Opinion: Wouldn’t You Want The Best For Your Children?


kidsBy Sara Dafner

The attitude and comments of posters who responded to the Matzav.com article about an alternative girls’ school in Yerushalayim and Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman’s p’sak left me both pained and, in a sad sort of way, amused.

I am not writing in order to chas veshalom comment on the Rosh Yeshiva‘s psak. My words are addressed to all those commenters who so quickly disparaged the families who wanted to open this school.

Look at New York.  If you live in Boro Park or Flatbush, for example, you have a wide choice of where to send your children.  There is a wide array of Bais Yaakovs as well as other schools – each with its own criteria, its own dress code, its own code of behavior, its own limits.

Why are people so quick to belittle parents in Eretz Yisroel who want the same kinds of options for their children?

I know parents who have opened schools similar to the one described in this article.  They are not elitist snobs.  They are caring, sincere ovdei Hashem who have seen the problems in the Bais Yaakovs and want something more for their daughters.  They want a standard of dress, a standard of behavior and a standard of speech that echo that which they are trying to impart to their daughters at home.  We are not talking about families who advocate burkas (which, incidentally, were banned by the Eidah Hachareidis).  We are talking about real issues that anyone can understand, even if not agree with.

No one has a problem with chassidishe families here in Eretz Yisroel sending their daughters to chassidishe schools, which have very different  – i.e., much higher – standards than the standard Bais Yaakovs.  Why should any commenter deny Litvish or Sefardi parents the same?

What I find most amusing – or exasperating, as the case may be – is that many of those who are so quick to vilify these parents do so in the name of…achdus.

Achdus doesn’t mean that everyone has to be the same.  Achdus doesn’t mean that some families can’t be more machmir than others.  Or want their daughters to go to a school that reflects that.

Achdus means that even if you are more – or less – machmir than I am, that’s okay.  You are you, and that’s fine.  And I am me, and that’s fine.  We can love each other as Yidden and respect each other, too.  We wish each other gut Shabbos and help each other out when the need arises.  But you don’t have to want to send your daughter to my school and I don’t have to want to send my daughter to yours.

Rav Shteinman has his reasons for his p’sak, and chalilah for us to decide that we know better.  But he didn’t condemn the parents for their intentions, and his p’sak doesn’t give anyone else license to do so, either.  To jump down the throats of parents for sincerely wanting higher standards for their daughters – in the name of achdus, no less – doesn’t bring unity to Klal Yisroel.  It just pushes it further away.

{Sara Dafner-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. The whole problem is in this statement:
    which have very different – i.e. much higher – standards than the standard Bais Yaakovs.

    The point is they are not “higher”. the attitude that to Assur more is somehow automatically “higher” is Gaava and is itself asur. that’s the Rav’s psak, stop trying to outfrum others, it’s destructive. The only things you mentioned in your letter are dress, speech, etc. All externalities. Let’s focus on Avodas Hashem, Achdus, Maasim Tovim and aim for these “higher standards”.

  2. Some people who send their children to these higher level schools, put their minds-& way of thinking-that their child(ren) are smarter, more yeshivish or can handle a higher level school etc… & should send them there separating them from all the Bais Yaakov school girls & parents who send them there.

    Thus causing these elite parents the bad mida of pride & respect… causing a person C”V to forget hashem & turn him down off the derech C”V.

    Thus Harav Shteinman said every girl & their parents are equal & needs to keep a low profile-away from pride- & go in the ways of humility.

  3. Not to denigrate the writer but if Mrs Dafner would just take a look at this video previously posted on Matzav

    It would seem quite clear that Rav Shteinman is not quite a fan of the so called “standards” you refer to.

    That said this isnt a question of achdus, which I think you defined quite nicely, it is a question of chinuch. To be mechaneich children with the concept that we are frummer then others or as you write “have higher standards” then others is extremly diffrent then saying we have a different mesorah i.e. chassidish, litvish, sphardic then our neighbor but we can still davan in the same minyan.
    Granted some are under the impression that being chasidish or yeshivish or whatever title you wish makes one have higher standards, baruch hashem each group has their rabannim and mesorahs to rely on and what may seem like a higher standard such as tznius, is not necessarily “higher” but just more stringent.

  4. It is evident that the author is clearly not “hearing” R Shteinman.

    Her argument has been heard – and firmly rejected quite emphatically by the Gadol Hador.

    It would behoove the author to read his psak again, try and understand it – and then accept his words and move on. Or at least admit to herself that she is not machshiv the posek.

  5. How will these school’s, that you wan’t, produce better Mothers & wife’s? They are obviously trained to marry full time learners. How will these girls who know extra Shulchan Aruch be better Mothers? How does a seminary girl who get’s straight A’s know how to comfort her child, stay up all night with a child that has fever, make a better kugel, etc… better than the B student? This whole elitist school business is geared towards getting a “better” shidduch, so an elitist boy can marry an elitist girl! That’s a guarantee for an everlasting blissfull nervana fantasy marriage just like in the story books! NOT!

  6. To the writer of the article:
    If you don’t want to comment on the Rosh Yeshiva’s psak then don’t.
    No matter what, YOU ARE COMMENTING even though it is in a round-about-way.

  7. “Why are people so quick to belittle parents in Eretz Yisroel who want the same kinds of options for their children?”


    The option you are decribing is not just about creating a “higher standard”. It is about putting these students on the top shelf and keeping everyone else locked out.

    And that is……..GAAVAH!

    Rav Shteinman was not saying his p’sak cloaked in sod and un-discernable thinking. He was saying what you just can’t seem to accept: The fact that separating children on this basis is not what’s best for them.

    Perhaps it would be easier to understand it this way: These parents asked the Rov for his bracha on such a school, because it would be “best” for their children. The Rov did not answer that it might be “best”, but it is still assur. He answered that the entire premise of the question was off-base! It is NOT best. It is WORSE FOR THEM.

  8. As was posted earlier, teaching your kids that they are better is dangerous. You can hold higher standards for yourself in your home and teach your children too. I have seen children who are banned from seeing anything secular, or never being allowed to do certain things – ie: ride bikes, rollerblade, etc., see any videos – even the kosher kind, who become enamored of the things they can’t have and go the opposite way.

  9. The problem is that when we start defining our standards as “much higher” by default the other standards are lower and less good. If it were your daughter excluded or judged less worthy you wouldn’t find it amusing.
    i know the intentions are good, but we are just not there yet. We are not where we see those different from us as equal yidden to us. Keeping our daughters in separate schools means keeping them socially separate also.

  10. I made this point on the previous article and I will make it again. Rav Shteinman is not at all against parents trying to give their children the best education in the best environment possible. That idea is very holy and is healthy and natural and justified in all circles. Rav Shteinman’s point which clearly alludes the writer of this article is that when it comes to the point (which it has) where Beis Ya’akov will be seen as the second rate school because nowadays every developed place has to have the “better than Beis Ya’akov standard school option” that is when we put our foot down and say absolutely not. We refuse to allow under any circumstances that Beis Ya’akov should become viewed by Yirei Shamayim in Klal Israel as second rate. NO WAY. The author sites Chassidim as a precident. This is a weak comparison because the Chassidim make what is called Beis Ya’akov Hachassidi. That is different. When the litvishe do it it is called some other name altogether that doesn’t bare semblance or connection to the Beis Ya’akov system – THIS is unacceptable. Now many years ago when this trend started quietly in a few places it was tolerated and even got the blessing of Rav Shteinman himself and his Nesiyus in many cases. BUT today that the movement is to basically leave Beis Ya’akov behind as the second rate system – HERE and only HERE we draw the line. If Rav Shteinman felt that Beis Ya’akov was inadequate and substandard he wouldn’t say this but he KNOWS that Beis Ya’akov with all of it’s problems is still a fine standard and therefore widespread dissasociation and detachment from it is the wrong way. He knows that it will lead to being MOTZI LAZ on Beis Ya’akov and the girls that go there which is completely unacceptable. In his opinion the move should be to improve upon the Beis Yakov system not discard it. That is the problem and this is what categorizes those pushing for it as elitists with a warped and tainted agenda that must be stopped.

  11. Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to post their comments.

    Secondly, I would like to reiterate that I am NOT ch”v taking issue with Rav Shteinman’s psak. My issue was and is with people who are quick to jump the gun and condemn these parents for their intentions. We have no indication that Rav Shteinman vilified them for their intentions; neither should we.

    Incidentally, there are many schools that have opened in EY with the berachah of gedolei Yisroel, past and present. That should also be remembered before condemning these parents.

  12. I would also like to thank commenter #14, Mr. Baruch, for offering an outstanding clarification of the real issues. His point about Bais Yaakov in general is well-taken, as is his point re: Bais Yaakov HaChassidi (although there are also chassidishe private schools having nothing to do with BY; the Bais Yaakov haChassidi is also not connected with Chinuch Atzmai, rather it has semi-private status).

  13. I don’t agree with your interpretation of the Rav’s psak, but I love your explanation of achdus. It’s really beautiful, and I really hope we can all become b’achdus like that very soon.

  14. Sara, if the school in question were to open this fall, do you think they would allow their parents to be using the internet??

  15. To #19:
    I understand where your question is coming from.
    And the answer is, it depends.
    My daughter also goes to a school where they do not allow Internet.

    But when schools “do not allow Internet” what they mean is that they do not allow children from families with Internet in the home where the kids have access.

    I have Internet Rimon because I need the Internet for my job (I’m a marketing writer).
    I work on a laptop that is closed in its case when I’m not using it.
    My kids have no clue how to work it other than to turn it on and off’, and it’s password protected on more than one level.

    Hope that answers your question.

  16. We gotta listen to the Rav! the Bais Yaacov IS ALREADY A STANDARD FOR GIRLS. Bais Yaacov Purity Acadamy will not make the girls any frummer or stop them from being exposed to bad people or bad middot. It is just another way to make a clear seperation between regular families and those families that believe themselves to be ‘more pure’. If the chassidishe communities practice different levels of observance that is their business not the bais yaacov’s.

  17. Unfortunately you missed Rav Shteiman`s point. As is recorded http://youtu.be/Gk1y8R6nfZ8 when told that certain parents did not want a certain element in their school he said that the parents are baalei gaava when then told that they they are choshuve parents the RY said that that means they are GROISE BAALEI GAAVA , GAAVA ,GAAVA ,GAAVA. Chasidishe Chinuch is not better it is different. Just look at the end product no difference. They have their Lomdin & we have ours & the flip side is true as well they have their problems & we have ours. NOT 1 clique school to date has produced what they intended to . The gem in Nedarim 40A says Binyan Yelodim Stira UStrias ZeKainim Binyan . The RY is not saying that these are bad parents he is merely saying that they have a nekuda of gaava to work on this mida will perpetuate & fester in these girls as well if not checked now

  18. 1. There is a difference between having separate schools for different hashkafot (LItvish, Chassidic,Chardal, etc.) or to develop a child’s abilities (e.g. special schools that emphasize science or technology). It is quite another thing to try to one-up schools that are well within halachic boundaries (Mirror, mirror on the wall: who is the frummest of them all?). BTW, I once went to a wedding that had mixed seating (which Rav Moshe allows). Some nudnik appointed himself to make sure that no man sat next to a woman who was not his wife. He and his wife happened to sit at my table and the conversation turned to the topic of honesty in business. They then not only justified dishonesty but reviled rabbanim (by name)for saying that one must give up all one’s assets to avoid doing a lav.

    2. The children of all of the posters here would be banned from the frummer-than-thou schools because they have Internet. Unless of course they do what many parents do and lie to the school so that the their kids will also be frummer than thou.

  19. Sara – Agreed not every Chassidi school is “Beis Ya’akov” they do have some private ones – but because enough are BY and they generally maintain affiliation with BY therefore the “ruach” of their direction is one of “we need different” not “we need better” – and it is tolerated.

  20. Grow up ! Rav Shteinmen has seen the outcome of this frumer than you attitude !

    How many kids went off because of it

  21. Dear Writer,
    You must do sincere introspection and examine your values and priorities, you apparently don’t know your role in Klall Yisroel and where your opinion should lie.
    Another Yid

  22. Perhaps you did not read the hebrew article that the English language articles were based on.

    There, Rav Shteinman is quoted as saying that the reason he is against these schools is because it is preferable that the girls go to school with girls not exactly like themselves. It teaches them how to better function in society.

    Perhaps, Ms Dafner, you would like to be a bit more specific as to what kind of influences you amd your friends find it necessary to protect your daughters from.

    I congratulate you for your cleverness in saying that you are bot ch”v criticizing the thinking of Rav Shteinman and then going on to do exactly that, albeit in a roundabout fashion. Nice. Are you a lawyer?

    I might add that I suspect an unspoken agenda here, which is the desire to separate from Sefardios. I would guess that this is what Rav Shteinman suspected as well.

    Hence, his position that this is not healthy for Clal Yisroel.

    (On this last point, you need not respond, as I can already here the ch”v sholoms pouring forth. Sure.)

  23. #28, SD, Exactly! If these families are so sensitive on the issues of observance why didn’t they ask the Rav’s opinion BEFORE building the school?