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From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Mon, 18 Nov 96 19:43:34 EST Subject: When Modesty and Economic Rights Collide Michael and Abby Pitkowsky along with Carl and Adina Sherer recently (e.g. Vol 25-#19) discuss the "propriety" of making stewardesses "only male" on El Al flights (apparently for reasons of Tzniuth). This is connected with a similar issue of whether Cheder teachers should be restricted by gender. Finally this whole issue is placed in a broader context...whether >> many of the recent prohibitionis about interraction between the >>the sexes are not required by halachah. I wish to emphasize that halachah and Jewish Hashkafa consider men and women economic equals---a goal of any society is to see that each gender has the same rights in the working place. In this respect, Jewish Hashkafa and American law are the same. Where Jewish Law and American Law differ is in whether there can be non-economic social differentiation between men and women: American law says no while Jewish law says yes. I am sure I need not give examples of social areas where only men can function: Only men can be kings, judges, witnesses, cantors, Rabbis, etc. And, according to strict talmudic law one is prohibited to accept money for these functions (and even today one can only possibly accept the money one "would have earned at an ordinary job" had one not been involved in the function). However in economic laws women are equal or better: Examples might be right of road laws (Rambam Murder 13, 11-12), charity (Gifts to Poor, 8, 15), priority of appearance in courts(Sanhedrin 21).... Without taking sides in the school-teacher issue I point out that since boys and girls are usually equal in number in any population it follows that male and female teachers would get equal compensation even if there was a gender match. The only real exception I know to the above are rules governing prison guards(you can't have male guards over female captives or prisoners) but there it is because of the power they have. Returning to El Al and their stewardesses: It is totally contrary to halachah and Jewish hashkafa to interfer with a women's right to earn a living... I dedicate this posting to Baruch Yosef ben Adina Batya...may he have a speedy recovery and grow up to write postings like those of his parents. Russell Jay Hendel, PH.d, ASA, rhendel @ mcs drexel edu