Sunday, December 17, 2006

More on Miriam Shear

Miriam Shear is the women attacked on Jerusalem's #2 bus, as well as in the comments of this blog and others, for daring to sit in the front of a public bus. Her story (ie: the one so many of you insisted couldn't possibly be true) has been published by Haaretz, a fine newspaper even if, like Jonathan Rosenblum of Cross Currents, they omitted to credit this blog as their source for the story.

Meanwhile, those of you who were so eager to label the story a hoax, might want to ask yourselves this: If acts of violence against women are so uncommon in Jerusalem's ultra-religious precients, why did the Bes Din Tzedek think it was necessary to publish this?

Fred, my friend and frequent email correspondant, titled his post about the Bes Din Tzedek's flyer "Credit where credit is due." I think this is outrageous. As mevaseretzion reminded me, the custom in late Temple days was for the Sages to force the Kohen Godol to swear that he would carry out the Yom Kippur Service according to the teachings of Rabbinic, rather than Saduccean, law. At the time of the vow, both the Sages and the Kohen Godol would weep. The KG would weep for having been suspected, and the Sages would weep because the oath was needed. Though the Mishna doesn't mention bloggers, I rather doubt anyone gave the Sages "credit" for administering this unfrortunate oath. The fact that it was needed in the first place tells us only that the Rabbis had failed at their work, and were losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the class of people most likely to produce the High Priest.

Though I'm glad the Wise Men of Mea Shearim are willing to raise their voices when women are beaten in the streets, I hardly think this elementary display of common decency entitles the Bes Din Tzedek to maftir yona, and a hearty yashar koach. Moreover, the appearance of this flyer reveals only unpleasant facts about the people of Meah Shearim, and their teachers. We weep because they were suspected, and also because such a flyer is needed.

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