On a Facebook page titled "Not elected – not voting", the group of women commented on the haredi parties' response to the petition filed with the Central Election Committee, arguing that "there is no halachic prohibition against a woman serving as a Knesset member."
According to the women, "People don’t know it, and the parties and their leaders are clearly interested in hiding it," but "women today have access to Jewish holy and literary sources" and can confront Halachic arguments.
"The parties say that it is inappropriate for a woman to be elected to Knesset for modesty reasons," the women wrote. "So we ask, is it appropriate for a woman to work as a lawyer? Is it appropriate for her to run a school, to be a journalist, editor, advertiser, CEO?
Paternalistic social structure
They also argued that Maimonides had reservations over women's service only in regards to the monarchy issue. "Today, when women serve in so many public roles, why should they have a smaller share in the Knesset– a place where important decisions are made in regards to them, their families and the entire nation? Is the same modesty not important when they are pressed to go out and support a yeshiva student?"
Greatest sages' nightmare
Rabbi and Attorney Dov Halbertal, who has been known among the haredi public in recent years as an associate of the late Rabbi Elyashiv, rejected the women's claims, defining them as "harsh rhetoric."
Commenting on the essence of the matter, Halbertal said that serving in the Knesset was completely different from all jobs haredi women were engaging in these days.
"It's a job based on exposure, standing in the limelight. The woman represents, the woman speaks on stage, the woman goes out to the public. This is the embodiment of immodesty. We are not talking about running a school. It's a different planet."
He noted that even Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, one of the founders of Religious Zionism, was strict about this issue, even more than the haredi public today, refusing to even grant women the right to vote.
Contradicting women's modesty
According to Halbertal, the opinion that women cannot serve in such a public role is shared by "all the great sages," and the current argument on the matter reminds him of the dispute over the integration of a woman as a religious council member.
"I remember Rabbi Elyashiv's strong objection at the time, and not just because she was Reform," he said. "In general, modesty – like Shabbat – was the most important value in his eyes. He would cancel necessary protests when he feared they would mix men and women."
The only option for including a woman on a haredi Knesset list, according to Halbertal, is "if there is a great necessity and the great sages advise us that it is a temporary need."
Halbertal further argued that the haredi outlook in regards to the status of women had reservations over additional professions, including some that acceptable in the haredi society today.
The party even has three women on the top 10 slots of its Knesset list.