I spend a lot of time in Monsey. In the area where we live we have a large religious mix of people – but we are not technically in Monsey. To get to many places in the area we have to drive thru what I like to call Monsey Ir HaKodesh (the holy city of Monsey) where there is a high demographic of Chassidic Jews. Driving down Route 306 just before Blauvelt you generally see a couple of Chassidim trying to bum rides into town. As soon as they see a woman driving they retract their hands. Which is fine, because I wouldn’t want to give a ride to someone who wouldn’t want to ride with me as I am a woman and I am driving. Oh the shame!!
Why is it that in many Chassidic circles their women do not drive? I recently posed this question to a few friends. I received answers ranging from “because they might drive away” to “because men are in control and they like to know where their women are at all times”. There were answers about women in these circles not needing independence or even wanting it. That this is the way it is. Chassidic women are not supposed to be “yatzanos” – those who go out, and having the ability to drive a car might tempt them to stray from the home. Driving a car is using a Kli Gever – a man’s object (I thought that only applied to guns?). Apparently also in the olden days only men drove buggies and rode horses, so that translates to driving in this day and age. In the olden days we didn’t have telephones, so I guess all Chassidim don’t have cell phones??!! Some modern inventions are ok, and some aren’t?
I know that it would be very difficult for me if I didn’t drive. Apart from the long way trek every other weekend. Grocery shopping for a large family isn’t easy, and delivery isn’t an option everywhere. Ferrying the kids to and from school and after school events, or to buy a new pair of sneakers – not having the ability to hop behind the wheel and do this would make it all so much more complicated. Relying on my husband to drive me everywhere – so not for me. Yes, I know there are cab companies – but it adds up after a while.
I feel free behind the wheel, in control of my life to a certain point…perhaps that is the point. Maybe they just don’t want their women to feel free? Why do the women accept this? Why do they not try to change things? A friend who has a Chassidic background told me her mom was the only class mom who drove, something against the way they practice the religion. However, when they needed drivers for class trips, who did they call? Es passt nisht (it isn’t appropriate), until you need a lady driver…..
So glad to be Modern Orthodox…