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A Touchy Issue: "Shomer Negiyah" - Part 2

It is a big mistake.

People think that keeping the Torah is the RIGHT thing to do. But it is certainly not in my best interests. The best thing for ME is not to keep the Torah but I'll do it for G-d. To paraphrase a young boy in 1919 "It ain't so". [Bonus points if you e-mail me the reference].

The Zohar says that the Torah is 613 great pieces of advice. Hashem created us and whatever he tells us is for OUR best. In this world and the next. A mitzva is life. An averah is death. Period.

With that in mind we will proceed. Young people often discuss the issue of physical contact. "Are you Shomer?". There is a mistaken premise that underlies this question. That is that we get to choose. "She chooses to be "shomeres" and I choose not to be [fortunately we are not going out...]". But there is no choice!! We can choose to swallow tylenol or cyanide. But cyanide is DEATH. Negiyah is death. The former is physical death and the latter is spiritual death. Both are greatly discouraged to say the least. L'chaim!!!!

One other point [which has been made before me so I take no credit for originality]. People assume that if they don't touch members of the other gender they are home free. No more Halachic issues. But, as they say in the Yeshivos "It's not so pashut".

1. It is forbidden to act with "kalus rosh" [frivolity] towards members of the opposite gender. What is "kalus rosh"? Well if you go to certain summer camps and certain hotel lobbies and other such venues you can see examples of this.

2. It is forbidden to gaze at a women in order to enjoy her beauty.

3. It is forbidden to see those parts of a womans body that are normally covered. In other words mixed swimming is biblically prohibited!! Not a "modern chumra".

4. The Shulchan Aruch rules that men and women should stay "very very" far away from each other [for non marriage purposes]. [A tough one to explain away for the advocates of a co-ed environment who would like to remain faithful to the Halacha].

5. It is forbidden to have illicit sexual thoughts.

I have not provided sources but anyone who wants to learn more can look in the sfarim: Toras Hahistaclus [for a stricter approach] and Kdoshim Tihiyu [for a more lenient approach].

But worry not. Hashem gave us a yetzer hara but He also gave us the perfect antidote - a spouse!! When one gets married they can become truly holy. Hence the word for marriage "Kiddushin" - Sanctity.

So to refrain from engaging in physical contact before marriage is a good start but the ultimate goal is complete kedusha - before marriage and after. Those who keep the laws vigilantly will be duly rewarded - in this world and the next.

Goodness - I have sooooooo much more to say on the topic but I will leave it here and wait to be enlightened [either in the comments section or by e-mail] by my sweet friends and teachers.

With Love and Friendship

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

Dear Rav Ally,
1st of all, there's no need to apologize, i wasn't offended-I know that u only seek the truth so i could never be offended by anything u say (even though I may disagree with you on certain issues).... On this last issue-there are no perfect systems-I think the MODOX schools have disadvantages and advantages-the disadvanteges are well documented- but it also has advantages-1) that you'll have a more well rounded education thereby making you a more complete person as well as a person who is more equipped to deal with the modern world 2) Hanging around girls may help prepare a person better for marriage (with regards to the halacha of staying far away from women-maybe it doesn't apply in all situations nowdays) (by the way I went to morasha and the boys and girls campuses are about a half mile apart-I think thts considered "very very" far) 3)since right now the people who go to these schools are less frum so you have an oppurtunity to be mashpia on them; also since you'll be less sheltered from the world it'll give you the opportunity to fullfil the halacha of being "a light unto the nations"

PS Feel free to "bash" me on those points that you disagree with (it's probably all of them) I really won't be offended especially when it comes from someone so sincere (and funny)
PPS the above applies to anyone else who is less sincere and not as funny-i won't take it personally

Dearest Rav Anonymous,

Thanks for not taking it personally!!

Point 1) I agree wholehartedly that there is a value in receiving a secular education. But I don't see that MO kids are particularly educated. Most kids [by there own admission] memorize meaningless info which they promptly forget right after the test. It has no effect on their becoming a more "complete person" [whatever that nebulous term means]. I also don't know what it means that MO kids are more eqiupped to deal with the modern world. People in Williamsburg go to work in the city daily and deal just fine with the modern world [not that there are no problems in Williamsburg but I don't see that MO kids do better - religiously - than those who didn't receive a "well rounded education].

2) Teenage boys and girls walk the half a mile [ I also attended Morasha]. I would love to tell you that I was one of those walkers and in fact that is where I met my wife. We saw each other across the room at a Rav Willig shiur.
But the fact is I met my wife in Har- Nof.

I like to believe that the Shulchan Aruch applies even b'zman hazeh. [Unless you have a mishna brura or Igros Moshe that says otherwise in a particular].

3) Most kids in MO schools are "MUSHPAIM" [influenced by others] and not Mashpi'im on others. That is the nature of youth. Frankly almost all adults are "MUSHPAIM" also.

Nobody today is sheltered from the world. Evetybody has ample oppurtunity to be a light unto the nations. One need not attend Ramaz to do so.

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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