Finally some common sense. The Transportation Ministry in Israel has determined that the Mehadrim buses are illegal.Evidently, Harry saw a very poorly written JPost article and misread it to think that the Ministry of Transportation is fighting against Mehadrin buses. And he lauds this finding as "common sense".
Unfortunately, Harry doesn't always know what he is reading. I have said this before in relation to other Emes Ve-Emunah (sic) posts such as this one (see this comment and the 3 that follow) and this one (see this post). On the current post, I posted a comment which did not seem to make an impression on anybody. My comment was saying this:
The Ministry of Transportation is not fighting against Mehadrin buses! Just the opposite. The Ministry formed a committee to submit a report to the court to fend off the anti-Mehadrin-bus petitions of Naomi Ragen and the Israel Religious Action Center of the Progressive Movement.
The Ministry and Egged are fighting for the Mehadrin buses as is indicated by the much clearer INN news item that states:
The requirement by the "mehadrin" lines for men and women to sit separately is not legal, the committee reported to the court at its hearing. The Ministry noted that by law, any rider on the line can sit wherever he or she chooses. Nonetheless, the report also pointed out that it is permissable for men and women passengers to sit separately if they prefer.
What this means is that the ministry is not determining that the requirement is not legal. It is not their job or authority to determine what is legal or not. That is for the courts. They are merely saying that the Mehadrin buses have no legal authority to actually compel anybody to sit separately and, technically by law, women can still sit wherever they want, so the Mehadrin buses are not really infringing on anybody's legal rights and, consequently, there is no reason to interfere with them.
The next paragraph is clearer:
Representatives for Egged and for the Ministry reminded the Court that there were numerous alternative bus lines offered for riders who wished to ride integrated vehicles. The Ministry said that there currently are 90 mehadrin lines serving the hareidi-religious population throughout the country, and none of the permits for any of the lines obligates riders to segregate themselves.
They are "reminding" the courts that riders who prefer integrated lines have plenty of alternatives. Again, the point is that there is no reason to interfere with the Mehadrin lines.
The ministry AND Egged both want these Mehadrin lines. That is why they are answering the petition.
Now, as I wrote in my comment on Emes Ve-Emunah (not!), I believe that this action by the Ministry of Transportation does indeed reflect a rare display of common sense, just not the common sense that Rabbi Maryles has in mind.
Two other false points that were brought up by Rabbi Maryles are worthy of comment. One is his statement that:
Poskim like Rav Moshe Feinstein have weighed in on this issue long ago. There is no Halachic requirement to have segregation of the sexes on a public bus.
This is an unmitigated falsehood. Rav Moshe Feinstein never discussed the issue of segregation of sexes for the Israeli Jewish public. His responsa about public transportation merely addressed the American non-Jewish public where segregating sexes is out of the question. In fact, the only thing that can be said in his name in relation to what Jews who have choice must do in public is in Igros Moshe Orach Chaim A: 39 where, in the course of discussing the requirement of mechitzos in shuls, he bases the requirement on the gemara in Sukka 51b/52a and, based on that, concluded that Jews are required to segregate the sexes "in any place of gathering". I discussed this in an earlier post.
This brings me to the second false point in his post. Rabbi Maryles writes:
The idea of segregating the sexes is on a public bus is merely a Chumra insisted upon by Chasdic sects like those that live in Meah Shearim.
I have written about this countless times. Mekillim like to label Halachos that they do not follow as Chumros. Though there may be legitimate reasons to rely on lenient opinions on many matters, this does not justify calling one who does not rely on lenient opinions as a machmir. If it is in Shulchan Aruch, it is not a chumra.
In terms of segregating the sexes, it is more than clear from Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer 21:1 as well as the simple pshat of Kedoshim Tihiyu according to Rashi and Devarim 23:10,15 and Rav Moshe's teshuva in IgM OC-A:39 and the gemara in Sukka 52a that it references that religious Jews must maintain separation of the sexes wherever it is possible to do so. This is not a chumra any more than Hilchos Yichud. It is Halacha.
To reprint from the post that I linked to 2 paragraphs ago:
It is a sad day in Israel when being medakdek b'mitzvos and not following kulos are called Chumras! And since the issue at hand is a the opportunity to be medakdek b'mitzvos, what is he talking about that grandchildren will be even more machmir? Shulchan Aruch hasn't gotten a bit more "machmir" in 450 years!!So now I want to voice my main complaint and that is the title of Harry's piece:
Tyranny of the Majority - Imposing Chumros on the PublicBoth parts of this title made me scratch my hairless head. For the second part, since when has Kedoshim Tihiyu become a chumra?
And for the first part, how can a majority be tyrannical? If that's what the majority (and the Ministry of Tranportation and Egged) wants, where's the tyranny?