Surprised

I was rather surprised by Issachar Friedmann’s claim in his May 17 letter that “the standard interpretation of the Biblical prohibition [in Deut. 22:5] applies to cross dressing, not to any single item of clothing,” when the verse appears to be quite explicit in stating, “A man’s garment [singular] shall not be worn by a woman  … .” Perhaps his ‘standard’ is that of non-Jewish readers.

His claim that “Maimonides in Hilkhot Tzitzit  3:9 explicitly permits women to wear a talit” is also incorrect. What Maimonides permits is for a woman to wear tzitzit attached to a female square garment — not the tallit gadol that men wear during davening. If women were to design a suitable distinctively feminine tallit katan (arba kanfot), possibly on the model of silky lingerie, to wear under their clothes, there would be no problem with their wearing it. Their public donning of a specifically male garment suggests a strident departure from traditional practice intended to “show off” rather than a wish to engage in a deeper spirituality.

Regarding his comments on intermarriage, I can only assume that he would be quite happy for it to be much more prevalent. Why, is beyond me.

Martin Stern
United Kingdom

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