Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Frum Olympian Girl who Kicks Boys

Yes, she is wearing pants.

It's not easy to modestly kick the daylights out of people with such high kicks, wearing a long denim skirt.

Israel's only religious Olympian at Beijing is 20 year old Bat-El Gaterer from the Jewish settlment of Kochav Yaakov -- and she's on the Taekwondo team.

Yes, we're mighty proud!

Twenty-year-old Gaterer grew up at the Kochav Yaakov settlement not far from the West Bank city of Ramallah. At the age of nine, she registered for a street fighting class and her coach suggested she focus on footwork. Recognizing her potential, he referred her to the Achi-yehuda Dojang club and its team in Jerusalem. Gaterer began learning Taekwondo when she was 12 and hasn’t stopped kicking since. While studying at the girls’ seminary in Ofra, she also started training with Israel's national team.

“Everyone at seminary accepted it (Taekwondo practice) and supported me,” said the Olympic delegate.

And they didn’t have a problem with you practicing with boys and wearing pants on TV?

“The only reason for practicing with boys is the simple fact that there are more of them on the team.”

But isn’t it problematic for you in terms of “negiah” (banned physical contact with the opposite sex)?

“No. It’s a kicking match. I don’t see it as problematic.”

Gaterer failed her first attempt to qualify for the Olympic Games. She sought to reach one of the first places in the Taekwondo World Championship, but only came in fifth. Later on she made up for it by taking the Bronze Medal at the Taekwondo European Championship – and a ticket to China. She hopes to further surprise her fans in the Olympic Games.

What about practice or competitions held on Saturday?

“There’s no practice on Saturday. And my Olympic matches don’t fall on Saturdays. We checked it.”

Could you imagine representing Israel in the Olympic Games?

“I didn’t even dream of it, but when I started training I got to like the idea. Not to mention the fact that I once thought of becoming a pilot or an astronaut.”

What are your chances to win a medal?

“I hope for the best.”

Does practicing Taekwondo changed you or are you just as observant as before?

“I am just as religious as I was before.”

And you never contemplated quitting it (religion) for career’s sake?

“Never. At first it was really hard to incorporate the two, but I did it.” (YNET)

Go Win the Gold for us all!


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

84 comments:

the apple said...

Hrmmmm.

While I admire her talent, I'm not sure I agree with the choices she has made. And I've been in similar situations - the non-tzanua sport/activity versus the values/dictates you believe in.

Holy Hyrax said...

What, is a tzanua sport?
How is what she is doing untzanua? This isn't ballroom dancing.

~ Sarah ~ said...

well good luck to her.
go for gold.

the apple said...

She *is* wearing pants. Maybe for her that isn't as much of an issue.

SuperRaizy said...

Oh, please, stop already with the "she's wearing pants" nonsense. This girl is terrific! She deserves our full support.

the apple said...

With all due respect, it isn't nonsense. It's a huge struggle for someone who is passionate about something like a sport that compromises their halakhic observance to make the sacrifice between their sport and their observance. I am not saying that you shouldn't support her and that she shouldn't win. I simply think that a girl like this can make things difficult for someone who has to decide whether or not to continue with an activity that isn't up to tzniut standards. I have been in that position myself and it's a very big deal to give something up. Having someone who seems to skirt the system, no pun intended, is a little demoralizing. And it makes you wonder if you really had to give up what you did. Etc etc.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

i think the appropriate response is "you go girl" :-P

BBJ said...

Maybe frum girls should try fencing. Women did that for ages in ankle-length skirts.

Anyway, believing as I do that pants are perfectly fine on girls, I think this is great. She's so cute! Kol ha kavod!

Anonymous said...

Kol HaKavod!!!

SuperRaizy said...

apple-
I apologize if I offended you. That wasn't my intention. I just find it very frustrating that the only thing that seems to matter these days is what kind of clothing/hat/yarmulke people are wearing. You have here a young girl who has found something that she excells at. The interview makes it clear that she takes her religious beliefs very seriously. And a karate uniform is unisex in nature, it's not even "beged ish", and it completely covers her legs. Don't we put enough unreasonable restrictions on girls already, do we really have to look for more?

Benji Lovitt said...

Hopefully she will inspire other fighters to become religious women.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Apple: If I recall correctly, R' Moshe Feinstein zt'l didnt have an issue with women wearing pants when going skiing because that was the most appropriate way to ski.

He didn't say "don't go skiing"...in fact, he didn't even say "wear a skirt over pants" (that evolved over time).

I'll see if I can find a source for this, it's been quoted a few times around the web.

On the other hand, I'm not sure that the idea of being a professional Taikwando competitor is the ideal of tzniut, but if she has already made the decsion, then I think pants aren't really an issue.

Holy Hyrax said...

I think R' Ovadia Yosef also ruled that wearing ski pants is allowed.

What would we say about some of the religious nurses out there that wear pants, should they simply get another profession? Or, have never chosen that profession to begin with?

Personally, as long as pants are not super tight on the skin like biker shorts, I don't see what the issue of pants are. Especially when it is in the context of a specific activity and not always wearing it.

Sim Zacks said...
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rockofgalilee said...

Girls pants is more of a social Jewish issue then a religious issue.

Skin tight skirts are permitted while baggy pants are not. (Not that she is wearing baggy pants). It is more to keep the Jews hanging out with other Jews by wearing a similar uniform.

Apple, did you ask a shaila about your sport or did you just assume that it was forbidden? If you asked, was the answer because "girls are not allowed to wear pants in public", or was it for another reason?

the apple said...

Superraizy - trust me, what someone wears is NOT what is the only thing that matters to me. Look, I admire her resolve and how she stuck with her training. But as someone who chose to give something up (more than a few somethings, actually) so that I wouldn't feel like I was compromising my values and observance, it is a bit of a wrench to see someone seemingly doing the opposite. (Hey, who knows. Maybe it's residual jealousy :).)

Jameel - please do. I figured she was working off of some sort of psak or heter, but I am curious to know what it is.

Holy Hyrax - I don't know. Obviously the issue is more complex. Would there be a difference in the cases, though, considering that a nurse's job involves pikuach nefesh and a professional martial artist's . . . doesn't?

Rock of galilee - well, my "sport" was ballet, so I think parading around on a stage wearing little more than underwear was self-explanatory as "not okay" :). That didn't make it any less difficult to stop dancing. Secondly, skin-tight skirts are NOT permitted - they may fit the letter of the law, but not the spirit as I see it. Just because people wear them doesn't mean that they are halakhically acceptable.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Apple: I'm still on the prowl for the alleged R' Moshe psak. Will keep everyone posted.

rockofgalilee said...

The apple -

I would bet, though I have never asked, that there is room in Judaism for a woman to excel in ballet.

When I said skin tight skirts are permitted, I didn't mean halachically, I meant societally. Baggy pants may be 100% tznius, but a religious girl would be looked down upon if she chose to wear them. However, form fitting tight skirts are regularly seen and accepted in our society.

Tznius has 2 parts, halachic and societal. The societal part is important as it keeps us unified, but it is also the part that is possible to bend in certain circumstances.

rockofgalilee said...

This is relevant:

http://www.frumsatire.net/2008/05/27/philosophizing-about-orthodox-women-who-wear-pants/

If you get a warning about it being a dangerous site, you can ignore it.

Anonymous said...

There was an article in "Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society" entitled I think "May women wear pants?" which has a comprehensive discussion of whether and in what circumstances pants are allowed, citing authorities on both sides of the debate.

(Unfortunately I don't remember which issue it was...)

Holy Hyrax said...

>though, considering that a nurse's job involves pikuach nefesh and a professional martial artist's . . . doesn't?

Well, she doesn't HAVE to become a nurse. She can choose something else, avoid the pikuach nefesh and still keep all her values intact.

RivkA with a capital A said...

1. It is completely AWESOME that there is a frum girl in the Olympics!! I hope she totally kicks ***!!!

2. Why assume that Gaterer sees Taekwondo as a compromise -- it is entirely possible that she did not feel that she had to compromise halachikally in order to begin/continue/compeet in Taekwondo

3. Why assume that there is no halachik basis for what she does. How do you know she did not check with a Rav.

4. When I was practicing Martial Arts (MANY moons ago), I finally got up the nerve to approach my Rav, to check if there were halachik problems with what I was doing. I was so grateful when my Rav told me that I could continue.

My Rav made it clear that he was not giving an across the board "heter"; he gave an answer specifically to me, knowing who I am and what my attitude was towards the martial art. I was honestly surprised, and so relieved, because I was terrified that I would be forced to give up something that was so important to me (and integral to my physical, and mental, health).

5. Pants is so not the problematic issue in Martial Arts.

6. If more religious women (and men) fought to compete in Martial Arts, while maintaining their religious standards, then there will be more and more room for other religious women (and men) to do the same.

7. While it is unfortunate that sometimes we need to give up something we love for the sake of our observance, it is completely unacceptable to criticize someone else for making different choices and then blaming them for why it is difficult for us. -- there is a mitzvah of being "dan l'kav zchut"

the apple said...

Rock of galilee - yeah sure. In an all-womens' dance company that only performs for women. Not available where I live.

HH - and I bet there are people who would say that that is the best course of action. What do I know? I'm just the party pooper who clearly can't see the forest for the trees.

RivkA - saying "I'm not sure I agree" is a lot different than saying she should drop out and that she is doing everything wrong, which I didn't say at all. Maybe she does have a psak for what she does. Funny that she doesn't mention it at all in the interview, and she actually completely ignores the question when the interviewer asks her about pants. And please explain where I blamed her for having to give up my own thing.

Erachet said...

I just find it very frustrating that the only thing that seems to matter these days is what kind of clothing/hat/yarmulke people are wearing.

Not the same. There's a difference between judging a guy based on what material his kippa is made out of vs. a girl following halachik standards. Yes, there are sources for girls to wear pants, but for a girl who believes that the correct halachik decision is to wear only skirts, it's a big deal to give that up in favor of a sport.

On the other hand, I've also heard of an opinion that if you are going skiing, you should wear ski pants. I don't remember who said it, thought.

A bigger issue, I would think, is that of negiah. I know that kicking a guy is not the same as other forms of negiah, but in martial arts if you are kicking and punching and wrapping your arms around someone to twist them certain ways (I don't actually know real moves, but in general in karate-like sports things like that are done), stuff like that...it seems a bit sketchy, to me.

I have mixed feelings about it. I think it's great that a frum girl is going for her dreams, but it's also an odd representation of being a frum girl. I guess.

TikunOlam said...

I was still doing tae kwon do (which I had started in JHS) through my few years I was wearing long skirts at the beginning of college. I was very serious about "negia" and "tznius" at that time in my life and it never even occurred to me to consider wearing pants during sport time and kicking men to be a violation of halacha. It certainly wasn't "derech chiba." And wearing a skirt while kicking, well, that would be both ridiculous and unsafe. I would wear my skirts over my uniform to and from practice/meets and was never criticized for it, ever, in the OJ community.

And BTW, there are plenty of women in the MO community that wear pants. Not everyone holds that it is a problem anyway. Same with negia - not everyone holds that it is generalized to all forms of touching. So maybe people could recognize that the pants wearing and touching involved may not be an issue in her specific community and with her specific rav?

Either way - good for her! She is making me very proud!

Batya said...

Remember that she's Israeli and a graduate of Ulpanat Ofra. Rav Moshe Feinstein was never her rabbi.

The question of loose pants has been an issue in that girls high school since my daughters were there twenty years ago. Slacks on difficult hikes are safer, and that's the custom.

Bat El is competing as a proud Jew and Israeli, not making excuses. Let her name speak for her and good luck to her.

Lion of Zion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lion of Zion said...

For videos of Bat El:

Frum Taekwondo Girl at the Olympics

Lion of Zion said...

ok, that didn't work. try this:

Frum Taekwondo Girl at the Olympics

Lion of Zion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lion of Zion said...

jameel:

from what i saw, it is not at all unusual for dati leumi girls in israel to wear pants. especially over the last few years with those indian (?) pants.

when i was on kibbutz, where it is commonplace, we were told that at one time a prominent israeli rav (don't remember who) permitted it.

wheras i don't at all care about a girl wearing pants, for some reason participating in a formal competition on shabbat bothers me.

rockofgalilee said...

Signing up for a weekly shabbat competition is different then to learn the shabbat rules about how to compete in specific competitions.

If there is a once/twice a year where her shabbat isn't as spiritual as it could be, while she is still following halacha, I don't see room to criticize.

Rafi G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lion of Zion said...

ROCK:

i wasn't criticizing or claiming that her competitions violate halakhah. it just doesn't feel right. you know, it's just not shabbosdik (and i don't use that phrase lightly).

rockofgalilee said...

I agree with you about the shabbosdik. I personally feel that if you are shabbosdik most of the year and do something non-shabbosdik on occassion.
For example, if you went on a two week camping trip, it's not shabbosdik, but you keep shabbos in a non-shabbosdik way and the next week you are shabbosdik again.

In my opinion, shabbosdik is a klal and as we know:
כל דבר שהיה בכלל ויצא מן הכלל לטעון טען אחר שהוא כעניינו יצא להקל ולא להחמיר,

Anonymous said...

It is prohibited to draw blood, and possibly even to cause a bruise, on Shabbat. Not sure exactly what this martial art entails, but that could preclude competing on Shabbat automatically.

Rafi G said...

haha! check out loz! I KNEW ABOUT THIS FIRST!

rockofgalilee said...

very good point.

G said...

Yes, it's very cool she's going and would be even more so if she wins.

As for being proud...no more than I will be if my hometown hero Sir LeBron comes back with a Gold.

Moshe said...

Nothing new. Tora Dojo has a lot of frum women in it. My wife goes with me and there are more frum women in our dojo. Sparring and paired exercises are separate. Women can wear skirts over their gi if they want and wearing a gi is only encouraged after yellow belt.

As far as I know, "wrapping your arms around someone" is only in judo. In karate, with the sparring gear on, kinda hard to wrap your arms around someone.

Bruising is a problem. I doubt if it's possible to compete on shabbat.

Moshe said...

Btw, on the video, she was wearing pants outside too. Though I don't consider that a reason to call her not frum.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I personally dont think sports on shabbat are the epitome of Shabbat Menucha. Plus, competitive sports where you get all sweated up seems out of the spirit of shabbat.

However, none of her matches in the Olympics are on shabbat, she's observing shabbat, definitely eating only kosher, and she's very proud of her religious observance.

Overall, I think her participation is a Kiddush Hashem.

Is she the "perfect" role model for a religious Jewish woman? In today's modern world, there are many ways a person can be a role model.

G said...

Here we go, and I thought we were gonna be able to get through this w/o the term coming up...

Kiddush Hashem?...really?

RivkA with a capital A said...

apple -- you wrote "RivkA - saying "I'm not sure I agree" is a lot different than saying she should drop out and that she is doing everything wrong, which I didn't say at all. Maybe she does have a psak for what she does. Funny that she doesn't mention it at all in the interview, and she actually completely ignores the question when the interviewer asks her about pants. And please explain where I blamed her for having to give up my own thing."

First of all, I did not write anything about you. I simply made some general comments. If you think they apply to your situation, then perhaps they do.

Since the interview was in a newspaper, we don't really know what was/was not said in the interview. We only know what was printed in the article.

Pants, as noted several times by other commentors, is not really a halachik problem, so there is no reason for her to focus on that issue.

------------------------------

There is close physical contact in Judo, Jujitsu, and Aikido (to name a few).

Regarding the Olympics, you all do realize that she will only be competing against other women, right?

I definitely agree with Jameel -- a frum Jewish woman competing in the Olympics is absolutely a Kiddush HaShem.

Ezzie said...

Pants, as noted several times by other commentors, is not really a halachik problem, so there is no reason for her to focus on that issue.

...except that she was asked a direct question on the subject. And to say "it's not really a halachic problem" is simply untrue. Even among the small portion of Orthodox women who wear pants, most would say that they must be very loose-fitting pants. I'd hesitate to put these in that category (and she's wearing tight jeans in the clip of her elsewhere). While certainly her Shabbos and Kashrus observance is commendable, let's not over exaggerate it.

Lion of Zion said...

G:

"Kiddush Hashem?...really?"

she is showing that having dreams and observance are not mutually exclusive. that may not mean much to you, but there are people who feel pressured to choose between the two.

Lion of Zion said...

ROCK OF GALIL

"For example, if you went on a two week camping trip, it's not shabbosdik, but you keep shabbos in a non-shabbosdik way and the next week you are shabbosdik again."

getting very off topic here, but i really don't think camping is not shabbosdik. jews did not always live in the modern city and at one time our daily lives were closer to that of the camper than the urbanite. just because its not familiar to us anymore doesn't mean it's not shabbosdik.

i've never camped on shabbat myself, but my father does it with religious boy scouts. if anything, i think it is a great chinuch experience because you really have to make an effort to do everything correctly. things that we don't even think about they have to learn about and do. even putting up an eruv.

and on that note,
shabbat shalom

TikunOlam said...

"Even among the small portion of Orthodox women who wear pants, most would say that they must be very loose-fitting pants. I'd hesitate to put these in that category (and she's wearing tight jeans in the clip of her elsewhere)."
Ezzie

OMG, are you kidding me? Have you never heard of people who refer to themselves as "dati" but wear jeans? Have you never met anyone in the states who grew up in a Young Israel/Hebrew Academy/Ramaz/Yeshiva of Flatbush/Frisch/Hillel HS/Northshore Hebrew Academy/B'nei Akiva/Morasha/Mesorah/Camp Lavi/Camp Hatikvah/Camp Tagola/Moshava/Camp Hillel/Achva world?

Are all these people not "dati" in your eyes too? These are MO organizations/schools/shuls/camps -some directly under the NCYI. Are you rejecting this whole MO world as "dati?"

Ezzie, get a clue - there is a whole world outside of the ones in which women wear long skirts that is accepted by a whole section of the OJ world as "MO."

Lurker said...

Ezzie: And to say "it's not really a halachic problem" is simply untrue.

Are you unaware of the fact that there are plenty of Orthodox rabbis who pasken that women may wear pants?

G said...

I definitely agree with Jameel -- a frum Jewish woman competing in the Olympics is absolutely a Kiddush HaShem.

Why?

she is showing that having dreams and observance are not mutually exclusive. that may not mean much to you, but there are people who feel pressured to choose between the two.

Let's try and stay on point.
The question is , for the sake of argument in regard to this comment, does what you state above fall into the category of Kiddush Hashem?

It is a term, much like Chillul Hashem, that gets bandied about without much thought as to what it really represents.
That it is a nice story or that you are proud of her actions has is almost beside the point.

DTC said...

Let's call a spade a spade....

To those who call themselves "chareidi", any public demonstration of something that is not 100% according to how they see halacha can not be a kiddush hashem.

To the non chareidi public, which views interaction with the "secular" world to be a positive step, then someone who interacts with said world while maintaining and demonstrating fealty to halacha would be considered a kiddush hashem.

Do we wish to see this particular glass as half full or half empty?

Most of the "secular" world appreciates sincerity. If someone goes and shows that his/her commitment to halacha is sincere, then that would be a kiddush hashem. Even if there were room to quibble over the exact nature of the observance, the fact that he/she publicly demonstrates sincerity in said observance could be considered a kiddush hashem.

(of course, the next argument would be "would I say the same about the public demonstration of sincerity by Reform/Conservative?" That's a good question but if what they are showing sincerity to isn't halacha then no. This may sound like a double standard but where the target's starting point makes a difference.)

This vaguely reminds me of R. Feldman's column in the J-Post (and other sources) about his experience as a Pulpit Rabbi in Atlanta who manages to outjump adults half his age to catch a foul ball during the 1996 World Series. As he put it, "is this a kiddush hashem or not? "

Erachet said...

tikunolam - Whoa. Get a GRIP. All Ezzie said was that you can't say wearing pants is not a halachik problem. He never said people who wear pants are not dati. Where are you getting that from? And he's right, by the way. I have friends who wear pants but they only do so because they made it their business to learn the halachot and they decided that there are enough sources they trust to support them wearing pants. But taking the time to learn halachot of an issue already says that it's a halachik issue that's not so clear.

G said...

Most of the "secular" world appreciates sincerity.

No offense, but this is part of what I'm talking about.

Kiddush Hashem has zero to do with the appreciation of the "secular" world, as you put it.

Lion of Zion said...

G:

"The question is , for the sake of argument in regard to this comment, does what you state above fall into the category of Kiddush Hashem?"

there are other ways to perform a kiddush hashem besides being consigned to the auto-da-fe as a martyr.

as i defined her actions (and as explained further by DTC), for me personally it is a kiddush hashem. not everyone can consign themselves to being a cookie-cut jew.

as an afterthought, and i don't expect you to agree with me, anyone who publicly demonstrates that a jew can kick some tachat is also performing a kiddush hashem

Lion of Zion said...

G:

many secular jews reject religion as outmoded and not relevant for a modern jew. for these secular jews, all they know about orthodoxy is the cookie-cut haredi model.

she is showing them that being fully engaged in this world and following one's personal passions is not a reason to reject judaism.

i think that is a very important message that is doing a very good job of spreading.

Lion of Zion said...

G:

sorry for the third comment, but perhaps i can put it more succintly:

she is serving as public role model, both to religious and secular jews at the same time, demonstrating that fealty to judaism and being an individual can co-exist.

from my (admittedly MO) perspective, that is a message that can keep religous jews in the fold and can be mekarev secular jews.

rockofgalilee said...

I would define kiddush hashem is an action that makes people think positively about Torah Judaism.

I would define going to the Olympics while publicly being shomer mitzvos as a kiddush hashem

G said...

loz-

Fair enough, i may not agree with your definition but i see your point.

rog-

that makes people think positively about Torah Judaism.

Again, a Kiddush Hashem has nothing to do with "people" at large. It is only in respect to other jews.

DTC said...

G:

Actually, you're right. The term Kiddush Hashem would technically not be applicable for this case regarding non Jews. (we use the term colloquially all the time but every now and then a time comes where you have to be specific.)

The correct way to say it would be that someone who is respected by the non Jewish world for being a Torah observant Jew would be fullfilling "L'taken Olam B'Malchut Sha-kai". That's the real definition of Tikkun Olam.

Therefore, the post is left with two questions:
1) Is this kiddush hashem?
2) Is this tikkun olam?

Holy Hyrax said...

>Ezzie, get a clue - there is a whole world outside of the ones in which women wear long skirts that is accepted by a whole section of the OJ world as "MO."

Tikkun Olam, personally, I don't really care if OJ's wear pants (as long as its modest), but most MO's accept this because they have no choice. They know their community and know their capablities and are not going to start giving mussar about it. But if you ask an MO rav, most likely, he would tell you that a skirt is more in keeping with halacha

Gila said...

"Even among the small portion of Orthodox women who wear pants, most would say that they must be very loose-fitting pants. I'd hesitate to put these in that category (and she's wearing tight jeans in the clip of her elsewhere)."
Ezzie

Many dati leumi here (Israel) also wear pants. "Orthodox" and "Haredi" are not mutually inclusive.

Regarding the kiddush hashem thing--let me see...the other day I read about a modesty patrol beating up a woman in Maalot Dafna. This girl, and her community's acceptance of her, is a pleasant and very public reminder that not everyone in Orthodoxy follows the Taliban role model. It may not help bring anyone back to Judaism, but it may mitigate some of the "anti" sentiment.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...


Again, a Kiddush Hashem has nothing to do with "people" at large. It is only in respect to other jews.


Really? If "Chilul Hashem" seems directed at viewing G-d and the Jewish negatively, as a result of inappropriate action or non-action by Jews, then wouldn't the flip-side of Kiddush Hashem be equally applied?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

G: Regarding Kiddush Hashem and the secular world...

Devarim Rabbah 3:3, "Once, Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach bought a donkey from an Arab. His students went and found a precious stone hanging around [the donkey's] neck. Rebbi said to him 'It is the blessing of God that enriches.' R. Shimon ben Shetach said to him 'I bought a donkey. I did not buy a precious stone.' He went and returned it to the Arab and the Arab said 'Blessed is the God of Shimon ben Shetach.'"

Kiddush Hashem has everything to do with the way we are seen by the secular world.

When a Jewish astronaut demonstrates any connection to Judaism for the whole planet to see, that is a Kiddush Hashem.

When a Jewish ballplayer does not play on Yom Kippur, that is a Kiddush Hashem.

When an Jewish Olympian is concerned enough about her Shabbat observance to inquire in advance if there are any games to be played on shabbat, and when she is the only kosher-observing Olympian in the Beijing Olympics -- how is that NOT a kiddush hashem?

Is she the perfect bas-yisrael role model? That depends on your worldview.

There is no way the Chareidi world would view her as a role model, but I'm not Chareidi.

By someone going to the Olympics and bringing kosher food with her, not playing on shabbat (which she clearly said she is not going, because none of her matches are on shabbat), this is very noteworthy and positive.

Maybe someone will see this and say - "keeping kosher is important enough for her...maybe it should be for me as well"

Look at the bright side -- at least she's not in the swimming competition...

the sabra said...

Backwards thinking.

Liz said...

Interestingly enough, the quote in the interview was that she did not see "negiah" as being problematic in a kicking match and there are shitot going all the way back to the Rambam in support of that idea (and, yes, others that would still deem it unacceptable, but one assumes that she is relying on the literature that considers touching that is clearly not derech chibah to be mutar). She never says anything about pants or, if she does, it is never directly stated in the interview. So we don't really know on whom she is relying or why. She does say that it was really hard to incorporate the two, but she feels like she managed to do so. Kudos to her!

Anonymous said...

The REAL question is: which will be harder: winning the gold... or finding a shidduch? LOL

Moishe3rd said...

Interesting conversation.
Interesting site.
Thank you.
(I linked via Seraphic Secret.)
Did anyone find the Reb Moshe reference?
I would be fascinated to know if allowed women to wear pants while skiing or when otherwise necessary.

Be well,

G said...

If "Chilul Hashem" seems directed at viewing G-d and the Jewish negatively, as a result of inappropriate action or non-action by Jews, then wouldn't the flip-side of Kiddush Hashem be equally applied?

I am sorry but no. Unless said act results in said outcome by Jews then there is no issue of Chillul Hashem...that doesn't make it any better, it just makes it something else!

Kiddush Hashem has everything to do with the way we are seen by the secular world.

Again I am sorry but that is incorrect, and the source you brought does nothing to prove otherwise if you read it carefully.

All of your other points are well taken and make for a very nice, cool, proud etc story.

They MAY also lead to a Kiddush Hashem as outlined by LOZ.

Yet to simply redefine the term and throw it around willy nilly is incorrect.

The story is what it is, why is that not enough? It does not need to be what it is not in order to be something.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

G: Well ok - can you please state your definition of Kiddush Hashem, along with sources, and why it is disconnected from the eyes of the secular beholder?

rockofgalilee said...

G,

Do you have sources for your definition?

TikunOlam said...

"of course, the next argument would be "would I say the same about the public demonstration of sincerity by Reform/Conservative?" That's a good question but if what they are showing sincerity to isn't halacha then no. This may sound like a double standard but where the target's starting point makes a difference.)"-DTC

Whoa. And what is the "starting point here?" What exactly is your point here altogether?

G said...

Off the top of my head I only remember the pasuk we learn Chillul Hashem out from: vyikra 22:32

וְלֹא תְחַלְּלוּ, אֶת-שֵׁם קָדְשִׁי, וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי, בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל: אֲנִי יְהוָה, מְקַדִּשְׁכֶם.

And ye shall not profane My holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD who hallow you,

I will go back and find the original sources from Gemarah (I believe Sanhedrin) and the Rambam (Sefer Hamitzvot & Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah) that talk in more detail about Kiddush Hashem.

TikunOlam said...

"But if you ask an MO rav, most likely, he would tell you that a skirt is more in keeping with halacha"-HH

There are a whole host of things that would be more "in keeping with halacha" that are not practiced by many people who call themselves OJ. It is a social club where people pick and choose which halachot apparently bring about "kiddush hashem." My sense is that too many who have been commenting here believe that because this 20 year old athlete wears pants, we can't exaggerate her piousness to the point of believing that she could be a kiddush hashem. Not to mention the comment about a Jew of another denomination. . .

So many judges of so many people. Now that does not seem to be in keeping with halacha either. . .but I wouldn't know halacha, I am not an OJ.

RivkA with a capital A said...

For arguments sake, let's leave the non-Jews out of the Kiddush HaShem argument.

There will certainly be plenty of Jews whose Jewish identity will be strengthened, and others who will be curious about Jewish observance, as a result of this woman who identifies herself as a religious Jew.

Her participation will cause Jews, the world over, to be proud of being a Jew, and will encourage other Jews, who might feel torn about standing up for their rights as Jews, to participate in sports without compromising their religious beliefs.

There will certainly be Jews for whom this woman is *the* trigger to learning more about Torah, God and Israel.

If that is not a Kiddush HaShem, then I do not know what is.

Commenter Abbi said...

G, you're playing a silly of semantics. Even if you found a stack of sources proving otherwise , the excepted colloquial definition of chillul/kiddush Hashem today is behaving in ways that either desecrate/bring honor to Hashem while presenting oneself as a frum Jew (however one defines this frumkeit)to both Jews and non-Jews. You might not believe this is "correct" but that's really irrelevant since most frum pple today understand/accept this definition. Most pple's first reaction when they hear of a financial scandal perpetrated by a frum Jew is not "How terrible but at least technically it's not a real chillul Hashem". It's "Wow, what a terrible chillul Hashem". Because it's clearly, someone who is representing a community of God desecrated His name. The technicality of Jews vs. nonJews doesn't lessen this desecration.

This is not the first time that terms may take on different colloquial meanings than the original sources intended and it's certainly won't be the last.

G said...

Granted.

-pet peeve

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

G: Your pet peeve is simply pathetic.

Would you say that Sandy Koufax's refusal to play in the first game of the 1965 World Series baseball because it fell Yom Kippur -- was not a kiddush Hashem?

Despite not being religious, his action inspired a generation of Jewish youngsters -- and impressed the importance of their Jewish heritage. Why would that not be a Kiddush Hashem?

BTW - in every article I've read about Bat-El, they mention that she always walks to events on Shabbat and is staunchly Kosher and she only brings her own food with her when Kosher food isn't available.

G said...

"Pathetic" he types.

Not sure why this has touched such a sensitive nerve. At no point did i state that this was not or could not be a Kiddush Hashem. Nor did I say anything disparaging of the young lady involved. I simply questioned the idea that it was a forgone conclusion that this is and/or would be a Kiddush Hashem.

That question gets even murkier when it is unclear as to what the definition of the term is, not to mention how one measures it being accomplished.

Again, I am not sure why it is so diffucult to be able to seperate taking issue with one point of a topic without doing away with its entirety.

Commenter Abbi said...

Maybe if you attended the annual MLA [Modern Language Association] convention, you'd find pple who enjoy semantic discussions. Most pple don't really enjoy them.

Also, you're attempt to "take issue" with one topic hasn't really illuminated or enlightened that issue. All you've highlighted is that, really according to the sources, kiddush/chillul Hashem only applies within Am Yisrael. So what? If Hashem's name is elevated among non-Jews in addition to Jews, why does this matter?

Basically you're peeved by the accepted, colloquial understanding of the terms, and it's unclear to me as to why- corny factor? Too many Hanoch Teller stories? Not sure. In any case, most people who read this story feel proud of her and feel she elevates Hashem's name in the world, which is enough for them.

G said...

semantics? sorry, i see this as slightly more important than that.

Why?

I feel that it waters down the term and allows for many things that have no business being associated with it to be simply labeled as though they do.

It is from the highest (and conversely the lowest) things that one can accomplish and it gets tossed around w/o thought.

It's wrong in my opinion - plain and simple.
That people do it and it has become accepted holds little value to me.

Like I said, it just makes it something else.

Lurker said...

Everyone, stop arguing!

After much research, I have finally resolved the question of what sort of thing is to be called a kiddush Hashem, as well as what is to be called a chilul Hashem.

The answer can be found here.

There, now you know what a real kiddush Hashem is.

The Northernmost Jew said...

I like the comment from Steg (above) who said

'i think the appropriate response is "you go girl" :-P'

BTW, I got a job teaching in a village where the temperature was often -40 (yes, negative 40) and often I had to climb over 6 foot high snowbanks to get to work. I hope the rabbis would be OK with my wearing pants! (The only time I saw anyone in a skirt was at a wedding and the graduation.)

Moshe said...

No, they'd tell you that if you'd really have faith in G-d, you'd wear a skirt. ;-)

the sabra said...

Uh and the reason a skirt can't be worn over the pants...?

O whatever.

Now's a great time to be judgin others favorably...respecting rabbis..coming closer to Gd...learning from others..

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