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Just Close Your Eyes

R. Josh Waxman has the latest in piety requirements for airplane travelers. This gemara which I learned this morning seems to be an appropriate comment.

תלמוד בבלי מסכת סוטה דף כב עמוד ב

ת”ר, שבעה פרושין הן: פרוש שיכמי, פרוש נקפי, פרוש קיזאי, פרוש מדוכיא, פרוש מה חובתי ואעשנה, פרוש מאהבה, פרוש מיראה. פרוש שיכמי – זה העושה מעשה שכם. פרוש נקפי – זה המנקיף את רגליו. פרוש קיזאי – א”ר נחמן בר יצחק: זה המקיז דם לכתלים.

רש”י

מקיז דם לכתלים – עושה עצמו כעוצם עיניו שלא יסתכל בנשים ומתוך כך מכה ראשו בכותל והדם יוצא.

Our Rabbis have taught: There are seven types of Pharisees: the shikmi Pharisee, the nikpi Pharisee, the kizai Pharisee, the ‘pestle’ Pharisee, the Pharisee [who constantly exclaims] ‘What is my duty that I may perform it?’, the Pharisee from love [of God] and the Pharisee from fear. The shikmi Pharisee-he is one who performs that action of Shechem. (see Gen. 34) The nikpi Pharisee-he is one who knocks his feet together. The kizai Pharisee-R. Nahman b. Isaac said: He is one who makes his blood flow against walls.
Sotah 22b

Rashi, s.v. meikiz dam le-kotalim (makes his blood flow against walls): He makes himself as if he closes his eyes in order not to look at women, and as a result of this he knocks his head into the wall and blood comes out.

The above text in its entirety is very interesting, and is found in a number of places with variations between them. See Avot de-Rabbi Natan, version B, 45 (Schechter ed., p. 124, here for English trans.), version A, 37 (p. 109); Y. Berachot 9:5, 14b; Y. Sota 5:5, 20c. This source has been discussed with relation to the identification of the Perushim and rabbinic asceticism. Regarding the former, see this important article by Shaye Cohen, and with regard to the latter, see this article by Steven Fraade. Also see this post at On the Main Line. This source even makes an appearance in an official document of the Vatican.

One Response to “Just Close Your Eyes”

  1. 1
    Dovid:

    Inflight movies are an annoyance to the observant traveller. While there is nothing compelling me to look in the direction of the screen, I do feel that secular values (secular vulgarity) are being inflicted on me. I prefer the flights on which there is a screen on the back of each seat to the ones where a larger, more obtrusive screen is positioned for multiple rows.

    Perhaps what bothers me is that seeing the world at large enjoying their inflight entertainment makes me feel like I am being exposed to what they enjoy in the privacy of their own homes.It is like being dragged off the street to spend an evening in their company. The experience is not the same as riding the subway where you are the only Jew in the car. At least there is no sense of the transit authority being the sponsor of whatever vulgarity other riders might be engaging in.

    I agree with most of what you say about the proposal.I am just trying to give voice to the frustration of the observant traveller. I see the airlines’ catering to the majority as an unintentional invasion of my private space. It is difficult to get this across to the airlines by sending an email or speaking to a representative.

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