Mechitzah Etiquette

Can someone explain to me how come it is acceptable for a man to come on the woman’s side of the mechitzah at shul, at a function, anywhere, BUT if a woman should even dare stick her pinky toe on their side it’s a huge scandal? Where is this written? And what on earth are the reasons behind it?

I have 4 sons, sometimes I need to access them, and that necessitates a trip or two into the male domain. I am going there to help out a child not to ogle the menfolk or make an entrance. If my son needs me I am there. Period. Personally, I care not one whit whether I am going where no woman has gone before, but when my sons are asked to tell their mother to leave, it gets my back up.

So lets here it, my intelligent readers – what’s the reason for this double standard?

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  1. michelpaints says:

    I have no reason for this double standard. The reason for the mechitzah should go both ways or not at all, as far as I can reason. Perhaps an intercom is in order (except on Shabbos, naturally).

  2. Susanne says:

    I think we all know that its not for you to ogle the menfolk but to keep the menfolk from ogling you. As my rabbi once put it when we wanted women to be able to speak in shul, men can’t control their sexual thoughts when they see a woman. Yup, he said that…

  3. hadassahsabo says:

    remember that whole thing not too long ago about the Nees in Lakewood and all the male commenters were saying its the women’s fault that the men get turned on – this is the same thing. can’t the rebbeim teach the men to control themselves, instead of blaming us women for every tayveh they have….GRRR!!!

  4. Z! says:

    Sadly, rule #1: It’s a man’s world.

    I.E. You are in the TV room watching TV. It is expected that when the man walks in- he gets to choose the channel. Like you were never watching anything at all…

  5. lomito says:

    Men are simply more attracted to women than women are attracted to men..

  6. hadassahsabo says:

    Z! that TV thing will NOT Happen here..

    lomito – thats such a sweeping generalization. do you have science to back it up?

  7. lomito says:

    It’s more Judaic than scientific (i.e. that’s the impression the Gemara gives). I do think it’s true though that men are more into “eye candy” than women.

    (Though I’m just stating the Talmudic opinion, I’m sure sure it’s objectively bad to have a shul with mixed seating in todays day and age).

  8. hadassahsabo says:

    i know that if i am davening in the same shul as the KoD and I can see him thru the mechitzah, which halachically is permitted, i personally cannot concentrate on my davening. yes, men are more visual as a general rule, but women are visual too. we are not dead LOL

  9. Gavi says:

    In shul, it’s one thing, where the prayer service cannot continue, strictly speaking, when a person of either gender crosses the mechitza line. That’s why I always try to avoid going into the women’s section during tefilla.

    At any other time, where a mechitza is most probably not halachically necessary (even separate dancing, which is mandated by halacha, can take place without a mechitza – it’s just not too practical), I would say that you can cross over at will – my wife and I both do… It’s not like we are trying to hang out together on the wrong side: we need to do something together (most often pass our 11-month-old son to each other so we can eat!).

  10. hadassahsabo says:

    Gavi – i would never go in during davening, but i have seen men go into ladies section at our shul during davening. just seems a bit of a double standard.

  11. Chanief says:

    I REALLY don’t go for the “men just can’t control themselves” school of thought. First off, they sure can. That is if they learn to take personal responsibility instead of taking the lame cop out route. Second of all I, as a woman, will freely admit that I can appreciate a good piece of eye candy when I happen upon one. Do I blame the guy if my thoughts are inappropriate? No way! It’s not his fault he happened to be lifeguarding at our pool (just as an example y’know, uh, I’m not pointing to anyone specific ;o)

    I think a woman crossing to the men’s side being taboo is just another way of keeping women in their place. If men take responsibility for their thoughts and sexuality (which is god given if you believe in god) they will have to recognize that women are equal beings which could chas v’shalom lead to a woman demanding equal religious significance and THAT just cannot be allowed.

  12. hadassahsabo says:

    there are already many Jewish men, religious ones, who DO recognize that women are equal beings. but they are in the minority, unfortunately. Lucky me, though, I married me one. (Love you KoD)

    so, Chanief, how often are you going to the pool these days….;)

  13. Chanief says:

    We actually have yet to hit the pool, but there is always a fair amount of eye candy since they hire young high school students as lifeguards… Wow, that makes me sound so pervy! LOL

    You are lucky to have found one of the men that recognizes that women are equal beings. I find there are actually plenty of Jewish men (religious ones) who feel that way, I was talking more on an establishment and communal level.

  14. Chanief says:

    Oops did I say high school, I meant college…

  15. hadassahsabo says:

    LOL Chanief!!

  16. ladylockandload says:

    Did this happen during graduation, that your son was told to ask you to leave the men’s section? If so, that is very sad :(

  17. hadassahsabo says:

    Lady LnL the school by now knows better than to do that. but it has happened at other places.

  18. Deborah Shaya says:

    The women are much more holy than the men.

    It should therefore be the WOMEN who start putting up the mechitza, and dividing the space in the synagogue – for the men.

    The women have been stupid enough to accept the:

    black opaque glass;
    single windows covered by a thick opaque curtain;
    duvets; and

    that the men (‘dayanim’ &’rabbis’) have put up in the synagogues to screen them off.

    Remember the thick curtains that are actually nailed to the glass, just in case a woman may wish to view a Sefer Torah.

    This is a complete insult to the women – and an insult to Hashem, and the Shechinah.

    It is time this was corrected – by the women.

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