Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak
Ban Women From Driving Cars, Leading Sefardi Haredi Says
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Women drivers are “immodest” and therefore women should not be allowed to drive automobiles, a leading Sefardi haredi rabbi reportedly said.
Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak – the ‘mega-church’ Yemenite rabbi and one-time Knesset candidate – reportedly claims women should not drive automobiles because historically, only men drove cars, the Hebrew news website Walla and the Times of Israel reported.
Yitzhak’s assertion, reportedly made during a lecture last week, is largely false – women did drive cars in the early 1900s and they drove horse-drawn carriages before that. In fact, smaller, lighter carriages were made to make it easier for women to drive.
But what women almost never did – for reasons of safety, lack of physical strength and even for modesty reasons – was drive history’s equivalents of taxis, long distance buses and semis.
Nonetheless, Yitzhak cited responsa from haredi rabbis who have ruled that women are forbidden from driving automobiles due to the immodesty driving would purportedly entail.
Some hasidic sects – like Satmar, Tosh, and Lev Tahor, for example – prohibit women from driving.
Yitzhak also cited Rabbi Shmuel HaLevi Wosner, the leading hasidic decisor of halakha (Jewish law) who wrote that women should not be allowed to take driver's education classes because their presence on the roads increases accidents.
“None of the wisest rabbis allow women drivers. After all, what is a car? It is a replacement for the carriage. There were never any female carriage drivers,” Yitzhak reportedly told his audience, calling the rabbis who had allowed women to drive cars “fourth- or fifth-rate” populists.
Asked by a woman listener if women were permitted to drive for the sake of doing a mitzvah (fulfilling a Torah or rabbinic commandment – bringing food to a poor person, for example), Yitzhak reportedly said no and compared a woman driving a car to stealing in order to give money to charity.
“It is immodest for a woman to drive,” Yitzhak concluded.