While Noah Feldman is trying desperately to push the envelope leftward, the Haredi leadership is pushing in the other direction. At least, that what it looks like from this item:
Rabbinical "Ban" on Hassidic Music Concerts
by Hillel Fendel
(IsraelNN.com) Hassidic music stars Avraham Fried and Yaakov Shwekey are to perform in Jerusalem before over 10,000 Thursday night - but Rabbi Elyashiv, the Gerrer Rebbe and others say it's forbidden to participate or attend events of that nature.
Flashy posters all over Jerusalem and elsewhere advertise a high-powered Hassidic music concert scheduled for Thursday evening at Teddy Stadium. It features two of the genre's greatest stars, Fried and Shwekey, as well as guest appearances by Aharon Razel and the up-and-coming Elad Shaar. Called "L'Chaim in Jerusalem," the event commemorates the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, and will feature an extra-large orchestra.
A damper was placed on the event, however, in the form of a grave rabbinic ban appearing in the hareidi-religious press. The ban is signed by leading rabbis including Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the Gerrer and Bezler Rabbis, Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, Rabbi Shmuel HaLevy Vozner, Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg, and more.
The ads state: "We trembled at hearing about the terrible breach in our camp of 'music evenings' and 'concerts' in which musicians sing before men and women sitting together, Heaven forefend, and even not together. All Torah leaders have in the past clearly forbidden these events, even when men and women are separate." The rabbis say the ban applies to men, women and children and of course the performers. Newspapers are not permitted to advertise these events, according to the ad, and musicians who sing "in front of men and women together" must not be invited to sing at other events.
Now, I've seen these ads and all of them say there will be so much segragation of the sexes that there might as well be two concerts. So what gives here? I'm not really sure. However, if the extremely dour Rav Eliashiv, and the legendarily dour Gerrer Rebbe keep it up they will make the lives of Haredim so bitter that they will have created a crisis that will be heard around the world. You can't take away people's parnassah, forbid them to educate themselves, forbid them to go hiking and take away their very few forms of entertainment without a reaction.
Oh, as long as we're at it the same article reported:
"It is known that Rabbi Moshe Feinstein [the pre-eminent Torah authority in the U.S. in the 20th century - ed.] permitted events of this nature if the proceeds were for charity," a source close to one of the rabbis said, "as is the case in Thursday's concert, so I'm not sure how to understand this."
Reb Moshe Feinstein? Who's he? Oh yes, I remember. He's the rabbi who, a prominent Haredi Rav objected to, because he had the temerity to disagree with the Mishnah Berura and the Hazon Ish.