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Women Leading Kabbalat Shabbat: Some Thoughts

 

By Rabbi Michael J. Broyde

Rabbi Michael J. Broyde is a law professor at Emory University, was Founding Rabbi of the Young Israel in Atlanta and is a dayan in the Beth Din of America. In the last few years Rabbi Broyde has written a number of articles on women’s issues from the perspective of halacha, including: women’s hair covering (link – PDF), women’s aliyot (link), women clergy (link), women receiving parsonage (link) and the issues of agunot (link – PDF).

I would like to make certain observations about the recent conversations concerning women leading Kabbalat Shabbat. Most of my points focus on halacha, and a few of them on sociology. As a general matter, I do not think that most of the commentators have focused enough on the theory of the halacha, but have excessively focused on the people and the personalities. While in the short run the latter seems central, in the long run, the former is what makes Torah timeless.

I. What is the Problem With Women Leading Kabbalat Shabbat?

First, notwithstanding some of that which has been written, I seriously doubt that the recitation of Kabbalat Shabbat has the status of a davar shebikedusha, such that a woman as a chazan is a violation of the classical yatza-motzi rules. Kabbalat Shabbat is generally discussed in the poskim (see Shulchan Aruch 261 and 263 as well as Ishei Yisrael 36:14-15) in the context of a minhag and nothing more, and we have generations of tanaim, amoraim and rishonim who did not say it. Indeed, there have been prominent halachic authorities of the last generation who did not recite Kabbalat Shabbat. Furthermore, it is not generally treated as a davar shebikedusha in many communities socially, where, for example, a child will lead Kabbalat Shababat, chazanim repeat words in Lecha Dodi who never repeat words in tefilla, and the chazan will step off the bima to dance and engage in many other frivolities that are inconsistent with a davar shebikedusha structure. Claims that women cannot lead Kabbalat Shabbat because it is a davar shebikedusha or because it is a violation of the yatza-motzi rules, like a woman leading chazarat hashatz for Mussaf are, seem counter to the normative halacha and the normative minhag of many shuls. I thus doubt this is the correct approach.

Second, I doubt that there is any violation of halacha associated with a shul skipping Kabbalat Shabbat completely, or having no chazan at all for it. I know of a few yeshivot that do not even recite either the six customary chapters of Psalms or Lecha dodi or have no chazan for it. Furthermore, I doubt that Orthodoxy would exclude from its ranks any institution that do not recite Kabbalat Shabbat. I could even imagine synagogues skipping Kabbalat Shabbat in certain circumstances, but I cannot imagine a case where one can skip Shacharit. To put it differently, I would not consider a synagogue Orthodox if it deleted the Shacharit service, and I would consider the rabbi who rules the recitation of Shacharit not to be mandatory to be a sinner, based on a technical violation of halacha, but I would not do so for Kabbalat Shabbat.

Third, Kabbalat Shabbat need not be sung, and we should not base our analysis of the issue of women leading Kabbalat Shabbat on the kol beisha issue, as that can be readily avoided by simply saying Kabbalat Shabbat without any tunes at all (as I do to myself every Shabbat eve). That is not to say that the issue of a woman leading Kabbalat Shabbat in song is necessarily permitted by halacha, but rather it is to insist that the issue of song cannot be one of serious focus, since (unlike keriat hatorah) there is not even a special mitzvah to sing during Kabbalat Shabbat. The ardor of the various commentators on this topic would not be diminished one wit, I suspect, if a woman led Kabbalat Shabbat in a totally flat monotone without a note of song.[1]

Fourth, I suspect that as a matter of normative halacha, we will be hard pressed to claim a consensus that women may not lead any communal activities in an Orthodox community, and that it is a violation of general rules of modesty in our community. There certainly are situations where women do lead even yatza-motzi activities, such as kiddush or maggid (or even Mourner’s Kaddish according to some) and women certainly make birchot hanehenim for mixed audiences. In many of our communities, we have in fact developed practices that permit women to engage in certain public communal rituals that even fulfill the obligations of men, such as kiddush. Certainly, to the extent that there is a generic claim of a lack of modesty (tzniyut) in a woman leading Kabbalat Shabbat, I think that this argument does not resonate as correct in many RCA or OU communities.

Thus, I think that the real issue is exactly the one of violation of minhag yisrael. Whatever the theoretical basis of our custom is, it is clear that since the minhag yisrael of reciting Kabbalat Shabbat started five centuries ago, women have not led it. This is true even as there never has been a technical violation of hilchot tefilla, in my view, here. The issue is one of poretz geder, breaches of historical custom and change within Orthodox ritual.

II. The Issue of Change and Innovation in Matters of Minhag: When is Change Good or Bad?

It is not a secret that Rabbi Daniel Sperber – who certainly is a far more accomplished scholar than I – has embarked on a process to change minhag yisrael when it comes to women’s matters. His goal is to create Orthodox communities where the customary minhagim that restrict what women do are abolished. Those things that halacha genuinely precludes are precluded, in his view, but those that are not precluded by halacha should not be precluded by historical practice, in his view. He feels that these change are warranted because of the needs of the times. It is worth reading his sefer “Darcha Shel Halacha“ to understand his view and agenda. You or I do not have to agree with him to understand that this is what he wants to do.

What we do need to do is respond in a way that makes sense to the community around us, consistent with the reality of the world we live in. Claiming technical violations of halacha based on what normal educated members of our community think are difficult and farfetched reads of the halacha will not lead to our community respecting us or listening to us.

Furthermore, let me confess that I do not think that merely pointing out to the community that having a woman lead Kabbalat Shabbat is a vast breech of minhag yisrael is enough of an explanation of why it should not be done when speaking to large segments of the Orthodox community. Our community looks at many of its innovations in the last century that were breeches of historical minhag yisrael and yet necessary to adapt to life in America. The notion of Jews speaking the vernacular or dressing as gentiles do is a breach of minhag yisrael, the concept of a yeshiva which is a university or college is a breach, as is religious Zionism, as is the rabbi giving a sermon in the vernacular, as is women learning and teaching Torah, as are literally dozens of innovations in American Orthodoxy. Each of us, in our synagogues, I suspect, engages in practices that would have been completely unacceptable a century ago in Europe. Our community, I think, will not agree with us if we oppose this merely because it is an innovation. We must explain why it is a bad innovation.

Additionally, I doubt that we will be able to explain to our community that the problem is that our gedolim or poskim have not yet endorsed this activity. Three reasons explain why such a response merely preaches to the choir. First, many within the community perceive Rabbi Sperber to be exactly such a gadol; second, many within that community are prepared to act on matters of minhag without license from any gadol; and third, many perceive these matters of minhagim to be ones that the local shul rabbi is authorized to change, when no matter of halacha is invoked.

Let me be honest here on another matter. Those to the right of the RCA-OU-YU within Orthodoxy may justly oppose this practice merely because it is innovative, since on many matters the Chasidic community has consistently opposed social and religious innovation within the Jewish community and can oppose this as well, because “chadash“ is “assur min hatorah“ in those communities. However, in most of Orthodoxy such is not the case and it will not resonate as valid within our community to oppose this innovation merely because it is an innovation. People will just think that this is sexism with no basis in halacha.

Finally, speaking just for myself, I agree with the sentiment that innovation itself can be good or bad, and our practice on matters not precisely governed by halacha can change as the reality changes. To put it simply, I would have supported the opening of Yeshiva College in 1928, even against the consensus of poskim, as the times needed it and halacha permitted it. In the face of a proposed innovation to minhagim, we must ask whether this is a good innovation or a bad one, and not merely oppose all innovation.

Thus, in this and every other context, we must explain why any particular innovation is unwise, and not just innovative.

III. Women Leading Kabbalat Shabbat: An Explanation of the Problem

I think, but I am not certain, that the proper explanation for our opposition is as follows: We all agree that women are not allowed to be shluchei tzibur for yatza-motzi matters as a matter of technical halacha, and we all agree that women cannot be shluchei tzibur for devarim shebikedusha, either. We furthermore agree that outside the synagogue setting (such as at kiddush or birchot hanehenin) women can be motzi men. Our opposition to women being leaders of Kabbalat Shabbat is thus, I suspect, grounded in our sense that even though technical Jewish law permits this conduct as a matter of hilchot tefilla, we fear that such conduct produces a reality that is hard to present as a stable status quo, and we are worried that people will grow confused as to what only men can lead: women leading Kabbalat Shabbat will easily slip into women leading Maariv, which is precluded by halacha as commonly understood. For this reason, Orthodox communities have never let women lead those parts of davening that technical halacha does not formally prohibit them from lead.

Why then do we let children lead services like Kabbalat Shabbat and Pesukai Dezimra? I suspect that the answer to that question is as follows (and it is complex): exactly because we are now a more egalitarian community than we ever were, we must be careful not to treat women like children as a matter of halacha. People do not perceive the gap between men and women as socially or religiously great (since both are obligated in most mitzvot min hatorah), whereas the gap between adults and children is very large both religiously and socially (as children are not obligated in mitzvot min hatorah at all). Thus, we worry more that women leading the parts of services (even parts that, when they lead, do not violate technical halacha) is far more likely to lead to women leading all of services than the possibility that we will forget that children are not full participants. Thus, we permit six year old children to lead Ein Kelokeino, because no one will confuse a six year old with an adult, but we ought not to permit Ein Kelokeino to be led by an adult woman, exactly because we will confuse her with an adult man, because she is an adult obligated in Jewish law. Since she cannot lead Mussaf as a matter of Jewish law, even as she looks like a fully obligated adult in our modern egalitarian eyes, we must draw greater lines distinguishing women from men than children from adults. We fear this confusion less when a women leads kiddush in the social hall or makes hamotzi over Shabbat lunch, exactly because neither of these are situations where we consider the person leading services to be functioning as a chazan.

Allow me to suggest an analogy of an innovation that is consistent with technical halacha, but unwise: communal prayer in the vernacular. Halacha permits such communal prayer without a doubt (see OC 101:4), and one could, consistent with classical Jewish law, imagine an Orthodox synagogue in which all communal prayer takes place in English, and no violation of Jewish law has taken place. But yet, we see no such synagogues extant and no community of Orthodox Jews communally praying in English, even as Jewish law clearly permits such prayer. I want to suggest why: It is a bad innovation to pray communally in English, albeit one that violates only the tradition (mesorah) and not the technical law. The reason why it is an unwise innovation is because it leads to a bad result (systemic ignorance of Hebrew) , not because it – itself – is bad I want to suggest that this is a worthwhile framework with which to consider women leading Kabbalat Shabbat. This conduct is exceptionally untraditional, is likely to lead to a technical violation of Jewish law in the future, and positions the community poorly to confront the next set of challenges directed at it. For that reason, I think it is not a practice to encourage.

IV. Conclusion

Jewish law remains a dynamic legal system to this very day. Like all dynamic systems, change in custom is possible and in the last century in America much has changed within Orthodox custom. But, if our community is to grow and prosper, it is because we examine closely whether each and every proposed innovation is prudent and wise, as well as whether it is technically permissible. Furthermore, halacha – more than many legal systems – is aware of the fact that customs have to foster and facilitate halachic conduct in other areas of Jewish life and observance. Changing the custom so as to allow women to lead Kabbalat Shabbat as a chazan seems to me to be a practice that badly obfuscates between situations where a proper shaliach tzibur is needed and where one is not, and thus a bad innovation, likely to lead people astray.


[1] It is important to note that I do not mean to discount the kol beisha erva issue as a halachic one or even to imply that a woman leading Kabbalat Shabbat while singing is not a kol beisha erva issue. Rather, what I want to point out is that Kabbalat Shabbat can be recited completely consistent with halacha without any singing at all by a man. Thus, singing is a secondary issue to the question of can a woman lead Kabbalat Shabbat services. If one concluded that the only prohibition present was kol beisha erva, then one could solve the problem simply be not having any singing. We have no halachic tradition of not letting a woman speak, least she might come to sing – and thus if the sole problem where women singing, women could simply lead Kabbalat Shabbat as a chazan without singing and that would be a fine solution. Thus, kol beisha erva is a red herring and focusing on it is a bad idea.
[2] In truth, I think Rabbi Sperber wants to go even farther than this alone and wants to reexamine the question of whether the rules of yatza-motzi are expansive enough to allow women who are not obligated in certain rabbinic mitzvot fulfill the obligation for men in those mitzvot as well. See his Women and Men in Communal Prayer: Halakhic Perspectives, p. 117 n. 105a and the discussion about this here: link.
[3] My wise and thoughtful student at Emory, Rabbi Ira Bedzow suggested this analogy to me.

 

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Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Torah Musings.

 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

182 Responses

  1. Joseph Kaplan says:

    I’m not sure that R. Broyde convinced me about this issue; I have to his arguments more thought. But this guest post does convince me yet again that when there is a controversial halachic issue on the MO table, R. Broyde is exactly the right person to turn to for a thoughtful, knowledgable, fair and balanced discussion and explanation. He never disappoints.

  2. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    While I prefer this approach to most of the other “anti” arguments I’ve been hearing – for one thing, it doesn’t write off those who do this as “non-Orthodox” – it still boils down to a “slippery slope” argument. As a rule, I am extremely skeptical of slippery slope arguments, and especially here when all the other innovations R. Broyde mentioned could be characterized as slippery slopes, I don’t buy it. I think most of the people making such arguments are not at all in touch with the generation of kids my age (I’m 21) many of whom are extremely motivated and interested in a Halakhic lifestyle, yet are drifting from Orthodoxy – not because of anything objectionable about Orthodoxy per se, but because of the perception they have of the Orthodox establishment as needlessly resistant to modern values, like egalitarianism. So if you ask me, our community DOES need this innovation as much as we needed women learning, or even YU.

  3. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    Oh and I agree with Joseph Kaplan’s description of R. Broyde.

  4. Saul Lieberman says:

    I don’t think that the “slippery slope” argument alone is sufficient to explain why an otherwise valid innovation is a “bad innovation.” (And certainly not sufficient to put it beyond the pale of Modern Orthodoxy.)
    Maybe R’ Broyde should explain the place of the “slippery slope” argument in halacha. (I don’t think the prayer in English hypothetical works very well for this purpose.)

  5. RJM says:

    It is nice to see a reasonable and balanced treatment of this issue.

  6. [...] Women Leading Kabbalat Shabbat: Some Thoughts | Hirhurim – Musings [...]

  7. emma says:

    I too appreciate Rabbi Broyde’s clarity and calm tone.

    FWIW I do see the slippery slope here. The kabbalat shabbat issue is part of a larger debate about the place of women in ritual (and Jewish life) more generally. As long as there are substantial areas from which women are excluded there will be tension with the contemporary egalitarian impulse. If the tension persists, which it will even if women are allowed to lead one part of daavening (because it’s just a minhag anyway), then attempts to alleviate it in the form of increasing women’s participation will persist.

    So I think Rabbi Broyde is right that kabbalat-shabbat-but-nothing-else is “a reality that is hard to present as a stable status quo.” And I even believe that Rabbi Broyde’s approach may indeed be more “stable” in the sense that a bright-line rule (“just say no”) against women leading synagogue ritual may be easier to maintain.

    However, I don’t really see how drawing that line in the sand for pragmatic reasons, but without articulating a larger theory of why it makes sense to define gender roles that way (beyond “halachah says so”), helps much. Sure, it preserves communal standards in practice, but it does not help individuals understand how those standards make sense or why they should want to be part of that community. So I think the lack of an articulated theory of gender roles also “positions the community poorly to confront the next set of challenges directed at it.”

  8. 11235813 says:

    How does the last sentence “badly obfuscates between situations where a proper shaliach tzibur is needed and where one is not,” fit with the previous assertion that you really don’t need a chazan for Kabbalat Shabbat?

  9. ruvie says:

    r’ broyde – thank you for an excellent and well articulated post (gil – no cultural illiterate is he – please note the well written article).

    “We must explain why it is a bad innovation.” – was this a foregone conclusion?
    can you give us some context of other innovations with women and why they are different than this one – yoetzet halacha (pretty innovative but ok – maybe women will pasken on other matters (well they technically may not pasken on anything))….women learning gemera (against many sugyas in the gemera) but now acceptable – women in communal functions that have power (sererah issue)…. women and bat mitzvah celebration (originally assur min hatorah – cukat hagoyim). in each of those cases time allowed these innovations. is it simply that they may violate halacha by doing maariv and people not understanding the limits?

    is the issue a public policy issue vs a technical halacha issue? if so, should each community have it own standards? like the women’s tefillah group where one can say its not for everyone but it can be allowed (at least some mo communities its acceptable)?

  10. Shasdaf says:

    chazanim repeat words in Lecha Dodi who never repeat words in tefilla,

    can someone please cite sources about the permissibility/prohibition of chazan repeating words in general? Thanks

  11. Shasdaf says:

    Thus, I think that the real issue is exactly the one of violation of minhag yisrael. Whatever the theoretical basis of our custom is, it is clear that since the minhag yisrael of reciting Kabbalat Shabbat started five centuries ago, women have not led it.

    would there be a difference in this issue where we allow something that was not previously done (like women leading) versus stopping to allow someone to do something (eg Tosfos paskening like Eldad Hadani that women may not shecht), or is shev v’al taaseh not a problem?

  12. mb says:

    In my Shul, for years, women have led the prayers for the U.S., Israel, the IDF, and never a hint or fear that they would lead Ashrei.

    And despite the ruckus following the event in HIR, the world did not fall apart.

    I feel that R.Broyde didn’t help the cause of opponents at all.

  13. S. says:

    >Claiming technical violations of halacha based on what normal educated members of our community think are difficult and farfetched reads of the halacha will not lead to our community respecting us or listening to us.

    Very refreshing. In fact, the whole of section 2 is refreshing.

    However, I find the third section to be very strange. R. Broyde seems to be trying to make an educated guess as to what the opposition is about. Is he not himself opposed? Why then does he have to “think” without being “certain” that what he suggests is the reason for “our” opposition? It’s almost as if he is trying to paint a target around the bull’s-eye: “We know we’re opposed. We can’t be opposed for stupid reasons, because that won’t fly. So here’s a reason that I think can fly.” Is this not trying to anchor the opposition in a good reason masquerading as the actual reason(s) which may be many other things, including pseudo-halachic or reactionary?

    However, the analogy to prayer in the vernacular is pretty good – except that really the analogy here would be to praying Kabalat Shabbat in the vernacular, not all tefillah. Maybe we can say that praying KS in English is a bad idea, but maybe it isn’t. Certainly changing only one section to the vernacular doesn’t ultimately promote the loss of Hebrew.

    Still, it’s nice to read something that at least makes a serious, good-faith effort at not yelling, mocking or talking down.

  14. Rivky says:

    To what do the second and third footnotes correspond?

    Also, I wish there would be more Rabbi Broyde types as guest writers on controversial topics- just respectful.

  15. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    Let’s face it. Modern Orthodoxy pushed too far to the left to allow its Rabbinate to demarcate a red line on women’s issues that makes much sense, and, willy-nilly, the slippery slope was strewn with banana peels by RYBS zt”l.

    Either you accept all that is within the borders of black letter law, or you opppose zeitgeist-oriented innovation, sans significant consensus of an עת לעשות necessity. The middle ground here is more a sociological construct than a logically consistent one, as I don’t think too many find Rabbi Broyde’s or Rabbi Student’s arguments very compelling.

  16. commentor says:

    In any case- R. Broyde agrees that kabalat shabbat which is led by a woman, as it is currently done, IS a problem of kol be-isha erva and men are not permitted to attend. R. Broyde merely thinks that aside from the technically problem, there are larger, global issues to consider as well.

  17. Mike S. says:

    This essay is interesting and thought provoking, but does not really address the social reasons motivating the change. Let me phrase it another way, borrowing R. Broyde’s phrasing:

    Is it possible to present a situation where women are as well educated as men in both Torah and secular knowledge, and participate as fully as men in both general life and in Jewish life outside the synagogue, but have less role in the synagogue service than a 6 year old boy, as a stable status quo?

  18. David Tzohar says:

    R’ Broyde continues to deal with gender issues from the point of view of halachic relativism. Religious practice must “resonate” with relevence to “our world” and if it doesn’t we must accept innovations which are halachically problematic. R’Broyde dismisses too easily the problems in the case of women leading prayer, especially the tzniyut issues. But even if these issues could be dealt with,in the long run it wouldn’t help. As long as the driving force behind these innovations is western egalitarianism and feminism,values which are incompatible with Torah values the slippery slope will eventually turn into a mudslide. When MO congregations allowed women to make kiddush for men and say divrei Torah in front of men they were oblivious to the ramifications. They seemed to have learned nothing from the history of the Conservative movement. It seems from my reading of R’ Broyde here that he is unwilling to go to the extremes that R’ Sperber does in his desire to have modern orthodoxy conform to present societal norms. In any event I hope that I am right in thinking that the majority of MO in America is closer to RHS than to R’ Broyde or R’Sperber on these issues.

  19. ruvie says:

    david tzohar – i hope you are wrong on the mo community. many do not view rhs as modern orthodox or as their spiritual leader.
    to your point – many do not believe that feminism is driving the issue. its the status change on how all societies value women. otherwise, would you deny women inheritance rights or education – torah – like in the old days – since it comes from the outside as well. but to paint all of this with the conservative brush – is just so typical (conservatives are not that much of an idealogical factor -threat-in america any more).

  20. moshe shoshan says:

    Gil,
    I think you should take R. Broyde as a model for honest and judicious opposition to the reforms proposed by the “post-orthodox”. Right or wrong he is mekadesh shem shamayim.

  21. David Tzohar says:

    R’ Broyde wrote that with out a doubt the halacha is that prayer in the vernacular is permitted. The Mishna Brura on the other hand has many doubts.See OH 62:2 MB:3 and Biur Halacha, OH 101:4 MB:13 and BH

  22. David Tzohar says:

    Ruvie- I might not be objective on the comparison with Conservatives. I grew up in a conservative synagogue which bears very little resemblance to even the most RW Conservative congregations today. This is true especially on womens issues. The fact is that the kind of halachic relativism that I wrote about was one of the pillars of Conservative ideology. I remember the discussions about the “hetter” to drive to shul on shabbat. “It was different in former times,people lived closer to their shuls” When feminist issues came to the fore in the late sixties the desire to be politically correct in liberal circles overcame any commitment to halacha that remained. The rest is history.

  23. HAGTBG says:

    There was once a time when a tone like R’ Broyde’s was not that exceptional. That time is not today. The praise of this article , if only for its seriousness and tone concerning a matter at a sociological fault line, seems well deserved.

    I thought the third section was mostly an apologetic, i.e. trying to come up with the most serious claim against a woman leading kabbalat shabbat given the prior qualifications, and chosing ones that least attack modern conceptions of egalitarianism that are influencing or held by Orthodox persons. As S mentioned, if this was the actual reason, R Broyde would not need to take a guess as to why the community opposes it.

    R Broyde needs to bring more reason to show how this innovation “is likely to lead to a technical violation of Jewish law in the future, and positions the community poorly to confront the next set of challenges directed at it.” What is his basis for these two assertions? Right now his sole argument is “Changing the custom so as to allow women to lead Kabbalat Shabbat as a chazan seems to me to be a practice that badly obfuscates between situations where a proper shaliach tzibur is needed and where one is not, and thus a bad innovation, likely to lead people astray.” That seems weak.

    It seems to me that there are two contrary arguments going on here that R’ Broyde did not fully address though he raised:

    As he noted, there are those who want maximum penetration of egalitarianism as permitted by halacha. To them, the argument that a gate needs to be built to prevent woman from violating halacha may seem as bad an argument as lowering the cap on how much tzedakah you give lest you give to much. No, they’d say, its a good thing until precisely the point it isn’t. The line is the line. And then there are those that believe egalitarianism is more contrary to halacha then other modern “isms”. They want a gate precisely to keep egalitarianism out.

    One can craft arguments that not allowing egalitarian trends will drive young people away from halacha throughout the overall community and arguments that allowing egalitarianism will ultimately contribute to assimilation by segments of the community away from halacha. One can argue for both allowing and prohibiting egalitarian trends that it will benefit the community in the long term. One can argue that its best to leave it to the local rav or requires a unified response. I have not seen any great discussion on these points, though R’ Broyde’s piece here was quite excellent, my comments here notwithstanding.

  24. Hirhurim says:

    Some of the responses to this article are precisely why most writers do not use the style. The idea that poskim have to convince the public is one that I reject entirely. We are not talking about issues of politics where Da’as Torah is debatable but psak halakhah. Let the poskim do their work. I’m more than happy to learn their reasons as a function of Torah study but I leave the decision-making to those most expert at it.

  25. Charlie Hall says:

    “I know of a few yeshivot that do not even recite either the six customary chapters of Psalms or Lecha dodi or have no chazan for it.”

    Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia starts with Psalm 29.

  26. joel rich says:

    What we need is more actuaries! All this talk of black and white reminds me of the Greeks’ idea of scientific research – aiui – sit in a room and think about it and no need to see if it reconciles with any analysis of the data out there (OK an oversimplification).

    IMHO we’ve been around the block on this one before – my summary – there are meta issues and micro issues – by the time leaders grow up they have developed an aspirational meta vision of the Jewish world (imho when it’s to our left it’s called an agenda, to our liking it’s the halachic view) and this is an important input to their halachic opinions on meta and micro matters. (Some recognize this and some understand all halcaha is micro ) When HKB”H likes the result he paskins through history and then we define it as either a horrat shaah or something else that retroactively kashers it , when he doesn’t, it’s marginalized and we pride ourselves on having been torah true.

    BTW as a sidepoint I think R’MF makes the case that chinuch for kids has to be consistent with what they will be allowed when they grow up so no Junior Cong with kriat hatorah, and I would assume no multiple kids saying yigadal, and why is it that anim zmirot which is so holy, we let kids say (please don’t tell me it’s their purity).

    Who knows what the future may bring in the coming years with Islamic mores and the western world? It will be interesting to see at the end of history, what women’s roles will be.

    KT and a ktiva and a chatimah tova for ALL who try to understand what HKB”H wants of us in this world.

  27. joel rich says:

    HAGTBG-see my question on audioroundup about mutav sheyihyu-I imagine the same question can be asked about “innovations” designed top draw more people within our camp.
    KT

  28. emma says:

    “The idea that poskim have to convince the public is one that I reject entirely. We are not talking about issues of politics where Da’as Torah is debatable but psak halakhah. ”

    Rabbi Broyde’s position is based on empirical assertions such as “X will lead to Y” or “Z is more stable than Q.” It seems to me that such empirical questions are precisely like “politics” in that a posek does not necessarily have a greater claim to being correct than other well-informed people.

    In fact, since part of the judgment is about how lay people will react (pushing for more innovation, being dissappointed in leadership) it would seem to me lay people’s perspective is crucial.

  29. 11235813 says:

    Hirhurim- the whole point of the article is that there is no technical violation of halakhah, so that is why it is (partially) a political issue.

  30. joel rich says:

    emma
    Much like a takkana shein hatzibur yachol laamod bo! Interesting is that apparently even chazal sometimes got it wrong, since assumedly before a gzeira they made a judgement as to whether people could/woud accept it, yet sometimes they people didn’t act accordingly.
    KT

  31. DS says:

    Rabbi Broyde’s article is exactly the kind of debate that we should be having…calm, erudite and respectful of all opinions. He is always a great pleasure to read and even those who oppose his thoughts cannot help but think about whether they themselves are in error because Rabbi Broyde is so evidently wise. I half agree with the idea of the slippery slope argument in this case precisely because the Gedolim have lost touch with the common people and there is no recognized leader who any party believes will take their point of view into account. There is no doubt in my mind that if one of the great Torah scholars had written a ruling that said “Woman can do X, but not Y and here is why”, the slippery slope argument would be moot. We would know the boundaries and be able to navigate them. It is precisely because we have a knee jerk “no innovation” on one side that we need people to innovate and play it out in the market. If the people adopt an innovation it becomes minhag yisrael…end of story.

  32. HAGTBG says:

    The idea that poskim have to convince the public is one that I reject entirely. We are not talking about issues of politics where Da’as Torah is debatable but psak halakhah.

    Who makes someone a posek if not the public? Is it your position that every talmid chacham deserving of recognition has received it?

    But more to the point, R’ Broyde states this is a dispute. Is R’ Sperber a posek? When you say you follow RHS over R’ Sperber, you are making a personal decision. Are you a posek Gil? Or a member of the public? If the later, then this does come down to convincing the public. Unless you are swayed by being RHS’s talmid which may be convincing to you but not to those not able to claim such a privilege (which is a majority).

  33. HAGTBG says:

    Joel Rich,

    I agree that is a valid analysis for someone opposed to egalitarianism. I agree also that it would be wonderful if we were able to rely on objective real world data rather then suppositions guessing at that data.

  34. Ricardo says:

    >They seemed to have learned nothing from the history of the Conservative movement.

    The Conservative movement never had a particularly Jewishly educated or halachically observant and committed laity. The two groups are not comparable.

  35. joel rich says:

    Who makes someone a posek if not the public?
    ====================
    Don’t ask me, ask R’MF who said the way he became poseik hador was because the public kept coming to him with questions :-) (BTW that susupports imho what avi mori vrabi zll”hh taught me from an early age – we get the leaders we deserve(want))
    KT

  36. emma says:

    “There is no doubt in my mind that if one of the great Torah scholars had written a ruling that said “Woman can do X, but not Y and here is why”, the slippery slope argument would be moot.”

    I disagree.

    No such a pask would alleviate the pressure for egalitarianism. Unless, of course, it came along with a well-articulated, credible, and workable view of the general role of women and the broader reasons for limitations on women’s participation.

    Thus far, for all the references to how the “Torah view” and “egalitarianism” are in conflict, I have seen very little talk about what the Torah view is (not just what it is not). I suspect the reason is a fear that (1) the halacha as advocated by those who allow women to do some previously-forbidden things and not others does not really correspond to a coherent view on gender roles and (2) any articulated view will sound, to those with contemporary sensibilities, too much like the 1950s to be taken seriously by many community members.

  37. Ricardo says:

    >Some of the responses to this article are precisely why most writers do not use the style.

    Meaning what, that R. Broyde did not succeed in convincing? How does the other style do that?

    >The idea that poskim have to convince the public is one that I reject entirely.

    But it is entirely true. Poskim always either convince a public, or they don’t. The former becomes halachic practice and the latter becomes “the collected minhagim of [the Gra, the Chasam Sofer, the Brisker Rov, etc.]” or just the history of halacha: “So-and-so held such-and-such.” Without a convinced public the halacha does not follow any posek.

  38. A says:

    R’ Broyde concludes that the reason having a women lead kabbalat shabbat is because the community won’t be able to distinguish between it and the parts of davening that actually count. But he states earlier that the community already does so, by perhaps repeating words or dancing, etc.

    I don’t understand what the difference is? If the community can understand there is a difference between Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv for repeating words, why does R’ Broyde think the same understanding can’t be made for a woman leading?

  39. Michael Rogovin says:

    As always, a well reasoned essay by R Broyde. I think that he is correct on the slippery slope — this is precisely what happened in many Conservative synagogues that started egal with kabbalat shabbat and ended up with women leading all services and becoming trained chazanot. Even if Rabbi Weiss does not support partnership minyanim, much of the laity that support this move clearly do and are unlikely to be satisfied in the long term with just K.S.

    I am left wondering if R Broyde would write off a shul like HIR as non- (or no longer) orthodox if it has (as a secondary or even a primary service) a woman leading kabbalat shabbat or would he wait to see if women go on to lead maariv or other areas which would be without a doubt halachic violations. While he clearly disapproves, that is not to say that he would say the shul was not orthodox, the rabbi non-orthodox or that one is prohibited from davening there.

    It is, to me, reminiscent of RYBS who personally opposed WTG, but would not make a public statement that they were assur or that a shul that had one was outside the pale of orthodoxy, leaving it to each individual Rabbi (it was reported to me that the Rav made just that point by speaking at and davening at Lincoln Square after it started a WTG and the Rabbi of another upper west side synagogue publicly stated that LSS was no longer orthodox; in any case many other prominent Rabbis including Rabbi Willig also did so).

  40. SY Guy says:

    HKBH did a great chessed with the Sepharadim in preserving the synagogue as the place for all Jews, and not those who fit a certain label. As someone who attends a shul where nearly the entirety of Kabbalat Shabbat is sung communally (but for Mishna Shabbat second perek), and there is a better chance of having the Pope pop in than seeing a woman in the ezrat nashim Friday night, this whole debate is thankfully one our community is spared from. Its strange that in some segments of the Torah-world these issues are so apparently pressing and require immediate attention (so we don’t lose the girls that want to be men for purposes of ritual service) while in others there is not even a demand for this type of innovation at all. That said I do think that the burden of proof resides with those that are pushing “innovation” – and that unless the slippery slope (or any other halachic-based) argument is conclusively rebutted by the innovators, traditional practice should be followed when it comes to matters of community ritual.

  41. Ricardo says:

    >Its strange that in some segments of the Torah-world these issues are so apparently pressing and require immediate attention (so we don’t lose the girls that want to be men for purposes of ritual service) while in others there is not even a demand for this type of innovation at all.

    It’s not so strange. It’s different cultures. Your culture developed as it did because of certain historical conditions, pressures, advantages, and ours did as well.

    It’s actually very different simply because SY and Sepharadim specifically kept their minhagim very closely. Ashkenazim also had their own minhagim in different regions and even cities in the various European countries – there used to be a need to print siddurim for Jews of Frankfurt speficially, as an example – but by and large we mixed it all up in America. No one has allegiance to a sacred minhag kept by an individual shul that is only superficially similar to one’s own regional minhagim which, likely, they don’t even remember or know. So it’s pretty hard to argue the sacred character of minhagim which are just not rooted so deeply.

  42. David Gold says:

    David Tzohar on August 20, 2010 at 8:05 am wrote “R’ Broyde wrote that with out a doubt the halacha is that prayer in the vernacular is permitted. The Mishna Brura on the other hand has many doubts.See OH 62:2 MB:3 and Biur Halacha, OH 101:4 MB:13 and BH.” Tzohar is missreading the MB. It is clear as a matter of normative halacha that the MB permits communal prayer (which is what Rabbi Broyde stated and he has no doubt that this is the case as a matter of hilchot tefillah. Rather, the MB has exactly the same doubts that Rabbi Broyde has, which are that “for many excellent reasons elaborated on by the great rabbis of our time in the sefer divrai habrit, they agreed that it is flatly prohibited to do so” (MB 104:13). One who looks in that sefer will see that the reasons given are not related to hilchot tefillah but exactly the concerns raised by Rabbi Broyde.

  43. DS says:

    “Some of the responses to this article are precisely why most writers do not use the style. The idea that poskim have to convince the public is one that I reject entirely. We are not talking about issues of politics where Da’as Torah is debatable but psak halakhah. Let the poskim do their work. I’m more than happy to learn their reasons as a function of Torah study but I leave the decision-making to those most expert at it.”

    This statement is ridiculous on its face in a society in which anyone can leave the community at will and there are no repercussions. Yes, to some it would be better if a Jewish court could coerce obedience but I for one would not trade the U.S. for the Pale of settlement. Religious leaders are not kings, they must take the laity into account when they decide things. They must also take the global society into account (as great Rabbi’s have throughout time. Want proof? The herem on Polygamy.) Yes, it is true that a posek may submit to political pressure to change black letter Halacha but this as everyone knows is a sociological question. Rabbi Broyde succeeded in showing how a line can be drawn that does not break Halacha and affords women expanded rights.

  44. emma says:

    “Rabbi Broyde succeeded in showing how a line can be drawn that does not break Halacha and affords women expanded rights.”

    Expanded relative to what?

  45. emma says:

    (By that last comment I mean that there are a lot of lines that can be drawn without breaking halacha that afford women more expanded rights than they had in, say, 19th century poland. that doesn’t really answer whether such lines feel “expansive” to contemporary women who never experienced the past restrictions.)

  46. Charlie Hall says:

    Rabbi Hershel Schachter speaks regularly at a synagogue in New York that has a women’s tefillah group.

    It is actually possible to disagree with someone and yet not think that they are non-Orthodox.

  47. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    SY Guy:

    a) You forgot to mention that Kabbalat Shabbat at a Syrian shul skips the first 5 perakim of Tehillim that Ashkenazim say.

    b) Why do you think it’s a good thing that a woman is rarely seen in shul on Shabbat?

  48. shmuel says:

    Jacob Katz in his Shabbos Goy makes a keen observation that certain heterim for use of non-Jews in business/home on Shabbos never took hold because the Jewish sensitivity toward Shabbos didnt accept it. WTG and Women leading kabalat Shabbos services tells us more about (MO) changing Jewish sensitivity than it does about halchah per se

  49. SY Guy says:

    1) True – but they do sing Shir HaShirim perek by perek and there has yet to be an incident where a woman demands to lead a perek of that recital
    2) Let’s please be precise – I said Fri. Night has no women usually, when conceivably they have more important things to do than come to shul. There are many tzadkaniot that spend the time immediately before candle lighting reciting Tehillim, and make every effort to ensure that when the shul crew returns home that the table is prepared for immediate recitation of Shalom Aleichem, Eshet Chayil, Atkinu Seudata (for those more AriZAL inclined) and Kiddush – as recommended by Sephardic poskim.
    I would also submit that those moments after candlelighting in anticipation of Kiddush are absolutely critical in the proper chinuch of the young children – a goal frustrated if Imma is lighting the candles and rushing out the door to serve Hashem in a different, if not inferior way. On the flip side, I can see how it would be most pleasing to older empty nesters to accompany each other to shul on Friday night – the value there being in the ‘stroll’ rather than some imperative for Grandma to lead the service as opposed to just participating in the sing along.

  50. Bob Miller says:

    I wonder why some persist in considering each proposed innovation by itself, when the innovators clearly intend a steady stream of these things that would ultimately transform our religious belief and practice. Their initial goal is to content us with innovation as such, so that later proposals that now look like a real leap will meet with steadily deceasing levels of resistance.

  51. joel rich says:

    R’BM,
    Of course one might say:
    I wonder why some persist in considering each resistance to a proposed innovation by itself, when the resistors clearly intend a steady stream of resistance that would ultimately stultify our religious belief and practice. Their initial goal is to content us with the status quo as such, so that later resistance that now look like a real setback will meet with steadily deceasing levels of resistance.

    or

    I wonder why some persist in considering each proposed innovation by itself, when the innovators clearly intend a steady stream of these things that would ultimately transform our religious belief and practice. Their initial goal is to content us with innovation as such, so that later proposals that now look like a real leap will meet with steadily deceasing levels of resistance.
    For example, look at the percentage of the population that is in full time learning now – had this been proposed 60 years ago….

    KT

  52. Ricardo says:

    >1) True – but they do sing Shir HaShirim perek by perek and there has yet to be an incident where a woman demands to lead a perek of that recital

    Women aren’t demanding and confrontational in kehillot were it is unacceptable. In a place like HIR it is not unacceptable and, one might say, organic.

  53. Heimish says:

    At KOE, women have led kabbalat shabbat for about 15 years. To my knowledge, there has never arisen a situation in which the woman leading kabbalat shabbat continued on to lead ma’ariv. Implying, as R. Broyde does, that kehillot are too dumb to understand the distinction is a real red herring. To the contrary, just as we instist on an all-hebrew tefillah to raise Jewish literacy, perhaps instituting women leading kabbalat shabbat would raise our community’s level of awareness of the halachic distinctions between kabbalat shabbat and tefillot having the status of davar shebikedusha.

  54. Michael Rogovin says:

    SY Guy states (in relevant part):
    “There are many tzadkaniot that … make every effort to ensure that when the shul crew returns home that the table is prepared for immediate recitation of Shalom Aleichem, [etc] … as recommended by Sephardic poskim. I would also submit that those moments after candlelighting in anticipation of Kiddush are absolutely critical in the proper chinuch of the young children – a goal frustrated if Imma is lighting the candles and rushing out the door to serve Hashem in a different, if not inferior way. ”

    I, OTOH, would submit, that it would be important to proper chinuch of young children (as well as sensitivity to one’s aishet chayil) for the husband to set the table (or at least help) so that the wife (who has probably done most or all of the cooking, laundry etc) can relax a bit or even join her husband and children in shul. Also, so that the children see and learn that domestic chores are not the sole province of a woman but of the man of the house as well (which would, incidentally, also include laundry and cooking of course).

  55. ItcheBer says:

    This analysis appears to be based on the implcit assumption that members of contemporary modern Orthodox communities are either too dumb or too ignorant to understand fundamental halakhic distinctions and to behave accordingly. This stikes me as a particularly inappropriate assumption, given the halakhically literate and committed nature of these communities and the dissonance their adherents experience between the status of women in their ritual (pedestals without rights)and secular(rights without pedestals) lives.

  56. chareidilite says:

    >HATBAG- R Broyde needs to bring more reason to show how this innovation “is likely to lead to a technical violation of Jewish law in the future, and positions the community poorly to confront the next set of challenges directed at it.” <

    As I understand it, in the actual case at hand, the woman who led Kabbalas Shabbos did, in fact, sing in front of the men present. Based on footnote 1, it would appear that R. Broyde would agree that this is assur. It therefore seems to me that this innovation has already led to "a technical violation of Jewish law".

    Although it may be possible to lead Kabbalas Shabbos without song, it isn't commonly done that way, and so will surely lead to problems of kol isha on a regular basis. It therefore seems to me that, rather than being a side issue, the issur of kol isha is the most likely candidate for first transgression committed on the slide down the slippery slope.

  57. Rabbi Zvi says:

    I agree with Bob Miller – his point is extremely valid.

    I think that Rabbi Broyde’s article smacks od apologetics and contains controversial statements regarding Halacha. Women making Kiddush (on Friday Night) is permitted in private not public, K’tanim leading Anim Zemiros is an issue of Chinuch – without which it would not be permitted, Davening in a language other than Hebrew is clearly second rate and not just fine as he states.

    Most disturbing is his characterization of a “technical” violation of Halacha. Is that not sufficient reason to prohibit something?

  58. Rabbi Zvi says:

    Additionally, as noted on one of your previous threads, the woman who actually led Kabbalas Shabbos has some “interesting” views regarding Halacha. Her innovations in the marriage ceremony and her distortion of statements in Iggaros Moshe are rather disturbing.

  59. Ricardo says:

    >Most disturbing is his characterization of a “technical” violation of Halacha. Is that not sufficient reason to prohibit something?

    Huh? He doesn’t permit technical violation of halacha. He’s discussing prohibiting something which *isn’t* a technical violation of halacha.

    chareidilite, Rabbi Avi Weiss holds that chanting (=singing) prayers is not singing, and since R. Broyde doesn’t disagree, presumably he accepts this, otherwise he’d argue that it’s a violation of halacha from the outset.

  60. Charlie Hall says:

    “the woman who led Kabbalas Shabbos did, in fact, sing in front of the men ”

    True. Women and men have been singing holy songs together for a long time and it has been discussed in the halachic literature. Here is an example:

    http://www.koltorah.org/ravj/The%20Parameters%20of%20Kol%20Isha.htm

    It is not clear from this that any technical or other violation has occurred. HIR is one of the few synagogues I’ve seen where large numbers of women attend the K”S service and yes, they do sing.

    The Friday night that Lamelle Ryman led a K”S service at HIR, I attended the main service at HIR that was led by a man. I sat a few feet from a woman who was on the other side of the mechitzah and I could clearly hear her singing, even over the voices of the many other women singing. I am very happy that I am married to that woman whose beautiful voice I heard so clearly! :)

  61. emma says:

    Ricardo,
    “Rabbi Avi Weiss holds that chanting (=singing) prayers is not singing, and since R. Broyde doesn’t disagree, presumably he accepts this, otherwise he’d argue that it’s a violation of halacha from the outset.”

    R. Broyde restricts his comments to the best-case-scenario of no singing on purpose and was making no comment on the practice as applied at HIR, so your assumption is not justified.

  62. Steve Brizel says:

    R Broyde deserves kudos for attempting to serve a rock in the proverbial hard place between the views of RHS and RD D Sperber. Yet, R Broyde’s analysis, as well developed as usual, IMO suffers from the following flaws:

    1) There was no attempt to defend the dichotomy between community and the individual that is reflected in many Minhagim, and not just gender based Minhagei Beis HaKnesses and Tefilah that are the hallmark of the theologically equal with different ritual roles for men and women that has been the hallmark of the Jewish People since the days of the Avos. There was also no recognition of the fact that the radical egalitarian feminist movement has and still has always rejected any diffences between men and women other than the ability to bear children-a factor that should loom large, as opposed to being dismissed because of the so-called demise of the heterodox movements in the US.

    2) The Talmud records instances of Tanaim greating Shabbos in Shabbos and BK. What we call Kabalas Shabbos stems from that Minhag and serves as concretization of the necessity to accept the Kedushas Hayom by recognizing the same in advance of its onset. Minimization of the same by viewing it in the relatively dismisive view and framework of “its only a minhag” does not present a solution to the issue anymore than advocating that all men should light candles or that all women should attend Tefilah on Erev Shabbos.

    3) Viewing Minhagim solely as to their halachic basis without the larger metahalachic concepts of whether a suggested ‘improvement” is within the Neshama of the TSBP or the Ratzon HaTorah strikes me as incomplete at best or at worst advocacy that when MO faces a direct choice between Modernity and Orthodoxy, it tends to side with Modernity at the expense of Orthodoxy. Such as POV has the risk of having MO in the US, as opposed to Israel, where different factors confronting the RZ are extant, forget that listening to the Baalei Mesorah in its community, as opposed to Israel, are the lodestar of halachically committed MO. Sooner or later, one can only hope that in this issue, MO will have to realize that it has far more in common with the views of the CS than Moses Mendelsohn,

  63. M. Rivera says:

    Rabbi Zvi,

    ” Women making Kiddush (on Friday Night) is permitted in private not public”

    FYI, I found the following two resources on women making kiddush(I include one from JOFA, although I am not a supporter of theirs). I think that this needs a post of its own from the Bal HaBlog.

    http://www.yakarkehilla.org.uk/Responsa/WomenMakingKiddush.pdf

    http://www.jofa.org/pdf/TA%20SHMA%20KIDDUSH.pdf

  64. Rabbi Zvi says:

    Ricardo:

    I never stated he permitted it, I protest to his characterization.

  65. M. Rivera says:

    Rabbi Zvi,

    I think the Kiddush issue deserves a post of its own.

  66. Charlie Hall says:

    “What we call Kabalas Shabbos stems from that Minhag and serves as concretization of the necessity to accept the Kedushas Hayom by recognizing the same in advance of its onset.”

    Necessity? Lots of synagogues pray Kabbalat Shabat well after Shabat has begun.

    ‘the larger metahalachic concepts of whether a suggested ‘improvement” is within the Neshama of the TSBP or the Ratzon HaTorah ‘

    I haven’t seen a lot of sources that discussed metahalachic concepts on the occasions of the adoption of then-innovative minhagim in the past.

    ” MO will have to realize that it has far more in common with the views of the CS than Moses Mendelsohn”

    What ritual innovations did Moses Mendelssohn promote?

  67. Ricardo says:

    >R. Broyde restricts his comments to the best-case-scenario of no singing on purpose and was making no comment on the practice as applied at HIR, so your assumption is not justified.

    You’re right, I didn’t read it carefully. But it doesn’t seem that he feels its certainly prohibited. Rather, he writes that he’ll assume no singing so as to not have to address it, because for him it is certainly not the main issue (ie, as an issue it can easily be wiped away).

    Since R. Broyde knows that he’s not dealing with the Mirrer Yeshiva or some other kalte Litvish environment where KS won’t be sung, he likely doesn’t mean that the kol be-isha issue can go away by NOT singing.

  68. Jerry says:

    Steve,

    All of those things you wish Rabbi Broyde had considered are all either questionable or extremely subjective metrics by which to judge this issue. I especially love the “Neshamah of TSBP” test. Somehow that one always seems to come out exactly where you do. What a coincidence!

    Rabbi Broyde’s analysis is so excellent precisely because it avoids the pitfalls of self-serving exhortations about the “Neshama of TSBP” and strained reading of sources (i.e. Tannaim supposedly serving as the makor for KBS).

  69. Rentsy says:

    I think it is a good point to make that a woman isn’t a child.

    It is demeaning to women to say that since a child could perform a role, we will let her perform it.

  70. Anonymous says:

    Steven -

    I would be interested in your exposition after Shabbat of what ritual changes Moses Mendelssohn proposed. Or would you like to just state that your comment was simply baseless rhetoric?

    Shabbat Shalom from the lev of the TSBP!

  71. Zave Rudman says:

    I think the analogy to vernacular prayer is excellent, since it was frowned upon in many sources since it was viewed as a slippery slope to other practices that are Halachically forbidden. See Mishnah hBrurah Siman 101 S”K 13

  72. David Tzohar says:

    R’JR- More actuaries? I assume that is tongue in cheek,although I heard that my nephew is considering it. If he’s interested in my input then I would tell him to try the rabbinical route first.(a few more years in the kollel wouldnt hurt either but I know…Mekublani…)

  73. Joseph Kaplan says:

    “Some of the responses to this article are precisely why most writers do not use the style. The idea that poskim have to convince the public is one that I reject entirely. We are not talking about issues of politics where Da’as Torah is debatable but psak halakhah. Let the poskim do their work. I’m more than happy to learn their reasons as a function of Torah study but I leave the decision-making to those most expert at it.”

    Gil, i read this comment just before Shabbat and I thought I’d think about it a bit before I responded. So I did, and my response is what I thought initially: what the hell are you talking about?!? You give us a guest post that, unlike some others, is first class, discussing a controversial issue with care, erudition. balance and fairness. And then you get a slew of comments that, in the main, resemble the post; that is, they don’t try to write anybody out of Orthodoxy, call them insulting names, throw around ad hominem attacks, or impugn the motives of those they disagree with. Rather, they try, for the most part, to have an intelligent discussion where not everybody agrees but where most try to respect their opponents. And you fault that? You, and most of your commenters, get it right and you’re not happy? Boy, talk about not taking yes for an answer.

  74. joel rich says:

    R’DT,
    tongue firmly planted! as to your nephew, AIUI his father has a kabbalah to let his children do as they see fit :-)
    KT

  75. Steve Brizel says:

    My reference to the CS and Moses Mendelsohn was a deliberately chosen reference inasmuch I think that when one thinks long and hard about Jewish history since the epoch of the CS and Moses Mendelsohn, the arguments of the CS, as opposed to those of Moses Mendelsohn, preserved Torah observance and the views of Moses Mendelsohn, despite the fact that he was observant, was the forefather of Haskalah, which IMO did not aid the cause of Jewish continuity. It was an obvious comment that had everything to do with Hashkafa and meta halachic considerations and nothing to do with Halacha. However, it is evident that many posters view Halacha as to be discussed completely divorced from reading between the lines and considering the Neshama of the TSBP and/or the Ratzon HaTorah which dictate how we act or are supposed to act even when there is no clear Halachic mandate or prohibition. Arguing that a particular course of action that is permitted by Halacha without considering the meta halachic considerations of the Neshama of the TSBP and the Ratzon HaTorah is showing a lack of appreciation of the importance of these concepts, which are rooted in the Torah and Chazal, as opposed to a claim that the same are “self serving.”

    Those interested in a serious, non rhetorical discussion of Lo Sasur and Ratzon HaTorah can see R Asher Weiss’s Minchas Asher , Devarim, Simanim 26 and 51.

    I don’t think that is a “strained” argument to claim that Tosefes Shabbos as the Talmud describes it in Shabbos and BK or how Rambam sets forth in Hilcos Shabbos 30:2 is one of the bases for the Kabbalistic concept of Kabbalas Shabbos which is the prelude to Maariv on Erev Shabbos. See also RYBS’s Yahrtzeit Shiurim where RYBS discussed the above cited Halacha and the Talmudic sources that I mentioned.

    When one learns Chumash with Rashi and other Rishonim, especially the Parshiyos that deal with the interaction of the Avos and Imahos as well as Moshe, Aharon and Miriam, the spiritual equality and division of responsibility between the genders is obvious. Only a radical egalitarian feminist or an apologist for the same would conclude otherwise.

  76. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    1. women “makes hamotzi over Shabbat lunch” — its in the gemara brachot — baal habayit botzeia (v’oreach mevarech).

    2. while its become accepted for children to be chazan for an’im zmirot, its problematic from the perspective that its a very meaningful prayer that halacha insists should specifically not be taken lightly. (a subject for another post)

    3. for those who permit “carlbach kabalat shabat”, it is (often) without a chazan.

    4. which brings up a proposal of no chazzan at all, for lets say, maariv. (we’ll have to do away with barchu, but no other (real) issues there. except magen avot, which is only supposed to be said in a real minyan, not an ad hoc minyan of this type, by the chazzan only, not the kahal.)

  77. Steve Brizel says:

    Michael Rogovin-I know of many men who buy challah,make the cholent, set the table, slice a roast with or without an electric knife, and assist in many household tasks. The notion that frum men simply prance out of the house Erev Shabbos without lifting a finger is an obvious feminist urban myth and stereotype.

  78. Mike S. says:

    Steve,

    You really should learn more of what the GR”A had to say before you pronounce things as obviously beyond the pale of Orthodoxy. In particular, he opposed Kabbalat Shabbat, and requires 3 women who have eaten together to make a mezzuman.

  79. Mike S. says:

    Steve,

    you refer to “the theologically equal with different ritual roles for men and women that has been the hallmark of the Jewish People since the days of the Avos.” Please define both the ritual roles and the theological equality, with specific reference to “Chumash with Rashi and other Rishonim, especially the Parshiyos that deal with the interaction of the Avos and Imahos as well as Moshe, Aharon and Miriam” And then please explain, if gender roles in Jewish ritual are permanently fixed, how it is possible that the Rema forbids women to do shechita despit explicit mishnayot permitting women to shecht both kodshim and chullin.

  80. Charlie Hall says:

    ” if gender roles in Jewish ritual are permanently fixed, how it is possible that the Rema forbids women to do shechita despit explicit mishnayot permitting women to shecht both kodshim and chullin”

    Not to mention women being able to read the Megillah even for a man.

  81. Hesh says:

    First, thanks for R. Broyde for his measured approach to this controversial subject, in contradistinction to the hysterics that so dominate secular debate that have crept into Jewish discussions.

    Many commentators here have drawn a parallel to Friday night in shul vs. Friday night in the home. In general, this speaks the fundamental quality of truly observant Judaism — it is a way of life that is just as important in the synagogue and the home. To the extent that people place disproprotionate emphasis in women’s roles in the synagogue, I feel, in some sense, this demonstrates a lack of respect for the centrality of the Jewish home.

    On a personal note, due, thank G-d, to my four young children, I frequently don’t make it to shul on Friday night (I rationalize that I make up for it by going during the week!). Why? Because helping my wife put our family and home in order for Shabbat is more important than hearing L’cha Dodi in shul.

  82. Saul Lieberman says:

    I now understand R Broyde to be arguing that given R Sperber’s agenda, we should strike at R Sperber’s first innovation even if that innovation is not in itself “bad”. (My earlier characterizaton of R Broyde’s argument as a “slippery slope argument” is inappropriate; “agenda argument” would be better. Similarly, R Broyde’s “communal prayer in the vernacular” analogy would be more illustrative of his argument if it were described as part of an agenda to abolish prayer in Hebrew.)
    But R Broyde’s case requires an explication of R Sperber’s agenda and why that agenda is “bad” — which I hope he will do in a future post.

  83. Richard Kahn says:

    Whether or not you think that Sperber’s agenda is “bad,” R. Broyde has a good point when he says that allowing women to lead Kabbalat Shabbat and nothing else is not really a sustainable model in that it’s a half-answer to feminist concerns. I’m not sure I agree with it, but it has me thinking, something that cannot be said for other responses.

  84. HaDarda"i says:

    Mike S. You wrote that the GR”A opposed Kabbalat Shabbat. What is your source for this?

  85. Typo says:

    Breeches are pants (for Americans) or trousers (for English). The correct noun is breaches.

  86. moshe shoshan says:

    Steve,
    challenge you to write an extended paper in which you explicate you oft made claim, that reading chumash with “Rashi and the Rishonim” inevitably leads to a single “separate but equal view” of gender relations. In this paper you might consider treated the question of why chumash with rishonim should be ultimate arbiter of gender roles in judaism and not say, the writings of chazal.

    If you decline the challenge, please stop make reference to this radical and unverified claim.

  87. moshe shoshan says:

    corrected version

    Steve,
    I challenge you to write an extended paper in which you explicate your oft made claim, that reading chumash with “Rashi and the Rishonim” inevitably leads to a single “separate but equal view” of gender relations. I would expect a through survey, at the very least, of Rashi, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, Rambam, Bechor Shor, Radak and Ralbag on all of chumash. In this paper you might consider treating the question of why chumash with rishonim should be ultimate arbiter of gender roles in judaism and not say, the writings of chazal. Also please explain why you neglect rishonim on Nach.

    If you decline the challenge, please stop make reference to this radical and unverified claim.

  88. ruvie says:

    charlie hall – its debatable if women reading the megillah can be yotzei men – the question is if they have the same equal obligation – to read or whether its only to hear (not all agree on this issue)

  89. ruvie says:

    steve – how do you think that the cs aided or preserved religious or torah judaism? history only shows that cs moved to tolerate less than previous rabbis only led – help hasten – to the demise of religious observance by the majority of jews. chadash assur mn hatorah must have been the most ill fated sentence in jewish history. if history teaches us anything is that viewpoint help many become less religious if anything.
    today, many- maybe most – of religious jewry – especially all those in the mo circles – are descendants and inheritors of the haskallah in that we value and/or study: secular education, tanach. hebrew, jewish history etc – all the agendas of the haskalah.

  90. Nachum says:

    Richard Kahn makes an important point: If Orthodoxy remains Orthodox (Orthoprax, really), then women will simply *never* be able to do everything that men do. So why is the line being inched ever over and over, creating the illusion that some rabbis are aiming for equality, instead of a line being drawn with the clear message that there will, in fact, always be a line?

  91. HAGTBG says:

    So why is the line being inched ever over and over, creating the illusion that some rabbis are aiming for equality, instead of a line being drawn with the clear message that there will, in fact, always be a line?

    1. How do you know there is not a clear message by the rabbis behind this there will always be a line? This forum focuses on the deviations, not the entirety of the message.

    2. Why do we assume there is a single bloc with every rabbi holding the same position? Maybe one rabbi does believe in radical egalitarianism (find me that Orthodox rabbi please) and others do not.

    3. An argument that women and men can never be the same is not the same as an argument that all the differences we have now are the differences that always must or should be.

    4. Essentially your argument is that because there can never be equality there should not be change that leads to “greater equality.” I do not understand that argument.

  92. Steve Brizel says:

    Moshe Shoshan-I need not respond to any quasi academic challenge as to the role of men and women as stated in Chumash as explicated by Chazal and Rishonim, that I mentioned, who clearly refer to Chazal in their commentaries . The roles of the Avos and Imahos as well as Moshe Rabbeinu, Aharon HaKohen and Miriam HaNeviah, who we are taught to admire, and venerate,and learn from their accomplishments and mistakes, as role models for every generation, are explicated quite well and need no elaboration by anyone who is even faintly familiar with Chumash. If you want to read a feminist take on the Avos and Imahos, there is a person from Boston who writes novels on what she thinks was the role of the Avos and Imahos as well as her jaundiced take on Hilcos Nidah.

  93. Jay Isaac says:

    Having read through the numerous postings, might I suggest that the real “averah” committed by R. Avi Weiss and company is causing so much bitul Torah. Genug sheyn!

  94. Charlie Hall says:

    “the clear message that there will, in fact, always be a line?”

    Rabbi Avi Weiss has made it clear over and over and over again that there will, in fact, always be a line. But nobody here seems to be paying attention to his position.

  95. Charlie Hall says:

    “R. Broyde has a good point when he says that allowing women to lead Kabbalat Shabbat and nothing else is not really a sustainable model”

    I think that is true but for a different reason: In many communities we typically schedule the Friday night servies, particularly in the summer, at a time that makes it impossible for the person who lights candles to make it to shul in time for the beginning of the service unless he/she lives right next to the shul. And interestingly, the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale is one such community!

  96. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Steve: You are out of date in terms of the most recent –and even no s recent — scholarhip on Mendelssohn. He was NOT the father of haskalah. See the work of Shmuel Feiner and others.

    The CS’s view of Mendelssohn was not the dominant one in his time. Even the CS’s leading disciple, the Maharam Schick had a different view. There is a whole literature on this.

    Your basic assumption that the exclusive alternatives are Mendelssiohn or the CS is what is most questionable. How about, for example, the Maharatz Hayyot as a model, who, by the way, suggested that many synagogue minhagim be allowed to die a slow
    natural death.

    Re ritual change: Mendelssohn did, however, privately suggest to Rabbi Yaakov Emden, basing himself on a Yerushalmi, that the dead not be buried on the same day, but only after theee days. R. Yaakon Emden did tot take too kindly to the suggestion. But then he himself suggested abolishing the Ashkenazi prohibition of kitniyyot on Pesach.

    Joseph: I know you say I should not get into disputes with Steve. I guess my scholarly yetzer hara got the better of me!

  97. chareidilite says:

    Charlie Hall on August 20, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    “Women and men have been singing holy songs together for a long time and it has been discussed in the halachic literature. Here is an example:

    http://www.koltorah.org/ravj/The%20Parameters%20of%20Kol%20Isha.htm

    It is not clear from this that any technical or other violation has occurred. HIR is one of the few synagogues I’ve seen where large numbers of women attend the K”S service and yes, they do sing.”

    Charlie- the source you cite mentions a single source from modern Germany permitting mixed singing. Most poskim understood that this was done as a means to combat assimilation- they had youth groups with both boys and girls that would sing zimiros on shabbos together (heard from Rav Nissim Alpert zt’l). Think of it as a psak for the NCSY of it’s day, not something meant for general use. Do you feel that HIR constitutes a kiruv group in which such a leniency would be appropriate? Being completely unfamiliar with HIR, I would have to defer to your better knowledge.

    Note, however, that this source only cites simultaneous singing of multiple men and women. It still would not be an adequate source to permit a woman to sing solo in front of men. Unless HIR does things very differently than other shuls, the chazan sings the closing verse of each tehilla unaccompanied. Did this not happen at HIR?

    PS- as far as your hearing other women singing during davening- be aware that, should this occur during a point in davening that is a real obligation (such as shema and its brachos), your recitation might well be invalidated. Please ask your local orthodox rabbi.

  98. emma says:

    re: roles.
    I would sincerely like to here someone explain what my role is, spiritually equal or otherwise. specifically, what role allows me to be a corporate lawyer, learn and teach iyyun gemara, and split parenting responsibilities with my husband, but not speak from the bimah.
    it may be “obvious” to mr. brizel but it is not obvious to me.
    Like steve brizel, though, i wish this were more part of the conversation than it has been.

  99. Nachum says:

    “How do you know there is not a clear message by the rabbis behind this there will always be a line?”

    Because there hasn’t been one?

    And because they do, indeed, keep inching.

  100. Bob Miller says:

    Charlie Hall on August 22, 2010 at 11:45 am
    said “Rabbi Avi Weiss has made it clear over and over and over again that there will, in fact, always be a line. But nobody here seems to be paying attention to his position.”

    It is clear over and over that he will cross today’s line tomorrow.

  101. thanbo says:

    I realize it’s something of an ad-hominem argument, but is it a telling point that R’ Dr Sperber has recently accepted the chancellorship of a Conservative yeshiva in Canada? The Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinic Seminary, while not explicitly affiliated with anyone, well, look at their webpage. Their logo is clearly derived from the logos of Conservative institutions, such as USCJ (wiggly flame), Camps Ramah (burning bush), and JTSA (similar burning bush).

    More seriously, looking at their website, (almost?) their entire rabbinic faculty holds Conservative ordination. The one whose ordination isn’t posted, their Rosh Yeshiva, although he learned at Orthodox yeshivot in Israel, has served Conservative institutions for decades, and has an MAHL, which appears to be a degree granted mostly by HUC.

    Does this not enter into questions of how much credence to grant R’ Sperber? While some may call him a posek, for whom is he a posek? Yes, I feel somewhat betrayed, having defended him online for years, and enjoying his writing and lectures.

    http://www.cdnyeshiva.org/administrative_faculty2/

  102. HAGTBG says:

    Because there hasn’t been one?

    And because they do, indeed, keep inching.

    Maybe you’ve done more reading on this then me, been to their shuls or actually spoken to them. I simply know what’s on the Jewish news blogs. So I have no idea whether there has or hasn’t been one.

    I agree with you they keep inching. I don’t know why you assume they are inching towards strict egalitarianism rather then where they believe the line is where it conflicts with halacha.

  103. HAGTBG says:

    Does this not enter into questions of how much credence to grant R’ Sperber?

    You mean because R’ Sperber is giving psak to those that need it the most, therefore he has no credence? Maybe that gives him more credence?

  104. chaim1 says:

    I havent managed to read all the comments. but here is what i have to say.
    A woman is not supposed to go to shul at night, she has to make ‘bedikos’.
    A woman who is at the end of her ‘niddos’ is not allowed out of the house on shabbos where you must not carry.
    A woman who is a nidda shouldnt be davening at all.
    Even a woman who has had relations and not been to mikva shouldnt be davenning at all no different to chasidic men.
    The gemoro says a curse ‘tovoi meiro’ for a man whose wife davens for him although she is able to according to the din.
    There is a fallacy here of what a woman’s purpose in life is.
    Basically she has no purpose of her own. her reward is dependent on her husband and children in the world to come.
    I suppose this all is something which none of you agree with but that doesnt make it wrong at all.

  105. thanbo says:

    Dr Alice Shalvi was a big gun in the JOFA circle. She had been scheduled to give the keynote speech at their first big convention in 1997. A couple of weeks before the convention, it became known that she was going to accept the position of rector of JTS-Israel (Neveh Schechter). She was dropped from the JOFA program.

    She saw it quite consciously as a departure from Orthodox Judaism. So why is this not analogous? Is a man more Orthodox than a woman? Why isn’t the Orthodox Left dropping him like a hot potato?

    As for “psak for those who need it the most”: as someone (RYBS?) put it, the difference between C and O is that the C don’t listen to their Gedolim (Lieberman, etc.).

    Chaiml: BTW, those restrictive customs about niddah women and synagogue/prayer are a) based on an 8th-century sectarian work, and b) strongly resisted by generations of our Gedolim, such as Mishneh Brurah and Aruch haShulchan. How do we know it’s a sectarian work? Because it has the story of the Bas Kol saying “Elu v’elu divrei elokim chayim, and we follow the psak of Beis SHAMMAI”. So you and the rest of your Shammaites can go take a jump in the lake until Moshiach-tzeiten.

  106. 11235813 says:

    thanbo-The Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinic Seminary explicitly positions itself between Orthodox and Conservative Judaism- http://www.cdnyeshiva.org/aboutus/ and the use of a generic Jewish tree symbol doesn’t change that one bit.

  107. Meir Shinnar says:

    i have read Rabbi Broyde’s article. It is an argument that there exist legitimate grounds for opposing women leading kabbalat shabbat on public policy grounds – that it might lead for confusion, essentially a slippery slope argument. What is lacking is an argument why such public policy argument is necessary – and why a rav could legitimately decide that confusion is unlikely to arise – or devise other mechanisms to prevent confusion (eg, public announcement before ma’ariv, etc).
    Indeed, in shuls that try this, one can make a legitimate argument that such actions are associated with public discussion and education that minimizes the confusion (and there is probably clearer halachic understanding of what the true halachic limits are than in a shul that doesn’t do this – and everyone assumes a level of issur that doesn’t exist….). At the end, in those shuls, a man does take over for ma’ariv – making a clear distinction..- as in most shuls the same person davens kabbalat shabbat and ma’ariv…

    Furthermore, slippery slope arguments are tricky, because where the slope actually starts may well be debated where on the spectrum one is (does it start with bais yaakov? bat mitzvahs? kaddish? )

    Remember, the question today is not whether any shul should rush to have women lead kabalat shabbat – but whether those shuls that do cannot be considered Orthodox. By the thrust of Rav Broyde’s article, while he would argue against it due to the slippery slope, it is difficult to see why a shul could not decide differently

  108. thanbo says:

    1123…

    I see what they say about being betwixt and between, but that is never a good place to be. YCT calls itself Orthodox because it is still basically so, but UTJ never found a niche and is dying.

    But R’ Sperber’s yeshiva has a similar makeup to UTJ, if not more “liberal”, and will probably suffer from the same problems, such as the Conservative outlook of its rabbeim. Did you read the faculty bio list? Whatever they say, if R’ Sperber is the only Orthodox musmach in a school filled with Conservative rabbis, he isn’t likely to be able to create an Orthodox atmosphere and attitude on his own.

  109. Nachum says:

    Chaim, let me give you a basic lesson in net etiquette:

    This:

    “I havent managed to read all the comments. but here is what i have to say.”

    Is considered an *extremely* rude thing to write on the internet. Even if it’s true, you keep it to yourself.

    The rest of what you write is nonsense. And so, yes, it is wrong. Women in nidda are tamei; they don’t have cooties. (Ditto for men, who, generally not having a mitzva of mikva today, are tamei even more often than women.)

    Charlie: Maybe I don’t have a right to demand this, but I happen to think I (we) do: R’ Weiss should stand up in shul, in front of all his feminist congregants, and say something like, “You will *never* be a witness at a wedding. You will *never* say Birkat Kohanim, or, for that matter, pass along your kehuna/levitical status to your children.” And perhaps he might add, “You will *never* have an aliyah or lead actual tefillah from the amud when men are present.”

    Will he do that? I doubt it. Going by the biography of the chazzanit in question alone, he’d be pilloried.

    Not inching? Then explain why he *started* with “Maharat,” moved to “Rabbah” within a year or so, and moved on to Kabbalat Shabbat within *weeks*. Why didn’t he start with “Rabbah?” Why does he seem so tone deaf?

  110. chaim1 says:

    Thanks for your lesson in etiquette. What i really meant is that i couldnt understand half the rubbish that is written and repeated over and over again here.
    The long rambling post by your rabbi could have been written in a few sentences.
    He is trying to justify himself according to halacha. Why bother! Drop the lot dont keep shabbos, nidda and have done with it.
    Most of you dont anyway. This was good for the ‘dark ages’ today we are civilised and who needs it. exactly the words of joshke in his time. We have progressed from the desert and mikva is obsolete.
    Oh we dont dispute the old testament but it refers to etiquette and the like to heavenly things not to mundane things of the flesh.
    we are above that today. we can eat anything it cant harm us anymore our bodies are already pure no need for mikva its only our ‘spirits’ that need improving.
    Google Saint Paul ada Simon kalfon who was a tsadik, we still keep his yahrzeit in teves. What was his ‘zchus’ apart from making ‘nishmas’ he separated the Jews like you from the others.
    He told them to keep sunday instead. to keep thanksgiving harvest festival instead of succos to make sure they kept themselves separate. the daf yomi says god will give succos the nations maybe thats whats meant.
    your rabbis are on the right road. starting to keep thanksgiving. they should follow saint paul entirely but wont be considered tsadikim.
    Maybe that statement sounds to you even ‘ruder’ and i apologise in advance if you cant take the truth.
    You have all given up orthodox judaism as the replies to my post have shown. You dont believe in the basic tenets, and each one of you is trying to outdo the other in ‘reforming’ it without admitting the truth that that is your intention.
    the early reformers all converted (their children) like saul berlin mendelsohn herzl etc and they all kept more than you will ever keep.
    The same as with ‘mamzerim’ which with your kind of rabbis i suppose many of you, are the gemoro says will not live in the end. the same with your type of judaism will not last. You will just go further and further until you fall off the brink.
    A lake is usually not kosher for a mikva so jump better in the sea if you really have to get wet.
    Even the church mostly frowns on women ministers but you have to go one further than them. jews always have to do one better.
    As it is said jewish apikorsim (which is what you really are) are worse than the goyim. In the present daf yomi, only in israel they worshipped idols properly. The rest were only copying.

  111. chaim1 says:

    You go on about ‘kol beisha erva’ and about being ‘motsi’.
    All of you have been to the opera heard sopranos, listening to a mediocre woman chazan singer wont have any moral effect. Youre already all immune to that. So this ‘din’ was never meant for you in the first place. One has to look at the reasons of dinim not just apply them willy nilly all over the place. And they certainly dont apply here a bit of common sense is also needed but sadly lacking.
    Being ‘motzi’ i suppose you have to show your scholarship although it doesnt project very far. Everyone today can read himself the prayers and doesnt need a chazan for that. So no reason why a woman cant be one, the same as for lcho dodi. If anything the most important part of a chazan is ‘mruza lkohol’ and in your congregations only a woman has that distinction. so i suggest that a woman is even more mitsva than a man to lead your ‘jewish’ services. Well at least take a vote on it and find out.
    The jewish law is not rigid and doesnt have to be kept. For every law there are loop holes. You can carry and work the whole of shabbos without transgressing anything. You use a tube and you can drop nidda. The gemoro says you can get out of ‘maaser’. If you dont want to keep the religion or just bits of it you dont have to. There has always been ways round every part of it. Its nothing new. You dont have to give yourself names modern left or right or ultra or extreme. They all mean the same. You dont want to keep the shulchan aruch as it is and think you know better.
    So far through the ages like the ones i have mentioned saul berlin mendelsohn wesserly have all tried it on and bitten the dust ( their children converting). Nothing of their ideas remains. They have no followers today. The same with todays rebranding of Jewish law where no one keeps the shulchan aruch as is. Nothing will be left of them. Your children will eventually marry out and most likely their converted spouses even if they are black will be more Jewish than you. They wont be mamzerim.
    In Egypt what kept the Jewish people were 3 things, basically not mix with or copy the populace and keep traditions. None of them married out except one whom the posuk is ‘mefarsem’. How many of today’s groupings can say that!

  112. emma says:

    for those self-satisfied readers who find themselves agreeing with chaim1 that left-wingers aren’t really frum (but of course you are), i would just like to remind you that he probably disagrees as to which side of the frum/not line most readers of this blog, no matter how makpid they think they are, fall.
    (assuming he is at all for real.)
    a useful reminder, actually, of why writing people out of the torah world is a bad idea…

  113. Shachar Ha'amim says:

    umm – Rabbi Broyde – just how is religious Zionism a breach of minhagei yisrael. The return to Zion, yishuv haaretz, kibbutz galuyot defense of the land and Jews from their enemies, and other aspects of religious Zionism are such fundamental, normative – and Halachic – Jewish ideas that one is hard pressed to see how this could represent a “breach” of minhagei yisrael. One would have to be the extreme end of Satmar ideology, or some residual modern orthodox form of extreme Torah Im Derech anti-zionism – sort of an orthodox version of the American Council for Judaism (http://www.acjna.org/acjna/about_principles.aspx) to see religious Zionism as breach of minhagei yisrael. While there may have been Orthodox opposition to the Zionist movement it is clear that they saw the secular aspects of Zionism as a breach – but only the most extreme anti-zionists would have viewed chovevei tzioyon or the mizrachi as breaches of minhagei yisrael – and those extreme groups had their own breachers lechumra that could pointed out.

  114. chaim1 says:

    To emma
    Read the replies to my earlier post by thanbo and nahum and tell me how much of the torah that I have outlined you keep!

  115. emma says:

    “To emma
    Read the replies to my earlier post by thanbo and nahum and tell me how much of the torah that I have outlined you keep!”

    i decline this kind invitation to be called a likely-”mamzer” based on zero information about myself, but thanks.

  116. thanbo says:

    More than that, emma, chaim1 thinks that everyone who is not his flavor of Ultradoxy, is a Christian. Viz. his ref to Simon Peter (Shimon Kipah), a Tanna who went into exile among the Christians to push them to a non-Jewish theology and practice, so that more Jews would not be taken in by them. He lived out the rest of his days in seclusion in a domed attic, hence Shimon Kippah (Shimon of the Dome). It’s actually a pun on Greek, (Simon Peter – jesus said “on this rock (petrus in Latin, cephas in Greek (which is transliterated into Aramaic as Kippah or Kalphon)) I will build my church, pointing at Peter).

    So, he’s a crank, and can be dismissed.

  117. S. says:

    כיפא means stone in Aramaic (sometimes with a ה at the end); Targum Onkelos uses it, eg, in Num 20:8 for the rock (סלע) which Moshe was to speak to. Thus it seems to be identical with petra.

  118. chaim1 says:

    Thanks
    I couldnt put it better myself. Your rabbis are doing the same thing. Telling you to observe thanksgiving, getting you women rabbis, each one trying to outdo the other. The object being as you put it so succinctly to push them to a non-Jewish theology and practice, so that more Jews would not be taken in by them. Did you also know that he authored ‘nishmas’ and that his yahrzeit is mentioned by the shulchan aruch. Your rabbis are also building ‘churches’, kashering mamzerim, and in the end like i have written your children will marry out of the fold. I wont repeat the names again of your rabbis fore runners who all ended up the same way and today have bitten the dust and made no impact whatsoever. The reform today has nothing in common with them. Your brand will go the same way.

  119. I Tick says:

    Best discussion of this issue I’ve seen to date.

  120. guest says:

    gil,
    Are you able to ban chaim1. It really seems to me that his posts are rising (or sinking) to the level of being a troll, and they add nothing to the conversations.

  121. chaim1 says:

    youre request seems to have been granted. my posts are being deleted!

  122. chaim1 says:

    My post explaining according to kabala why you need a woman rabbi chazan etc seems to have touched a very raw nerve. I am at last getting through to you and your viewers and they find it hard to swallow. I am sorry for a previous poster who wont have the privilege of reading more ‘of the best discussion’ to date. Since they cannot reason they prefer to delete.

  123. Hirhurim says:

    Chaim1: I deleted a single comments of yours in which you insulted someone. I do not deleted comments because I disagree with their content or I think they touch a raw nerve.

  124. chaim1 says:

    Thank you I do understand and it is not my usual practice. I shall be careful in the future. I am also insulted continuously here but please dont delete them on my behalf. For me (and to others) it proves that they have no other answer and have to resort to insults. I do realise that what i am saying is something new entirely and to say it ‘adds nothing new’ can only mean that it is not understood. I think the prophet yeshaya said ‘hashmein leiv’ that he prophesies all the time doom and gloom and the peoples hearts just cannot understand. Of all the 120 posts here i think i am the only one adding something new. The original very long post said it all and i am the only one who has refuted it. This has been rebutted only by calling me names, which shows the calibre of your posters here, and another one copying a google i quoted which made my point even clearer. I shall perhaps later rewrite my earlier post and hope it will pass your standards

  125. chaim1 says:

    Reading through my earlier post again.
    I wrote that promoting women will bring moshiach. I suppose that can be termed sexist.
    I also called a certain rabbi a heretic who has been called that by many others on here.
    I also called a certain rabbi ignorant and learning superficially.
    I am sorry about that maybe those terms were too harsh and i apologise.

  126. Charlie Hall says:

    “You will *never* be a witness at a wedding. You will *never* say Birkat Kohanim, or, for that matter, pass along your kehuna/levitical status to your children.” And perhaps he might add, “You will *never* have an aliyah or lead actual tefillah from the amud when men are present.”

    I’ve personally heard Rabbi Weiss say the equivalent of most of these things in public. (He generally doesn’t use the second person but the third person.)

  127. Charlie Hall says:

    “Telling you to observe thanksgiving”

    Thanksgiving has been observed by Jews in America since 1789. The real chidush is to overturn a 220 year old minhag.

  128. Charlie Hall says:

    ” but only the most extreme anti-zionists would have viewed chovevei tzioyon or the mizrachi as breaches of minhagei yisrael”

    I guess there must have been a lot of extreme anti-Zionists in the years prior to 1948?

  129. Charlie Hall says:

    “Even the church mostly frowns on women ministers but you have to go one further than them”

    Actually most Protestant churches encourage female clergy today. The Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches do not.

  130. chaim1 says:

    “””Thanksgiving has been observed by Jews in America since 1789. The real chidush is to overturn a 220 year old minhag”””
    Harvest festivals have been around in Europe a lot longer and no community ever kept them. As i wrote they are a substitute for succos.

  131. Charlie Hall says:

    “Harvest festivals have been around in Europe a lot longer and no community ever kept them.

    American Thanksgiving is not a harvest festival.

    Here is a link to the text of the original 1789 proclamation:

    http://www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/firsts/thanksgiving/thankstext.html

  132. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    how about an article from r broyde anticipating the next step from riverdale.

    slichot consists of:
    a. ashrei — simple thilim
    b. half kaddish — apparently not so problematic today
    c. more psukim of thilim
    d. various piyutim — just 800-1100 year old poetry
    e. 13 middot — not real tfilah, just …
    f. shma kolenu (supposesdly, the most important part of slichot) — again just psukim of thilim
    g. tachanun — a perek of thilim
    h. more piyutim (tongue twisters, but piyutim)
    i. the only real prayers (asking for something) in slichot, but they dont count, cause they’re in aramaic (another story — lets not go there now)
    j. half kaddish
    k. the chazan leads all other davening that day — honored more in the breach, today, anyway.

  133. Hirhurim says:

    Ma’ariv – see Orach Chaim 53:9

  134. TO Guy says:

    I was shocked to learn of Daniel Sperber’s appointment as Chancellor of a new Canadian “yeshiva” staffed almost entirely by Conservative Jews. I think this is a major development and puts into question many of his views. I would be very interested in hearing from Rabbi Broyde regarding his take on this.

  135. guest says:

    TO Guy,
    That’s R. Sperber to you. Also, wouldn’t you rather hear his own take on this? It happens not to call into question any of his views. I have it on good authority (absolutely reliable first hand report) that his take is that he believes that it can become a Canadian YCT is will give it a couple of years to make this happen. If he can’t he will not remain.

  136. Nachum says:

    “absolutely reliable first hand report”

    Means that you heard it from R’ Sperber, which clearly you didn’t. And even if you did, you are reporting it to us- which makes it second hand at best- and you sign your name as “guest,” so your post is meaningless anyway.

  137. chaim1 says:

    Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day is a harvest festival celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is associated with

    google thanksgiving

  138. guest says:

    Nachum,
    Your snideness is completely misplaced. Deriding the messenger (even if you don’t know who it is) does not make the message any less true. The report is true. But it is not necessary to believe me. One can simply ask him, which is how I found out. If you do, you will get the same explanation I gave above. Regardless, an anonymous report of what R. Sperber himself said is more valuable that arm chair theorizing by R. Broyde (though I am sure he would therefore not comment).

  139. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    If R. Sperber really believes that the new Canadian Yeshiva will becme the Canadian YCT in a few years– and Guest’s report rings true– he is being very naive. And in the meanwhile he will seriously damagee his justifiably stellar reputation in the MO world. How unfortunate! Who, if anyone advised him?

  140. Getting back to the topic at hand, I think R’ Broyde’s argument from halachic/legal confusion which does not apply to minors has a solid basis in the Rambam’s explanation for Chazal’s prohibition against chicken/venison and milk. His unique explanation answers the question of why fish and milk were not similarly prohibited. The similarity argument doesn’t work to explain this selectivity, but halachic confusion does.
    As I understanding it (expanding a little) the facts are that chicken/venison and beef are processed in nearly identical ways:
    1)Both categories require shechita
    2)Both categories have forbidden blood which are removed through salting
    3)Both categories have the potential for triefos.

    Fish share none of these fundamental aspects of all meat and poultry kashrus processing and that is why the prohiibition was not extended.

    (Nikur of gid hanashe and cheilev is not as fundamental in the process as the others since many communities just slice off the hindquarters and can avoid dealing with the complexity of nikkur today altogether. It is not a halacha which affect the kashrus of the entire animal as a whole.)

    The weakness with this argument is that we should not object to under-age girls performing Kabbolas Shabbos for the very same reason we tolerate under-aged boys.
    One could mitigate this weakness by seeing the practice as a form of chinuch for when the boys get older and can be full fledged sheluchei tzibbur. Therefore, no chinuch value is present in having girls lead kabbolos Shabbos.

  141. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    to hirhurim (r gil, i assume):

    i assume you mean orach chaim 53:10

    otherwise, you bring a whole other (prob irrelevant) ballgame.

  142. Steve Brizel says:

    Moshe Shoshan suggested that I investigate the comments of Rashi and other Mfarshim on Breishis 12:5 and in particular the phrase “Hanefesh Asher Asu B’Charan:. I invite all comments on this and on some other aspects of this post. In any event, I found the following views:

    1) Rashi quotes the views that “nefesh” refers to servants and converts, the latter of which is the view of Targum Unkelos. Chizkuni also relies on the view of Unkelos as well.

    2) Ibn Ezra claims that servants is the Pshat and quotes the Medrash as a Yesh Omrim without explicitly rejecting it, as is his style.

    3)Ramban, Rashbam and Bchor Shor offer no comment.

    4) Ralbag, quoting R Saadyah Gaon, which is also echoed by Ibn Ezra, mentions only servants.

    5) Rabbeinu Bchaya defends Rashi’s quote of the Medrash, and notes that the same Midrash is quoted with respect to the works of Yitzchak and Yaakov Avinu .

    Those views being stated, I think that one can say that the Medrash, as quoted by the above Mfarshim, reflects a role model for men and women based on the Avos and Imahos who followed a Divine Message and propagated Malchus HaShem and communicated with HaShem Yisborach, as opposed to R”L, Near Eastern Middle Bronz Age people who claimed God spoke to them and vice versa. This last observation was offered to me by a budding scholar in the field.

    I would suggest the following insight and welcome your comments. Chazal in Pirkei Avos say ” Aseh Lcha Rav.” It requires no list of commmentaries to state that one must find and establish a rav for oneself, as opposed to being a servant of a rav or buying a rav, if one follows the reductio ad absurdum and interprets the Mishnah literally. On that premise, the verse in Breishis can easily be interpreted to refer to the spiritual development of the individuals associated with Avraham Avinum, which ironically Ralbag hints at in his commentary to Breishis 14:14, where he states that Avraham Avinu took his Yelidei Beiso and Chanichav to war with him, in that they were both trained for war and in “Minhagim HaMshubachim”, which Footnote 4 refers the student to the Medrash in question.

    While we are on the subject of Pshat and Drush, I believe that both elements are vitally important and that we all tend to nullify Pshat at the expense of Drush and vice versa. Yes, one can find many Psukim in Chumash where Rashi, Ramban and Ibn Ezra reject a Midrash or a view of Chazal for a range of reasons. Even Rashbam, despite his well known statement in Parshas Vayeshev, yields to the views of Rashi, most notably at the end of Parshas Pekudei and the beginning of Vayikra. As Dr. Michelle Levine, a noted professor of Bible at SCW pointed out, the same Rashbam who is reputedly a radical in Parshanut is also one of the Baalei HaTosfos.

    We err grievously when we view Drush solely as a foundation for either Sifrei Chasidus or Musar or view Pshat as superior to Medrash Halacha or Aggadah and divorcing ourselves from the relevance of the views of Chazal for our times. That being the case, we should also be wary of certain views that view Ishei HaTanach as “ossified Tzadikim”, to use RAL’s phrase, as opposed to great people, who on their level, made mistakes. Chazal transmitted a Mesorah of Halacha , Machshavah, and Midos, and their lives and views should always be viewed in the present tense because whenever we learn a verse in Chumash, a Mishnah , a sugya or view of a Rishon or Acharon, we always say “what is Rabbi so and so saying”, as opposed to our deciphering of a written view merely for our own edification.

  143. ruvie says:

    steve b said: “When one learns Chumash with Rashi and other Rishonim, especially the Parshiyos that deal with the interaction of the Avos and Imahos as well as Moshe, Aharon and Miriam, the spiritual equality and division of responsibility between the genders is obvious. Only a radical egalitarian feminist or an apologist for the same would conclude otherwise.”

    mose shoshan: Steve,
    I challenge you to write an extended paper in which you explicate your oft made claim, that reading chumash with “Rashi and the Rishonim” inevitably leads to a single “separate but equal view” of gender relations. I would expect a through survey, at the very least, of Rashi, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, Rambam, Bechor Shor, Radak and Ralbag on all of chumash. In this paper you might consider treating the question of why chumash with rishonim should be ultimate arbiter of gender roles in judaism and not say, the writings of chazal. Also please explain why you neglect rishonim on Nach.

    STEVE – please explain how your post answers moshe’s challenge to you. i am an am haaretz – so i don’t get it where is the spiritual equality and division of responsibility is obvious?

  144. moshe shoshan says:

    Steve,
    i am not sure I followed everything that you wrote but i do think that it is a start at presenting the sources behind your claims.

    HEre’s how i see things

    Pshat in the pasuk according to Rashi ibn Ezra, Radak and Rasag is that the term “hanefesh asher asu..” refers to *slaves* whom Avraham bought in Charan. This is based on the assumption that the words “qanah” and “asah” are interchangeable.

    Rashi summarizes the Midrash in Berieshit Rabba 23:14 which it seems to me reflects what he understands a pshat hameyashev et hadrash. Asu, is taken literally to mean “make” and the verse is understood as refering to the gentiles whom Avraham and Sarah converted to Juda, Abraham the men and Sara the women.

    First i would not that this midrash seems to advocate active pursuit of converts(even clearer in the original BR), a position that is not in my understanding consider normative today.

    I agree that this text does see Sara as an equal partner in this non-normative endeavor.

    If we are to learn a wider lesson form this midrash it would be that men should not be involved in dealing with female gerim and visa versa. In light of recent events this may be a good idea.
    One might go further and extend this idea to kiruv (BR uses this term explicitly)however, for better or for worse, no major kiruv organization segregates their kiruv professionals in this manner. In general educational situations we certainly allow men to teach women.

    even if you could convince me that this midrash some how reflect modern bourgeois about gender roles, I would simply respond by citing the famous ramban in his Disputation, in which he states that midrash aggadah is not binding and that he is free to dismiss any given aggadic statement of chazal. This is of course the position of the Rambam and the Geonim as well.

  145. Shachar Ha'amim says:

    ” but only the most extreme anti-zionists would have viewed chovevei tzioyon or the mizrachi as breaches of minhagei yisrael”

    I guess there must have been a lot of extreme anti-Zionists in the years prior to 1948?

    Charlie Hall – even back then the ultra-Orthodox opposition to Mizrachi, HaPoel HaMizrachi and other religious zionist groups largely focused on their degree of cooperation with the secular zionists – and especially the radical socialist or labor groups (and even there many Orthodox Jews supported labor movements – as pointed out here by other commenters). Aguda supported the establishment of a State at the Peel commission. Aguda even had it’s version of a “Hapoel” workers movement – Poalei Agdudas Yisrael. The opposition to the return to zion and/or the establishment of a State was largely minimized to ceratin extreme “germanic” followers of Torah Im Derech Eretz, the Hungarian admori’m in the Minchas Elazar’s orbit, and perhaps the American wing Agudas Yisrael which allied with Brit Shalom during the early 1940′s to oppose a State (as evidence by a letter referred to in Yoram Hazony’s book – ironically enough R. YB Solovetchik was the Executive VP of Agudas Yisrael of America when this letter was written). The Polish and Russian ultr-Orthodox communities – including leadership (and especially the Chassidic leadership) were largely what we would call “religious Zionists”

  146. emma says:

    re: avraham/sarah and gender roles. The example of “hanefesh asher asu” seems le prove separate but equal, but actually equivalent. Both engage in the same activity, just in a gender-segregated way. What does that have to do with a claim that there are things only men should do, regardless of whether the other participants are men or women?
    (more fundamentally, of course, in steve brizel’s world are there any things that only women should be allowed to do?)

  147. S. says:

    >While we are on the subject of Pshat and Drush, I believe that both elements are vitally important and that we all tend to nullify Pshat at the expense of Drush and vice versa.

    That sounds nice, but what does it mean? How does one actually present derush and not nullify peshat? “This here is my pet idea that I decided to smush into the passuk, but of course the peshat is also true.” That’s a recipe for my taking or leaving your derush. Conversely, how does one present peshat and not nullify the derush? “But the passuk says X, not Y.”

    They do exist in tension with one another. Arguably the area where one has no choice but to take a stand is in the halachic derush of Chazal, although I suppose even there one can claim that the derush is asmachta. But of course you’re left with the tension.

  148. Steve Brizel says:

    Moshe Shoshan-thanks for your kind response. Let’s put aside the Pshat based commentaries of Rashi, R Saadyah Gaon , and Radak.

    I think that the Medrash under discussion can be read very simply as stating that Avraham and Sarah were the spiritual role models for their respective genders and that if one reads the Parshiyos in Breishis very carefully, it is clear that the Avos occupied the public sphere and the Imahos critical contributions were in the equally important private sphere. Please show me a source where the Imahos did not just disagree or suggest a contrary course of action, but actually attempted a coup de etat of the roles of the Avos.

    If one goes one step further and looks at the roles of Moshe Rabbeinu, Aharon HaKohem and Miriam HaNeviah, we know that their roles were defined and that Aharon and Miriam both were severely chastised for stepping over their roles.

    AFAIK, NCSY and many kiruv organizations have persons of influence, role models and teachers of both genders.

    I do believe that one can understand Ramban’s views in the Vikuach re Midrashei Aggadah as not being binding solely to the extent that the same are utterly irrelevant on Halachic issues, as opposed to Hashkafic values, which Rashi, Ramban and other Rishonim accept and reject many Aggadic statements, unless there is a Kabalah deeming such a statement absolutely true, depending on the context for a variety of reasons.

    S-I would maintain that Drush and Pshat represent different means of understanding any verse and that one never nullifies the other. I would argue that one cannot merely dismiss a Drush simply because it is not “Pshat”.

  149. MDJ says:

    But Steve, why are we putting aside “the Pshat based commentaries of Rashi, R Saadyah Gaon , and Radak.” You whole point was that learing chumash with rishonim would show that a certain idea of gender roles is normative within Judaism. Now your saying, “put aside the rishonim who don’t express my views. If you learn the _other_ rishonim, you will see that I am right.” (Note that I am not saying that even your new approach proves your point. I am simply objecting to your tactics.

  150. S. says:

    >S-I would maintain that Drush and Pshat represent different means of understanding any verse and that one never nullifies the other. I would argue that one cannot merely dismiss a Drush simply because it is not “Pshat”.

    Perhaps I did not explain myself clearly. Suppose I say that one cannot merely dismiss Pshat simply because it is not “Drush”?

    We’re at an impasse. Tension, I called it.

  151. Steve Brizel says:

    MDJ-Your comment proves my point re Drush and Pshat. Merely Pshat is contrary to Drush does not disprove Drush, especially where the same Medrash is echoed later on in the same context and is cited by other commentators. My concern was that the Medrash quoted is symbolic of public and private dichotomy between men and women that is easily captured from reading the Parshiyos in question. There are other halachos and minhagim that are not gender related that demonstrate a division between the public and private that I will later attempt to set forth some obvious examples.

    S-Again, Pshat and Drush represent different ways of understanding a verse, as opposed to either cancelling each other or representing some sort of impasse or tension.

  152. chaim1 says:

    “””
    If we are to learn a wider lesson form this midrash it would be that men should not be involved in dealing with female gerim and visa versa. In light of recent events this may be a good idea.
    One might go further and extend this idea to kiruv (BR uses this term explicitly)however, for better or for worse, no major kiruv organization segregates their kiruv professionals in this manner. In general educational situations we certainly allow men to teach women.””””

    I have written many posts on ‘emes veemuna’ about this. I have yet to recieve a response. i am against kiruv and believe it is against the Torah.

  153. S. says:

    >S-Again, Pshat and Drush represent different ways of understanding a verse, as opposed to either cancelling each other or representing some sort of impasse or tension.

    But what does that mean?

  154. chaim1 says:

    Why all the ovos made geirim ‘mgurei oviv’. And we dont today.
    A simple answer can be that there is no idle worship today. That the israeli government allows freedom of worship and even protects them is of course against the torah. This was something even the Aguda signed up to at the creation of the state.

  155. Steve Brizel says:

    There are many Halachos and Minhagim that we all are familiar with that teach us that we are to fulfill our lives in a private manner and with a public demonstration only when needed. Here is a small list:

    1) The Sefer Torah is kept in the Aron Hakodesh and is only taken out for Krias HaTorah and the very late Minhagim associated with Simchas Torah.

    2) The Sefer Torah is kept covered until it is about to be read, then covered immediately after the conclusion of Krias HaTorah and then taken back to the Aron HaKodesh, as opposed to being venerated in a public manner.

    3) The Shofar is hidden from view until immediately before Tekias Shofar in the same manner as the knife that we use for the slicing of Challah.

    4) Tefilah is inherently a private Mitzvah with Tefilas HaTzibur reflecting very different themes and issues. One may say personal requests in one’s own Tefilah but the Tefilas HaTzibbur is devoid of any such private requests. The Tefila for the individual is a vastly different text , and is devoid of all of the Piyut and other liturgical content than that of the Tzibur.

    5) Men are obligated and women were exempted from positive time defined Mitzvos.

    6)Tznius, a phrase that has been misconstrued by its supporters and critics, represents a view and ideal that man and woman relate to each other beyond the obviouly important and necessary element of physical attraction as opposed to the unchecked view of the opposite sex purely and solely as a sex object. It posits the relationship between man and wife as an intensely private affair which is consummated in its most intimate form when there is domestic harmony , partnership and equality, as opposed to the cartoon like relationships in the media. This construct is a definite contrast to the hedonism of ancient Greco-Roman society and its contemporaries that function on the same principles and the puritanism that marked Christian views on sex and marriage, with the unmarried man or woman the holiest person and marriage as a concession to man’ weakness.

    7) Hilcos Shabbos, especially the Halachos of Hotzaah, reflects a divison between the public and private-which an eruv only permits the usage of for certain activities.

    8) In the time of the Beis HaMikdash, entry to the Beis HaMikdash was circumsscribed and even more so on YK.

    These are a few of the areas of Halacha and Minhagim which reflect a divide between the public and the private.

  156. ruvie says:

    steve – “5) Men are obligated and women were exempted from positive time defined Mitzvos”

    this is an incorrect statement. women are not exempted from many positive time mitzvot only some. if you look at the list of obligated and exempt there almost even.

    Tzinus – is not about relationships but erva or appropriateness in dress. the question is – is it relative and can it (or has it ) change over time?

  157. Steve Brizel says:

    Ruvie-The Talmud in Kiddushin and elsewhere poses as a general statement that women are in fact exempt from positive time defined mitzvos. Perhaps, you are referring to such mitzvos that are linked to a negative commandment such as Chametz and Matzah?

    One cannot divorce the issues of erva, appropriateness in dress from how one conducts a relationship. When one focuses on the inner essence of a person, as opposed to whether the person meets one’s externally rooted considerations in whether the person is “hot”, to use contemporary lingo. It is no accident that the Torah view on marital intimacy vastly differs from Greco Roman hedonism and Christian puritanical views.

  158. [...] Cutting through most of the distracting rhetoric is R. Michael J. Broyde who posts his thoughts on Hirhurim Torah Musings. R. Broyde does not argue against the halakhic merits of women leading Kabbalat Shabbat but [...]

  159. ruvie says:

    steve – i am referring to mitzvot like hakel, matza (has no negative commandment – only chametz does).. megilah, ner chanukah etc rabbi saul berman wrote an excellent article many years ago and its in one of the footnotes to the best of my memory (that where i saw the list of exempted vs obligatory for women)… all i was saying is that the general statement has a lot of holes in it – and its not literally correct.

    tzinus – i guess you missed my point – its relative to the times one lives in (please see the misnah that tells us its assur to walk behind your mother and wife – which we do not observe any longer )

  160. ruvie says:

    steve – you should write that women are exempt from some mitzvot that are time bound. its inaccurate as a general principle and its not useful as a predictive principle. rambam holds that women are exempted from 14 positive mitzvot only 8 are time bound. also, the torah has 6 mtizvot that are time bound that women are not exempt.
    exempt – shema , tefilin (2 mitzvot),tzizit,counting omer, living in sukkah,lulav and hearing shofar

    not time bound exempt – study of torah, king to write a sefer torah,kohanim to bless the people, p’ru u’rvu, hatan to celebrate with his wife for first year, circumcision of one’s son.

    time bound obligations:kiddush, fasting on yom kippur, matza, semachta b’chagacha, hakal,korban pesach. rabbinic time bound that are obligations for women:ner chanukah, megilat eshther, drinking 4 cups on pesach and reciting hallel on the night of pesach.

  161. Steve Brizel says:

    Ruvie-thanks for your most recent post re Mitzvos Aseh SheHazman Gramah. I accept your modification of what in retrospect was a rule that is subject to many qualifications.

  162. Steve Brizel says:

    Ruvie-the one Halacha that you mentioned is dependent on one’s society. However, I know of noone who would say that because women walk around exposing most of their body on a public street or because we live in a society that is full of Pritzus like behavior and culture, that the same defines how a Jewish woman would dress or how a Jewish man or woman should act in his or her life. As RHS points out, that is akin to saying that tax evasion is permitted because many people don’t pay taxes.

  163. moshe shoshan says:

    Steve,

    I must confess, i did not understand your response to me or the others at all.

  164. chaim1 says:

    Tsnius is comprised of many different things.
    There is tsnius in the bed room which has halachos of its own and applies to men as well.
    Tsnius how much of a woman has to be covered. No covered is the wrong word since see through clothing is also not allowed.
    Part is dependent on halacha and part on minhag. I suppose the reason is one is immune if one sees it all the time.
    Tsnius is also used for body hugging clothing but i am not sure if there is any real halachic source for that.
    Tsnius also means that a woman should not call attention to herself in the street by being loud or dressed in bright red or more likely shocking pink.
    In a sense they should be not heard and also not seen!
    There is also ‘kol kevoda’ that a woman should stay in the house, not locked up as the gemoro points out.
    wearing mens clothes i dont think comes under the heading of tsnius.
    A woman has to remember that if she causes a man to ‘sin’ however unwittingly she will be held to account.
    This is part of her ‘tafkid’ in this world to save the man (her husband) from sinning and not to cause others to.

    Since it was impossible to learn without listening to singing, it was given a special heter to learn (not to sing).

  165. [...] at Hirhurim, Rabbi Broyde responds to R. Weiss’s latest innovation in women’s role in the [...]

  166. Steve Brizel says:

    Moshe-I thought that my response was a fair synopsis of the views of the Rishonim on Breishis 12:5, a discussion as to the mutual and sometimes irreconcilable paths of Drush and Pshat with neither having a veto over the other, as well as some other comments on issues that revolve around the public/private divide.

  167. Steve Brizel says:

    Moshe- your comment that ” Idid not understand your response to me or the others at all” strikes me as a not so thinly veiled attempt to have the discussion continue under your ground rules and paradigm of the issues, which I don’t think that I am alone in rejecting as a way of stifling discussion on the same. Rejecting a Medrash because it is not Pshat or because Ramban told a Gentile audience that he viewed the same as Drush has no relevance to whether Drush is the source of Hashkafa and Midos, which Ramban himself uses throughout his commentary on the Torah.

  168. MDJ says:

    Um, Steve, no. Moshe simply asked you to clarify. Frankly, I didn’t understand your response to me either.

  169. moshe shoshan says:

    Steve,

    i did not make up the idea that the Ramban really meant whathe said to the Spanish king concerning aggadah. This is the position of R. Professor Bernard Septimus. He dont have the reference in front of me, but he makes this point quite convincingly.

    In either event, my main point is that your reading of the Midrash is unwarranted as far as I understood it.

  170. moshe shoshan says:

    Steve,

    i did not make up the idea that the Ramban really meant whathe said to the Spanish king concerning aggadah. This is the position of R. Professor Bernard Septimus. I dont have the reference in front of me, but he makes this point quite convincingly.

    This question of the status of midrash is a complex one, but one midrash does not an incontrovertible argument about the essential roles of men and women make.

    In either event, my main point is that even where i to conced your points on midrash in eneral i dont understand your reading of the midrash in question at all.

  171. emma says:

    Steve Brizel,

    Your public/private list is interesting in that most of the things on it have nothing to do with gender roles. And the mitzvas aseh shehazman grama has nothing obvious to do with public/private.

    As to one of the imahos attempting a coup de-etat, what do you call Rivkah engineering the brachah of Yaakov? Seems, like more than just “disagreeing” and “suggesting a contrary course of action.”

    I am still curious what you make of the fact that the midrash on which you base your “separate but equal” argument seems to reflect a lot more equivalence -both avraham and sarah are doing the same exact thing, just in single-sex environments- than your private/public distinction. (Your easy answer here is that sarah was “ba-ohel,” but you haven’t said that yet. If you do say that, though, would you agree that it is spiritually inappropriate for jewish women to be litigators?)

  172. MBS says:

    I wonder if Rabbi Sperber can be asked to respond.

  173. Larry Kobrin says:

    Broyde Comment on Women Kabbalat

    As usual, R. Broyde’s presentation of the halachic history and material is elegant, comprehensive, and lucid. Few lay readers are qualified to argue with the analysis. On the other hand, I think that he has the sociology backwards and ignores community developments over the past 60-70 years.

    During much of that time, our community has encouraged and promoted the intensive study by women of traditional Talmudic text. Our institutions have not confined women to Chumash, Tanach, or parshanut, or restricted them to mimeographed extracts from Talmudic and its sources. We have come far beyond the initial limited scope of the authorization for establishment of Beis Yaakov schools at the turn of the last century, incorporating women’s advanced Torah study as a lechatchila. Given that encouragement, isn’t it natural to expect some impulse or desire for liturgical expression of religious identification from these same women who are now educated at an increasingly high level?

    Instead, viewed from the perspective of many decades, mainstream halacha has adopted a consistently negative position on such liturgical efforts. Women’s Megillah readings have strong rabbinic backings, but our rabbis dismiss them as “not communally accepted! ”Women’s tefila groups are rejected as “not expressions of true religious piety” because they forgo tefilla betsibur –but there is little attempt to encourage women to join tefilla betsibur at kabbalat Shabbat or Shabbat Mincha. Women presidents who may have responsibility for ongoing maintenance of minyanim, but it is the Rambam and not lenient authorities who is quoted to forbid it. Women’s leadership of Kabbalat Shabbat is “technically all right, but not appropriate!”

    No limmud zechus is necessary for one or more of the suggested forms of participation when it is really allowed. We need only recognize the implications of increased Torah learning by women. Where social norms and practices of significant segments of the community begin to ignore official psak, we run the risk that the posek and the rabbi will eventually be ignored in more areas by broad swathes of the community.

  174. JG says:

    I think Rabbi Broyde’s articulation of the danger of not accepting innovation on the sole grounds of a fear of innovation itself hits the spot. However, the bottom line he presents–a suggestion that innovation that may blur the lines of halacha in future applications–fails to sit well with me. If we view our community as an educated one that cares to keep halacha, this issue should not exist, and the example discussed here of a woman leading kabbalat shabbat, which in itself is an innovation that Rabbi Broyde defines clearly as one that CAN be applied carefully without toeing the line of halacha, is not a dangerous one. If the hesitancy of Orthodox Rabbis today is due to a fear of breaking halachic boundaries, I think what we’re looking at is a different problem. What I fail to understand is why an educated halachic community would be hesitant to apply such innovation, unless it’s a fear of being portrayed as unOrthodox.But how can anyone think to accuse a shul that would hold such a practice to the letter of halacha as un-Orthodox, when this is precisely the premise upon which our Orthodoxy is built–a knowledge of halacha and a willingness to conduct ourselves within this realm. A potential breach of halacha in this case cannot be viewed as inevitable, and can be more than prevented if these innovations are instituted in shuls and communities where there is supervision and guidance from halachic leadership. Why allow break-off minyanim which lack this leadership to risk stepping outside of rightful halachic confines onto dangerous grounds, when it can be done correctly and appropriately in the ideal setting?

  175. lee smith says:

    Comments:
    I used to think that Judaism was based on halacha but it turns out the Orthodox just add layers of other stuff, and the Conservative just water it down. What’s a Jew to dol There is no halachic reason (at least in main stream halacha) that a women cannot lead Kabbalat as noted above. The argument of “obligation” doesn’t apply here but OU is forbidding women — why? Notice they don’t give a reason because the only reasons are: we didn’t do it before (do they really think Moses said no to women when he davened Kabbalat Shabbat?) and the slippery slope argument — “Jews in the pews are too stupid to understand the difference between Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv” . Don’t worry about PHDs, and MD, and Lawyers and accountants, they can’t understand this difference — because why? Because OU says so. No wonder so many young Jews are saying — what a joke this religion is.

    Finally, once upon a time women had a very different roles then men in society at large and in the synagogue. The two matched on another — a woman’s place was in the home around the world. In other words Judaism matched the world at large in limiting the roles of women. Now the world has changed, I hope you agree for the better, and women can be physicians, scientists, get higher education, etc. Judiasm has been playing catch up — making slow but steady advance in educational opportunities but still denying women opportunities in the synagogue. This has created a gap that did not exist traditionally. Now a women who has and MD, and a PhD and is learned in Torah cannot lead Kabbalat Shabbat even though it is halachically allowable? I don’t get it.

  176. lee smith says:

    I would recommend that all interested in this topic read the discussion just presented by JOFA
    http://www.jofa.org/pdf/Women%20and%20Kabbalat%20Shabbat.pdf

  177. rey says:

    In Christianity, Paul says in 1Cor 14 that “It is not permitted for a woman to speak in the assembly, but she must learn in silence, as the Torah also says.” But the Torah does not say this. Paul actually has no leg to stand on, and as far as I can tell, neither do you. Are you a Paulinist or something? It is obvious that reservations against women speaking in the assembly began with Paul, not the Torah.

  178. [...] Freundel wishes to discuss, women leading Qabbalat Shabbat, was debated by Rabbi Michael Broyde, Women Leading Kabbalat Shabbat: Some Thoughts, and Rabbi Josh Yuter, Land of Confusion: A Response to R. Broyde on Women Leading Kabbalat [...]

  179. [...] See, for example this random sampling of modern day Orthodox responsa (1, 2, 3) where each author explicitly assumes that Qabbalat Shabbat is not a “real” halakhic [...]

  180. montywayland says:

    Ok, I wasn’t going to, but since this has been touched on glancingly, here’s a question…

    I have read that Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik was known to hold that having a family “Thanksgiving Dinner” was not a violation of “Minhag HaGoyim”. This is because “minhag hagoyim” applies only to actions which are arbitrary in nature – however, an action which one takes due to normal logical and practical considerations is not considered minhag hagoyim (i.e. people are doing it because it makes sense, not because it is a “minhag”).

    There are many cases where halacha mandates different roles for the different genders. For instance, devarim shebikdusha must be led by a man, with a minyan of at least ten men.
    In other cases, there is no halachik reason, per se, for different gender roles, but nonetheless distinct gender roles are practiced. These roles have often paralleled the different gender roles found in other religions, and in society at large. Of course, the reason for this was not that Jewish synagogues and rabbis were trying to copy gentile customs, let alone chas veshalom introduce gentile religious practices into Judaism. This was not minhag hagoyim – it was simply a logical and practical thing to do, given the prevailing societal circumstances and views regarding women.
    My question is, if one lives in a society which does not generally impose such roles or hold such views, but in which gentile religions *do* often assign different gender roles for their gentile religious practices, would it be a violation of minhag hagoyim to intentionally assign gender roles for a Jewish practice which does not, for any halachik reason per se, require different roles for different genders?

    • micha says:

      Monty: I think you make a jump from “there is no halachic reason, per se” to concluding it’s not an inherent value. This needs to be proven, as there are values in the Torah other than following black-letter halakhah. So it could well be that we overlapped with prior host-society values for internal reasons. Just as today we have overlaps with the host society’s values that the west just caught up to the Torah about.

      There are halachic indications that mandates that can’t be spelled out in legal precision exist. “You shall be holy” which the Sifra tells us means “sanctify yourself with that which is permitted to you”. “And you shall do the honest and the just”. “And you shall go in His Ways” — imitatio Dei. The obligation to go beyond the minimal letter of the law “lifnim mishuras hadin” requires knowing which direction is the “beyond” side. Etc…

 
 

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