As some of you may be aware, one of the great debates in Israel these days is over “mehadrin”–or sex-separated–bus lines. Some have bitter memories of Black Americans riding in the back of the bus, of the Montgomery (Ala.) bus boycott, and of Rosa Parks. On these controversial bus lines, women are required to sit in the back of the bus. Some say the haredi women want it this way, and others see it as absurd to insist that men and women be separated while riding for a short time on a city bus. While proponents insist that the separate seating is voluntary, more than once a woman has been beaten and/or thrown off the bus by men for not complying with the separate seating “suggestion.” (So much for shmirat negiah.)
This all makes even more therapeutic and amusing the joke my friend Daniel told me a few weeks ago:
A scantily clad woman gets on a mehadrin bus line and sits down next to a haredi man. The man is embarrassed and irritated, but just turns in his seat to avoid looking at her. (This is how you can tell it’s a joke, said Daniel. They don’t beat the crap out of her.) The next day the same woman, similarly dressed, gets on and sits down next to the same man. He sees a pattern forming, and the next day when she sits down next to him, he hands her an apple.
“What’s this for?” she asks.
He answers, “The Torah says that when the serpent handed Eve the apple, she realized she wasn’t wearing any clothes.”
The woman shrugs her bare shoulders and puts the apple in her purse.
The next day the woman gets on the bus, sits down next to the haredi man, and hands HIM an apple.
“What’s this?” he asks.
With a smile, she answers, “The Torah says that when Eve handed the apple to Adam, he realized he had to go out and get a job.”