suffer bitterly for it in the World to Come because the klipos she creates will accompany her there and every instant more and more klipos are created. If she wears a see-through garment or leaves a button open, or wears short sleeves, or goes without stockings or anything like this, all this creates myriads of klipos and black, destructive angels that attach themselves to the neshomo in her body. If she goes all day not tzniusdik, black angels follow her around in this world and try to harm her, even if she doesn’t feel them and doesn’t realize the damage that’s being done and things everything’s going well for her, she’s wrong and she doesn’t realize what she’s missing. Suddenly she gets angry and things don’t go right for her or don’t go the way she wanted, and it’s not always that she’s sick, sometimes it happens because of her sins. (This applies just as much to men also.)
    Hashem doesn’t send us everything we deserve in this world, but when it comes to a tzaddik or a tzaddekes Hashem does them the favor of letting them suffer all the punishment they deserve in this world because the pains they would suffer in the World to Come, even just a moment of them, are far worse than a whole lifetime’s worth of pains here.
    If a woman might ever think or say, “My husband wants me to go in a way that isn’t tzniusdik, in the World to Come they’ll tell her, “Did you really do it for your husband’s sake, in the house, or did you do it to get other men to look at you, and if you did it for your husband, couldn’t you have bought an attractive dress that was tzniusdik that he would have liked?” This and other questions that she wouldn’t have answers for because there it’s the world of truth and there they say only the truth. The punishment is so great that it can’t be described in writing, and if a woman goes around dressed totally immodestly, then not only are there the punishments, there’s also the kaf ha-kele which is horrendously terrifying. (Everything I’m describing is only before a person reaches the beis din shel maaleh, because after he gets there there’s a decision between Gan Eden and Gehennom.) Boruch Hashem that I didn’t go through that, Boruch Hashem for a lot of things I didn’t have to go through because what I did go through was more than enough. It’s impossible to bear other things, the pains and fears and punishments, and the embarrassments, and none of them can be escaped. What did happen was that I was extremely glad I had cut me hair completely because that way the tichel was totally tzniusdik, especially since I always went with a tichel. I was also glad that I had always been very strict on hechsheirim, and they told me there in heaven that I should be very glad about that since the punishment for eating forbidden foods is ripping up the teeth. Boruch Hashem also that a had mesiras nefesh in bringing up my children and that’s why I was given my neshomo back so that I could continue with the kedusha and tahara. They gave me three conditions that I was required to keep when I continued to live.
    I want to tell everyone who reads this story that this is zero percent of what I felt there, because it’s simply impossible to write about things there in our gashmius world. “Ribbono shel Olam, in the merit of my confessing and being ashamed of my sins, I ask for myself, my husband, my children, and the whole Jewish people

  14. the whole concept of mehadrin buses is a corruption of halacha, which some of the chareidim are quite good at, anyone who says it’s b/c of tzinius doesn’t understand any of its halachas

  15. Contrary to “avreich man” (#8), not EVERY charedi woman with yarei shamayaim supports this. I don’t, and neither does ANYONE I know! I am a kollel wife with 3 small children and found it personally offensive when 18 year old kids would tell me, a pregnant lady with a snood, to move. To that long narrative that I have no time to read, I say if you can’t look at me, then stay home. At times I sat in the men’s section because there were available seats. I had the chutzpa of fine avreichim like yourself tell me, a pregnant lady with little children, a stroller, and shopping bags to move. This is a mitzva habaa al yedei aveirah. I assure you, that man was thinking of me more than if it wasn’t a mehadrin bus in which case he would have left me alone. Is there anyone who supports this who thinks, yes, the pregnant woman with little kids, strollers and packages should be moving to the back? Where are your middos???
    And to the guy above who said there’s no going to the front, WRONG! The puncher in the back can’t sell me a new card. So, because it’s SOOOO untznius for me to walk near men, I have to do it twice! once to go to the driver and second to my place, in the back.
    The REAL gedolim who don’t want to see any woman at all will take a taxi. The random holier than thou avreichim will harrass me. BTW, my husband, also an avreich, told me to sit where it’s least difficult. BH, I married a mentch.

  16. Any idea how many of the women and girls dont even pay? I’ve seem MANY get on and either not punch their tickets or even PRETEND to punch them. I wonder what would happen if an Inspector got on this line – probably a huge rush to the ticket puncher would ensue