On Simchas Torah during the dancing, in some shuls the partition in the shul is removed so that the woman can watch the men dancing.

By opening the partition we are giving the יצר הרע full access to tempt a person into transgressing, “do not follow your heart and eyes in your lustful urge.”

Why would we want to put men in the area of temptation for?

  • 5
    I've never seen this before. Are you sure this is a traditional Jewish practice?
    – Double AA
    Sep 30, 2018 at 18:00
  • Many large shuls move the dancing to a social hall with no mechitza present. But that aside, ironically, this actually seems to be more prevalent the more a minyan associates themselves with being a 'Yeshiva'. The more likely the minyan views their leader as a Rosh Yeshiva, the more likely they are to actually physically remove the mechitza. At least in my experience. It's not a question really as there is no need for a mechitza just like there is no need for a mechitza in the street to make sure men don't look a female pedestrians.
    – user6591
    Sep 30, 2018 at 20:52
  • In my schul, we move the mechitzah such that there is space for separate dancing for men and women. Sep 30, 2018 at 21:59
  • Just a guess, but doesn't the joy of the simcha of Simchat Torah somehow effectively work to keep the Yetzer harah at bay, especially in the synagogue? It's not like having a bunch of non-Jewish priests running around taking their pick of altar boys at a weekend retreat in the woods somewhere.
    – Gary
    Oct 1, 2018 at 22:28

1 Answer 1


I think [unknowingly], you ask a good question.

The Gemmorah at the end of Succah discusses exactly this topic. When Nisuch Hamayim was celebrated in the [second] Temple during the 7 days of Succot, originally [during the first Temple] the joy was so enormous, and everybody participated, including the Kings, that no separation was made during the celebrations even in the Ezrat Nashim in the Temple.

Sometime during the second Temple, the problem you mentioned emerged. Probably people got less spiritual, less obsessed with the Mitzvah of the Simchah and started gazing around. The Sages decided to stop the practice and install a balcony for women. This is how [probably] the whole idea of Ezrat Nashim started (there were no shuls yet).

The Orthodox movement (esp in Israel) took the idea a little further, completely separating men and women on all public occasions, all the Haredi shuls have a separate Ezrat Nashim, with a separate entrance with either one-way mirrors or thick fabric, prohibiting men from seeing women at all.

However less Orthodox movements took a less stringent approach. I also saw R' Moshe's Psak (don't remember the source) that concluded based on that Gemmorah that men are allowed TO SEE women during the service or celebrations with the Mechitzah being a physical separation only.

So back to your question. The described behavior happens either in less stringent communities that practice a Mechitzah in the first place, or is based on the premise that the men will exalt in their Midos beyond their primary urges, just like in the days of our ancestors.

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