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Did Miriam Sing?

 

As we reach the Torah passage of Miriam publicly singing after the splitting of the sea, we would do well to closely examine that story in light of halakhah. We certainly cannot decide matters of Jewish law from simply a verse without taking into account the Oral Torah. However, the Taz’s famous dictum that the Sages are unable to forbid something the Bible explicitly permits reflects the discomfort of such textual dissonance — the Talmud cannot contradict the Bible. The difficulty Miriam’s singing poses to the law forbidding listening to women sing shrinks when we note that the Torah never actually says that she sang. The word used, “va-ta’an,” and a few other textual cues have spawned commentarial debate throughout the ages. What follows is my attempt to organize the discussion by genre and era, with a conclusion discussing the intersection with practical halakhah.

I. The Text

ותען להם מרים שירו לה׳ כי גאה גאה סוס ורכבו רמה בים.

And Miriam sang (va-ta’an) unto them: Sing ye to the Lord, for He is highly exalted: The horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea. (JPS)

A number of questions arise from this passage:

  1. Regarding Moshe, the text says that he sang (yashir; Ex. 15:1). The wording changes for Miriam to va-ta’an. Does this mean that she didn’t sing?
  2. Moshe begins his song by saying that he will sing to God. Miriam, in contrast, begins by calling others to sing. Does this mean that she did not sing herself?
  3. The word “unto them” is in the masculine form (lahem) rather than the feminine (lahen). Was Miriam singing with the men?
  4. Why is Miriam’s song so short (1 verse) compared to Moshe’s (18 verses)?

As we go through the generations, different answers to these questions will be provided by many commentators.

II. Ancient Translations

Targum Onkelos consistently translates any word in the Torah related to song as either “shabachu” (praise) or “shabachu ve-odu (praise and thank). This includes the Hebrew words shir (e.g. Ex. 15:1, Deut. 31:30), zemer (Ex. 15:2) and anah (Num. 21:17). Our verse seems to be the only, at least that I could find, exception. Targum Onkelos renders va-ta’an literally, as “u-me’anya, and she answered.”

I am not sure why Targum Onkelos generally renders song as praise (and thanks) rather than literally. However, the exclusion of our verse from this trend, especially considering the similar word in Num. 21:17 which is translated as praise, implies that Miriam was not singing. She was chanting the words, repeating them without tune.

The Peshitta, a translation of the Bible into the Aramaic dialect of Syriac, follows Targum Onkelos on this issue. Targum pseudo-Yonasan also generally translates song as praise and sometimes also thanks, except for va-ta’an. However, Targum pseudo-Yonasan render va-ta’an as “ve-zamras, and she sang.”

It seems that the ancient translations differed over whether Miriam sang these words or merely chanted them. We see among midrashim a similar difference of opinion whether Miriam and the women sang the song of praise or recited it.

III. Midrashim

The Mekhilta implies that Miriam sang this: “Just like Moshe said a song for the men, Miriam said a song for the women.” While we could infer that they only “said a song” and did not actually sing it, the Mekhilta seems to raise Miriam’s va-ta’an to the level of Moshe’s yashir rather than vice versa. However, Miriam sang for the women and (perhaps while) Moshe sang for the men. R. Aryeh Kaplan in a footnote to The Living Torah quotes Philo in The Life of Moses as saying that the women sang at the same time as the men. Similar to the Mekhilta, the Yalkut Shimoni (Hos. 2 no. 518) says that va-ta’an refers to actual singing, implying that Miriam sang the song.

The Midrash Sekhel Tov (quoted in Torah Shelemah on Ex. 15:21 n. 240) says that the angels wanted to sing praises to God before the women but Miriam answered them and called for the women to sing. This explains the language of va-ta’an as meaning that she answered the angels, and gives significance to her calling the women to sing. The implication is that the women said the song on their own, after the men. However, the Midrash Sekhel Tov (ibid., n. 241) also explains the word va-ta’an as meaning calling out (ein aniyah ela amirah), which means that Miriam did not sing but rather called out (i.e. spoke) the song for the women to repeat it.

IV. Early Grammarians

Three interpretations of va-ta’an arose among the grammarians of the tenth century. R. Sa’adia Gaon, in his Arabic translation of the Bible, renders the word as “repetition,” like Targum Onkelos. R. Donash ben Livrat, in his critiques of R. Sa’adia’s translation (no. 117), insists it means “praise,” like the Targumim generally translated such words, and not repetition or song. R. Menachem ben Saruk (Machberes Menachem, a-n), however, says the word means singing with a tune. Only according to R. Menachem among the grammarians did Miriam sing.

V. Early Commentators

Like the divergence among the Targumim, midrashim and grammarians, the Rishonim disagreed whether Miriam actually sang. Rashi quotes the Mekhilta but changes it somewhat, as he often does. He states that “just like Moshe said the song to the men, he said they repeated after him, so too Miriam said the song to the women.” Unlike our understanding above of the Mekhilta, that it raises Miriam to Moshe’s level of singing, Rashi’s interpretation seems to lower Moshe to Miriam’s level of saying and repeating. According to Rashi, neither Moshe nor Miriam sang their songs. They chanted them as poetry of praise.

Bekhor Shor and Chizkuni say that Miriam actually recited the entire song that Moshe said. However, to avoid repetition, the Torah only provides the headlines of the second time. Ralbag (ad loc. and in the tenth to’eles) disagrees and suggests that the women said a much shorter song.

R. Avraham ben Ha-Rambam states that earlier commentators debated whether Miriam sang. According to R. Sa’adia Gaon, Miriam and the women recited — spoke — in alternation Moshe’s entire song. Targum Onkelos, on the other hand, contends that the women sang the song. However, as explained above, I am not sure where he sees that in Targum Onkelos.

VI. Later Commentators

Commentators of the past few centuries were more explicitly sensitive to the halakhic dissonance. I quote here some approaches that correspond to a simple (peshat) reading of the text.

R. Ya’akov Culi, in his Me-Am Lo’ez, notes that Miriam and the women used musical instruments while Moshe and the men did not. He explains that the instruments were intended to drown out the sound of song so the men would not hear. The Tzeidah La-Derekh and Tzofnas Panei’akh explain similarly. The Chida (Devash Le-Fi, ma’arekhes kuf, no. 19) disagrees. He suggests that the men and women sang together and the men heard the women. However, because the Divine Presence rested on them, there was no prohibition for the men to listen to the singing.

Talelei Oros quotes the Vilna Gaon as suggesting that the reason the Torah says va-ta’an is that Miriam and the women would not sing because the men would not be allowed to hear them. In other words, the women did not sing. They intentionally refrained from singing because the men are prohibited from hearing it.

From other commentators, including those who do not generally incorporate halakhic considerations, we find interpretations that alleviate the difficulties. Mendelssohn’s Bi’ur explains that Miriam did not sing her own song. Rather, she and the women merely responded with a brief refrain to Moshe’s song. Cassutto interprets the verse in the same way. R. Zalman Sorotzkin (Oznaim La-Torah) similarly explains that Miriam only indicated her and the women’s approval to Moshe and the men’s song. She/they answered the men, in agreement to the men’s song.

However, other commentators, including some who were certainly concerned about any halakhic disconnect from the Bible, upheld Miriam and the women’s singing. Shadal explains the verse as meaning that Miriam sang for the women. Similarly, Malbim explains that the women sang their own song because the entire Exodus was due to the merit of the righteous women. Da’as Mikra also interprets the verse as meaning that Miriam and the women sang their own song together. Netziv suggests that the women composed their own song and Miriam concluded each stanza with the refrain recorded in the Torah.

VII. Modern Translations

Among both Jewish and, le-havdil, Christian translations, we find some that interpret Miriam as singing and some that don’t. Note, in particular, the New JPS translation:

  • KJV – “And Miriam answered them”
  • NIV – “Miriam sang to them”
  • RSV – “And Miriam sang to them”
  • JPS – “And Miriam sang unto them”
  • NJPS – “And Miriam chanted for them”
  • The Living Torah – “Miriam led them in the response”
  • Artscroll Stone Tanach – “Miriam spoke to them”

After all is said and done, it is not clear that Miriam and the women sang. And if they did, they may very well have sung among themselves, possibly even while the men sang among themselves. The text is ambiguous and even commentators unconcerned with halakhic issues read the episode differently. And even if Miriam and the women sang and the men listened, the Chida explained that the moment of a divine revelation is an exception.

More interesting, it seems to me, are the threads of interpretation that weave their way through different genres and eras. Commentators with different agendas and sensibilities ask different questions but end up in the same places as their predecessors, often unknowingly.

(Reposted from here: link)

 

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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.
 

123 Responses

  1. IH says:

    It was an interesting discussion last year, which I was remembering as I was reading R. Riskin’s column in The Jewish Week earlier this evening: http://www.thejewishweek.com/jewish-life/sabbath-week/hearing-women-singing-sea (also relevant to the parallel discussion about Kol Isha in the Partnership Minyanim post.

  2. RJM says:

    What about ותשר דבורה וברק בן אבינעם? What about the implication that David Hamelekh had both שרים ושרות in his court? Are there any approaches to explaining these in light of halakha?

  3. Tinok says:

    I used to joke that yes, Miriam started to sing, but she was (or she and the women were) then drowned out by the men. (Well, it would be more fair to say “some” men.) I arrived at this “conclusion” after witnessing an episode at my friend’s shul. A woman was saying kaddish, and then a man “steamrolled” her by saying kaddish very loudly and quickly.

  4. Mordechai says:

    “Malbim explains….because the entire Exodus was due to the merit of the righteous women.”

    Huh? What about the various maamarei Chazal that say

    a) בזכות שלא שינו את
    שמם, לשונם, ומלבושם

    b) בזכות האמונה

    c) בזכות משה ואהרן

    d) בזכות האבות

    e) בזכות דם פסח וגם מילה

    f) בזכות שלא דברו לשה”ר

    g) בזכות שלא נמצא ביניהן אחד פרוץ בערוה

    See http://www.aspaklaria.info/010_YOD/יציאת%20מצרים%20%20%20זכות.htm

    Let’s not just give a feminist partial rendering of things here.

  5. Mr. Cohen says:

    I really wish that Hirhurim would stop quoting Christian bible translations, for numerous reasons.

    Just a few hours ago, I was thinking about how Hirhurim is now my favorite Jewish blog, but when you quote Christian bible translations, you just ruin that.

    Because Hirhurim quotes Christian bible translations, I cannot recommend it to my fellow Jews.

    If you quote Christian bible translations, then why not also quote the Koran and the Book of Mormon?

  6. Hirhurim says:

    RJM: Elef La-Mateh points out that the navi doesn’t say that Devorah sang in front of men other than her husband.

    Mr. Cohen: Rav Hai Gaon consulted Christian translators. If they have something worth hearing, I’m going to listen. Accept the truth from whomever states it.

  7. Eskimo says:

    Gil, how do we know that Moshe sang? “Shir” has two meanings today, and it would seem then as well. Maybe he recited or chanted the poem.

  8. Noam Stadlan says:

    Miriam took a ‘tof’ and the women went out after her with ‘tupim’ and dancing. The word tof in Tanach almost always accompanies either dancing, other musical instruments, or both. I am not sure where chanting ends and singing begins, but it seems that Miriam vocalized with instrumental accompaniment and was surrounded by people performing rhythmic body movements. The pesukim describing the instruments/dancing and Miriam’s vocalizations are right next to each other seeming to indicate that they are connected.

  9. Tsvi says:

    The Yismach Moshe of Sighet suggests that the reason Miriam took instruments was to drown out her voice so the men would not hear.

  10. Daniel says:

    לע”ד: This episode occurred before Matan Torah. Why should we assume that characters before Matan Torah kept Halacha? Notwithstanding the fact that this Halacha (Kol Isha) is both very complicated (some say that mixed singing, meaning not just women, is allowed)and was clearly not enacted until literally thousands of years later.
    Rabbi Student, I do not [necessarily] assume that Avot actually kept the details of the 613 Mitzvot and I equally do not assume that Miriam and Moshe observed an Issur DeRabnan that was not yet enacted. Also, before Berit Sinai there was no obligation (or reason) to keep Mitzvot.
    This is an interesting discussion in terms of the literary meaning of the word “vta’an”, but I’m not sure why we have to try and interpret Rabbinic Halachik standards into this text.

  11. ruvie says:

    ” doesn’t say that Devorah sang in front of men other than her husband.”
    that assumes that אֵשֶׁת לַפִּידוֹת is בָרָק בֶּן-אֲבִינֹעַם which is according to the mechilta but there is no reference in shoftim that they are the same person – strange if they were and its not mentioned (abravenal says not).
    it also doesn’t say she didn’t sing in fron of the army. does it make sense from them to sing a duet in front of no one? not pshat in the the navi. a song is to be sung in public in front of people.

  12. minyan lover says:

    The gra opinion does not include gra’s original wording.
    When presenting (or misrepresenting) gra’s legal opinions, one must always use gra’s precise wording on the matter and attach the original handwritten notations for authentication purposes. So the one learning his opinions can distinguish between factual gra opinion and the wishful thinking of sincerely subjective frum conjecture.
    Summarizing hearsay/or quoting snippets from other parties is not a fair or precise practice. Gra was very precise with the way he worded stuff.

  13. Hirhurim says:

    Eskimo: Excellent point. That is definitely a possibility.

    Dr. Stadlan: Playing musical instruments is also a possibility, as Rashi explains שרים ושרות in Eccl. 2:8 as instrument players.

    Ruvie: It isn’t a proof of anything. And yes, according to Chazal she was married to Barak.

  14. A Little Sanity says:

    Judges 5 שׁוֹפְטִים
    א וַתָּשַׁר דְּבוֹרָה, וּבָרָק בֶּן-אֲבִינֹעַם, בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, לֵאמֹר. 1
    Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying…

  15. Hirhurim says:

    A Little Sanity: They were married

  16. A Little Sanity says:

    Divrei Ha Yamim 35:
    כה וַיְקוֹנֵן יִרְמְיָהוּ, עַל-יֹאשִׁיָּהוּ, וַיֹּאמְרוּ כָל-הַשָּׁרִים וְהַשָּׁרוֹת בְּקִינוֹתֵיהֶם
    עַל-יֹאשִׁיָּהוּ עַד-הַיּוֹם, וַיִּתְּנוּם לְחֹק עַל-יִשְׂרָאֵל; וְהִנָּם כְּתוּבִים, עַל-הַקִּינוֹת. 25 And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah; and all the singing men and singing women spoke of Josiah in their lamentations, unto this day; and they made them an ordinance in Israel; and, behold, they are written in the lamentations.

    Seems to have been a class of “singing women” in those times.

  17. IH says:

    The contortions that some men feel the need to go through to put women in their place, never ceases to amaze me. Tal’s pseudo-men epithet comes to mind. About such contemporary men that is…

  18. Hirhurim says:

    See Rashi to Koheles 2:8, who according to IH was trying to put women in their place.

    Or maybe before centuries of poskim were well aware of these verses

  19. Tal Benschar says:

    “The contortions that some men feel the need to go through to put women in their place, never ceases to amaze me.”

    Proving once more the truth of what the wisest among men wrote:

    “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” (Proverbs 26:11)

    But this was a good one, IH, managed to insult many of the major Jewish commentators on the Torah from the last 2000 years in one sentence. That’s a record even for you.

  20. Tal Benschar says:

    “This episode occurred before Matan Torah. Why should we assume that characters before Matan Torah kept Halacha? Notwithstanding the fact that this Halacha (Kol Isha) is both very complicated (some say that mixed singing, meaning not just women, is allowed)and was clearly not enacted until literally thousands of years later.
    Rabbi Student, I do not [necessarily] assume that Avot actually kept the details of the 613 Mitzvot and I equally do not assume that Miriam and Moshe observed an Issur DeRabnan that was not yet enacted. Also, before Berit Sinai there was no obligation (or reason) to keep Mitzvot.”

    Because kol isha is not a technical halakha like basar be chalav. The gemara says kol be isha erva. We can assume that a tsadekes like Miriam — a prophetess* in her own right — would not act in a way that exposes men to erva.

    _______________
    *Excuse my “quaint” usage. I suppose IH would want me to write “female prophet.”

  21. A Little Sanity says:

    Seems to me that the “contortions” are not over insulting women, but have to do with the longstanding machlokes over whether Torah Sheb’al Peh is entirely Misinai, “bchol p’rateha”, or whether only certain klallim and halachos of the Torah Sheb’al Peh were misinai, with the rest derived later by exegesis. If you hold by the former, you have to “contort” to harmonize seeming historical contradictions to present halachic standards.

  22. Nachum says:

    A (dis)advantage to being seven hours ahead- other people say what you think first.

    Me, I was enlightened by Prof. Elman as an undergraduate freshman: “Yes, that position [that the Talmud is word-for-word from Sinai] is held by many people. It’s an understandable position.” Now I can’t believe I really said that back then.

  23. Mike S. says:

    Since a Navi can instruct people to violate Torah prohibitions on a temporary basis when circumstances require (e.g. Eliyahu bringing korbanot on a bama) how would we learn from Miriam even if she did sing? Perhaps that is why the verse emphasizes that she was a prophetess. For an example of this reasoning applied to a similar issue see Aruch La-ner on Nidda 50a regarding D’vorah being a judge.

  24. Avi says:

    @Tal

    And Yaakov certainly understood that marrying sisters was (to be) considerably worse than singing before men, but he did it anyway. Kvetch whatever answers you want, but a Peshat reading of Chumash states that figures in Chumash did not keep the Mitzvos as they were later given through Moshe.

    To be honest, I think it represents considerable insecurity in ones beliefs to feel a need to “answer up” such questions. What’s so bad about saying that Avrohom never heard of the Mitzvah of Orleh (or insert favorite esoteric Mitzvah here)? Does it make him less of a person?

  25. Shlomo says:

    …implies that Miriam was not singing. She was chanting the words, repeating them without tune.

    I am offended that you do not consider rap to be music :)

  26. Shlomo says:

    To be honest, I think it represents considerable insecurity in ones beliefs to feel a need to “answer up” such questions. What’s so bad about saying that Avrohom never heard of the Mitzvah of Orleh (or insert favorite esoteric Mitzvah here)?

    There is no deep theological principle involved, it is simply that many people (including many traditional sources) think midrashim must be historically accurate. Once the midrash says the Avot kept 613 mitzvot, if the midrash is accurate, then apparent contradictions to it must be explained. Is the midrash “insecure” for suggesting that position in the first place? I think not, the combination of typical midrashic methods and verses like Breishit 26:5 makes the position very easy to understand.

    Anyway, all this is irrelevant to us, because we really care not whether Miriam sang, but whether Rashi et al. THOUGHT Miriam sang, because we derive halacha from the positions of Rashi et al.

  27. Ari Kahn says:

    you can see the Gra – as cited by others here:
    http://arikahn.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/sources-bshalach-crossing-sea-people.html
    The Gra in question is the last source
    Also see sources 12,13,14

  28. Avi says:

    @Shlomo

    Even if Rashi believed that Miriam sang, there would be no Halachah to be learned. The alleged singing occurred before Matan Torah. It was permitted before and it was forbidden after. No contradictions.

  29. Melech says:

    That’s an impressive list apologetic exegesis. Nowhere however among the two dozen commentators are there any women. It is once again men speaking on behalf of women, hearing women’s voices only through the writings of men.

  30. ruvie says:

    lets not forget:
    אִם-אֶשְׁמַע עוֹד, בְּקוֹל שָׁרִים וְשָׁרוֹת;
    in addition to 7,337 servants and 200 singers, both men and women. – Ezra 2:65

    מִלְּבַד עַבְדֵיהֶם וְאַמְהֹתֵיהֶם, אֵלֶּה–שִׁבְעַת אֲלָפִים, שְׁלֹשׁ מֵאוֹת שְׁלֹשִׁים וְשִׁבְעָה; וְלָהֶם מְשֹׁרְרִים וּמְשֹׁרְרוֹת, מָאתָיִם
    I am now eighty years old. Can I tell the difference between what is good and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats and drinks? Can I still hear the voices of men and women singers? Why should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king?
    Samuel 2 19:35

    וְהֵילִילוּ שִׁירוֹת הֵיכָל, בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא–נְאֻם, אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה: רַב הַפֶּגֶר, בְּכָל-מָקוֹם הִשְׁלִיךְ הָס Amos 8:3
    The women singing in the temple will wail in that day.”
    The sovereign Lord is speaking.
    “There will be many corpses littered everywhere! Be quiet!”

    is every time שִׁירוֹת or מְשֹׁרְרוֹת (even with the word kol next to it) means only musical instruments? is there a special word that has a different root for men singers or is there no mention of any singers in tanach?

  31. Machshavos says:

    Melech:

    Which ancient and medieval female commentators would YOU have included in the analysis?

  32. Hirhurim says:

    From R. Yitzchak Sorotzkin:

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=51873&st=&pgnum=283
    והנה ז”ל הרי”א אין הכונה שדבורה וברק סדרו השירה הזאת אבל אמר שדבורה עשתה וסדרה זה השיר וברק נטפל עמה לשורר אותו בזמר

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=50464&st=&pgnum=182
    וא”כ י”ל שרק אמרו שיר ושבח להקב”ה אבל לא בזמר או שירה ולכך לא הוי ערוה

  33. emma says:

    It seems pretty clear that Miriam was making vocal noise opf some sort. I believe thre is a position in the gemara and rishonim that even a woman’s speaking voice, literal “kol isha,” is erva. Presumably the rabbis who held that position knew about Miriam, which casts into doubt the premise that whatever “kol isha” is it can’t be what Miriam did.

  34. Hoffa Araujo says:

    “Which ancient and medieval female commentators would YOU have included in the analysis?”

    None – they are all a bunch of patriarchal male chauvinists who never allowed the voice of women to come out. That therefore allows Melech to come up with whatever pshat he wants, since he is not bound by the meforshim.

    Melech – I have read comments from Conservative and Reform clergy over the years that says exactly what you’re saying. Tell me – do you make sure to have an orange on your Seder plate?

  35. ruvie says:

    Gil – isn’t that just reading into the text or explaining it post facto because one cannot admit to the obvious. doesn’t it lack credibility to many religious jews to day that this is the only acceptable understanding of the text?

  36. IH says:

    Did anyone bother reading R. Riskin’s drash in The Jewish Week that I linked in the first comment?

    Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch said they were singing in tandem, with the men initiating the song and women responding by repeating it. He emphasizes that the women’s singing was of equal importance to the men’s.

    and he then goes on to explain his position on Kol Isha.

  37. Glatt some questions says:

    Miriam didn’t sing?

    Next thing you know you’ll be telling me that Yaakov didn’t kiss Rachel.

    (Oh, that has already been disproved? Never mind…)

  38. Tal Benschar says:

    “That’s an impressive list apologetic exegesis. Nowhere however among the two dozen commentators are there any women. It is once again men speaking on behalf of women, hearing women’s voices only through the writings of men”

    Yes, I think we should expunge the entirety of Seder Nashim, since it was written by men about women. Would make finishing Daf Yomi considerably shorter.

  39. Glatt some questions says:

    http://www.ohrtorahstone.org.il/parsha/5773_printer/beshalach_73.htm

    Rabbi Riskin discusses the issue this week.

  40. Simcha says:

    Tsvi:

    Just to be accurate, the Yismach Moshe was not from Sighet. His grandson – the Yetev Lev (Yekusiel Yehuda Teitelbaum) was the first Rebbe of Sighet from this lineage. The Yismach Moshe was Rov in Ujhely.

  41. Hirhurim says:

    ruvie: isn’t that just reading into the text or explaining it post facto because one cannot admit to the obvious

    The point of this entire post is to show that there is a long debate on this issue. It isn’t just a matter of revisionist reading but serious commentary.

    The inability to admit that says to me a lot about people’s biases.

  42. emma says:

    Is there any indication that those who held a woman’s speaking voice is ervah had a way of dealing with these pesukim?

  43. IH says:

    The point of this entire post is to show that there is a long debate on this issue. It isn’t just a matter of revisionist reading but serious commentary.

    Sure, if you present both sides and you seem seem not to have taken on board any of the discussion last year, including R. Henkin’s contribution.

    Rabbi Y.H. Henkin on February 6, 2012 at 6:28 am

    See Bnei Banim 4, maamar 20.

    http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=20023&st=&pgnum=129

    Finally, as I commented last year: “All the readings are textual based. I was not advocating one or the other in my comment, rather observing the fact that this is a nice example of how hashkafa influences how a text is read.”

  44. IH says:

    And, I again quote R. Riskin’s current drash:

    Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch said they were singing in tandem, with the men initiating the song and women responding by repeating it. He emphasizes that the women’s singing was of equal importance to the men’s.

  45. Steve Brizel says:

    Like it or not, the issue presents much room for Mfarshim to discuss and reach their own conclusions. It should be noted that in Thinking Aloud, R D Holzer quotes RYBS as not being impressed with the view of the SE on the issue.

  46. ruvie says:

    Gil – i am not claiming revisionism. i am saying that if one’s interpretation of the word shirot in tanach reflects a blind adherence to the idea that men could never have had heard woman/women singing then your translation and interpretation is based on limiting the meaning of the text for ideological purposes.
    as oppose to understanding the text without that preconceive notions of what it must say.
    its possible that word kol next to shirot can be explained away but its more probable that they heard women’s voices sing according to the text.

    the inability to admit that says more about yours and others biases as well.

    btw, i do agree its interesting to see how commentators deal with the issue differently and for what reasons. but not to admit that some – like rsrh – had them singing or other verses in tanach explained away is problematic too.

  47. Hirhurim says:

    IH: Sure, if you present both sides and you seem seem not to have taken on board any of the discussion last year, including R. Henkin’s contribution

    You are correct. I did not add any contemporaries to this discussion, including R. Yitzchak Sorotzkin’s many comments.

    And, I again quote R. Riskin’s current drash

    And R. Riskin’s article isn’t influenced by hashkafah???

    ruvie: as oppose to understanding the text without that preconceive notions of what it must say

    Re-read the post, particularly the section on Later Commentators. There is no “blind adherence” but those commentators who did not see women singing in the text were not ignorant of the text. They certainly knew what Rashi and the Targumim said.

  48. Tal Benschar says:

    its possible that word kol next to shirot can be explained away but its more probable that they heard women’s voices sing according to the text

    The pesukim at issue contain neither the word shirah nor the word kol:

    וַתִּקַּח מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה אֲחוֹת אַהֲרֹן אֶת הַתֹּף בְּיָדָהּ וַתֵּצֶאןָ כָל הַנָּשִׁים אַחֲרֶיהָ בְּתֻפִּים וּבִמְחֹלֹת

    וַתַּעַן לָהֶם מִרְיָם שִׁירוּ לַיהֹוָה כִּי גָאֹה גָּאָה סוּס וְרֹכְבוֹ רָמָה בַיָּם

  49. Hirhurim says:

    There you go again, Tal, explaining away what we know the text says just because it doesn’t actually say it.

  50. IH says:

    And R. Riskin’s article isn’t influenced by hashkafah???

    I have twice said: “All the readings are textual based. I was not advocating one or the other in my comment, rather observing the fact that this is a nice example of how hashkafa influences how a text is read.”

  51. IH says:

    Tal — as R. Henkin observes:

    R. Henkin observes:

    ועוד,אם מרים זמרה לנשים בלבד אזי “ותען” אינו הפעל הנכון, וראוי היה לכתוב “ותשר”.

  52. Tal Benschar says:

    He also observes:

    אמנם אין לשלול אפשרות ש”ותען להם” יתפרש שמרים שרה רק לנשים,
    כי כן פרשו
    במכילתא

    As for the line you quote, Rashi in Chumash deals with that issue. That word is used to imply it was a responsive singing. Which Rashi learns Moshe Rabbenu did also, separately with the men, and Miriam with the women.

    ותען להם מרים: משה אמר שירה לאנשים, הוא אומר והם עונין אחריו, ומרים אמרה שירה לנשים

    (Rashi Shemos 15:21)

  53. IH says:

    Which brings us back to RSRH (as rendered by R. Riskin):

    Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch said they were singing in tandem, with the men initiating the song and women responding by repeating it. He emphasizes that the women’s singing was of equal importance to the men’s.

    The text is ambiguous and everyone reads it to their hashkafa. Teiku.

  54. Hirhurim says:

    IH: The text is ambiguous and everyone reads it to their hashkafa. Teiku

    That is very post-modern of you. As I tried to show, commentators DID NOT necessarily read the text according to their hashkafah. And just because the text is ambiguous does not mean that various commentators were not convinced that their reading is best.

    There is a difference between derush and parshanus. RSRH’s commentary is derush, often excellent but derush.

  55. Tal Benschar says:

    To quote Yogi Berra, this is de ja vu all over again. I think we covered all this the last time.

    And to anticipate the next question, although the possuk uses Lahem, the Torah sometimes uses that form for a group of women:

    וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל משֶׁה לֵּאמֹר

    כֵּן בְּנוֹת צְלָפְחָד דֹּבְרֹת נָתֹן תִּתֵּן לָהֶם אֲחֻזַּת נַחֲלָה בְּתוֹךְ אֲחֵי אֲבִיהֶם וְהַעֲבַרְתָּ אֶת נַחֲלַת אֲבִיהֶן לָהֶן

    (Bamidbar 28:6-7)

    . זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהֹוָה לִבְנוֹת צְלָפְחָד לֵאמֹר לַטּוֹב בְּעֵינֵיהֶם תִּהְיֶינָה לְנָשִׁים אַךְ לְמִשְׁפַּחַת מַטֵּה אֲבִיהֶם תִּהְיֶינָה לְנָשִׁים (Bamidbar 36:6)

  56. IH says:

    “everyone” here. Nice try…

  57. David S says:

    Isn’t it obvious? The men stuffed Matzoh in their ears as ear plugs, a custom which can be observed this very day (albeit without the Matzah) in Modern Orthodox Day schools around the world. The teachers of course being Haredi and the female children being modern.

  58. Yirmiahu says:

    Melech-“That’s an impressive list apologetic exegesis. Nowhere however among the two dozen commentators are there any women. It is once again men speaking on behalf of women, hearing women’s voices only through the writings of men.”

    How is evaluating arguments by who made them rather than their content not simply argumentum ad hominem?

  59. ruvie says:

    Tal and Gil – please see my previous post at 10:43 – and you will see i was referring to other parts of tanach. since Gil’s post mentioned
    ;
    “However, the Taz’s famous dictum that the Sages are unable to forbid something the Bible explicitly permits reflects the discomfort of such textual dissonance — the Talmud cannot contradict the Bible.”

    my assumption that includes all parts of tanach that needs to be explain. or am i wrong? snarky gil , must the pre erev shabbat mood.

  60. Hirhurim says:

    ruvie: On those other parts of Tanach, just look at the classical mefarshim and you will see a wide variety of explanations of the terms. This doesn’t have to be ideological.

  61. ruvie says:

    Gil – my only point is that ideological/hashkafic can -or does- influence what interpretation you choose on women singing in tanach. it seems many cannot even contemplate the possibility because of kol isha. in the other parts of tananch is the explanation forced? it seems not pshat and you need to suspend believability.

    ” This doesn’t have to be ideological.” can you admit that it may be? and that drives – in some cases – interpretation?

  62. Noam Stadlan says:

    Unfortunately I do not have time to look at all of the sources. It may be useful to see if the geonim and rishonim specifically mentioned a problem with women singing, as opposed to developing an understanding of the pasuk. In other words, did anyone prior to the acharonim make a specific claim that this could be a violation of Kol isha, or is this only a recently stated concern?

  63. IH says:

    or is this only a recently stated concern?

    R. Riskin seems to have concluded that. He writes:

    “What is most remarkable about the description of this biblical scene and its various commentaries is that no one seems concerned about kol isha, the prohibition against hearing a woman sing since “a woman’s voice is a sexual stimulus” [B.T. Brachot 24a].

    […]

    When we study the actual sources of kol isha and the commentaries of rabbinic decisors, the incident at the sea appears much more normative than the attitude of the yeshiva head. Most importantly, the Talmudic passage stating that “a woman’s voice is a sexual stimulus” is written in the context of retaining concentration when reciting the Shema prayer.”

  64. Elon says:

    I rather doubt it is ideological with the Gaonim and Rishonim. The debate is over the meaning of ותען and Onkelos’s literal translation as וּמְעַנְיָא. The implications do not seem to be discussed.

  65. Really? says:

    שואלין ודורשין בתורות הפורים קודם הפורים שלושים יום…

  66. Shlomo says:

    Even if Rashi believed that Miriam sang, there would be no Halachah to be learned. The alleged singing occurred before Matan Torah. It was permitted before and it was forbidden after. No contradictions.

    1. Let us assume that Rashi believes that Miriam could not have sung. This would be because Rashi assumes TWO things: that Miriam kept the Torah before Sinai, and that singing in such situations is forbidden post-Sinai. The second assumption is very relevant to our halacha.

    2. (This does not directly answer your question, but I think is still worth saying:) The singing was a problem, if it was a problem, because it was sexually provocative. Avoiding licentiousness is the kind of moral obligation that existed before matan torah. Miriam would never have committed adultery, and neither would she have sung before men, if that is in fact immodest.

  67. Shlomo says:

    How is evaluating arguments by who made them rather than their content not simply argumentum ad hominem?

    Ah, you sound like a modernist. If you had read up on your postmodern critical theory, you would know better than to think that an logic argument has any value beyond the identity of the person making it. I’m guessing you’re a dead white male, otherwise you wouldn’t say something so intolerant. Right?

  68. Tal Benschar says:

    R. Riskin seems to have concluded that. He writes:

    “What is most remarkable about the description of this biblical scene and its various commentaries is that no one seems concerned about kol isha, the prohibition against hearing a woman sing since “a woman’s voice is a sexual stimulus” [B.T. Brachot 24a].

    […]

    When we study the actual sources of kol isha and the commentaries of rabbinic decisors, the incident at the sea appears much more normative than the attitude of the yeshiva head. Most importantly, the Talmudic passage stating that “a woman’s voice is a sexual stimulus” is written in the context of retaining concentration when reciting the Shema prayer.

    This is truly silly. Acc. to the Mechilta quoted by Rashi, the men and women sang separately. That seems to be the most plausible pshat — why would the Torah mention Miriam and the women in separate pesukim (and even say they “went out” — va tetzenah) if they sang together.

    If the singing was separate, then obviously no one was concerned about kol isha. Although there are other ways of understanding the pesukim, the dominant way, I think, is how Mechilta and Rashi understand it. If anything, saying that the incident at the sea is “normative” means that ordinarily you should have separate singing — even if you are praising Hashem, as they did.

    And R. Riskin is simply incorrect. The gemara in Sotah discusses mixed singing, not only in the context of kriash shemah, and states that the there are two types of mixed singing that one should try to annul, one worse than the other (which Rashi explains means if you can only stop one, stop the worse one). Rashi there expressly cites the principle of kol be ishah ervah as the basis for that gemara.

  69. joel rich says:

    To paraphrase R’ Weider, I don’t know if Miriam sang, but you can tell a lot about a commenter’s/commentator’s general worldview by how they answer the question.
    KT

  70. Ruvie says:

    Reb Joel – yes it does. It also tells us a lot about those that say other statements (except their own) “are truly silly” and “r’ riskin is simply incorrect”. Ambigous texts offer many possibilities but not certainty in its meaning.

  71. IH says:

    Ruvie – how dare you impugn the Gadol ha’Dor in our midst!

  72. Tal Benschar says:

    Ruvie, nice try, except you reversed the point. R. Riskin said that the maaseh of Miriam was “normative.” Problem is, as Gil pointed out, there is a major dispute about what happened, and the most authoritative source — the Midrash Halachah — goes exactly opposite of R. Riskin. It is silly to claim proof from something that you know has been interpreted differently.

    I accept that there are different mefarshim about how to interpret the text. There are even different views in halakha. R. Riskin apparently doesn’t — he doesn’t even bother to point out that the main text he is relying on is interpreted differently than he does, by no less than Chazal. And then he criticizes some unnamed Roshei Yeshiva as making things up.

    And IH, why don’t you try to read the whole link of R. Henkin that you linked to above. I like how you left out the part that did not help you, very honest of you. Read the rest, far more honest than yours and R. Riskin’s presentations.

    I am not the Gadol ha Dor by far. But I will call out dishonesty when I see it. (Or in this case read it.)

  73. Yirmiahu says:

    Shlomo- “Ah, you sound like a modernist. If you had read up on your postmodern critical theory, you would know better than to think that an logic argument has any value beyond the identity of the person making it. I’m guessing you’re a dead white male, otherwise you wouldn’t say something so intolerant. Right?”

    I think your speaking tongue in check, the sad thing is its hard to tell.

  74. Tal Benschar says:

    Oh and Ruvie, the gemara I quoted is Sotah 48a and Rashi d”h k’esh be neores, if you care to look it up.

  75. Ruvie says:

    Tal – does the rambam pasken from this gemera? Is it about pritzut ? Is men’s singing also abolished in this gemera? Weavers – men – are also assur to sing in this gemera. Is this gemera normative for Halacha ? Or is it the gemera in berachot 24a the main source for the ruling. Lastly, is it subject to what arouses men – live sensual and sexual related type of songs?
    From the sound of the gemera – without much research and pure spec- it could be bawdy beer hall or beit mishteh type singing in mix and inappropriate- mix- company. Btw, I am not saying that is pshat but is it the slam dunk gemera you think it is?

    Is this gemera limited to joint responsive singing at feasts because of provocative behavior? Is it similar to women singing zemirot or hallel when they want to praise the almighty?

  76. Shlomo says:

    I think your speaking tongue in check, the sad thing is its hard to tell.

    I thought my assumption that Yirmiahu is a DEAD white male would have given that away :)

  77. Tal Benschar says:

    Ruvie: Once again you are missing the point.

    That gemara is widely cited on the issue of women singing. It is accepted as normative. True, some differentiate other situations, such as singing praises of Hashem vs. secular songs, or group singing vs. individual, etc. R. Henkin’s piece talks about it, and different variables that might weigh le chumrah or le kulah. I did not write a teshuvah about what is or is not ossur.

    The gemara there does clearly say that whatever situations it is talking about (there are two) both should be done away with.

    What I pointed out is that Rashi there says that the basis for that gemara is kol be isha ervah. The gemara there is not talking about kerias shema. So Rashi clearly disagrees with R. Riskin’s assertion that kol be ishah ervah only applies to that issue.

    Now let’s get back to Miriam and the women at Yam Suf.

    Do you think it is honest to say that maaseh is “normative” for mixed singing when the very question of what exactly happened there is disputed, and indeed the Mechiltah and Rashi both state it was separate singing?

  78. ruvie says:

    Tal – reread rabbi riskin’s d’var torah without changing what he said:

    “One head of a hesder yeshiva (under whose auspices soldiers combine studies with military service) declared that one is forbidden from hearing a woman sing even under pain of death…”

    “When we study the actual sources of Kol Isha and the commentaries of rabbinic decisors, the incident at the Reed Sea appears much more normative than the attitude of the yeshiva head. Most importantly, the Talmudic passage stating that “a woman’s voice is a sexual stimulus” is written in the context of retaining concentration when reciting the Shema prayer.”

    he is correct on both…its more normative than listen to a women is forbidden even under the pain of death….HE DIIDN’T SAY ITS NORMATIVE.
    he is also correct when he is referring to the gemera in berachot 24a which is dealing in the context of ks.

    why do find a need to twist one’s words to something that is not said is beyond me.

  79. ruvie says:

    Tal – “That gemara is widely cited on the issue of women singing.” please cite the appropriate rambam..please show its not contextual…please show that this is the source for the prohibition. and why do you think it contradicts rabbi riskin – please cite all rishonim and do all agree without any dispute on this matter?

    why couldn’t you simply disagree with some respect?

  80. IH says:

    Now let’s get back to Miriam and the women at Yam Suf.

    Ok. The contortions that some contemporary men feel the need to go through to put women in their place, never ceases to amaze me. Tal’s pseudo-men epithet comes to mind. About such contemporary men that is…

  81. Hirhurim says:

    Ruvie: I believe R. Riskin is correct that it is more normative (and halakhically preferable) to listen to kol isha under duress than to suffer martyrdom. But this biblical text is irrelevant. The proper prooftext in the Mordechai about learning Torah when you can hear gentile women singing.

    However, the rabbi (R. Eliezer Melamed?) has a valid point that if an external party is intentionally trying to force you to violate a prohibition as an anti-religious measure, then you should submit to martyrdom. I just don’t know anyone who thinks that is truly the case in the IDF.

  82. Tal Benschar says:

    Ruvie: Gil beat me to it. Point is, the maaseh of Miriam is simply irrelevant to the issue, because the most authoritative view — the Mechiltah — has them singing separately, which no one has an issue with.

    If you think “more normative” means something different than “normative,” then you are engaging in apologetics.

    And, yes, I suspect that the yehareg v’al yaavor statement by the Rosh Yeshiva is based on arkesa de mesanah. (As Gil well summarized, “if an external party is intentionally trying to force you to violate a prohibition as an anti-religious measure, then you should submit to martyrdom.” That applies even to something as trivial as the color of your shoelaces.) That of course is far beyond anything R. Riskin is discussing.

    I just don’t know anyone who thinks that is truly the case in the IDF.

    There is a long history there of that, Gil. From what I know, which is all second hand, it does not seem that that is the case here, but I cannot be sure.

  83. Tal Benschar says:

    why couldn’t you simply disagree with some respect?

    This is truly amazing considering what you wrote about R. Moshe Feinstein in the other thread.

  84. IH says:

    That’s the rub, Tal. You are quick to be insulted, but yourself grauitously disrespect others. As the old street creed goes: don’t dish out what you can’t take in.

  85. Tal Benschar says:

    IH: I am not insulted at all. Just pointing out that Ruvie’s comments were highly disrespectful to R. Moshe. (I am not he, and he is not me. Although I did explain the theory behind what R. Moshe wrote, which Ruvie ignored.) It is a bit rich to then complain about what I wrote about R. Riskin.

    And IH, have your now read the entirety of R. Henkin’s piece? It is only 1 1/2 pages or so. Care to quote the parts that don’t support your view of things? See my post above of January 25, 2013 at 1:14 pm.

  86. Tal Benschar says:

    The other problem with R. Riskin’s piece is that the yehareg v’al yaavor position is a straw man. No one is in danger of being put to death for refusing to attend a woman’s singing. The soldiers at issue, IIRC, were disciplined and perhaps were kicked out of their position (which was voluntary — meaning they signed up for additional Army service after their required tour, probably for professional reasons).

    Much harder question — can one volunteer for additional years in the Army, knowing that, based on experience, you will be ordered to attend such concerts on a regular basis? Or should you look to make your living in other ways?

  87. Tal Benschar says:

    Here is another variation: a young man in a DL yeshiva comes for a shayloh. He is about to join the army. He can join a regular unit, but based on recent experience, he will likely be ordered to attend a concert with women singing. Or he can join Nahal Charedi, which at least ostensibly promises that such will not happen. There are some disadvantages to joining NC, but at least he won’t be required to compromise his religious principles.

    (Since it appears that many in NC are in fact DL students, it would seem that not only is this a real shayloh, but many have decided that one side is better. Not that kol ishah is the sole issue, of course, but it is indicative of a general trend.)

  88. IH says:

    I read R. Henkin’s piece last year, when we discussed it. I was only countering your specific point with his specific point. I have also read R. Henkin’s response to R. Berman on Kol Isha, by the way (following up on your B. Sotah point). In general, I come here to be educated about other points of view. Sometimes it makes me change my mind, other times it doesn’t.

    On Shirat ha’Yam, last year I started out thinking the text was an open & shut case, and was convinced there is sufficient ambiguity to support other readings. But I reject using that ambiguity for polemical purposes.

    FWIW, as I was listening to the Haftorah yesterday — leyned by a woman — I was reminded the Devorah case is not ambiguous: וַתָּשַׁר דְּבוֹרָה, וּבָרָק בֶּן-אֲבִינֹעַם.

    I end up where I summarized early in this thread: the contortions that some contemporary men feel the need to go through to put women in their place, never ceases to amaze me.

  89. IH says:

    On the Kol Isha issue, there are sufficient Rabbinic voices to counter the new push against that all your pushing and prodding makes not one iota of difference. Each side preaches to its choir. The more reactionary the right is, the more resistance will come from the left.

  90. ruvie says:

    Tal – lets not forget that r’ riskin’s parsha piece is a derasha after all. please notice gil’s formulation vs. yours. “more normative” is what he wrote and you “is normative” which you objected to. no retraction and no admitting that you erred.

    “Ruvie’s comments were highly disrespectful to R. Moshe”… please state how so – i suggested that rav moshe’s teshuva felt to me more of a polemic than anything else. did i call it silly and say he is incorrect (who am i to say to anyone let alone a gadol hador that they are totally wrong)? i also questioned whether its halacha l’maseh in orthodoxy (it may be in some but maybe not in all – one can not give an aliyah to a conservative rabbi for many reasons but to say his words are not words is what i questioned)
    What of the consequences if we include – and why not – orthodox jews – in the same category – that question full mosaic authorship (kol ot v’ot). sorry, but i may have missed your theory behind it – i only remember the give and take with steve b. and didn’t see any comment in this week’s news and links. if you have a comment please state it.

  91. ruvie says:

    Tal – you fail to answer most of questions – citations etc. not that its important. time to move on. but i would curious on your theory behind rav moshe’s opinion (of course i have my own view which i am not sure if i fully explained).

  92. Shlomo says:

    The contortions that some contemporary men feel the need to go through to put women in their place…
    The more reactionary the right is…

    If any halachic source, or a vast majority of halachic sources, disagree with you, God forbid you take them into account into your analysis. And anyone who does so must be a reactionary misogynist. There is no other possible reason for bringing up the sources.[/sarcasm]

  93. minyan lover says:

    Ari Kahn,
    The gra as cited or summarized by others is irrelevant at best. In order to determine how gra defined the words used to describe the vocal venue miriam and moshe utilized to communicate their thanks and praise to the one above, one would need to analyze gra’s original set of sentences in their entirety.

    Its difficult to believe gra understood the thanks and praise as having been communicated via singing (or would have been in miriams case). Was there a musical theatre edition as well with separate waterside seating.

  94. Baruch Friedman says:

    I read Rabbi Riskin’s article and don’t know whether to laugh or cry. He implies that Shulchan Aruch and Rama do not address the issue of hearing kol isha not during Kriyat Shema, and that it is the Hatam Sofer who forbids it. But any novice knows that this prohibition is codified in SHulchan Aruch, Even Haezer 21:1 where it is stated explicitly “it is forbidden to hear the voice of an ervah”. That is, normative halacha follows the opinion of those who understand there to be a prohibition against kol isha at all times. I am not aware of any Akharonim who disagree with this psak. (THe issue of many voices at one time is another one; I am adressing the egregious misrepresenation of normative halacha on the issue of Kol isha per se.)

  95. IH says:

    If any halachic source, or a vast majority of halachic sources, disagree with you, God forbid you take them into account into your analysis.

    Shlomo — you seem to be conflating halacha and parshanut. If I have missed it, please point me to the classic halachic source citing this pasuk in Shirat ha’Yam as evidence regarding Kol Isha.

  96. IH says:

    Or the Devorah case for that matter: וַתָּשַׁר דְּבוֹרָה, וּבָרָק בֶּן-אֲבִינֹעַם.

  97. IH says:

    To be more constructive, Shlomo. It is evident that the parshanut struggles with the pasuk due to normative halacha in their day. That is even more so the case with Devorah who not only sang with Barak, but (gasp) הִיא שֹׁפְטָה אֶת-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בָּעֵת הַהִיא.

    It is, thus, entirely understandable that prior to the changes in the societal role of women, that started in the 19th century and took form in the 20th century, that the gap was bridged as it was. The question is, how do we — in the 21st century — interpret these psukim.

    The new polemical use of this parshanut is “the contortions that some contemporary men feel the need to go through to put women in their place”.

  98. Hirhurim says:

    The question is not whether Devoorah sang but who listened. There is no indication in the text that men listened. Nor is there any indication whether she sang alone, Barak sang alone or they sang together.

    Parshanut is (generally) concerned with peshat, which is of questionable use in halakhic issues.

  99. IH says:

    Parshanut is (generally) concerned with peshat, which is of questionable use in halakhic issues.

    Common ground, sof sof.

  100. minyan lover says:

    Baruch Friedman
    Before u decide whether to laugh or cry (or perhaps sing?) Its best to be precise when stating what you believe someone else is implying. Are you accurately describing the implication of rabbi riskins points ? (The no one seems concerned paragraph appears to be about one biblical seen and commentaries is that what your even haezer reference is concerned about as well ?) Also you speak of a codified shulchan aruch even haezer and vague undefined ervah reference as if it were the sapphire tablets with the codified laws cast in stone. Do u even know what kind of stone the even haezer was. Was it the same as the ketzos hachoshen.

    Since your comment presents as an acharon know it all , please include the gra’s opinion on the matter, which any novice should know first — instead of the remah and unedited shulchan aruch even haezer opinions.

  101. ruvie says:

    Gil – ” But this biblical text is irrelevant. The proper prooftext in the Mordechai about learning Torah when you can hear gentile women singing.”

    can you explain what the mordechai is a proper prooftext for? he expands the kol isha issue from KS to include while learning torah (but not to a general klal that i am aware of).
    I believe by quoting the taz in the beginning of your post you are forced to defend any possibility of men hearing women sing in the bible or that there were any women singers therefore all biblical text are relevant to the the issue.

  102. Tal Benschar says:

    I posted my theory about R. Moshe’s opinion. He is talking about a person being motzei someone else (or the tsibbur in the case of an aliyah). That is a different question of whether you may answer Amen to a Samaritan’s beracha. I don’t want to repeat it at length.

    I generally find that when you study the sugya carefully and then study R. Moshe, you find that his teshuvas have much more depth than you think at first blush.

  103. minyan lover says:

    IH, is that word always defined as sang even when that sentence conludes with “saying”. Did Devorah actually sing all those words as if she were in a musical ?

  104. ruvie says:

    Tal – where was i disrespectful to r’ moshe?

    i focused on r’ moshe’s answer to say amen to a beracha of a conservative rabbi and its possible implications today to orthodox jews. if my memory is correct he uses the same sugya and rationale for his answer to all 3 questions.
    see my comments here on jan. 21 at 1:29 pm
    http://torahmusings.com/2013/01/news-links-132/comment-page-1/#comments

    time again to move on when answers are not forthcoming.

  105. ruvie says:

    Tal – where was i disrespectful to r’ moshe?

    i posted 3 teshuvas – i focused on the amen w/o being yotzei anything because of the possible implications today if r’ moshe teshuva is normative with orthodox jews. the same rationale and sugya was used for aliyot and being motzei via a beracha. you are ducking my question:
    see the first teshuva in my post below

    http://torahmusings.com/2013/01/news-links-132/comment-page-1/#comments
    ruvie on January 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm

  106. Baruch Friedman says:

    Minyan lover: Rabbi Riskin cites Rav Hai Gaon and others who hold that kol isha is only assur while reciting SHema. He then quotes the S.A and Rema in Orah Haim alone, who cite the Halacha with regard to SHema. He goes on to say that CHatam SOfer forbids it even not during SHema. The clear implication is that the SA and Rama do not forbid, only the HAtam SOfer. This is laughable (and cryable and, yes, singable). S.A. himself explicitly forbids it in Even Ha’ezer, as I mention. Ervah there throughout the discussion refers to anyone who is forbidden in the parsha of Arayot,which includes a married woman or a menstruating unmarried woman, as is explicit in Beit SHmuel there #4 as well as in Mishna Berura #75:17.

    NOne of the classic commentaries on the page, including the Gra, takes issue with the ruling of the S.A. In fact, the Gra goes on record as agreeing with it, see his comments in Orach CHaim where he explains that the reason SA there only suggests avoiding hearing one’s wife’s singing voice during SHema is that the real halacha follows the opinion that the law of Kol be’isha ervah has nothing to do with Kriat Shema. If there is some other place where the Gra issues a conflicting ruling I would appreciate if you could enlighten us. By the way the (so far undisputed) ruling of SA in Even Haezer is cited by Mishna Berura, 75:17, with no dissenters. I have difficulty believing that the article was penned by Rabbi Riskin, who is after all a Chief Rabbi.

  107. Anonymous says:

    Tal – your ducking the questions.
    stick to the amen w/o being yotzei – r’ moshe uses – if i remember correctly – the same sugya of a heretic writing a sefer torah that can be burnt. the same rationale as given those rabbis an aliyah.
    my focus is the implication today to orthodox jews that may have similar beliefs.

    see the 1st teshuva from my post
    ruvie on January 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm
    http://torahmusings.com/2013/01/news-links-132/comment-page-1/#comments

  108. ruvie says:

    Tal – your ducking the questions.
    stick to the amen w/o being yotzei – r’ moshe uses – if i remember correctly – the same sugya of a heretic writing a sefer torah that can be burnt. the same rationale as given those rabbis an aliyah.
    my focus is the implication today to orthodox jews that may have similar beliefs.

    see the 1st teshuva from my post
    ruvie on January 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm
    http://torahmusings.com/2013/01/news-links-132/comment-page-1/#comments

  109. Ruvie says:

    Tal – see my comments on jan 21 at 1:29
    http://torahmusings.com/2013/01/news-links-132/comment-page-1/#comments

    You are ducking the questions. See the first teshuva I posted. I focused on amen – r’ moshe uses same sugya- for its implications today to orthodox Jewry.

  110. IH says:

    Minyan Lover — From Wikipedia: “Poetry as an art form predates literacy. Some of the earliest poetry is believed to have been orally recited or sung.”

  111. Anonymous says:

    Tal – you are ducking the questions. see the first teshuva i posted here:

    ruvie on jan.23 1:29 pm
    http://torahmusings.com/2013/01/news-links-132/comment-page-1/#comments

  112. ruvie says:

    Tal – you are ducking the questions.

  113. ZPinchas says:

    I find it fascinating that subjects involving even the most parenthetical allusion to women, gender, and/or sexuality (such as this article) seem to generate considerably more discussion than, for example, Divine Providence.

  114. Hirhurim says:

    Ruvie: can you explain what the mordechai is a proper prooftext for?

    I don’t understand the rest of your comment. The Mordechai (Berachos, 80) writes that if you can’t help but hear gentile women sing then you can continue learning or davening because eis la’asos la-Shem–otherwise we might be totally unable to learn or daven if gentile women want to prevent us. This is quoted by the Chayei Adam and Mishnah Berurah (75:17). I believe this is the proper source for allowing soldiers to listen to women sing if they have no other option and will be punished for leaving. It certainly isn’t lechatchilah.

  115. Hirhurim says:

    ZPinchas: It makes me want to cry

  116. Judith says:

    What has more to do with divine providence than the status and halachic abilities and actions of half the Jewish people?

  117. ruvie says:

    Gil – you think that r’ riskin would equate the etz la’asot of living among goyim where (it seems) women singing was heard in the beit midrash most(part) of the day – and we continue to learn since we are not “nizharim” on kol ishah – to living in israel and serving in the army? would any

    btw, the mordechai (berachot,80) quotes sefer yeraim that we are not careful in kol isha for limud torah because of etz la’asot but nothing else (unless i misunderstood). he also quotes the ra’avya that things with ervah that we are use to do not count as ervah(e.g. you cover your body). which goes to show its the context of the times you live in. therefore, one can easily argue that we are use to listening to women singing – you do not need etz la’asot. for that view see the ramo -hilchot KS – 75:3 [interestingly enough the mb tries to negate this and say you are not even allow to hear her speech – diburah]

    yes we want to equate the israeli army to goyim – what next nazis?

  118. Hirhurim says:

    ruvie: you think that r’ riskin would equate the etz la’asot of living among goyim where (it seems) women singing was heard in the beit midrash most(part) of the day – and we continue to learn since we are not “nizharim” on kol ishah – to living in israel and serving in the army? would any

    Yes, I believe Israeli poskim have taken that approach in telling soldiers to begrudgingly remain during such ceremonies.

    yes we want to equate the israeli army to goyim – what next nazis?

    That’s disgusting.

  119. Shalom Spira says:

    Ye’yasher kochakhem to our Rosh Yeshiva R. Student and respondents.
    So as to conclude this discussion with a happy note, allow me to observe that I addressed the issue of kol be-ishah in my Dec. 24 comment at http://torahmusings.com/2012/12/new-periodical-hakirah-14/
    As mentioned there, R. Bleich and R. Weinreb both believe that only ladies may listen to a lady sing. Thus, Kabbalat Shabbat, which – in our post-Carlbach era is generally sung – is apparently different than Megillat Esther (which at least for Sefardim be read for the congregation by a lady as per Shulchan Arukh Orach Chaim 689:1-2), since Megillat Esther can be declarationally read without any melody (like Aseret Bnei Haman). That said, I am in favour of a lady leading Kabbalat Shabbat for fellow ladies (i.e. a women’s tefillah group, where only ladies are present). [A lady singing in Tzaha”l is arguably a different scenario, because everything in Tzaha”l is piku’ach nefesh.]

  120. Philip Pohl says:

    The Haftarah that accompanies this Torah reading clearly states “VaTashar Dvora U’Varak ….”

    Devora is singing with Barak. My guess is they heard each other. What are the ramifications (halachic or otherwise) of this text? Why wasn’t this text addressed in the article?

  121. Hirhurim says:

    Philip: As discussed above in the comments, according to the Talmud they were married.

  122. Nachum says:

    Did they say that specifically to respond to questions of Kol Isha or did they have other reasons?

    Of course, the pasuk says her husband’s name was “Lapidot.” Also, she lived in Ephraim while Barak was from Naftali; further, she called Barak to come from Kedesh, in Naftali, which is peculiar for someone you’re married to.

  123. minyan lover says:

    Baruch Friedman
    Who “recorded” this “agreement” on the orach chaim “record”, his close friends who heard from close students who also heard from self appointed spiritual sons ? I wasn’t asking for a summary of what it says I was asking for his original words ;-)

    IH, if poetry was orally recited or sung does that mean devorah could have either sung or orally recited it. Which word other than “Vatashar” would be used to determine this, “Leimar” or the davar in Devorah?
    Is singing the only definition for vtashar. I’m only asking because the notion of a serious scholar judge starring in a singing musical makes no sense to me. maybe its just me.
    Either way she’s a great precedent for female dayan. Not sure about the other fables.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if the only reason moshe sang his praises/thankfulness/whatever that shir is about, was because that was the only way to communicate clearly without stuttering(if its true that he stuttered) ? Its the only reason I can think of on as to why he would choose the singing mode of verbal communication.

 
 

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