Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Results of the Last Poll

I warn my students that statistics can be skewed to mean anything that someone wants them to mean. The numbers aren't lying; the people using those numbers may be being creative. Therefore, I'm going to be very conservative in discussing the results of the poll on banning or keeping sheitlach as a hair covering.

40 people voted in the poll. The results are as follows:

I am a man and I say ban the sheitles
4 (10%)

I am a man and say don't ban the sheitles
8 (20%)

I am a woman and say ban the shaitles
2 (5%)

I am a woman and say don't ban the sheitles
26 (65%)

More than twice as many women voted as did men. This does not say anything about the importance of the issue to the sexes per se but may give an idea of the demographics of the readers of this blog. We could also posit that this issue is of more importance to women then it is to men. 34 of those voting said not to ban sheitles; 6 said to ban them. That's 85% for shaitlach and only 15% against. What we can say is that those voting are overwhelmingly in favor of allowing sheitles as a hair covering for women.

Can we apply the numbers from the poll to the larger frum population? Maybe yes and maybe no. To be more accurate in using the numbers we would need to know which "groups" of frum people were voting here. Is it all MO? Is it a mix of MO and yeshivish? I suspect, given the people who comment here, that we have a mix of various frum types voting.

So what can these polling numbers tell us? I believe that we can say that any unilateral attempt by any rabbanim to ban sheitlach would not be successful. I believe that those who have to wear shaitlach are not so easily going to be convinced not to wear them. I believe that any man considering a shaitle ban needs to look at the women and how likely they are to comply with such a ban. I don't believe that there would be 100% compliance, or anything near 100%. If not everyone will hold with the ban then what greater problems might be created? What divides are going to be created that could be problematic for frum Klal? If a ban were to go into affect I suspect that some women would refuse to cover their hair at all, a problem that surely does not need to be created.

Even though fewer men voted than women did, the men voted 2 to 1 in favor of keeping the shaitlach. I also suspect that if this poll were extended to get a larger sampling, that larger sampling would pretty much fall along the lines seen in this poll. I say so because among a group of 37 male students whom I informally polled, and who would break down as about 30% MO and the rest in the various yeshivish designations, only 8 came out in favor of banning shailach.

As I said when introducing the poll, we were not going to be arguing interpretation of halacha as it applies to hair covering. Those voting were being asked to say how they would hold with shaitles as a hair covering.

In the final analysis, I believe that this poll indicates that anyone who is seriously considering a ban on shaitles needs to proceed very, very slowly, if at all. I think that there are other battles they could be fighting with a better chance of winning. Picking shaitles to cause a fight over is not a winning proposition.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Certainly not worth having a war with your wife about. If a rabbi or some rabbanim would ban shaitles it would just send people to find another rabbi who won't ban them.