The Next Frontier II

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Further to the discussion of the next step for women in halakhah (link), I found the following discussing by Prof. Tamar Ross in a recent article — “The Feminist Contribution to Halakhic Discourse: Kol Be-Isha Erva as a Test Case” in Emor no. 1 (January 2010), pp. 56-57, quoting R. Yoel Bin-Nun (more on this article and its connection to Hilkhos Teshuvah 3:8 coming soon). Of particular interest is footnote 45, in which Prof. Ross, to the credit of her awareness, makes an explicit connection to the Conservative approach. And either Prof. Ross or I am misunderstanding R. Bin-Nun’s process. If he honestly believes that women today are obligated in all time-bound commandments, how can he change his mind because women don’t want to do them?

[Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun, former Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hakibbutz Hadati in Israel, ruled] regarding women who voluntarily take upon themselves certain mitzvot, to which they are not formally obligated. Regarding this phenomenon, Bin-Nun begins with the assumption that, in principle, women’s obligation to perform all mitzvot is equal to that of men. Following the line of reasoning established by Maimonides and Abudraham and, more directly, the teachings of his personal spiritual mentor, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, Bin-Nun concludes that women’s past exemption from time-bound obligations was due simply to their dependent status, whereby their time was not under their control. Basing his conclusion on the fact that a goodly number of contemporary women no longer regard themselves as subject to the authority of their fathers or husbands, Bin-Nun maintains that they constitute a totally distinct halakhic category of b’not horin (independent women),[42] to whom in most instances the traditional concept of “woman” simply does not apply.[43] Relying further upon the seventeenth century halakhic authority, Rabbi Abraham Gombiner (known as the Magen Avraham), who holds that a woman who voluntarily undertakes the performance of a particular mitzvah transforms its status for her to that of a binding obligation,[44] Bin-Nun concludes that if a group of modern b’not horin consistently undertake the obligation of regular prayer, they may form a proper minyan for themselves and recite all those blessings that generally require a male quorum (devarim she-bikedusha).[45] This ruling could obviously be extended to other time-bound mitzvoth.[46]

This halakhic move on the part of Bin Nun is clearly innovative and daring. It succeeds in making creative use of existing halakhic categories in order to offer atotally new conception of the status of a considerable number of women vis-a-vis mitzvah performance, which for all practical purposes reduces the previous view to dead letter status. The infiuence of women’s voice in the broader sense upon the formulation of Bin-Nun’s opinion is evident in his admission that he initially assumed that women no longer bound by the need to serve others should be regarded as obligated to perform all the hitherto optional mitzvot. But when confronted by a general reluctance of women to assume men’s obligations, he altered his position and concluded that modern women who are not bound by the yoke of family responsibilities should also be left free to choose which of the optional mitzvot they will adopt.[47]


[42] According to Bin-Nun’s understanding, as he explained it to me in private conversation, the category of women who are b’not horin did not exist in Biblical times. By contrast, the halakha recognizes a progressive scale of independence among women, in which the category of “an important woman” (ishah hashuvah) comes closest to the liberated status of many contemporary women.

[43] Bin-Nun specifically excludes from this rule the status of the woman in marriage. He approves rendering the financial fights of the bride equal to those of her husband, by means of a suitable prenuptial agreement; however, he does not see any possibility of abolishing the other unilateral aspect of the marriage agreement, according to which the husband acquires exclusive rights over sexual relations with his partner, but not vice versa. However, Bin-Nun does suggest that this asymmetry may also be overcome by a voluntary commitment on the part of the husband (even by means of an oath) to these sexual limitations.

[44] Magen Avraham, Hilkhot Sefirat ha-Omer, at Orah Hayyim 489.1.

[45] Bin-Nun’s line of argument bears a certain similarity to that of the late Rabbi Shlomo Goren, formerly Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of the State of Israel. In one of his responsa, Rabbi Goren defended the right of women to conduct the full order of prayer, including those rituals and ceremonies requiring a minyan of men (davar shebikedushah), by virtue of the special dispensation given women by Rabbenu Tam in the 12th century to recite the blessing “Blessed are You, O lord, our God… who sanctified us through His mitzvoth and commanded us [… asher kideshanu bemitvotav vetzivanu] to perform x” if and when performing mitzvoth voluntarily. Rabbi Joel Roth uses a similar argument in the Conservative debate conducted in the late 1980’s regarding women’s ordination in order to overcome the traditional obstacle to her leading services as rabbi. See Joel Roth, “On the Ordination of Women as Rabbis,” in The Ordination of Women as Rabbis: Studies and Responsa, ed. Simon Greenberg (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1988) where he develops this thesis at length. It should be noted that Rabbi Goren’s position (upon which he himself reneged, after it was raised in the context of the political struggle of Women of the Wall) has thus far been rejected by a decisive majority of Orthodox halakhic authorities. See Aryeh and Dov Frimer, “Women’s Prayer Services: Theory and Practice,” Tradition 32:2 (1998), 7-14.

[46]The connection between the liberated status of the contemporary woman and her right to accept upon herself expanded mitzva obligation is implied in a somewhat different manner in an article by Noam Zohar, “Between Man and Woman: Editing and Values in Mishnah Kiddushin Chapter 1” [Hebrew], ‘Et la-‘asot 1 (1988), 103-112, which anticipates “a reformulation of the marriage bond, in order to remove from it the aspect of acquisition (kinyan) and ownership.” Ibid., 112.

[47] From the explanation he gave me in private conversation. Similar remarks appear in his paper, “Women Should Rule for Themselves” [Hebrew], Nekuda 268 (Shevat 2004), 42-43.

I should note that Prof. Ross adds on p. 59: “Having said this, I do not wish to be understood as saying more than what I mean to say at the moment. I am not a halakhic decisor and far removed from such pretensions.”

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

2 comments

  1. Richard Kahn 05/04/2010 09:33 PM
    Maybe he’s worried about formally turning a whole class of women into sinners
    ———
    Moshe Y 05/05/2010 12:18 AM
    It’s very hard to take Bin Nun’s argument seriously from an Orthodox perspective. As you point out, this is text book Conservative methodology, 1st espoused by Joel Roth. Is Bin Nun widely accepted in Israeli Orthodox circles? I don’t know much about him except that he is big in Tanakh.
    ———
    anon 05/05/2010 12:34 AM
    he should stick to tanach,
    ———
    Nachum 05/05/2010 01:50 AM
    Lots of Modern Orthodox thinkers in Israel remove themselves from being taken seriously by the wider community because of their (rather irrational) stance on one important issue. It’s a shame, really, as they have so much to offer.
    ———
    Shlomo 05/05/2010 02:41 AM
    “He should stick to tanach” has been raised against R’ Bin Nun in other contexts. For example, his view that anyone using an Israeli passport should keep one day of yom tov, and anyone who doesn’t should keep two days, on the theory that by relying on the State of Israel to sponsor/protect you, you demonstrate that you are part of it.

    Lest you think he is just looking for leniencies, it should be pointed out that he has a dim view of eruvs, does not carry outside outside on Shabbat, and to some extend recommends this to other people.
    ———
    Bob 05/05/2010 03:15 AM
    1 person liked this.
    Constantly making reference to the Conservative movement to define who is “kasher” and who is not is getting absurd. The Conservatives went off the derech for a number of cumulative reasons, such as lack of real loyalty to maintaining a halachic system and having an agenda to make Judaism “convenient.” Rabbi Ben Nun has opinions I may or many not agree with but there is no reason to question his kashrut.
    ———
    moshe shoshan 05/05/2010 03:43 AM
    1 person liked this.
    I agree. The fact that an argument was made by a Conservative Rabbi does make it passul. These issues need to be dealt with on their own terms and in terms of the communal situations faced by Orthodoxy. In gil’s zeal to tar R. Yoel with the “Conservative” label he fails to note that Tamar Ross correctly points out that his position is much closer to that of R. Goren z”l, who not only was an Orthodox rabbis but was a “real” if controversial posek. Neither of them advocate egalitarianism the way Joel Roth did.

    As for R. Yoel, I dont know if there is any one who regards him as a posek. He has lots of idiosyncratic halachic positions, that often get quoted for their theoretical interest. This ruling applies to the old hat issue of women’s tfillah groups and was never accepted in those circles.

    it seems to me that Gil is just trying to whip up support for his crusade against the feminist heretics.
    ———
    Jenny 05/05/2010 05:21 AM
    If the issue under discussion was more abstract, I think everyone would be excited by his use of logic and methodology. Once it has to be applied to this hot-button issue, it of course becomes problematic.

    What about the fact that many poskim today see a woman’s obligation to fast on the minor fast days as obligatory, though it seems they never really took it upon themselves?
    ———
    Nachum 05/05/2010 07:07 AM
    Erm, Gil, she doesn’t make a “connection,” she makes a *comparison*. There’s a world of difference there.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/05/2010 07:34 AM in reply to moshe shoshan
    This post isn’t about who’s frum and who isn’t. It’s (explicitly) about where the Left is headed (see also my earlier post on this) and I am making the prediction that it is toward the Joel Roth position of halakhic egalitarianism.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
    ———
    aryehfrimer 05/05/2010 08:02 AM
    The following are comments abstracted from “Guarding the Treasure: A Review of Tamar Ross, Expanding the Palace of the King –Orthodoxy and Feminism, Brandeis University Press, Waltham 2004, xxiv + 342 pp.,” Aryeh A. Frimer, BDD – Journal of Torah and Scholarship, 18, English section, pp. 67-106 (April 2007). Available online at http://www.jofa.org/pdf/uploaded/1206-DQLN0171.pdf.

    In her discussion of halakhic directions of the future, Prof. Ross cites (p. 236) as a prime example an unpublished ruling by R. Yoel Bin-Nun.1 The latter suggests that, despite the Mishnaic exemption of women from time-determined positive commandments,2 modern women’s halakhic obligation to perform mitsvot is in principle equal to that of men. Basing himself on R. David Abudraham,3 R. Bin-Nun concludes that their exemption from time-bound obligations in the past was due simply to their dependent status, whereby their time was not under their control. This is because contemporary women are benot horin (independent women) and no longer regard themselves as subject to the authority of their fathers or husbands. R. Bin-Nun relies further upon the classical halakhic authority of the seventeenth century, R. Abraham Gombiner, author of Magen Avraham,4 who declares that a woman may voluntarily take on the performance of a mitsva and, thereby, transform its status to that of a compulsory obligation. From this R. Bin-Nun concludes that if a group of modern women consistently take on the obligation of prayer, this allows them to form a proper minyan (prayer quorum) for themselves and to recite all the blessings that generally require a male quorum (devarim she-bi-kedusha). This ruling could obviously be extended to other time-bound mitsvot.5

    Unfortunately, R. Bin-Nun’s ruling rests on a very shaky, problematic and questionable foundation, as we will shortly demonstrate. It is true that it would be unfair to hold Prof. Ross accountable for the faults of R. Bin-Nun’s analysis. Nevertheless, in light of the scrutiny to which Ross has subjected other halakhic rulings, it is noteworthy and somewhat puzzling that this novel pro-feminist position is presented in great detail, without the slightest word of criticism or critical analysis This raises the query whether the favorability of the result is the ultimate criterion for a feminist acceptance of a halakhic ruling. Where does intellectual honesty and integrity come into play? These are essential methodological questions which Prof. Ross nowhere addresses in her volume, and their absence is sadly felt.

    Returning now to R. Bin-Nun’s responsum, it suffers from several glaring shortcomings. Firstly, the Torah did not reveal to us the rationale for women’s exemption from time-determined obligations. The Abudraham’s proposal is merely one of many suggestions6 and, despite its popularity, has been seriously challenged.7 How can one change biblical law, even permit berakhot le-vatala (needless benedictions), based on mere conjecture regarding its rationale?

    Secondly, R. Bin-Nun’s “new” category of benot horin has actually been around for millennia in the form of adult single, divorced and widowed women, who – despite their totally independent status – are still not obligated in time-determined obligations.8 The suggestion that an adult bachelorette is under the halakhic control of her father is simply untrue. The category of an “important woman” (isha hashuva) invoked by R. Bin-Nun (in note 12 on page 304) as coming “closest to the liberated status of many women today” has been around since Talmudic times,9 and as a widespread social phenomenon from the 13th century.10 Yet no posek has suggested that such liberated women could obligate themselves in time-determined obligations.

    Thirdly, if the women as benot horin are inherently obligated, why is there any need to invoke the Magen Avraham to the effect that women can take on obligations? This is presumably clarified by note 12 on page 304. Ross reports that initially R. Bin-Nun assumed that women, who are no longer bound by the needs of others, should be regarded as obligated to perform all the mitsvot. However, confronted with the general reluctance of women to assume men’s roles, he altered his position, concluding that modern women, who are not burdened by the yoke of family responsibilities, should also be left free to choose which of the mitsvot they will adopt. But, this transformation in R. Bin-Nun’s position is astounding. If he honestly believes that independent women are inherently biblically obligated, why should they be any different than men who are obligated – whether they like it or not?

    Fourthly, if obligation devolves on the women because of repeated performance of a mitsva, then the benot horin analysis is totally irrelevant. What’s worse, as several scholars have already commented, the acceptance route solves nothing.11 It is true that women who repeatedly take upon themselves the performance of a normally voluntary mitsva may transform its status into that of a compulsory obligation. But this is not because there is now an inherent obligation, but rather because there is now a neder mitsva – an oath to do a righteous act.12 As such, the obligation can be removed via hatarat neder (procedure for removal of an oath).13 In addition to not being inherent, an assumed obligation may only have a lesser rabbinic stature, even if the original commandment may have been biblical in authority.14
    The fact that women’s performance remains inherently optional, or even obligatory but of lesser stature, has direct halakhic repercussions with regard to women’s ability to assist men in fulfilling their inherent obligations. This is because, as a rule, one Jew can assist another in fulfilling his/her obligations only if the former has an obligation which is equal to or greater than that of the latter.15 A classic example is the centuries-old custom of religious women to hear shofar blowing; the codes indicate that this custom obligates women to continue this practice yearly.16 However, since they are not inherently obligated, they cannot blow shofar for men.17 The lack of inherent obligation in tefilla be-tsibbur (public prayer) and keri’at haTorah (Torah reading) is also the fundamental reason why women cannot serve as hazzaniyot or ba’alot keri’a.18 Most importantly, the quorum required for a minyan is ten individuals who are inherently obligated.19 Interestingly, even in the case of Megilla reading, where both genders indeed have a bona fide obligation, Ashkenazic sources rule that a Megilla reading performed by women does not exempt Ashkenazic men from their obligation. This is because a woman’s duty is not on the same maximal level as that of men.20 Thus, we see that invoking the Magen Avraham solves no problem for feminists.

    Notes:
    1 . In a communication to Women’s Tefilla Network [WTN:7031], June 11, 2003, Prof. Ross indicated that her presentation of R. Bin-Nun’s position is based on a direct interview she had with him. He later confirmed the written rendition of his position as it now appears in “Expanding the Palace of Torah.” Similar comments were made by R. Bin-Nun in a public lecture, as reported by Debbie Weissman [WTN:7019] on June 9, 2003. The category of benot horin is also introduced by R. Bin-Nun in his response to the article of Ayelet Regev, “Birkat Hatanim: haIm Minyan Gevarim Hu Hekhrehi,” Geranot (Women’s Bet Midrash, Bet Morasha, Jerusalem, 5763), pp. 153-178, beginning at p. 172. This response has been reprinted in a recent collection of R. Bin-Nun’s halakhic writings, meHevyon Oz – Pirkei Halakha uMussar (Yeshivat Kibbuts haDati, Tamuz 5763), pp. 61-62. [For a critique of several elements of this responsum, in particular, and R. Bin Nun’s approach to halakha, in general, see: R. Hayyim Navon, “Mi Yifsok leGingiyim,” Mekor Rishon, Shabbat, October 27, 2006 (5 Heshvan 5757), p. 17.] See also Amit Gevaryahu, “Hadash Tahat haShemesh – Halakha veOrtodoksia Yetsiratit etsel haRav Yoel Bin-Nun,” Akdamot (Av 5765) 16, pp. 65-80, at pp. 74 and 79-80.

    2. See: Mishna Kiddushin 1:7; Tosefta Kiddushin 1:10; Talmud Kiddushin 29a, and Kiddushin 33b and ff..

    3. R. David Abudraham, Sefer Abudraham, Sha’ar 3, Birkat haMitsvot.

    4. R. Abraham Gombiner, Magen Avraham, O.H., 489, subsection 1. The view of Magen Avraham is a matter of considerable debate; see: R. Ovadiah Yosef, Resp. Yehave Da’at, II, sec. 70; R. Ovadiah Yosef, Resp. Yabia Omer, II, O.H. sec. 30.

    5. The latter portion of the responsa bears a stiking resemblance to a ruling by conservative rabbi Joel Roth, “On the Ordination of Women as Rabbis: Studies and Responsa,” in The Ordination of Women as Rabbis, Simon Greenberg, ed. (New York: The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1988), pp. 127-187. See, however, the refutation by R. Gidon G. Rothstein, “The Roth Responsum on the Ordination of Women,” Tradition 24:1, 104-115 (Fall 1988) and the exchange of letters between Joel Roth and Gidon Rothstein “On the Ordination of Women,” Tradition 24:4 (Summer 1989), 112-114.

    6. See R. Getsel Ellinson, Serving the Creator: A Guide to the Rabbinic Sources (Jerusalem: World Zionist Organization, 1986), Chap. 2, sec. IX, pp. 39-42.

    7. R. Isaac Judah Schmelkes, Resp. Bet Yitshak, II, Y.D. part 1, sec. 94, no. 10; R. Barukh haLevi Epstein, Torah Temima, Exodus 13:9, note 42; R. Shalom Taubes (Toibisch), Resp. She’eilat Shalom, II, sec. 46 and 47; R. David Leifer, Resp. Bet David, sec. 70; R. Shlomo Schneider, Resp. Divrei Shlomo, II, sec. 127. See also the sources cited in note 114, infra. R. Emanuel Rackman notes that women are obligated in all the mitsvot of Pesah, which is certainly the busiest time of year in a Jewish home; see R. Emanuel Rackman, “Arrogance or Humility in Prayer,” Tradition (Fall, 1958), 13-26.

    8. See: R. Joseph Saul Nathanson, Resp. Sho’el uMeishiv, I, Part 1, sec. 61; R. Barukh Epstein and R. Shlomo Schneider, supra, note 113; R. Gedaliah Felder, Yesodei Yeshurun, I, Ma’arekhet Tsitsit, p. 65 and references cited therein; R. Abraham Weinfeld, Resp. Lev Avraham, I, end of sec. 122; R. Zvi Zev Friedman, Tiferet Yosef, Genesis 2:18 pp. 86-87.

    9. Pesahim 108a and elsewhere.

    10. The statement of Rema, O.H., 472 to the effect that all our women are “nashim hashuvot” is based on previous such statements of the 13th century Mordechai (Pesahim 108a) and Rabbenu Yeruham.

    11. See: R. Solomon Kluger, Resp. uVaharta vaHayyim, Sec. 51; R. Samuel E. Volk, Sha’arei Tohar, VI, sec. 47, end of no. 2; R. Gidon G. Rothstein, “The Roth Responsum on the Ordination of Women,” Tradition 24:1, 104-115 (Fall 1988) and the exchange of letters between Joel Roth and Gidon Rothstein “On the Ordination of Women,” Tradition 24:4 (Summer 1989), 112-114.

    12. Halikhot Beita, Petah haBayit no. 22, and sec. 20, note 4.

    13. Shulhan Arukh, Y.D., sec. 214, no. 1; R. Ovadiah Yosef, Resp. Yehave Da’at, II, sec. 70; R. Ovadiah Yosef, Resp. Yabia Omer, II, O.H. sec. 30.

    14. R. Solomon Kluger, note 117, supra; R. Ovadiah Yosef, Resp. Yabia Omer, supra, note 13.

    15. “Kol she-eino mehuyav ba-davar, eino motsi et ha-rabim yedei hovatam – Anyone who is not obligated, cannot assist others in fulfilling their obligation.” Mishna, Rosh haShana 3:8.

    16. Halikhot Beita, sec. 20, no. 3, parag. 4; R. Ovadiah Yosef, supra, note 13.

    17. Halikhot Beita, sec. 20, no. 3, parag. 7. See also Israel M. Ta-Shma, note 36 supra, p. 267 therein, regarding tsitsit and lulav. Prof. Ta-Shma demonstrates that although Rabbenu Tam clearly encouraged women to perform time-bound mitsvot and even recite the appropriate berakha, he nonetheless clearly distinguished between inherent option and obligation. Thus Rabbenu Tam did not allow women to prepare tsitsit on a tallit for men.

    18. Aryeh A. Frimer and Dov I. Frimer, Aryeh A. Frimer and Dov I. Frimer, “Women, Kri’at haTorah and Aliyot,” (in preparation).

    19. See Aryeh A. Frimer, “Women and Minyan,” Tradition, 23:4, 54-77 (Summer 1988). PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/Batch%201/0019.pdf..

    20. See See Aryeh A. Frimer, “Women’s Megillah Reading,” in Traditions and Celebrations for the Bat Mitzvah, Ora Wiskind Elper, ed. (Jerusalem: Urim, 2003), pp. 281-304. Word file available online at: http://www.matan.org.il/Data/UploadedFiles/Free
    ———
    dsher999 05/05/2010 09:34 AM
    This is a brilliant approach that deserves much greater recognition. It would in practice solve most of the outstanding issues associated with women’s practices and return the choice of communal decisions back to the communities themselves. Wonderful!
    ———
    Richard Kahn 05/05/2010 09:48 AM
    1 person liked this.
    I don’t think that Rav Yoel sees this is a way to deal with women’s issues today or as a way to deepen roles or reconcile feminism with the inequities of halacha. I’ve heard him present these, and I got the sense that his honest reading of the sources leads him to believe that women today aren’t following halacha. He doesn’t say things like “We can rely on the Magen Avraham” or “Et la’asot Lashem.”
    ———
    Jordan Hirsch 05/05/2010 10:37 AM
    I have a slight quibble with Rabbi Frimer’s objection.
    I do not think R’ Yoel is trying to synthesize some kind of hybrid category using the B’not Chorin idea + the M”A. I think he is merely referring to the M”A to demonstrate that the exemption of time bound mitzvot is not hard and fast, and that a circumstance can be created whereby it goes from being a voluntary to an obligatory mitzvah. Hs view of B’not Chorin is certainly novel, but the idea that a circumstance can change the status of a woman vis-a-vis the performance of a mitzvah is not. How that plays out is a different story, and I am confused as to how a time bound mitzvah discussion related to issues surrounding a women’s prayer group, even of those now “obligated” in said mitzvot, allows that group to say D’varim Shebik’dushah.
    I am generally sympathetic to the so called “Feminist Agenda,” but I do think it needs to have clear lines of logic whenever new practices or obligations are proposed.
    ———
    Micha Berger 05/05/2010 12:06 PM in reply to aryehfrimer
    RAFrimer writes “Nevertheless, in light of the scrutiny to which Ross has subjected other halakhic rulings, it is noteworthy and somewhat puzzling that this novel pro-feminist position is presented in great detail, without the slightest word of criticism or critical analysis This raises the query whether the favorability of the result is the ultimate criterion for a feminist acceptance of a halakhic ruling. Where does intellectual honesty and integrity come into play? These are essential methodological questions which Prof. Ross nowhere addresses in her volume, and their absence is sadly felt.”

    And in the original post, RGStudent wrote, “Of particular interest is footnote 45, in which Prof. Ross, to the credit of her awareness, makes an explicit connection to the Conservative approach.”

    IMHO, the issue RAF raises about Prof Ross’s methodology marks something far more fundamental to the Conservative approach to halakhah in general than the particular similarities between R’ Bin Nun’s ruling and Roth’s. This notion that halachic arguments are more measured on whether they produce the desired conclusion than whether they are sound is very much Conservative lawmaking.

    In Conservative Judaism, this hunt for the desired result is given gilded wording, “We all agreed on the indispensability of halakhah for Conservative Jews, but a Halakhah which responds to changing times and changing needs.” (Emet ve’Emunah: Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism, pg 5.)

    This isn’t a matter of using a comparison to Conservative Judaism to paint someone as traif. It’s demonstrating how this notion of trying to find “how can we” rather than “what should we” has a proven history of unraveling fealty to halakhah altogether.

    -micha
    ———
    Richard Kahn 05/05/2010 12:09 PM
    1 person liked this.
    And I’ll echo that point by observing the striking similarity between Conservative result-based halacha and the use on this blog of the Rema’s observation that the custom is not to have a female shochetet to prove that women rabbis are non-halachic.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/05/2010 01:08 PM in reply to Micha Berger
    I believe Prof. Ross’ description of the feminist preference for “consequentialism and considerations of context over formalistic arguments” is what R. Micha is referring to.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/05/2010 01:08 PM in reply to Richard Kahn
    Invoking the Rema is not result-based halakhah. It is taking a normative pesak and applying it to a very similar circumstance.
    ———
    Richard Kahn 05/05/2010 01:20 PM
    How about RHS relying on the Avnei Nezer?

    I fail to see the difference between results-based psak and your bringing the Rema; were you looking at the Rema with innocent eyes, you would never conclude from that that it’s assur for a woman to be on the rabbinic staff of a shul.

    And besides, RYBN doesn’t really resemble this whole conversation as what he’s doing is pretty clearly not results-based halacha.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/05/2010 01:38 PM in reply to Richard Kahn
    RHS has been quoting that Avnei Nezer for years in different contexts!
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/05/2010 02:14 PM in reply to Shlomo
    Having a dim view of Eruvs merely means that one follows a Daas Yachid-the Rambam’s viiew of a Reshus HaRabim, which is clearly not the consensus of Rov Rishonim and Poskim, whether in Israel or the US, and a Chumra which RHS once described as fit only for Tzadikim like R Herzog ZL. If one has an Israeli passport, that implies one is a citizen of Israel and presumably owns or rents property in Israel, regardless of whether one does so in the Golah. I think that one can argue that such a view is based on how one views YT Sheni-being defined either by where one is located-which is essentially the view of the Chacham Tzvi, but not most Poskim.
    ———
    Charlie Hall 05/05/2010 02:57 PM in reply to aryehfrimer
    Dear Rabbi Frimer,

    You write,

    “A classic example is the centuries-old custom of religious women to hear shofar blowing; the codes indicate that this custom obligates women to continue this practice yearly.16 However, since they are not inherently obligated, they cannot blow shofar for men.17 The lack of inherent obligation in tefilla be-tsibbur (public prayer) and keri’at haTorah (Torah reading) is also the fundamental reason why women cannot serve as hazzaniyot or ba’alot keri’a.”

    Would there be a difference here between shofar, which is a biblical obligation for men, and tefillah b’tzibbur, which is a rabbinic obligation at best?
    ———
    aryehfrimer 05/05/2010 03:18 PM in reply to Charlie Hall
    No. The Mishna in Rosh haShana 3:8 states categorically: “This is the general principle: one who is not obligated, cannot help others fulfill their obligation.”
    ———
    Richard Kahn 05/05/2010 04:15 PM in reply to hirhurim
    I stand corrected. I was wrong.

    But I still think that your reading of the Rema is not innocent.
    ———
    Moshe Y 05/05/2010 05:03 PM
    R. Frimer, weren’t you planning on writing an extended article version of your critique of Sperber on the subject of women’s aliyot?
    ———
    Moshe Y 05/05/2010 05:04 PM in reply to Richard Kahn
    Richard, the Rema is directly applicable, it seems exactly the same kind of case..why do you find it so obvious to distinguish between the cases of shochet and rabbi? Shochet is also not an official halachik category, only the act of shechita itself is
    ———
    Moshe Y 05/05/2010 05:09 PM in reply to aryehfrimer
    R. Frimer, weren’t you planning on writing an extended article version of your critique of Sperber on the subject of women’s aliyot?
    ———
    Charlie Hall 05/05/2010 06:19 PM in reply to aryehfrimer
    Rabbi Frimer,

    That is what I had thought and I wanted to clarify. Thanks!
    ———
    Charlie Hall 05/05/2010 06:20 PM in reply to Moshe Y
    A woman can shecht for a man — why, in the beit hamikdash a woman could shect her own korban and the kohanim were REQUIRED to eat it!
    ———
    aryehfrimer 05/06/2010 12:07 AM in reply to Moshe Y
    Yes. The manuscript which deals with the positions of both R. Mendel Shapiro and R. Sperber is essentially finished, but awaiting the final approval of my brother Dov. In the meantime we are also working on the practices of partnership Minyanim. We (Dov and I) lectured on it at the recent RCA convention (via Skype). I hope to post the text of the lecture shortly.

    A propos the RCA convention, I was surprised that the text of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein’s comments re’ Women in Leadership Positions (AKA women rabbis) have not been posted anywhere on the web.
    ———
    Moshe Y 05/06/2010 01:20 AM in reply to aryehfrimer
    R. Frimer thanks for the reply, I look forward to reading the article!

    Also, would you be able to tell us in a nutshell what R. Aharon Lichtenstein said about the women rabbi issue?
    ———
    Shlomo 05/06/2010 02:40 AM in reply to hirhurim
    1 person liked this.
    If we didn’t believe in results-based halacha, we would never be meikil regarding agunot.

    Modern charedi poskim seem to believe we SHOULDN’T be meikil with agunot, exactly because they see that as results-based halacha. On the contrary, they think we should be as machmir as possible because the issue of eshet ish is so severe. If all the agunot suffer for the rest of their lives, well, halacha demands that so what can we do.

    Those of us who don’t take this position must clarify what the difference is between us and the Conservative movement. Intuitively I feel there must be a distinction, but logically I have not yet heard a good formulation of it. (My feeling is the definition must look beyond the context of a single psak and somehow consider the overall social/intellectual environment.) What is clear is that simplistic and wrong distinctions like that made by Gil don’t do anything to advance the discussion.
    ———
    Nachum 05/06/2010 03:29 AM
    Shlomo, freeing agunot has historically always been the exception. R’ Rakeffet points out that it’s the largest siman in Shulchan Aruch and the pattern of shu’t since then has echoed this. No need to distinguish it from Conservatism.
    ———
    aryehfrimer 05/06/2010 03:42 AM
    Everytime I write about the importance of not being goal oriented and intellectually honest in psak, there are those who will suggest as counter examples issues of mamzeirut and iggun, where the posek sets about finding every sfek sfeka to find a heter.

    1- Here too the focus is on the rules; not the overriding goal or result.

    2- Sefek Sefeka is a proper and legitimate rule which can and should – and is – regularly invoked in a variety of situations. The point is that it be done with knowledge and integrity.

    3-Mamzeirut, being a sanction, has all the evidentiary kellalim of dinei nefashot (criminal law). One of them is that we are mithapech li-zechut which is a rule me-dioraita. That is one of the rules which is to be utilized – but with integrity.

    4-As the Rivash and Rav Herzog point out in some of their agguna teshuvot, the real difference with iggun is that we ignore mahmir opinions which are not accepted le-halacha and go mei-ikar hadin – even if in other circumstances we may have taken into consideration a de’ah le-humrah. This is a far cry from what is happening today in the process I was discribing.

    5- We see from Hazal that mamzeirut and iggun are the exceptions and not the rule. The rishonim and aharonim explain these exceptions on the basis that mi-deoraitah safek mamzer is mutar and iggun (according to most rishonim) doesn’t always require two eidim. Hazal were machmir – ve-hapeh she’asar hu ha-peh she-hitir.

    6- As R. Professor Hayyim Soloveitchik notes [AJS], as often as a posek said mutar in such cases – he also said assur in such cases. Focusing on the goal or value and giving them overriding weight would never yield such a balanced result.

    Unfortunately this is not what we see with those who consciously push the envelope.
    For more on this issue, kindly see:

    “Feminist Innovations in Orthodoxy Today: Is Everything in Halakha – Halakhic?” Aryeh A. Frimer, JOFA Journal, 5:2, pp. 3-5 (Summer 2004/Tammuz 5764). PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/JOFASummerFinal1.pdf

    “On Understanding and Compassion in Pesak Halakha – A Rejoinder,” Aryeh A. Frimer, JOFA Journal, 5:3, p. 6 (Winter 2005/Tevet-Shvat 5765). PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/JOFAWinter%20pdf.pdf.
    ———
    aryehfrimer 05/06/2010 03:45 AM in reply to aryehfrimer
    My previous comment should have read: …the importance of not being goal oriented and intellectually DIShonest in psak,
    ———
    aryehfrimer 05/06/2010 04:09 AM in reply to Moshe Y
    As one would expect from Rav Aharon, it is a finally crafted highly cultured piece. He emphasizes the importance of nahat Ruah le-nashim and expanding their limmud haTorah horizons. As far as the role of women as officer in a shul, he is convinced that most issues are readily soluble. That is not the case, however, as regards giving women semicha, which touches upon elements long abjured by either fundamental Halakhah or minhag Israel. He therefore concludes that holding the traditional line is in order.
    ———
    aryehfrimer 05/06/2010 06:20 AM in reply to aryehfrimer
    My previous comment should have read: …finely crafted
    ———
    hirhurim 05/06/2010 08:31 AM in reply to aryehfrimer
    I’m not sure that we have permission to publicize it.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
    ———
    aryehfrimer 05/06/2010 08:41 AM in reply to hirhurim
    Which is why I didn’t publicize it either. But why didn’t the RCA publicize this letter from this Gadol which supports their position? I am just impressed that it hasn’t leaked… Not that common on the WEB.
    ———
    Shlomo 05/06/2010 10:45 AM
    R’ Frimer: Great response. While some of your points surprise me, I don’t have the knowledge to intelligently dispute them.

    Let me try a different example. In every modern Orthodox youth movement in America, boys and girls sing (at least zemirot) together. In every dati leumi community in Israel, the rabbi goes to Yom Hazikaron/Rabin assassination day ceremonies where very often women sing. In each case, the theoretical basis with regard to the law of kol isha is very weak. How did such a fringe position (in the realm of sexuality, no less, where there are considerations of yehareg veal yaavor even without shaat hashmad), become nearly universally accepted in practice? I agree that there are important reasons for this choice. But isn’t that just another example of choosing the halacha to fit a worthy goal?
    ———
    ruvie 05/06/2010 11:05 AM in reply to aryehfrimer
    RAF- i would interested on your thoughts of r. bin-nun’s halachic use of category shifting (do not know what else to call it). we see from various gemarot that chazal on occasion made claims that what we think of x is now different because its really why – e.g. washing- ironing before tisha b’av (their washing is our ironing or the opposite – never remember which is which) also the issue of tanur and kirah in regards to heat on shabbat, lastly, the hasibah/nashim hashuvot- not the gemera.

    do you think the use by r’ yerucham (this may not be the correct rishon in the 12-13th century i am referring to) who decided that all our women are nashim hashuvot, thereby obligating all women of ashkanaz to be obligated for hasibah( a z’man grema issue i think) at the seder similar? or does r. bin-nun creating a new category that doesn’t exist the issue?

    i understand that this does not bring women to the obligation of doing a mitzva but the exemption of z’man gramah may be removed.
    ———
    emma 05/06/2010 01:02 PM in reply to aryehfrimer
    Rabbi Frimmer,
    I appreciate your taking the time to post serious responses in this forum, and I am glad you point out that the picture is more complex than it may appear. Several questions:

    1 – I am curious how you reach your conclusion #1. Do you just mean that because we can explain (after the fact) the exceptionalism of these cases in terms of rules, that they can’t be called “results-oriented”?

    “4-As the Rivash and Rav Herzog point out in some of their agguna teshuvot, the real difference with iggun is that we ignore mahmir opinions which are not accepted le-halacha and go mei-ikar hadin – even if in other circumstances we may have taken into consideration a de’ah le-humrah. This is a far cry from what is happening today in the process I was discribing.”

    Is the very of deciding what is le-humra and what is me-ikar ha-din a mechanical one? If not, your position requires more inquiry. It seems to me that saying “that is not ikar ha-din so we don’t have to be choshesh for it by iggun” is itself often a judgment call – in other words, if there were no push to be meikil in iggun the “ikar ha-din” might be stricter to begin with.

    “5- We see from Hazal that mamzeirut and iggun are the exceptions and not the rule. The rishonim and aharonim explain these exceptions on the basis that mi-deoraitah safek mamzer is mutar and iggun (according to most rishonim) doesn’t always require two eidim. Hazal were machmir – ve-hapeh she’asar hu ha-peh she-hitir.”

    This may be the understanding of the rishonim (I take your word) but I see you peh she-assar argument going the other way. Again, did chazal _have_ to say that safek mamzer is muttar mi-deoraisa and iggun doesn’t require two eidim? You seem to assume that conclusion, and then show that various kulos can be derived without “results-orientation” from that pre-existing conclusion. Why is the initial kula itself not subject to some degree of interpretative flexibility? If it is it would seem the mekil “ground-rules” you mention actually highlight that hazal are intentionally being mekil and returns us to the question of why. Results seems to be the most plausible explanation.

    I am curious what you would say about the midrashei halacha on ayin tahat ayin – are they “results oriented” or not?

    6 – “…Focusing on the goal or value and giving them overriding weight would never yield such a balanced result.”

    Unless there are multiple, competing values at stake. (such as: plight of aggunah, severity of eishes ish, plausibility of legal argument.) That no single value/goal wins every time does not mean that values judgments and goal-orientation are playing no part in the decision.

    You can admit that there are values/goals at play, at least sometimes, without conceding that every goal is legitimate or that certain goals, even legitimate ones, always trump others.
    I don’t see why you are so resistant to saying that
    ———
    aryehfrimer 05/06/2010 03:56 PM in reply to Shlomo
    Shlomo,
    My time is limited, so I will be brief. The area of Kol be-Isha erva, indeed tsniut in general is a VERY well researched area. The heterim of shirei kodesh, group singing, regilut etc. were in practice a very long time before they were applied to Yeshrun, Bnai Akiva and other youth groups. If you want more discussion of what I mean by goal oriented pesak read the articles I cited which are relatively short and on point:
    “Feminist Innovations in Orthodoxy Today: Is Everything in Halakha – Halakhic?” Aryeh A. Frimer, JOFA Journal, 5:2, pp. 3-5 (Summer 2004/Tammuz 5764). PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/JOFASummerFinal1.pdf

    “On Understanding and Compassion in Pesak Halakha – A Rejoinder,” Aryeh A. Frimer, JOFA Journal, 5:3, p. 6 (Winter 2005/Tevet-Shvat 5765). PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/JOFAWinter%20pdf.pdf.
    ———
    aryehfrimer 05/06/2010 04:30 PM in reply to emma
    Emma,
    A proper answer to your questions would require a long discourse on Halakhic methodology. This is not the place, nor do I have the time. Suffice it to say that in the case of Mamzerut and Aguna, the Halakha itself tells the posek to search for leniency. However, that doesn’t mean that the the ends justify the means; that the posek is to jump at any straw to get where he wants to go – even by Aguna/Mamzerut. Rather he has to give solid arguments that he believes are EMET – the truthful analysis of the situation and Halakha. This he is urged to do by Aguna/Mamzerut even if he knows that others may disagree, even those that are greater than him, and even though because of doubts he might have been stringent – as is often true by Hilkhot Shabbat or Kashrut, for example.
    Aguna/Mamzerut questions are tackled only by the most outstanding scholars who are experts in Halakha with experience and broad shoulders.
    Again I ask that you read the two articles I just cited to Shlomo to understand what I mean by goal oriented Psak. Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more pervasive. No, not every position in Halakha is Halakhic. Yet those pushing the envelope will go around grabbing at every rejected de’ot yahid, just because it butresses their position. No, Bet Shammai is not part of the halakhic discussion. Bet Shammai bimkom bet Hillel einah Mishna (Berakhot 36a)
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/06/2010 06:22 PM in reply to aryehfrimer
    R Frimer deserves a tremendous round of Kudos for analyzing the issues and illustrating the lack of a solid halachic basis in the articles referenced by R Gil.
    ———
    aryehfrimer 05/07/2010 01:20 AM in reply to ruvie
    Ruvie,
    Kindly read my comments again at 05/05/2010 08:02 AM . I believe they answer your questions: Benot Chorin is merely a reincarnation of Isha Hashuva which has been around from Talmudic times – yet has no impact whatsoever on a woman’s exemption from Mitsvot asei she-hazeman Gramman. [Apologies for neglecting to respond sooner]. Shabbat Shalom to one and all!
    ———
    Shlomo 05/07/2010 10:55 AM
    All right. I’ll try again. Aren’t the categories of shaat hadchek, hefsed merubeh, and so on examples of results-based halacha? Halacha changes based on how much of an impact it will have on people?
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/07/2010 11:07 AM in reply to Shlomo
    Shlomo-Your query is essentially no different than how the SE described the question that was posed re this issue. I think that if one looks at the situation confronting the SE and compares the same with issues raised in Kiruv, etc, today, the argument advanced by the SE makes a lot of sense. R D Holzer, it should be noted, quoted RYBS as saying that none of the heterim advanced for a meikil view of Kol Isha were halachically tenable.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/07/2010 11:12 AM in reply to Shlomo
    I think that all of Halacha involves value judgments as to the propriety of one’s actions-Lchatchilah, Kdai R Ploni LSmoch Alav, Bdieved, Shaas Hadchak, Shas Hadchak Gadol Meod , chayav, patur, kasher, kodesh and chol are all terms used in Shas and Poskim to express this perspective.
    ———
    moshe 05/07/2010 03:28 PM in reply to Shlomo
    But we only use those for dirabanans. So again, it is hapeh she’assar hu hapeh shehitir.
    ———
    moshe 05/07/2010 04:46 PM
    That is, they are built into the system. “Lo gazru bimkom x.”That is totally different than taking a criterion that is not built into the system and being meikel for it.
    Also, “beit shammai bimkom beit hillel ayna mishna” is another idea that Rav Yoel Bin Nun is very much not aware of.
    ———
    Shlomo 05/08/2010 02:22 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    “R D Holzer, it should be noted, quoted RYBS as saying that none of the heterim advanced for a meikil view of Kol Isha were halachically tenable.”

    In other words, we follow RYBS when his psak is convenient for us, and not when it’s not? If true, that’s a great commentary on our community.

    (BTW I would say the same about the dati leumi world’s ignoring R’ Kook’s psak that it is forbidden to visit har habayit.)
    ———
    Shlomo 05/08/2010 02:24 PM in reply to moshe
    Is it really true we only use them for derabanans? I would have thought otherwise.
    ———
    moshe 05/08/2010 09:19 PM in reply to Shlomo
    So bring an example.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/08/2010 10:42 PM in reply to Shlomo
    Ain Haci Nami. That has always been a Charedi critique of MO.
    ———
    ruvie 05/09/2010 01:19 AM in reply to aryehfrimer
    R’ Frimmer – yes you are correct – my error in equating isha chashuva to the z’man grama issue.
    I am confused why you think:
    “The lack of inherent obligation in tefilla be-tsibbur (public prayer) and keri’at haTorah (Torah reading) is also the fundamental reason why women cannot serve as hazzaniyot or ba’alot keri’a.”

    What role does the shiliach tzibur fulfill in our day when all can read and pray? not the obligation to pray. do not women have according to some the same obligation to pray daily(even if they are not counted in a minyan)? Talmud answers that women should not be ba’alot keri’a because of kavod hatzibur not because they cannot fulfill men’s obligations. So why do you believe that the fundamental reason why they are not obligated is zman grama – shouldn’t that have been the gemera’s answer?
    ———
    aryehfrimer 05/09/2010 01:57 AM in reply to ruvie
    It’s not your error it is Rav Bun Nun’s.
    Women have a personal obligation to pray, but not a communal one. Hence, they are not obligated in Tefilla betsibbur, Kaddish, Kedusha, Barechu, 13 Middot. Nor can they count for a minyan for these Rabbinic communal obligations or serve as a shaliah tsibbur to lead the community in these Communal obligations. Men are obligated according to some poskim, at least, to make sure there is a properly operating minyan in their immediate community and take part whenever necessary. According to others Men are obligated to participate personally.
    Keri’at haTorah is more complicated but one issue is that with the bifurcation of roles with a ba’al korei and an oleh – if one of them is not Hayyav (like a woman) there is no transfer action to make it a whole action and the Berakhot ar LeVatala. Please read: “Lo Zo haDerekh: A Review of Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber’s Darka shel Halakha,” Aryeh A. Frimer, The Seforim Blog (12 June 2008). Available online at: http://seforim.blogspot.com/2008/06/aryeh-frime…. PDF file of the corrected and reformatted article available online at http://www.jofa.org/pdf/uploaded/1551-USOB5897.pdf
    ———
    Shlomo 05/09/2010 02:35 AM in reply to moshe
    http://www.zomet.org.il/?CategoryID=259&Article… gives the example of the psul of yavesh in lulav.
    ———
    Richard Kahn 05/09/2010 11:03 AM
    R. Frimer,
    Are you an Rav Yoel Bin Nun really even arguing? It seems like you’re presenting arguments that are totally irrelevant to his main claim. You’re taking it as a given that “women have a personal obligation to pray, but not a communal one,” but he’s arguing that that no longer applies because of our very different sociological positions. This is a broader claim that the minutia of being motzi others, which he likely doesn’t care about.
    ———
    moshe 05/09/2010 11:51 AM in reply to Shlomo
    I couldn’t find the source on lulav yavesh, but I did find that there is a machlokes rishonim about whether sha’as hadchak is applied on deoraysas. How do acharonim see this? I don’t know.
    In any case, sha’as hadchak results-based paskining cannot be compared to feminist results-based paskining. Even if it is true that we apply kulas in order to achieve a certain goal in certain circumstances (in order to save a Jew from losing his parnassa, etc.) it does not follow that a similar method should be applied in order to achieve whatever goal seems desirable to whoever is looking a the situation. A good example of the second type of “psak” is the shemiras negia article in this issue of kol hamevaser. http://www.kolhamevaser.com/wp-content/uploads/
    The author wants to make it muttar for people to do certain things which are currently illicit, so he brings a lot of da’as yachids and clever readings in order to justify pursuing his goal. This is obviously ridiculous. It is similarly ridiculous to employ a results-based method in order to justify a feminist agenda, something which was obviously never a value for Chazal.
    ———
    aryehfrimer 05/09/2010 01:34 PM in reply to Richard Kahn
    Dear Richard,
    ———
    Richard Kahn 05/09/2010 01:46 PM in reply to Richard Kahn
    I apologize for all of the typos in this comment.
    ———
    aryehfrimer 05/09/2010 01:48 PM in reply to Richard Kahn
    Dear Richard,
    Please read the first paragraph of my original posting. Women’s exemption from Mitsvot asei she-hazeman gramman preceeded the Avudraham by at least 1500 years. Rambam says that it is Halakha leMoshe miSinai, though the gemara learns it out from several derashot. No Rationale is ever given

    R. Bin Nun assumes that the Avudraham’s rationale is correct, though it has been broadly challenged, and several other rationales exist. As I’ve already noted, Rav Bin Nun’s category of Benot Chorin already existed in Talmudic times and certainly after – yet no one ever used it to obligate women in Mitsvot asei she-hazeman gramman. All his other claims and arguments are simply unprecedented and upon scrutiny don’t hold water.

    You cannot permit berakhot levtala based on a clever but misguided hunch – that’s not how halakha le-ma’aseh works. Rav Bin-Nun simply erred.
    ———
    Shlomo 05/09/2010 01:53 PM in reply to moshe
    I too was unhappy with that shemirat negiah article (IIRC – it’s been a while and I’m too tired to seriously evaluate it right now).

    Anyway, it is clear that parnassa is a worthy goal and letting teenagers have sex with each other is not a worthy goal. When it comes to women giving shiurim or being yoatzot or similar things, I think it’s entirely possible that the goal should fall in the first category. Where exactly the line between categories falls must be clarified. As I said in the comment that started this discussion, “Intuitively I feel there must be a distinction, but logically I have not yet heard a good formulation of it. ”
    ———
    moshe 05/09/2010 02:49 PM in reply to Shlomo
    I wasn’t clear enough. What I meant to say is that there may indeed be cases in which we legitimately employ the “looking for results” methods. These cases all fall into categories defined by Chazal, like aguna, sha’as hadchak, etc. Any case which does not fall into one of these preexisting categories must be evaluated without any thought of the results, even if a meikil ruling will produce a happier world, a better environment, satisfied feminists, more teenagers who aren’t chayav kares, etc. You are trying to do a binyan av type of thing using the preexisting categories, and what I am trying to say is that I don’t think that that is legitimate. These categories are where it ends. (and the dirabanan explanation may still hold. Either way, the burden of proof rests upon those who wish to expand the older categories.)
    Also, who ever said anything about yoatzot or women giving shiurim? Neither of these phenomena is a real chiddush. Nobody ever claimed that they were actually in violation of halacha. See R. Aviner’s teshuva to R. Gil (regarding women rabbis) which discusses yoatzot to get a clearer perspective on the yoatzot issue.
    ———
    ruvie 05/10/2010 12:15 AM in reply to aryehfrimer
    R’ Frimmer – Thank you for your prompt response. Do you agree that a man and woman have the same obligation to pray on the individual level (mishnah berachot 3:3, rambam hilchot tefilaf 1:1-2, shulhan arukh oh 106:2 – mitzvat aseh but not a z’man gerama issue)? so theoretically, why can’t a woman fulfill a man’s obligation in prayer if they are on the same level of obligation?
    where is the source that all men (and only men) have an obligation to pray in a communal setting? is this the obligation of an individual or is it a community obligation to have a minyan in its city? see the responsa of the tashbetz(1:90): Its is an obligation on the community to pray with ten, but if there are more than ten, each one can say, “but without me there are still ten, and if so, i can refrain from coming to join you at that time…” (but rashi, i believe, holds there is a personal obligation to daven in a minyan) – if its such a mitzvah – then why does the sulhan arukh say: a person should make a great effort- yishtadael ahdam – to pray in a beit kenesset with the tzibur – as oppose to mitzvah or chayav ahdam.
    where do you see a difference in the obligation for a man or women with regards to private or public prayer? i believe the first time we see a statement that women are not obligated to pray in a minyan is the 17th century in the responsa shevut yaakov(3:54) – R. yaakov reischer –
    But there really is no source text that says women are not commanded to pray with ten – or they are not obligated – do you have one? just because women cannot count in a minyan does this presume that they cannot fulfill the obligations of others? why
    but the view that women have no obligation in communal prayer(from your answer above that showed no dissenting opinion) is contradicted by R. eliyahu ragoler – yad eliyahu(pesachim I:7) – and R. yaakov ariel (chief rabbi of ramat gan) : yet. there are those like R’ auerbach R’ sternbuch that rule differently.
    so if one assumes that women have an obligation to pray and they have an obligation to pray in a minyan — even if they cannot make the minyan(since they may not count for 10) why can’t they lead the minyan as a shaliach tzibur (since their obligation seems to be same). for this not to be true then you have to maintain that: only men have an obligation to pray in a minyan and that obligation is individual not community based(seems to be many rishonim do not agree with this), there is a difference on the individual obligation to pray for men and women(doesn’t seem to be true), and lastly the shiliach tzibur is only male denominated because they have a communal obligation (again maybe men have an obligation to make or attend a minyan but how does that leap into leading it ?)
    in reading many different papers on this matter this weekend i still am perplexed on why the possibility for a woman to be a shaliach tzibur doesn’t exist even if she is not counted in a minyan. can you explain in a simple manner?
    can one believe that devarim bekudushah is a community obligation – cannot be said by individuals- and if one maintains that a woman’s obligation in a communal setting is equal to a man therefore can a woman recite devarim bekudashah for the minyan? i believe the ramban holds that devarim bekedushah are communal.
    i will try to read all your articles over the next week to get a better understanding of the issues but some of the arguments appear circular to me at this point. thank you for your time and erudition – it has been enlightening.
    ———
    aryehfrimer 05/10/2010 02:48 AM in reply to ruvie
    Dear Ruvie,
    I’ve spent close to 40 years of my life trying to answer the questions you have raised: See below. The first two papers answer most of your questions regarding public prayer. Read them carefully including the extensive footnotes – that’s where the real action is! Kelala Gadol: there are no quick answers to thoughtful questions. You can also write me offline at [email protected]

    Papers and Lectures on the Status of Women in Judaism
    “Women and Minyan,” Aryeh A. Frimer, Tradition, 23:4, 54-77 (Summer 1988). PDF File available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/Batch%201/0019.pdf.

    “Women’s Prayer Services: Theory and Practice. Part 1 – Theory,” Aryeh A. Frimer and Dov I. Frimer, Tradition, 32:2, pp. 5-118 (Winter 1998). PDF File available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/Batch%201/0021.pdf.

    “Women’s Megillah Reading,” Aryeh A. Frimer, In “Traditions and Celebrations for the Bat Mitzvah,” Ora Wiskind Elper, Editor; Urim Publications: Jerusalem, 2003; pp. 281-304. PDF file available online at: http://www.mail-jewish.org/Women%27sMegillaRead….

    “Feminist Innovations in Orthodoxy Today: Is Everything in Halakha – Halakhic?” Aryeh A. Frimer, JOFA Journal, 5:2, pp. 3-5 (Summer 2004/Tammuz 5764). PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/JOFASummerFinal1.pdf

    “On Understanding and Compassion in Pesak Halakha – A Rejoinder,” Aryeh A. Frimer, JOFA Journal, 5:3, p. 6 (Winter 2005/Tevet-Shvat 5765). PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/JOFAWinter%20pdf.pdf.

    “Women in Community Leadership Roles in the Modern Period,” Aryeh A. Frimer, In “Afikei Yehudah – Rabbi Yehuda Gershuni zt’l Memorial Volume,” R. Itamar Warhaftig, ed., Ariel Press: Jerusalem, 5765 (2005), pp. 330-354 (In Hebrew). HTML file available online at http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/mishpach/maamad/nash….

    “Guarding the Treasure: A Review of Tamar Ross, Expanding the Palace of the King –Orthodoxy and Feminism, Brandeis University Press, Waltham 2004, xxiv + 342 pp.,” A.A. Frimer, BDD – Journal of Torah and Scholarship, 18, English section, pp. 67-106 (April 2007). PDF file of the as published article available online at http://www.jofa.org/pdf/uploaded/1206-DQLN0171.pdf.

    “Lo Zo haDerekh: A Review of Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber’s Darka shel Halakha,” Aryeh A. Frimer, The Seforim Blog (12 June 2008). Available online at: http://seforim.traditiononline.org/index.cfm/20

    Taped Lectures: “Women and Halakha,” Aryeh A. Frimer, A series of 80 shiurim given from 1997-2000 at Tiferet Moshe Synagogue – Rabbi Jacob Berman Community Center. Audio files, source material and unedited lecture notes available online at http://www.bermanshul.org/frimer.htm
    ———
    Shlomo 05/10/2010 03:22 AM in reply to moshe
    Shaat hadchak is not a goal, it’s a situation caused by a goal. Parnassa, happier world, satisfied feminists etc. are goals.

    Which goals are legitimate and which not? You say parnassa is and the others listed above are not. Is there a list somewhere of which goals are legitimate? Can you provide the list? I do not think such a list exists. I’d like to see it, if and when it is formulated.

    Yoatzot are similar to female rabbis, in that they are a social change but in all likelihood don’t technically violate any halacha. Even if shaat hadchak etc. apply to derabanans and not to deoraitas, social customs are a step lower than derabanans, so shaat hadchak should apply to them as well.

    For the record, the goal of “satisfied feminists” does not seem too far from the gemara’s principle of “nachat ruach lenashim”.
    ———
    ruvie 05/10/2010 07:31 AM in reply to aryehfrimer
    Thanks – it always most interesting in the footnotes. i have read some of your articles in the past but as i get older i forget the details. thanks for the links.
    ———
    emma 05/10/2010 10:23 AM in reply to moshe
    “Also, who ever said anything about yoatzot or women giving shiurim? Neither of these phenomena is a real chiddush”

    Really? Were you alive 20 years ago? Or are you saying that even though they are new they are not a “real” chiddush because – why?
    ———
    moshe 05/10/2010 02:49 PM in reply to emma
    Look at R. Aviner’s teshuva.
    ———
    emma 05/10/2010 04:51 PM in reply to moshe
    historical revisionism is no less revisionistic because rav aviner engages in it.
    ———
    moshe 05/10/2010 08:35 PM in reply to emma
    Did you read the teshuva? It doesn’t look like historical revisionism to me. With what exactly do you have a problem?
    ———
    emma 05/10/2010 10:16 PM in reply to moshe
    it is historical fact that neither yoatzot nor women giving shiurim (based on their own study of primary texts) were common in the recent past. one can charitably read rav aviner as saying simply that the current situation is a natural outgrowth of the past. But that seems to beg the question of why certain changes are natural outgrowths and others are not, which was my original question to you. This question is strengthened by the fact that many people do not (and certainly did not when it started) share Rav Aviner’s assessment of yoatzot as essentially the same old same old.

    Also the claim “בכל בית ספר לבנות יש תלמידות חכמות שמלמדות דינים והלכה לבנות” is false.
    ———
    guest 05/10/2010 10:34 PM
    אגרות החזון איש, חלק ב, קלג:

    אם ×›×™ דעתי, ×›×™ ראוי להמחזיקים בתורת ×”’ לדעת את גדוליה באופים האמיתי, ואם הותר לדבר לשה”ר על אומן באומנתו, להאיש הדורש עליו לצורך, על מי שתורתו אומנתו לא כש”×› שמותר להודיע להמחזיקים בתורה וצריכים לדעת, ×›×™ הידיעה של חכמי הדור לבם ומדתם הן הן גופי תורה, מ”מ צריך לזה זהירות יתירה ופן משנה הדבר בקוצו ש”×™ ונמצא מוציא ש”ר על ת”×—

    that’s the source
    ———
    guest 05/10/2010 10:34 PM
    sorry i posted the above comment w/ the quote from igros chazon ish in the wrong thread…
    ———
    moshe 05/11/2010 12:35 AM in reply to emma
    Did you see all of the historical sources he cited? The point is that women have always historically learned and have done “hadracha” informally (some women). Women have never historically served as leaders of congregations, and they certainly did not receive smicha. For more historical cases of women learning, teaching and giving hadracha, see Memoirs of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe.
    When it comes to womens’ informal leadership and learning, you are right that there is a huge difference between this generation and previous generations in terms of scale. The numbers of women who learn nowadays compared to those who learned in the past have increased dramatically. There is also a disparity between prevalence of learning in this as opposed to previous generations among men, but it is not as dramatic. Increasing the scale of something that is already happening is not a real chiddush. Instituting a completely new practice is a real chiddush.
    ———
    moshe 05/11/2010 01:13 AM
    So what I am saying is that it is quantity as opposed to quality.
    ———
    moshe 05/11/2010 01:46 AM
    I just want to add that I know that there are Lakewood people who had problems with the yoatzot idea. I have heard some of them speak and they are specifically disturbed by women learning advanced sfarim like Tur and commentaries, etc. I think that these people do not have good historical awareness. There have historically always been (some) women who were learning on a high level and have given guidance to other women in their communities.
    ———
    emma 05/11/2010 09:53 AM in reply to moshe
    The “historical sources” are anecdotes. Yes, there were knowledgeable women, and some learned ones too. But they were rare, and not a normal feature of communal life. Most women would never encounter a woman who had “learned” – certainly not gemara, rishonim, and halacha sefarim. Furthermore, there was no formal training at all, nevermind in gemara etc.. Now we have formal training available to women – who need not be the wives or daughters of rabbis to be knowledgeable. We have random lay-women giving speeches to coed audiences at shaleshudes. These are all “completely new practices.”
    Opposition to high-level women’s learning extends well beyond lakewood. A desire to see women be less educated is one of the few areas where I think the nostalgia for pre-war europe is historically accurate. Pretty much everyone recognizes beis yaakov for the innovation that it was. That does not square with the picture of continuity you want to paint.
    Believe me, I think it is a good that so many people want to see women’s serious involvment in Torah as continuous with the past – that’s their way of saying it is legitimate, which I think it is. But that view of the pat is still not historically accurate.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/11/2010 02:24 PM in reply to emma
    What specific pre-war Europe territory and “zipcode” are you referring to, when suggesting that :

    “A desire to see women be less educated is one of the few areas where I think the nostalgia for pre-war europe is historically accurate.”
    ———
    moshe 05/11/2010 07:24 PM in reply to emma
    In my experience the people who most often exaggerate negative attitudes towards women’s learning in the past are orthodox feminists. They want to attribute all of the women’s t”t that is happening today to their movement. Things are not so black and white. Sara Shneerer was strongly supported by tens of gedolei Yisrael. They all thought that it was a great idea. Also – his name is escaping me – the second r”y of Telz founded a girls’ seminary (see tenuas hamussar). The prisha’s wife was very learned. The sixth Lubavitcher rebbe’s memoirs are historical accounts of 1600s – 1700s and there are learned women in there (he had an oral history – they were his grandmothers). In biography of R’ Yisrael Salanter by Immanuel Etkis there is a description of women learning Torah formally in Germany (like in s”a). And the netziv’s wife learned mishnayos. I feel like you are setting up a straw man, because, as I thought I clarified, I do not believe and am not claiming that women’s learning was formal or widespread in Europe. However, as jadtopaz implied, the attitudes towards it were never as negative as you claim they were. There were always yichidei sgula. The gedolim of the19th and 20th century (with the exception of the Satmar rebbe) all supported the formalization and spreading of women’s learning even without the promptings of mid-20th century feminists.
    ———
    emma 05/11/2010 09:19 PM in reply to moshe
    I don’t think we disagree too much on the historical facts. (Though I did point to at least one sentence in Rav Aviner’s teshuvah that I think is factually incorrect.) My one diyyuk with your presentation would be to distinguish “learned” from “knowledgeable.” I see a serious distinction between teaching women facts about torah vs. involving them in shakla vetarya. The latter was, I think, exceedingly rare in prior generations. FWIW, it is that involvement in shakla vetarya that certain elements are most resistant to today as well.

    But really where we disagree is this: I think that the current situation is very different than one of learned (or at least knowledgeable) yechidei segulah, and you think it is essentially the same. I think at this point we have to agree to disagree on that.

    BTW, In my experience the people who most often exaggerate past negative attitudes towards women’s learning are yeshivish and chassidish men.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/11/2010 10:07 PM in reply to emma
    you suggested ;
    “In my experience the people who most often exaggerate past negative attitudes towards women’s learning are yeshivish and chassidish men.”
    Well duh that was my point when politely asking you to be specific about the pre-war Europe territories you were referring to .

    So yeah its the yeshivish/chassidish (who are absolutely not the pure authentic litvaks and misnagids) and of course the sincere feminists who think they are gods gift to judaism.

    None of these 3 lovely groups have produced any Talmudists/Halachists of note in 2010. (or none that i know of)

    Since you appear to be very proud of the feminist shakla vtarya sholoshshudes darshening crowd in 2010, can you please list all of the brilliant talmudists/halachists this brand new innovative movement has produced thus far .

    Who are the Bruriahs of 2010.
    ———
    emma 05/12/2010 11:15 AM in reply to jadedtopaz
    shaleshuddes torah and brilliance rarely go together 🙂
    (but the brilliant few are only one purpose of torah learning.)

    it would help me identify bruria if you would identify r meir.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/12/2010 06:11 PM in reply to emma
    I wasn’t the one suggesting that my new innovative accomplished empowered movement has thankfully not only been gods gift to men and judaism but has also been uber successful and educating lots and lots of men whose poor uneducated European ancestors didn’t even know how to say hashem or assur in Babylonian at sholoshuddes 😉

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: