Some days ago, I finished reading a book that talked about various aspects of modesty, and how we can all improve in this area. It was written by an Israeli Orthodox rabbi.
In particular, some valuable advice was offered on how men and women should conduct themselves in places of work with both male and female employees – no touching, even casual, no conversation outside the boundaries of business, being careful not to remain alone with a member of the opposite sex even for a short while.
All these precautions might sound excessive, but the truth is, men and women are wired to be attracted to each other, and when they are cooped up together for many hours a day, the spark just might go off some time, wrecking havoc in people's lives. Countless families had been ruined because of affairs in the work place.
However, the author glossed over the most important aspect of the problem: the presence of both men and women at work in the first place.
I know I risk sounding radical, but I truly believe one must be blind to not be aware of the dangers in free intermingling of men and women. The problem is exacerbated when men and women stay overnight in close proximity, such as in college dorms or in the army. Every year, there are stories about how high rank officials in the Israeli army were caught in affairs with young female soldiers who were assigned to be their secretaries. We are talking about girls of about 18-20 years of age. Many of their commanders are married, and the resulting tragedy casts a shadow on the entire lives of these young women.
As careful as we are, as certain as we might be that our own family life is beyond such risks, awkward situations can and do happen. It's not just about blatantly immodest dress and behavior; perhaps even more dangerous is the intimacy and friendship that develops when sitting next to each other for a long time every day. I truly believe most people have the best interests in heart, and most affairs begin innocently, until one day they are not innocent anymore.
True, we are supposed to resist temptation should we be tested, but there is a barrier of avoiding temptation in the first place. Ignoring this barrier, I believe, is rooted in pride and excessive security in one's own resistance. You never know how slippery a situation can get, and how quickly.
Back when the majority of women were homemakers, the problem of morals in the work place did not exist to such extent. I don't believe in radical artificial isolation of men from women (separate sidewalks, obligatory separation in buses, as can be seen in some areas of
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