Keren Interview VII: Ann: Soon men will insist on capes and veils for their wives

In this Hebrew article from Maariv, Neshot Hare’alah (Women of the Veil), Sherry Makover-Balikov interviews Rabbanit Bruria Keren and some of her followers.

Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII

To view all posts on the subject at once click the label hyper-tzniut.

The Maariv reporter interviewed Dudi Zilbershlag, editor of the haredi newspaper Bakehila and head of the charitable organization “Meir Panim.” He said that after their son Meir z”l died, Zilbershlag’s wife considered switching to a scarf from a wig. At the time their rebbe disapproved, saying it would only call more attention to her. She made the switch later, after other haredim did so in light of the Indian wig scandal [when haredi rabbis prohibited them because they might have been used in idol worship].

According to Zilbershlag, “. . . being extremely tzanua cannot prevent men from having evil thoughts about a woman . . . the opposite may be true. But this is a far cry from insulting someone who dresses that way from pure intentions.”

The rabbanit’s followers don’t see themselves as a cult. After all, each one wears a different number of layers, making them different from other types of chasidim. “Each woman and her own [level of] tzniut.” [This last statement contradicts everything else in the article. Clearly Keren and her followers believe everyone should wear veils, shawls, capes, and several additional layers of clothes. The style or exact number of layers is beside the point.]

“To say that the Rabbanit is a kind of guru . . . is a sin,” says Ann, a convert who became . . . her disciple. “The Rabbanit paved the way, and most of us take on ourselves customs and continue alone. We do meet at her home, not because of leadership, but out of friendship. ‘Everyone goes to consult with someone wiser than himself’ [but do they consult with anyone besides Rabbanit Keren?].”

Ann continues:

“The rabbanit doesn’t talk because of all of the bad things that can come from it such as slander, gossip, joking, and flattery; therefore she took silence upon herself. It also allows her to control anger. She taught us not to speak to men, pass them objects, sit next to them on the bus, nor to ride in a taxi with a male driver. Not to be too colorful. Once I said to the rabbanit that the colors blue and black distance women from tzniut. So the rabbanit said that she wants to come close to Hashem, not to other women.”

The reporter asks Anne about the next level.

“The next level is for men to insist on capes and veils from their wives. That it will come from them, not from us. That in a few more years the haredi public will discover the sweetness of the layers of clothes and the modesty behind the veil. There have been stories of licentiousness, of adultery, may God have mercy. Women wore tight clothes and the men’s eyes popped out. The rabbanit Bruria believes that very soon a man will come to his wife and ask her not to go out without her body and face covered.”

“We are already seeing the beginning. I myself prayed for many years until my husband agreed to my wearing three capes. Afterward he wasn’t ready for me to cover my face with a veil. We had a big fight and came close to getting a get (religious divorce). But I went to R. Bruria, and got strength from her. I prayed more, until my husband accepted the cape and veil, even the shawl. One day I weakened; my evil inclination told me to stop making myself a laughingstock and that I could be modest in a scarf, blouse and skirt. So I decided to go out like that. I put on a vest, a nice skirt, and some makeup. And small, delicate earrings. I went to the bedroom and stood in front of my husband. I asked him, “How do I look?” And he said “Immodesty! Immodesty!” and didn’t move until I put on the cape and covered my face.

That is the end of the article. Feel free to link on your own blog using the label hyper-tzniut.

Stay tuned for more of my own thoughts.

Comments

  1. http://Baila says

    Great. All we need is men demanding this of women.
    And I am just so curious as to what these women’s sex lives are like. I’m sorry, I’m a sinner.
    If you feel the need to delete the comment, I understand.

  2. http://Baila says

    Great. All we need is men demanding this of women.
    And I am just so curious as to what these women’s sex lives are like. I’m sorry, I’m a sinner.
    If you feel the need to delete the comment, I understand.

  3. http://Abbi says

    Reading each of these posts is like reading deepening layers of a psychosis.

  4. http://Abbi says

    Reading each of these posts is like reading deepening layers of a psychosis.

  5. One major problem I have is that these women claim to know Hashem’s will. They claim that something that was clearly never part of Jewish tradition is essential to yiddishkeit.
    I *do* agree with three of their claims.
    1. wearing robes is weird. I don’t “get” the Shabbos robe thing.
    2. A hat or scarf does seem more in keeping with the tradition than a wig.
    3. Some “charedi” women indeed wear very tight clothes which make them more appealing than they’d be in a pair of loose pants and a big shirt.
    The solution, however, is to look at the spirit of tzniut. Tzniut is about not objectifying oneself. It’s not about hiding. If a man can’t control himself when he looks at a woman’s fingers, he should lock himself in a room and never come out.
    I think I’m going to have to go on with this on my own blog…I have too much to say.

  6. One major problem I have is that these women claim to know Hashem’s will. They claim that something that was clearly never part of Jewish tradition is essential to yiddishkeit.
    I *do* agree with three of their claims.
    1. wearing robes is weird. I don’t “get” the Shabbos robe thing.
    2. A hat or scarf does seem more in keeping with the tradition than a wig.
    3. Some “charedi” women indeed wear very tight clothes which make them more appealing than they’d be in a pair of loose pants and a big shirt.
    The solution, however, is to look at the spirit of tzniut. Tzniut is about not objectifying oneself. It’s not about hiding. If a man can’t control himself when he looks at a woman’s fingers, he should lock himself in a room and never come out.
    I think I’m going to have to go on with this on my own blog…I have too much to say.

  7. Guess my last threads comment about removing the object of impediment was covered in this part of the article.
    the opposite may be true
    I’ve heard this expressed by groups of (non-Jewish) males.

  8. Guess my last threads comment about removing the object of impediment was covered in this part of the article.
    the opposite may be true
    I’ve heard this expressed by groups of (non-Jewish) males.

  9. http://MO%20Man says

    Clearly these women are nuts. However, they can’t be easily dismissed.
    The main problem, and there’s really nothing we can do about it, is that their extremism pulls everyone to the right. This idea was mentioned in part VI with the girls in tights, e.g. relatives to these lunatics making a 2 year old wear tights in the summer doesn’t seem so bad.
    On the other end of the spectrum, senator Daniel Moynahan coined an expression, “Defining deviancy down”, i.e. the social degradation of the general society was causing the bar of what is considered devient behavior to constantly be lowered.
    The only way to fight this is for good-solid frum Jews to move back to the left, something which I, B”H, have begun to do, and I’m seeing more and more, especially in Israel. We need to show other Jews that you can be a true Yiras Shomayim and not be a nut case at the same time.

  10. http://MO%20Man says

    Clearly these women are nuts. However, they can’t be easily dismissed.
    The main problem, and there’s really nothing we can do about it, is that their extremism pulls everyone to the right. This idea was mentioned in part VI with the girls in tights, e.g. relatives to these lunatics making a 2 year old wear tights in the summer doesn’t seem so bad.
    On the other end of the spectrum, senator Daniel Moynahan coined an expression, “Defining deviancy down”, i.e. the social degradation of the general society was causing the bar of what is considered devient behavior to constantly be lowered.
    The only way to fight this is for good-solid frum Jews to move back to the left, something which I, B”H, have begun to do, and I’m seeing more and more, especially in Israel. We need to show other Jews that you can be a true Yiras Shomayim and not be a nut case at the same time.

  11. but I should mention that my daughter has been seen wearing a burka..
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=839411&l=a3d9d&id=742571139

  12. but I should mention that my daughter has been seen wearing a burka..
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=839411&l=a3d9d&id=742571139

  13. http://Ariella says

    The suggestion that a husband should have the power to impose this standard of dress upon his wife is rather a disconcerting idea. The implication is he is granted utter control over her. If I am not mistaken, R’ Moshe even suggested that a man need not divorce a wife who does not cover her hair — and that is something based on clear halacha. This is straight out excess, and one never has the right to impose such on another.

  14. http://Ariella says

    The suggestion that a husband should have the power to impose this standard of dress upon his wife is rather a disconcerting idea. The implication is he is granted utter control over her. If I am not mistaken, R’ Moshe even suggested that a man need not divorce a wife who does not cover her hair — and that is something based on clear halacha. This is straight out excess, and one never has the right to impose such on another.

  15. http://jodi says

    My daughter was in seminary last year. She went to visit a friend of ours who made “aliyah” the year before. We had been very good friends with this woman and her family. My daughter told me after spending a Shabbos with the family that this woman had started to wear a shawl, and lots of black clothing. I can’t help but wonder if she has become one of this woman’s followers.
    They do live in Ramat Beit Shemesh!

  16. http://jodi says

    My daughter was in seminary last year. She went to visit a friend of ours who made “aliyah” the year before. We had been very good friends with this woman and her family. My daughter told me after spending a Shabbos with the family that this woman had started to wear a shawl, and lots of black clothing. I can’t help but wonder if she has become one of this woman’s followers.
    They do live in Ramat Beit Shemesh!

  17. http://DerShygetz says

    Will these burkas be the in costume for Purim this year?

  18. http://DerShygetz says

    Will these burkas be the in costume for Purim this year?

  19. http://well%20duh says

    I asked him, “How do I look?” And he said “Immodesty! Immodesty!” and didn’t move until I put on the cape and covered my face.
    Well, if I was this woman’s husband, and having to put up with that kind of crap from my wife, I’d be as obnoxious as I could, as well. If I’d had to come to terms with her looking like a tent, I’d be mighty angry if she started dressing normal. I’d want her to suffer. So I’d insist she put the tent back on.

  20. http://well%20duh says

    I asked him, “How do I look?” And he said “Immodesty! Immodesty!” and didn’t move until I put on the cape and covered my face.
    Well, if I was this woman’s husband, and having to put up with that kind of crap from my wife, I’d be as obnoxious as I could, as well. If I’d had to come to terms with her looking like a tent, I’d be mighty angry if she started dressing normal. I’d want her to suffer. So I’d insist she put the tent back on.

  21. http://Lion%20of%20Zion says

    BAILA:
    “And I am just so curious as to what these women’s sex lives are like”
    i assume they actually follow the shulhan arukh in this aspect? (i.e., there is sort of a makor therein for the hole in the sheet conspiracy)

  22. http://Lion%20of%20Zion says

    BAILA:
    “And I am just so curious as to what these women’s sex lives are like”
    i assume they actually follow the shulhan arukh in this aspect? (i.e., there is sort of a makor therein for the hole in the sheet conspiracy)

  23. http://Regular%20Anonymous says

    On a practical level, I’m sweltering wearing one layer of clothing during the summer in a climate slightly more tolerable than Beit Shemesh. I imagine these women would be risking heat stroke by going outside in such garb.
    On a halachic level, I’m very opposed to the “more is better” philosophy re tzniut. It’s “holier than thou” on a whole new level.
    Why is tzniut the be all and end all? Even if you take the approach that Torah learning is not for women (which I don’t), why isn’t chesed and tzedakah being stressed? Why would wearing ten layers of clothes bring anybody closer to Hashem? Wouldn’t helping the sick and needy and even just your neighbor who needs a hand be more pleasing to Hashem than piling excess material onto your body?
    I sincerely hope that this remains a fringe element.

  24. http://Regular%20Anonymous says

    On a practical level, I’m sweltering wearing one layer of clothing during the summer in a climate slightly more tolerable than Beit Shemesh. I imagine these women would be risking heat stroke by going outside in such garb.
    On a halachic level, I’m very opposed to the “more is better” philosophy re tzniut. It’s “holier than thou” on a whole new level.
    Why is tzniut the be all and end all? Even if you take the approach that Torah learning is not for women (which I don’t), why isn’t chesed and tzedakah being stressed? Why would wearing ten layers of clothes bring anybody closer to Hashem? Wouldn’t helping the sick and needy and even just your neighbor who needs a hand be more pleasing to Hashem than piling excess material onto your body?
    I sincerely hope that this remains a fringe element.

  25. I was taught that halachically both husband and wife must be completely undressed for relations.
    Then again, I wonder about these women using the extra layers to keep more distance from their husbands. If so, it makes sense that a man would think she’s stepping out on him if she goes out without all her layers.

  26. I was taught that halachically both husband and wife must be completely undressed for relations.
    Then again, I wonder about these women using the extra layers to keep more distance from their husbands. If so, it makes sense that a man would think she’s stepping out on him if she goes out without all her layers.

  27. http://Lion%20of%20Zion says

    ABBI:
    i will check when i get home tonight, but i’m pretty sure the mehaber (don’t remember about the rama) specifically says that one uncovers him/herself as little as possible in order to perform the act. he doesn not mention the sheet, but it’s the same idea.

  28. http://Lion%20of%20Zion says

    ABBI:
    i will check when i get home tonight, but i’m pretty sure the mehaber (don’t remember about the rama) specifically says that one uncovers him/herself as little as possible in order to perform the act. he doesn not mention the sheet, but it’s the same idea.

  29. http://Abbi says

    (i.e., there is sort of a makor therein for the hole in the sheet conspiracy)
    This was a Persian (ie: VERY non Jewish custom) that somehow became a Jewish myth. It DOES NOT appear anywhere in the SA. It might have been mentioned in the Gemara as a chukat hagoyim. Or as I read a bit, it started as an urban legend based on tzitzit. Other than that, there is nothing halachic about this myth.

  30. http://Abbi says

    (i.e., there is sort of a makor therein for the hole in the sheet conspiracy)
    This was a Persian (ie: VERY non Jewish custom) that somehow became a Jewish myth. It DOES NOT appear anywhere in the SA. It might have been mentioned in the Gemara as a chukat hagoyim. Or as I read a bit, it started as an urban legend based on tzitzit. Other than that, there is nothing halachic about this myth.

  31. http://Abbi says

    I don’t think it’s the same idea at all. Making sure it’s dark or not being completely undressed is not the same at all as you may only have relations using a sheet with a hole.
    The first is the broad issue of tzniut which has some latitude for interpretation and the latter is a specific, prescriptive custom.
    In any case, hole in the sheet is not a Jewish custom and there’s no source for it in SA.

  32. http://Abbi says

    I don’t think it’s the same idea at all. Making sure it’s dark or not being completely undressed is not the same at all as you may only have relations using a sheet with a hole.
    The first is the broad issue of tzniut which has some latitude for interpretation and the latter is a specific, prescriptive custom.
    In any case, hole in the sheet is not a Jewish custom and there’s no source for it in SA.

  33. You must be unclothed during relations (Ketubot 48a). Requesting that one wear clothing during relations is grounds for divorce (Ketubot 48a). There it also talks about the Persian non-Jews who used to have relations clothed. That is asur.

  34. You must be unclothed during relations (Ketubot 48a). Requesting that one wear clothing during relations is grounds for divorce (Ketubot 48a). There it also talks about the Persian non-Jews who used to have relations clothed. That is asur.

  35. http://Ariella says

    Hate to say it, but I also used to think that the sheet idea was a joke. But in Hasidic guides to such, there are actually suggestions of special clothes to be worn, etc. See Sefer kedush vetznius from Daniel Frish. As R’ Shlomo Avinar writes in Etzem Me’atatzamay, there is a concept of greater prishus, and if both aspire to that, they would not be subject to divorce for refusing to remove their clothing. However, that is not the case for most people. With respect to the source that says that being meshamesh arum is not a good thing, that is usually halachically dealt with by keeping a cover on, but not necessarily clothing
    What underlies R’ Avinar’s book is that one cannot impose lifnim meshirus hadin on one’s spouse if what s/he wants is halachically permissible.

  36. http://Ariella says

    Hate to say it, but I also used to think that the sheet idea was a joke. But in Hasidic guides to such, there are actually suggestions of special clothes to be worn, etc. See Sefer kedush vetznius from Daniel Frish. As R’ Shlomo Avinar writes in Etzem Me’atatzamay, there is a concept of greater prishus, and if both aspire to that, they would not be subject to divorce for refusing to remove their clothing. However, that is not the case for most people. With respect to the source that says that being meshamesh arum is not a good thing, that is usually halachically dealt with by keeping a cover on, but not necessarily clothing
    What underlies R’ Avinar’s book is that one cannot impose lifnim meshirus hadin on one’s spouse if what s/he wants is halachically permissible.

  37. Probably started as a “holy sheet,” spelled incorrectly= “holey.”
    More seriously, how many are the followers converts? I just heard of one I know who is. It’s not Jewish, nor is the cloistered full-time yeshiva bocher who doesn’t work.

  38. Probably started as a “holy sheet,” spelled incorrectly= “holey.”
    More seriously, how many are the followers converts? I just heard of one I know who is. It’s not Jewish, nor is the cloistered full-time yeshiva bocher who doesn’t work.

  39. http://Lion%20of%20Zion says

    ABBI:
    the maheber (SA 240:8) brings down a story of r. eliezer שהיה מגלה טפח ומכסה טפח. how do you understand this? the mehaber provides 3 interpretations (none of which are particularly “normal” to our sensibilities?), including מגלה טפח על הסנר שהיתה חוגרת בו שאף בשעת תשמיש היה מצריכה לחגרה.
    “The first is the broad issue of tzniut which has some latitude for interpretation and the latter is a specific, prescriptive custom.”
    the story here is not brought down strictly about tzeniut, but about performing באימה וביראה. and to me it sounds pretty presecriptive.
    ARIELLA:
    “With respect to the source that says that being meshamesh arum is not a good thing, that is usually halachically dealt with by keeping a cover on, but not necessarily clothing”
    that is the position of the mishnah berurah and shaar ha-tziyyun.

  40. http://Lion%20of%20Zion says

    ABBI:
    the maheber (SA 240:8) brings down a story of r. eliezer שהיה מגלה טפח ומכסה טפח. how do you understand this? the mehaber provides 3 interpretations (none of which are particularly “normal” to our sensibilities?), including מגלה טפח על הסנר שהיתה חוגרת בו שאף בשעת תשמיש היה מצריכה לחגרה.
    “The first is the broad issue of tzniut which has some latitude for interpretation and the latter is a specific, prescriptive custom.”
    the story here is not brought down strictly about tzeniut, but about performing באימה וביראה. and to me it sounds pretty presecriptive.
    ARIELLA:
    “With respect to the source that says that being meshamesh arum is not a good thing, that is usually halachically dealt with by keeping a cover on, but not necessarily clothing”
    that is the position of the mishnah berurah and shaar ha-tziyyun.

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