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Smoked Glass Mechitzot


Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

22 Av 5764
More and more shuls nowadays are using smoked (tinted) glass as a Mechitzah. These Mechitzot enable those who are right next to them to see into the mens’ section, but for those standing a little further back, they reflect one’s image, albeit not as clear as a normal mirror. (Nevertheless, you can still clearly see your image) The Mishna Berurah in Hilchot Tefilah, Orach Chaim 90, Siman 23, se’if Katan 71 says that one is not allowed to pray in front of a mirror (even if one closes one’s eyes) as it appears as if one is bowing to his own reflection. My questions are the following: 1) Is there any problem for women to bow before these glass Mechitzot during davening? 2) Can men use the Ezrat Nashim (womens’ section) and daven there during the week?
I think the following rule should apply; if the window is meant to be a mirror one should not daven in front of it but if it's a window that happens to reflect the light and acts like a mirror without intending to be such, if there is no alternative – like in the case where your seat in shul is in front of such a window – one can daven there. There shouldn’t be a difference between men and women. Shu"t Shevet Halevi 9; 21, writes similar thing to the above.
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