Pull over, ladyPull over, lady

Rabbi says women shouldn’t drive

Failed Knesset candidate Amnon Yitzhak says it’s ‘immodest,’ compares cars to horse-drawn carriages that were only driven by men

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak (photo credit: Nati Shoat/Flash90)
Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak (photo credit: Nati Shoat/Flash90)

Female drivers are “immodest” and woman should therefore not get behind the wheel of a car, according to one Israeli rabbi.

Amnon Yitzhak, renowned for convincing hordes of secular Israelis to embrace religious observance — by warning them, among other methods, of the grisly fate that awaits them in hell should they persist in their errant ways — explained that women should not operate the horseless carriage because in the past only men drove horse-drawn vehicles, Walla reported (Hebrew) on Tuesday.

Yitzhak made the assertion during a lecture last week — the report didn’t say where it took place — citing various rabbis who had all ruled, he said, that a driver’s seat was for men only. The stance is an outlandish one as the vast majority of Orthodox rabbis agree that Jewish law permits women to drive.

But “none of the wisest rabbis allow women drivers,” Yitzhak said, in Saudi-Arabian fashion. “After all, what is a car? It is a replacement for the carriage. There were never any female carriage drivers.”

Yitzhak, who ran a doomed, and sometimes dirty, Knesset campaign against the now-deceased Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s Shas party in January’s elections, said rabbis who permitted women drivers were “fourth- or fifth-rate” populists.

Asked by a female member of the audience if women were nevertheless permitted to drive for a good cause, Yitzhak responded in the negative, comparing the scenario to someone who steals in order to give to charity.

“It is immodest for a woman to drive,” he asserted.

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), who chairs the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, dismissed Yitzhak’s point of view as outdated.

“From the comparison that Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak made between cars and the carriages of the past we can see that if it were up to him, things would still be like they were in the Middle Ages,” she said. “If that’s Rabbi Yitzhak’s preference, then he can go right ahead and turn in his luxury car for a carriage.”

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