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From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 22:38:49 -0500 Subject: The Female Chat Enactment of the Great Assembly Several local newspapers last Friday had a headline "RAPE" which focused on a daytime classroom rape of a high school girl. The newspaper discussed "precautionary measures" which had already been taken among which were use of the buddy system when going to the bathroom. I immediately recalled the Chat Amendment made by the Prophet-Sages of the so called Great Assembly of Ezra the Scribe, the second greatest assemblage of Jewish minds in human history. Under this amendment women are asked to chat in the bathroom with each other so that possible molestors will infer that they are not alone. This rabbinical enactment IS a law and brought down in authoratative Jewish Lawbooks. The reason I bring this up is because of the reaction I have received when discussing this inocuous law with people: For example, "Why should I have to chat to prevent "him" from molesting me," a common "I-him" criticism made by many feminists. The point I am trying to clarify is that many Jewish laws have known reasons which are sound and accomplish their goal without much inconvenience and yet we are too ready to criticize them in a myriad of ways---does everyone hold that way? Is the reason reflective of Chazal's time? Is there a hint that someone is second class?... What struck me (and hurt me) here is that the school principle and teachers thought of this enactment by themselves to help the frightened girls. The law works! It is not an inconvenience for girls to chat! It does ward off molestors! The law is simple! The law does not warrant any criticism. I am simply suggesting that we should have a more positive attitude to many rabbinical enactments, be "eager" to fulfill them and be "proud" that we had legislative minds that could think like that. Any reactions? Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d,ASA; rhendel @ mcs drexel edu