Saturday, December 21, 2013

"This is the story of the uncovering of the hair of Jewish women..."











This is a fascinating anecdote I came across in R. Chizkiya Feivel Plaut's biography of the Chasam Sofer included in his Likutei Chever Ben Chayim (link).

The story, as told to the author by Rabbi Daniel Prosstitz (a close friend of the Chasam Sofer) takes place in 1785, when the 23 year old Moses Sofer accompanied his rebbe Rabbi Nathan Adler on his journey to Baskowitz, where he was to become rabbi. When in Vienna, they stayed in the home of a wealthy man, Reb Nathan Arnstein - who was none other than the banking giant Adam Isaac von Arnstein (1715-1785).[1] Rabbi Nathan Adler has sent young Moshe out on some errand, and when he returned, he stumbled into a room where the host's daughter-in-law was sitting, bareheaded, having her hair done in a "frisiere" - her hair was being styled. Fuming, the boy berated the hostess, "Is this how a married Jewish woman goes?" Not surprisingly, she told her husband's father that if the guests are not thrown out immediately then she was going - to Berlin, to her father's home. (Her father was Daniel Itzig (Jaffe) in Berlin, an interesting personality in his own right, how maintained a Beit Midrash in his home, which luminaries such as the Peri Megadim frequented.)

So - and one imagines this part of the story is either imagined in the retelling, on behalf of the kind man who hosted great rabbis, or was meant to soften the blow to the guests - Nathan Adam von Arnstein approached them, thanked the young man for chastising his son's wife, and asked them if they would remove themselves to another apartment of his, a better one, so that his wife would not travel on the holiday, as it was Pesach.

Concludes the teller, Rabbi Plaut, go check if Reb Nathan Arnstein has any Jewish descendants! And this is the story of the uncovering of the hair of Jewish women...

The woman? Fanny von Arnstein, whose Wikipedia page says "In 1814, Fanny von Arnstein introduced a new custom from Berlin, hitherto unknown in Vienna: the Christmas tree."

This, presumably, is what the young Chasam Sofer found, when he wound up in the wrong room:



[1] Actually, Fanny's husband was Nathan Adam von Arnstein - I assume that in the story the son and father's names were confused.

45 comments:

  1. I kinda wonder if the Satmete ארנשטיין family is related to them. Donkey made conclusions regarding uncovered hair. The women went covered in the house obviously. He stumbled upon her in the private room uncovered hair. The 13 year old kid had some chutzpah.

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  2. First, the picture at Wikipedia is very different, of course.

    Second, I wouldn't be surprised that early on, people thought that maybe a Christmas tree could be seen as a secular winter-type thing (which, ironically, is its real origin). When customs are getting sorted out in their early days, odd things happen.

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  3. Welcome back, Mississippi Fred. We missed you.

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  4. Why does one imagine that "this part of the story is either imagined in the retelling, on behalf of
    the kind man who hosted great rabbis, or was meant to soften the blow
    to the guests"? Why not accept it at face value? After all, the Chassam Sofer was there, and you were not. He knew the character of his host, and you do not. If he was religious enough that R Nosson Adler was willing to stay with him for Pesach, why suppose that he was such a kal as you imagine him? He knew what a shiktze he had for a daughter-in-law, and it surely upset him, and he was glad that someone else had given her the mussar she well deserved, but at the same time he had to adapt to the reality that she was who she was, and that she was quite capable of being mechalel yomtov if her demand was not met.

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  5. You have a chutzpah to refer to the Chassam Sofer as a donkey. How dare you? You also seem incapable of reading. He was not 13.

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  6. It's real origin is very far from secular. Its origin is pure avoda zara.

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  7. This is not the Chasam Sofer saying over the story. This is R. Chizkiya Feivel Plaut's version of what he heard from R. Daniel Prosstitz, what he heard from the Chasam Sofer. Therefore we cannot accept the story in all its details as if this is certainly exactly how it happened, although it may have.

    While I agree with all you are saying about the host, I cannot for the life of me imagine that he really thought it was appropriate for a 23 year old to yell at her in his own home. This was not mussar she received well, clearly. Maybe if R. Nosson had given her mussar, but the bochur who came along with the rav? That strikes you as something he would have been okay with? Every father in law's dream, to have a bochur yell at his wayward offspring. And bear in mind that this family probably had a different idea of decorum, despite the ehrlichkeit of the host in his wig and elegant Viennese court-Jew setting.

    On the other hand, perhaps you are right. We'll never know what actually happened. I was just sharing my thought about it.

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  8. The Chassam Sofer at 23 was not "the bochur who came along with the rav". He was a formidable talmid chochom, and the rav's talmid muvhak, whom the host would have respected.

    Why do you assume he wouldn't think it appropriate for someone to tell this "treasure" some home truths? We know exactly what he thought of her, since he was worried that she would be mechalel yomtov. So he knew she was a shiktzeh; can you imagine that he was happy to have her in his family?! I think we can assume he had already told her off many times, and been rebuffed; now someone else told her the same thing, and in an obviously sincere manner, and not some old fogey like him whom she could dismiss as a fuddy-duddy, but someone about her own age, so I can easily see how he would have been satisfied, while having for the sake of peace to pretend otherwise.

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  9. Cyril Fotheringay-Phipps1:29 PM, December 23, 2013

    The translation of the final sentence - and hence the post title - is incorrect.
    The word "toldos" in context here does not mean "story". It means "descendents". The point he is making is that such are the descendents of women who don't cover their hair (as evidenced by the example of Ms. von Arnsein's descendents).

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  10. That's your opinion. Mine is that he was the bochur who came along with the rav, and I don't think that von Arnstein was likely capable of knowing or appreciating the young man's scholarship. I don't know too many people who appreciate Torah who are cholek great kovod to 23 year olds. Either way, it's the grandchild of a story, and that part makes the details problematic to accept at face value.


    Like I said, I hear your point.

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  11. Concludes the teller, Rabbi Plaut, go check if Reb Nathan Arnstein has any Jewish descendants! And this is the story of the uncovering of the hair of Jewish women...

    Indeed, Fanny had only one daughter, Henriette, who, along with her husband, daughter and three sons, converted to Christianity.

    I'm not sure how far R' Plaut wanted to take the point of the negative consequences of married Jewish women going with their hair uncovered, but Henriette's second son, Adolf von Pereira Arnstien, was the latest candidate for the elusive identity of Hitler's (Ym"s) paternal grandfather, in a recent book (2011) published (in German by Dr. Ilse Krumpock) on the subject (found here - http://www.amazon.de/Hitlers-Gro%C3%9Fmutter-Romanbiografie-Ilse-Krump%C3%B6ck/dp/3901392211/)

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  12. As the motto of the Shas party goes:
    Mathzor atara lyoshna

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  13. Concludes the teller, Rabbi Plaut, go check if Reb Nathan Arnstein has any Jewish descendants! And this is the story of the uncovering of the hair of Jewish women...


    I said the teller, Plaut, is a donkey for making such a arrogant conclusion.

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  14. Really? Are you claiming it's inaccurate?

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  15. welcome back! we all missed you.

    this is getting interesting.

    one thing everybody missed, that the Hairdresser was a man.

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  16. You're right, of course. What I meant was that it originally was a *non-Christian* winter thing. By the time it became a "Christmas tree," of course, no one was worshiping asherot anymore, so some might have thought it had become "kashered" just as "January" and "Wednesday" had. Of course, Christianity had long since grabbed it, so that's doubtful, to say the least, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

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  17. I'd tend to dismiss as history a book with "Roman" (i.e., novel) in its title.

    In any event, it's most likely that Hitler's grandfather was exactly who he said he was, and he wasn't Jewish at all.

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  18. And how many female hairdressers were there back then?

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  19. There is no doubt at all, but even if there were I don't believe it would be permitted to give her its benefit. אין מהפכין בזכותו של מסית

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  20. As we (but not charedi "historians") well know from that era, you can't judge any of these people by whose descendants converted to Christianity. No one doubts Mendelssohn's frumkeit (or should). And if that's not frum enough for you, lots of rebbes and other chushuve folk had kids who converted.

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  21. Wow, you really don't like this woman, do you? Just below you refer to her as a "shiktze" (which she most certainly was not) over and over. I think you're violating a bunch of d'oraytas and mamerei chazal about hating and judging right there.

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  22. Come on. It was clearly Chol HaMoed (she was having her hair done), and she was free to travel. If anything, he was being super-nice to his rude guest (and using language he would "get") by framing it as a halakhic matter ("You don't want her to travel on yom tov, do you?") and thus getting him out of the house with everyone happy.

    There is absolutely nothing in the story to indicate that the young man had any grounds for his anger: A woman in the privacy of her room is having her hair done! Shocking! One wonders if Plaut's, or Milhouse's, wife, has ever had her hair uncovered for one second since marriage. Those dreadlocks must be fantastic.

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  23. She certainly was a shiktze. Just the fact that she was prepared to be mechalel yomtov if R Nosson & the Chasam Sofer remained in the house proves it. Not to mention all the rest of it. Shiktze is exactly the right word for her.

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  24. Um, no. "Shiktze" is a term- and a rather derogatory one, at that- for a non-Jewish woman. She was Jewish. Period. And as I wrote below, there's no evidence she was going to be mechalel anything.

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  25. Good point. Most of the hairdressers pictured here are men:

    http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=hairdresser+%2218th+century%22&qpvt=hairdresser+%2218th+century%22&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=4A02222F0F56EDCAF02D20863C0E027F3C25FBDC&selectedIndex=69

    Not that this would have made the scene any less shocking to the young CS. Two worlds were colliding.

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  26. Dan,


    I think he would be a lot more upset by her being touched by a man.


    Nachum,
    I doubt he was reacting to her hair being uncovered in a private room. I think that he strongly doubted that she had her done for her husband. As S points out this is 3rd hand .

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  27. "on his journey to Baskowitz, where he was to become rabbi."

    this is a mistake, he left Baskowitz, going to frankfurt.

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  28. source(long) http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2010/05/golems-forgeries-and-images-of-disrobed.html

    Chareidim are fully aware of the impact of the Haskala , their reticence is ekplained as below

    "In my humble opinion it is not at all proper to publicize the disgrace of the author of "Besamim Rosh" for several reasons:

    "1) Due to the honor of his ancestors (Berlin's family was one of the most elite rabbinic families in all of Europe; his father, brothers, grandfathers, uncles - we're talking the heavyweights).

    "2) Perhaps his soul has already achieved it's rectification in Gehinnom, being that more than 150 years had passed. Recalling his sin will cause his soul harm.

    "3) This episode brings disdain on many great rabbis who supported the forgery, but were mistaken.

    "4) Many men might weaken in their faith due to the confusion caused by their awareness that one who was great in Torah (i.e., Berlin) was able to stumble into heresy, God help us.

    "However, it is permissible to compile an essay regarding the accursed Haskalah (here he makes a common pun which can only be seen in Hebrew, Haskalah - enlightenment - with a sin and Haskalah with a samech are homonyms of opposite meaning) which destroyed German Jewry, which departed from its heritage, and also spread to other lands, however the names of those Torah scholars who were caught up in it should be omitted."

    Here we have the דעת תורה which basically forbids the Seforim Blog, my blog, and many others. By the way, I happen to agree with some of these points.



    S


    I think we can let 90% of your stuff through

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  29. Presumably the author was unaware of just how many rabbis and rosh yeshivas of the ninteenth century also had goyishe descendants.

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  30. Yes, but in this case, he was making the observation just two generations after the incident occurred.

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  31. (another really small thing everybody missed: "how maintained a Beit Midrash in his home", צ"ל 'who'.)

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  32. We know that the CS was 22/23 at the time of this story, and according to R. Plaut (ibid.) the CS, at the young age of 16, killed a person with one strike. So it wouldn't be ridiculous to assume that the CS wasn't like any other little "bochur", rather at 23 he not only was "muflag be'chachmah" but also in stature. We also know that almost fifty years later, during a derashah on Shabbat HaGadol he expressed his strong feelings about women with uncovered hair. After all, this was one thing he was rather vocal about. Therefore, personally, I wouldn't be so surprised if the CS actually scolded Fanny in her father in-law's own home. (Fanny was married to Nathan Adam, as S. points out, who was the son of Adam Isaac. Anyone know why both father and son shared the same name 'Adam'? Perhaps it was just an honorific application as was popular in “those” circles.)

    What's more interesting is what R. Shlomo Sofer reportedly told over in the name of the famous R. Yehuda Modran, a close and probably the youngest student of the CS, in the footnote of the aforementioned derashah (1) [the responsa cited there is not 33 but 36, written almost five years after the derashah]. (I’ve heard people say over that he would even sit on the CS’s lap [during shiur] but I’ve never seen a reliable source for this. Although here (2) R. Yehuda himself writes that he had already been learning by the CS at the tender age of eight years old.) IMO it’s safe to assume that the Sara mentioned in the story is none other than another daughter, of the Izig family -Fanny’s sister- Sara Levy, who indeed died childless. For more on this Sara see here (3). Apparently these Itzig girls stirred up a fair share of noise during the enlightenment. Tragic.

    (1) http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=21254&st=&pgnum=90&hilite=

    (2) http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=6351&st=&pgnum=3

    (3) http://amacad.org/publications/bulletin/spring2005/wolff.pdf

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  33. Re the name, this was the Ashkenazic custom of using the father's first name as a second name, made famous to the non-Ashkenazic world via the only popular example most people would know, R. Samson Raphael Hirsch. You find many many father-son-grandsons where they flipped names like no one's business. I give example of Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler, Chief Rabbi London, because of three of his sons used the middle name Nathan, including his youngest, Marcus Nathan. And Nathan's father was, of course, Marcus (Mordechai). We also find that the secular names often used the father's first name this way. In secular documents R. Yaakov Emden was called Jacob Hirschel (Hirschel = Tzvi), and Rabbi Akiva Eger's secular name was even Jacob* Moses. Similarly, a significant minority of Ashkenazic Jews in England used their father's first name as a surname. An example of that would be an early 18th century trader Marcus Moses (a son-in-law of Glikl of Hameln) whose son, an apostate, was called Marcus Moses. But many many Jews adopted surnames this way. A son of a Mikhl might have used the surname "Michael" or "Michaels" the son of a Yehuda "Lion" and so on.

    Come to think of it, my association of this secular surnaming practice with the naming custom is speculative, but it seems similar.

    *I am assuming that Jacob was the closest homophponic equivalent to "Akiva."

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  34. What makes you think I (or others) missed this?

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  35. I don't think non-Jews used this pattern of having one's father's given name as one's own second given (AmE: middle) name.

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  36. The same as yitzchok was thinking.


    (Though sub-sub-consciously, I was probably assuming that since we all have S.'s best interest in mind, had someone -like yourself (or others)- noticed the typo they would have commented here in the comment section. Though your definitely correct, you (or others) could have noticed it and kept it to yourself, or emailed the author privately. Therefore, I sincerely apologize if I insulted your (or their) intelligence.)

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  37. you are correct.
    I just don't know about typo's, maybe s. can clarify it for us.

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  38. Russians do, sort of.

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  39. Akiva *is* Yaakov, in an Aramaic form, although virtually no one knows this anymore, and perhaps didn't even back then. I know a Yaakov ben Akiva who was pretty shocked to find it out.

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  40. Of course, as do lots of other languages, end even more (including English) if you count patronymic last names (Davidson, FitzGerald, MacDonald), not to start with Icelandic. But that's all "sort of", as you said, not the plain first name as a plain second given name, just as others in the same period and area used several given names.

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  41. Nachum, oh snap... :)

    http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2011/12/in-paris-to-sell-subscriptions-to-rabbi.html#comment-885070738

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  42. No, Russians use the patronymic as the *middle* name, and the person is commonly referred to, even in formal speech, by his name plus patronymic. In a theoretical parliamentary debate, some ordinary deputy could call Putin, to his face, "Vladimir Vladimirovich," and people wouldn't blink.

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  43. Didn't mean it as a snap. And it was true then, it's true now.

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  44. Hm? Of course, but what does that have to do with the matter at hand? The archetypical Russian is Ivan Ivan(ov)itsh Ivanov, not Ivan Ivan Ivan. And Rav Hirsch wasn't commonly addressed as Samson Raphaelsen, or as Samson Raphael (even if more recently, this has been misunderstood as a double name of the traditional Dov-Ber or the modern chareidi, never abridged Chaim-Oizer types).

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