Setting The Record Straight: Rav Schachter’s Comments At The RCA Convention

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Guest post by R. Kenneth Brander (light editing and translation of key terms by me – GS)

I want to share my concerns regarding the way Rav Hershel Schachter’s shiur (lecture) at the RCA convention is being reported. In Rav Schachter’s shiur about ordination of women he did not, chas ve-shalom, equate this issue to the three cardinal sins and yehareig ve-al ya-avor (better to be martyred than violate them). Rav Schachter wished to communicate that issues defining meta-narratives of the community need to be viewed through a lens that recognizes their social/communal impact. Women’s ordination is not just an issue of serarah (forbidden authority); the major concern regarding ordination of women is the challenge to the social/halakhic fabric of the Orthodox community. This is what Rav Schachter called in the shiur: harisus ha’das (destruction of religion, overturning religious norms). Rav Schachter cited other examples, the use of a Shabbat bus to synagogue. While one may be able to obviate any particular issur (prohibition) to such an initiative one must be mindful of the fact that such an initiative, if institutionalized, challenges the ideal of Shabbat and how it is celebrated within the Orthodox community vis a vis the Conservative and Reform. The same is true for the responding to the issue of ordaining women. It is not just an issue of a particular halakhic issur; it is the challenge to the fabric of what defines Orthodoxy in contrast to other movements. Therefore it requires a response which is reflective of more than dealing with a particular issur.

I was also present for the post-shiur conversation. The question that was raised after the shiur was that if serarah is the key factor, why does RIETS accept and ordain geirim (converts) when there would be an issue of serarah for geirim as well? If there is no ordination for women, there should be none for geirim. The answer reported on a blog was as disturbing as the confrontational manner in which the question was asked. Rav Schachter’s comment that the Rav (R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik) had no problem with RIETS accepting geirim for semichah and that he, Rav Schachter, takes issue with that position of the Rav is not reflective of the key idea that Rav Schachter wished to communicate. In the post-shiur conversation, he acknowledged that since the YU semichah program ordains many who are not going into the pulpit (education, chaplaincy, kashrut, kiruv, or professional fields outside the context of Jewish communal work) the Rav was not concerned about the issues of serarah for geirim entering the rabbinical school. Rav Schachter felt this was different for women where the entire purpose of ordination is to provide them with the credentials to be “pulpit rabbis”. He then reiterated the issue of harisus ha’das.

Rav Schachter has single handedly empowered ORA to do their holy work of helping agunot. Their success of freeing 130 agunot is directly related to the rallies Rav Schachter has attended, the rallies he has encouraged students to attend, the funds he has personally donated, and the funds he has personally solicited. He has done more for this women’s issue than anyone else. His shiurim to women on Sunday mornings was the forerunner to Midreshet Yom Rishon.

Delegitimizing Rav Schachter on blogs and in conversations will not help advance the cause of expanding the role women play in our community. I believe that having an open, respectful conversation with a gadol who deeply cares about our constituency is the right thing to do and can be transformative on both personal and communal levels.

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. 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.

3 comments

  1. Meir 05/09/2010 09:59 PM
    Does anyone have a link to the recording so that I can compare RKB’s analysis to RHS’s words?
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    Steve Brizel 05/09/2010 10:20 PM
    R Brander deserves a tremendous Yasher Koach for setting forth RHS’s stance as well as demanding and reminding those who view Mesorah as ephemeral or worse that Harisus HaDas remains a very important factor in reminding us that the issue is not just Srarah but rather ” is not just an issue of a particular halakhic issur; it is the challenge to the fabric of what defines Orthodoxy in contrast to other movements”. R Brander’s comments re RHS’s singlehanded involvement in ORA as well as his shiurim on Sunday mornings were important reminders of the amazing Harbatzas Torah of RHS which goes well beyond the Daled Amos of the RIETS Beis Medrash.
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    Joseph Kaplan 05/09/2010 10:38 PM
    2 people liked this.
    I don’t quite understand why in this age, when YUtorah.org and other type web sites post audios of shiurim within hours of their being delivered, we need R. Brander to explain to us what RHS “intended to convey.” Why can’t we hear it for ourselves. Certainly RHS has no problem having people hear his shiurim online; there are 1,941 shiurim by him on YUtorah.org. Why can’t there be 1,942? Makes one wonder.
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    Joseph Kaplan 05/09/2010 10:49 PM
    “I believe that having an open, respectful conversation with a gadol who deeply cares about our constituency is the right thing to do and can be transformative on both personal and communal levels.”

    Let me add that I completely agree that such a conversation would be beneficial. But why does RHS need a translator?; why can’t we hear HIS words as he expressed to the RCA and not RKB’s interpretation and explanation of them? Let me hasten to note that I mean, of course, no disrespect to RKB; I appreciate and find what he says most worthwhile. But that’s in a conversation with him; to converse with someone else, I’d like to hear directly what that person has said.
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    MJ 05/09/2010 11:03 PM
    1 person liked this.
    I have no doubt that this is essentially what R. Schachter was trying to convey. However, as anyone who has learned in YU knows, R. Schachter’s actual words are often – shall we say – easily misinterpreted, creating one political embarrassment after another. I have a pocketful of stories of things I have heard with my own ears that R. Schachter could not have possibly meant, and have heard him on several occasions answer halakhic questions posed to him in the Beis Midrash very cryptically. That is the way he is and I don’t expect it to change.

    So while I have great respect for him as a person not only of tremendous learning, but anava, and genuine concern for others, I wish he would consciously recuse himself from his de facto positions of leadership within YU and the RCA. These are positions that require more political sensitivity to the fact that a) the way that one talks to bochrim and chaveirim in the Beis Midrash is not the way that you need to talk to the public and that B) everything today should be regarded as potentially public.
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    David Tzohar 05/09/2010 11:21 PM
    1 person liked this.
    Why all the apologetics? I think that Rav Schachter meant exactly what he said, and yasher koach to him. we don’t need R’Branders parshanut. In a time of shmad yehareg af al arketa d’mesana. Ordination of women marka a new stage in the spiritual shmad of American Orthodoxy. As RHS put it “harisas ha das. In the eyes of many this courageous stance has enhanced the position pf Rav Schachter as THE Rosh Yeshiva and one of Gedolei Hador.
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    Reuven Ze’ev 05/09/2010 11:24 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    It seems as though the RCA is trying to deal with the situation in a calculated manner; taking their time to convey their messages in a clear fashion.

    They probably also realize (testament to RKB’s sentiments here) that many of those who disagree with RHS/RCA, will look to scrutinize every syllable in order to disprove/dismantle every point they make (see the first comment on this post).
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    Reuven Ze’ev 05/09/2010 11:28 PM in reply to MJ
    nothing personal, but you clearly do not know RHS very well. Not to mention, your speculation as to the intention of RHS’s statements I the reason why RKB posted this in the first place.
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    Shades of Gray 05/09/2010 11:54 PM
    1 person liked this.
    I appreciate R. Brander’s clarification.

    I am not a talmid of RIETS, but I enjoy listening to R. Schachter’s recorded shiurim and have much respect for him. I hope he continues to provide the community with much- needed guidance.
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    Steg (dos iz nit der Å¡teg) 05/09/2010 11:57 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    1 person liked this.
    There’s even a shiur of his from a few years ago where he says there’s nothing wrong with women rabbis. Assuming the link still works: http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/721
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    HAGTBG 05/10/2010 12:12 AM
    Is this R’ Brander writing this on his own, or R’ Brander for some reason clarifying on behalf of R’ Schachter? Gil, I suspect you know the answer to that question.
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    mycroft 05/10/2010 12:16 AM
    “The answer reported on a blog was as disturbing as the confrontational manner in which the question was asked. Rav Schachter’s comment that the Rav (R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik) had no problem with RIETS accepting geirim for semichah and that he, Rav Schachter, takes issue with that position of the Rav is not reflective of the key idea that Rav Schachter wished to communicate. In the post-shiur conversation, he acknowledged that since the YU semichah program ordains many who are not going into the pulpit (education, chaplaincy, kashrut, kiruv, or professional fields outside the context of Jewish communal work) the Rav was not concerned about the issues of serarah for geirim entering the rabbinical school.”

    RIETS ordains gerim-can Rabbi Brander find anyplace in RIETS history that there was a limitation made on gerims smicha thatthey couldn’t serve a schul as a pulpit Rabbi.
    Query-in the decades that the Rav was not only the leading RY in RIETS but also the Chairman of the RCA Halachik Committee is rthere any evidence that the Rav ruled that a ger could not become a pulpit Rabbi

    “issues of serarah ”
    I am not getting into any arguments of what the ideal position of a Rav should be-but does anyone seriously believe that 20th -21st century North American Rabbis act in such a capacity. Their success or lack of success is due to their personality, powers of pursauasion etc. Certainly-a schul has a legal right to terminate a Rabbis position.

    The Rav did on occasion speak/write about pulpit Rabbis-did he evertalk about their powers in the manner that RHS described.. I believe that itis likely that RHS meant what he said how he is different from the Rav-RHS has a perfect rightto differ from the Rav RHS does not need a bureaucrat interpreting what he said.

    RKB gave miksat shavcho of a leading gadol in the penultimate paragraph-but no one is disputing that RHS is at least a leading gadol bYisrael and has great personal middos
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    mycroft 05/10/2010 12:19 AM in reply to Meir
    1 person liked this.
    Obviously thats what we all would like to read -what RHS said/and or clarifications that RHS will wiote-not PR attempts-which frankly demean RHS.
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    am haaretz 05/10/2010 12:28 AM
    I am confused. Shamaya and Avtalyon were geirim, right? So we are saying that being a shul rabbi in the US is more serara than being the nasi and the av beis din? Can somebody explain this to me?
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    Charlie Hall 05/10/2010 12:29 AM
    “challenge to the social/halakhic fabric of the Orthodox community”

    In the 13+ months since Sara Hurwitz was given semicha I’ve noticed no change to the social/halachic fabric of Riverdale.

    “the entire purpose of ordination is to provide them with the credentials to be “pulpit rabbis””

    I have noticed no change in Sara Hurwitz’s after she was given semicha.
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    Gary 05/10/2010 12:30 AM in reply to mycroft
    RKB has a special relationship with RHS. I am sure that whatever he posted he did after reviewing it with RHS and did it because RHS is being attacked for statements RKB feels RHS did not say
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    MJ 05/10/2010 12:38 AM in reply to Reuven Ze’ev
    I never claimed to know him well. I know his public persona – certainly better than people who have never been in his shiur, been to his home, asked him a shaila, or heard him speak in YU.
    I never speculated as to his intentions. I think that RKB’s explanation is probably correct, as I indicated.
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    Jon_Brooklyn 05/10/2010 01:49 AM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    I dunno, seems like R. Schachter has a habit of saying things he doesn’t quite mean – or if he did, would rather not have said them. Remember the incident when he spoke at Yeshivat Hakotel and said Olmert was hayav mitah? So I’ll accept R. Brander at his word on this one, even though in principle, you’re right.
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    Jon_Brooklyn 05/10/2010 01:56 AM
    1 person liked this.
    What I would have liked to hear RHS answer is why not having women serve the community is a part of the religion that we want to keep.
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    Nachum 05/10/2010 02:25 AM
    Erm, Jon, he never said he doesn’t want women serving in the community.

    It’s best to bear in mind that R’ Schachter is a leading member (and is employed by) an institution that gives extensive Jewish education to over a thousand women a year, granting graduate degrees in Jewish education, Jewish studies, and even Talmud to many of them. Many of those go on to serve and even lead in the community. Clearly R’ Schachter has no problem with this and thinks it’s a good thing.
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    fred 05/10/2010 02:38 AM in reply to MJ
    how do you recuse yourself from a de facto position?
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    Skeptic 05/10/2010 02:58 AM
    1 person liked this.
    I don’t understand the clarification about yeharag v’al yaavor. Did he say it or not? R. Adlerstein, who is eminently reliable, says he did. Now this article explains what he ‘wished to communicate’. Well despite his wishes, he communicated something. It would be nice to know what that was, as opposed to having someone use a Ouija board to divine what his innermost intentions were. Why is this so difficult? And why, Gil, are you taking part in the obfuscation? It is better to say nothing than to say something which only further confuses the facts by mixing in hopes and inferences and wishes.
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    am haaretz 05/10/2010 03:01 AM in reply to Nachum
    That is not clear at all. The roshei yeshiva have nothing to do with Stern or GPATS. They view themselves as employees of YC/RIETS (I am quoting a YU rosh yeshiva), not as people who are responsible for or connected with the community of women downtown in any way. They are not chassidishe rebbeim.
    Rav Schechter specifically has been known to make public statements not in favor of women learning (to put it mildly).
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    Mordechai Y. Scher 05/10/2010 03:04 AM
    1 person liked this.
    Might I suggest that we recall the context? Rav Schachter’s comments were made to a room full of rabbanim. There was no outside public. No one walked out of that presentation with the gross misinterpretations that have been applied outside that room. The people making the gross misinterpretations are, in fact, not the people for whom the comments were intended. Even the rabbanim in the room who are opposed to Rav Schachter’s position didn’t ascribe to his remarks simplistic interpretations.

    So, why are his comments inappropriate? Is it because nowadays everybody makes everybody else’s remarks their business, and so one can no longer shape their remarks for an intended audience?

    In the medical professions there is a notion of a meeting where the remarks are solely for the participants. Quality reviews where the practitioners may speak both frankly and professionally; and they are protected from the review of outsiders in order to promote honesty and professional critique. Maybe when a talmid hacham speaks to a closed forum, as Rav Schachter was in fact doing (no press were allowed in the convention sessions), he should be able, for the sake of honesty in Torah, to rely on the fact that he is speaking only to his peers and students.

    We may find that in our (generally positive) demand for transparency and public availability, we also impose a certain fear to speak candidly and pursue thorough and honest discourse. I’m quite sure that Rav Schachter would not fear so, in the sense of lo taguru; but I also have little doubt that others will indeed withhold their remarks rather than face the public mishandling of them.

    In the end, I don’t know if any of this makes a difference; but I thought I’d put it out there for consideration.
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    joelrich 05/10/2010 05:32 AM in reply to am haaretz
    IIRC R’YBS once posited that they did not voteon the sanhedrin but were members for discussion(and maybe iirc lkiyum hadavar-e,g. eglah arufa where sanhedrin represented klal yisrael)
    KT
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    Mike S 05/10/2010 06:16 AM in reply to am haaretz
    The Rav said that they must have recused themselves from the final vote in a case of Dinei nefashot.
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    elchanan 05/10/2010 06:38 AM
    2 people liked this.
    I appreciate Rabbi Brander’s letter. I didn’t read through all the comments, but if a person wants to hear R’ Schachter they can become an RCA rabbi and go to the convention. Its not the RCA’s responsibility to inform you of their speeches. Would you like to hear all the private meetings that take place at YU as well? Does every Rabbinic association have to inform you of their speech to insure it receives your approval? Perhaps the president should ask your opinion as well before making any decisions
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    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 06:56 AM in reply to elchanan
    If R. Schachter wants to give a private speech, he can, odf course, do so. But when the RCA then, in its comments on its actions, refers to the fact that such a speech was given, and when rabbis quote various parts of the speech, and when discussion of the speech gets into the public — as everyone, including RHS knew it would — then the question is: do we let people hear what he actually said, or do we let someone “explain” it to us. Just think how we learn in yeshiva (and, indeed, in any serious academic atmosphere): we look at primary sources. “Read the Rambam,” the rebbe says. Maybe we sometimes need a rebbe to help us understand the Rambam, but does he ever say we shouldn’t see the actual words ourselves?Quite frankly, a perfectly normal reaction to RKB’s article is: OMG what did he say that they’re hiding it and they need RKB to spin it. This has nothing to do with “approving” a speech, of course; it has to do with getting primary sources and not spin.
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    HAGTBG 05/10/2010 07:03 AM in reply to Nachum
    Nachum, I am surprised you are making an argument that, essentially, is that because someone is employed by an institution, therefore he “clearly” “has no problem with” all policies of that institution.
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    mycroft 05/10/2010 07:46 AM in reply to am haaretz
    Since RHS apparently believes that- he should be able to explain that. I doubt that most believe that a schul Rabbin the US has serara.

    Did Rabbi Brander actt that way when he was in BRS?
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    mycroft 05/10/2010 07:50 AM in reply to Charlie Hall
    I wasn’t aware that even Rabbi Weiss states that she got smicha-I believe that is why he tried different names .
    I may be wrong because frankly I pay much more attention to what RHS says than what RAW does.
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    mycroft 05/10/2010 07:55 AM in reply to Gary
    So what-RYBS did not really on those who he had a special relationship to clarify what he said. In fact if one looks at writing from decades ago of those who people felt had a special relationship with the Rav they would do the exact opposite-write in their comnents that they were not authorized to speak for the Rav- The Rav knew how to speak for himself-RHS may not be the Rav-no insult no one in this generation is-but RHS is fully capable of speaking for himself.
    Since there are others who maintain that RHS said those comments-I would wait for RHS to eitherclarify -or in an entirely different forum discuss what he believes .
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    mycroft 05/10/2010 07:58 AM in reply to Nachum
    Not obvious at all-certainly during both the Belkin and Lamm presidencies there were RY who disagreed with the policies of the President of YU.
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    mycroft 05/10/2010 08:03 AM in reply to elchanan
    The speech was intended to be a private speech-it is clear that the RCA intended to use the speech as the basisi of its policy. Once that happens his ideas like anyh Gadols are subject to analyssis and interpretation.
    My reaction to RKD is why the attempt for him to clarify-are there some big givers who are upset?
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    lawrence kaplan 05/10/2010 08:25 AM
    I would note that this is not the first time that remarks of RHS have been explained by someone else on his behalf. In an article in TUMJ, vol.8, “Facing the Truths of History,” Rabbi J.J. Schacter criticized certain remarks of RHS regarding the Rav and secular studies. In TUMJ Vol. 9, Rabbi Bertram Leff, a rabbinic employee of the OU, obviously authorized by RHS, wrote a long letter explaining and clarifying the import RHS’s remarks It is strange that such an articulate individual as RHS needs interpreters to speak on his behalf.

    I also found it strange that Rabbi Brander deemed it necessary to criticize the manner in which the unnamed rabbi raised the question regarding geirim. What one person might describe as a confrontational manner, another might see as being straightforward and direct.
    (Edited by a moderator)
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    Eskimo 05/10/2010 08:29 AM in reply to Mordechai Y. Scher
    Very good point. R. Schachter has pointed out repeatedly that the Rov gave different answers, very different, depending on the context and who was asking. He himself is certainly sensitive to the identity of his audience.
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    hirhurim 05/10/2010 08:44 AM in reply to am haaretz
    1 person liked this.
    The commentators grapple with the issue of Shmayah and Avtalyon. See, for example, the Tosafos Yom Tov on Avos. I discuss this in my post on whether converts can be rabbis (also in my book).

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
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    hirhurim 05/10/2010 08:44 AM in reply to Charlie Hall
    This is not a local issue. It is one that can change Judaism globally forever.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
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    hirhurim 05/10/2010 08:45 AM in reply to HAGTBG
    This is R. Brander writing on his own initiative, but he reviewed the content with R. Schachter before publication. R. Schachter has approved this interpretation. R. Brander was disturbed by what he saw in writing because it did not reflect what he had heard at the same lecture.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
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    hirhurim 05/10/2010 08:45 AM in reply to Skeptic
    I don’t understand your complaint. No one disputes that he said it. The issue is what he meant by it, and this is an explanation based on further discussion with him.
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    hirhurim 05/10/2010 08:45 AM in reply to am haaretz
    Rav Schachter has long been a vocal supporter of women’s advance Tamud study.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
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    hirhurim 05/10/2010 08:46 AM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    I can’t speak for the RCA but I believe it would be inappropriate to release Rav Schachter’s speech without also releasing the other relevant speeches. That requires obtaining permission from everyone who spoke, which I suspect is easier said than done. At least one of the speakers is a notorious perfectionist.
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    hirhurim 05/10/2010 08:49 AM in reply to lawrence kaplan
    R. Schachter probably feels that he is best leaving PR to the experts. His schedule is busy enough without it, especially since there are those with an agenda against an he can never satisfy everyone.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
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    hirhurim 05/10/2010 08:59 AM in reply to am haaretz
    “Rav Schechter specifically has been known to make public statements not in favor of women learning”

    I’ve heard the exact opposite. I even know one woman who asked him a she’eilah whether she can learn Gemara and he answered yes and gave her a berakhah for success.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 09:00 AM in reply to mycroft
    I think you are defining serarah as absolute authority and no one to answer to. I don’t think that is how it is classically defined. Does a water carrier have that kind of power? No.
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    grend 05/10/2010 09:05 AM
    As a talmid of RHS, my reaction to this post was straightforward: if RKB has to come here and spin this so hard, it’s clear that what he’s spinning is not quite what RHS said.

    I asked RHS the serarah-for-geirim-in-semicha question close to a decade ago after shiur, in an entirely non confrontational manner. He shrugged. That has disturbed me for years – in what other area of halacha is a shrug an answer? If you applied to hilchos shabbat the low level of halachic discourse that people apply to women’s issues, you’d be laughed out of a beis medrash. And the question remains very relevant, because if you allow semicha for geirim as long as they don’t use it in the pulpit, the reason not to allow it for women is then clearly sociological and not purely halachic, as RKB even admits – one could give a non-pulpit semicha (like for geirim) but there’s some ulterior motive being ascribed to women candidates that makes them not want to. It’s never a good idea to pasken halacha based on guessing at someone else’s ulterior motives.

    As for ORA, what exactly is the point? First, ORA is a complete red herring, totally unrelated to the issues at hand. Is the point that RHS is a good person? Great. To quote this week’s rashi, mah inyan shemitta eitzel har sinai? What does that have to do with his comments about women and semicha?

    [deleted]
    (Edited by a moderator)
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    moshe shoshan 05/10/2010 09:06 AM
    I dont get it. Is Rav Schachter some ancient chareidi gadol who needs to be controlled by his handlers? What are they hiding? lets hear the tape!

    As for the rest of the reported arguments they dont amount to much. A comparison to the famous Shabbos bus and a claim of serrara, if this is all they have against women rabbis, it seems to me that R. Sperber and other talmidei chachamim are more than in their place if their respectfully disagree.

    I am still awaiting the unsealing of the other secret psaks that the RCA solicited. My honest hope is that they will make a better and more effective case against women rabbis
    ———
    response to Skeptic 05/10/2010 09:15 AM in reply to Skeptic
    With due to respect to both distinguished Rabbi, which one was there when these comments were made? I’m pretty sure R. Adlerstein was NOT in attendance. Its hard to be “eminently reliable” about things you could only have heard about second or third hand!
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    hirhurim 05/10/2010 09:17 AM in reply to grend
    I’ve known Rav Schachter for years. He often avoids questions that are off topic, stupid (I’ve done that!), or simply discussions he doesn’t want to get into at that time by shrugging, responding that he doesn’t know or saying that it’s a good question. I remember one in Chumash shiur, I asked what I thought was a great question on one interpretation based on a Gemara in Kesubos. Rav Schachter said that he didn’t know and moved on. On Shabbos, I realized that Rashi had asked and answered the question, and Rav Schachter didn’t want to embarrass me or get sidetracked so he had just said that he didn’t know.

    In other words, the fact that he shrugged to you means absolutely nothing.
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    MJ 05/10/2010 09:21 AM in reply to grend
    You are a talmid of RHS and were surprised that he shrugged? That’s not atypical. His answers are often cryptic or intentionally vague. Even regarding basic questions of hilchos shabbos. I remember how a friend of mine who had been in his shiur for years had trouble getting a straight answer from him about how to make an eruv chatzeiros in his apartment building.

    As Prof. Kaplan noted this is only the most recent of many occasions where someone had to walk b’ikvos harav to clarify his remarks.
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    grend 05/10/2010 09:23 AM
    I was his talmid for 5 years. I know about his shrugs. I came to him after shiur and asked him how we distinguish between geirim and women for serarah, since I knew there were geirim in semicha. It was not then (and is not now) an irrelevant question or an obvious one, and in the decade since, RHS has never responded more substantively to that question.
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    grend 05/10/2010 09:32 AM
    Gil, deleting the second half of my original comment is precisely why such things continue in our community. Shame on you for being part of the problem.
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    hirhurim 05/10/2010 09:40 AM in reply to grend
    1 person liked this.
    No, shame on you for attempting to delegitimize an organization in an anonymous comment to a blog. If there is substance to your allegation, then provide it using a real name and actual documentation in an appropriate forum. Otherwise, it is pure lashon ha-ra. How do we know you aren’t someone with a grudge who is making it up? How do we know that you are mentally stable and not imagining the whole thing? And is there another side to the story? Halakhah required me to delete that part of your comment.
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    Mike S 05/10/2010 10:06 AM
    1 person liked this.
    It seems to me that guidance is needed more than clarification. The contrast between the expanded roles open to women in the larger society and the narrow roles available in communal life for orthodox women is alienating to many. Especially people younger than I who did not grow up in a world where opportunities throughout society were determined by gender. If we are not to expand women’s roles in religious life, how are we to educate our children and grandchildren so this doesn’t become alienating. If we are to find expanded “halachically and communally appropriate” roles for learned women, what are they, and how are we to recognize the difference between these and “ordination, by whatever name”
    ———
    ruvie 05/10/2010 10:24 AM
    the question to me is what is the outcome of all this noise on this and other blogs. to the layperson like my self who admires R’ Schacther erudition in torah matters. do i just say when it comes to woman issues – do i just ignore him (i think his reasoning is extremely faulty), does his value to the religious – mo – becomes devalued over time, or do i just limit myself in following some of his decisions and look for others that are closer to my hashkafa? i do not know but i think others like myself are frustrated with our leadership and the more educated (i am at the am haaretz level) among us will start to not listen.
    ———
    joel rich 05/10/2010 10:28 AM in reply to hirhurim
    One could spend a lifetime deconstructing R’HS’s shrugs and “could be, I don’t knows” and “the mishneh brura says ” (meaning sometimes he disagrees but doesn’t want to get into it). Unfortunately while many insiders understand what they mean, outsiders don’t (it took me years as a baal habayit listening to him to realize)

    IMHO there are many times he has no choice – to give a clear answer may take 4 shiurim to explain the sources and his thinking, rather than doing so when he can’t, he avoids the issue.

    KT
    ———
    YC 05/10/2010 10:38 AM
    1) If a Ger wanted smicha and was open about the reason he wanted smicha: to be a pulpit rabbi, would he be denied?

    2) I know people involved in ORA that think women’s smicha is not a problem. Not sure why what someone does on one issue makes them more credible on another. If Rav Hershel Schachter Shlit’a is a Gadol (and I think he is) than what does it matter?

    3) To me Rav Hershel Schachter’s Pesak is more relevant than an RCA resolution. A Pesak is a Pesak, a resolution does not seem to carry much weight.

    WHILE THESE COMMENTS GET POSTED….

    4) Orthodox woman have communal positions and will continue to get them. They paskin and will continue to do so…..
    ———
    Charlie Hall 05/10/2010 10:47 AM
    Regarding the issue of whether one agrees with all the positions of his/her employer, I will state that while I am employed by Yeshiva University, any statement that I make in public does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer, and that I do not necessarily have an opinion on any Yeshiva University position unless I specifically say so.

    Whew, got that out.

    (I also always post using my real name. I figure God knows what I am writing, so I might as well let everyone else know.)
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 10:50 AM in reply to Mike S
    Are you saying that those who grew up Conservative or Reform might feel alienated among the Orthodox when trying to find their place behind the mechitzah or up in the rafters ?
    Then why on earth would they switch to Orthodox ?
    ———
    anon 05/10/2010 11:02 AM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    There are different audiences. And RHS’s comments were directed to musmachim. That is certainly justifiable.
    Not everything Barak Obama discusses with his cabinet is made public.
    ———
    anon 05/10/2010 11:03 AM in reply to mycroft
    RHS does not require R. Branders haskamah (nor yours).
    ———
    Mike S 05/10/2010 11:44 AM in reply to jadedtopaz
    No, although that might also be true. I was thinking of those who grow up in Orthodox homes, and I was speaking of the contrast between the choices available to Orthodox women in their professional and personal lives contrasted with their communal religious lives.
    ———
    ruvie 05/10/2010 11:53 AM in reply to anon
    Do you think that RHS would have changed the content of his shiur/speech if it was directed to the general public… change his reasoning and sources? doubtful. was the speech given to share his view on the topic and influence others? probably. why is everyone afraid to put the shiur in the public domain.
    this wasn’t a bs session with the cabinet with off the record remarks. this was an organize and prepared shiur.
    it will stand or fall on its own merits and not how others want to spin it.
    ———
    chareidilite 05/10/2010 11:53 AM in reply to Charlie Hall
    “In the 13+ months since Sara Hurwitz was given semicha I’ve noticed no change to the social/halachic fabric of Riverdale. ”

    Perhaps HIR is not a typical Orthodox shul / community. Perhaps it does present a challenge to the social/halachic fabric of more conventional Orthodox communities. Perhaps, therefore, HIR should avoid introducing a local change which will create a more global challenge.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 11:57 AM in reply to Mike S
    How are you differentiating between “professional”, “personal” and “communal religious” .
    Also, why would this be a new issue of concern.
    Haven’t Orthodox women been qualified “professionals” for a while now ?
    ———
    chareidilite 05/10/2010 12:00 PM in reply to Skeptic
    1 person liked this.
    “having someone use a Ouija board to divine what his innermost intentions were”

    Do you believe that someone could divine innermost intentions via a Ouija board? It seem like that is what you said. Or were you just trying to make a point with a colorful reference? Could it be that Rav Schachter was just doing the same when he used the phrase ‘yeharag v’al yaavor?
    ———
    EJB 05/10/2010 12:01 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Not in HS, though (I think).
    ———
    Aaron 05/10/2010 12:15 PM
    4 people liked this.
    Why are we being side-tracked by the unimportant issues regarding this post? How is it any better to say that “the major concern regarding ordination of women is the challenge to the social/halakhic fabric of the Orthodox community.”???

    Am I supposed to be satisfied that rhs thinks that ordaining women would destroy the fabric of our society? That notion infuriates me almost as much as yehareig v’al yaavor. There is no bigger stain on our MO community than the unjustified denial to women of certain aspects of communal involvement.

    I was additionally disgusted by the mentioning of ORA. First of all, the fight to help Agunot is not a “Women’s Issue” – it is a communal issue. Secondly, the fact that Rav Schechter is against the extortion of women by their loser husbands is proof of next to nothing that he is an advocate for women to become more involved in Jewish communal life.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 12:17 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    I agree with you in part. (remember that “exhibit/complaint” thread argument regarding R Feldmans book and page 13 😉
    But keep in mind that the original comment(s) concerning RHS’s lecture (the ones R Brander is clarifying) did not include the complete lecture either ( or did they ? ) .

    And of course in order to present RHS’s lecture in a fair well balanced manner and proper context, one should include all of the lectures and the entire question and answer period too.
    And then clarify anything that is not clear before presenting his points.
    Among the many other laws concerning “hilchos intellectual property” its quite the intense “mesechta”……….
    ———
    Charlie Hall 05/10/2010 12:24 PM in reply to chareidilite
    You didn’t get my point. The change took place a decade earlier when Sharona Margolin Halickman was hired for a similar job. Giving Sara Hurwitz semichah changed nothing.
    ———
    lawrence kaplan 05/10/2010 12:40 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Gil: it would have saved a lot of misunderstanding had RKB, as you say, made it clear that RHS had reviewed and approved his interpretation.

    From what you say it seems clear that RHs, indeed, used the languagw of YVY in reply to a question about gerim, but is now using RKB as a conduit to convey the message that his use of the phrase was hyperbolic. Fine, but then it ill behhooves RKB to criticize those who were disturbed by RHS’s use of the phrase.

    Jaded Topaz: Your requests should be directed to the RCA. I am sure they will give them the consideration they deserve.

    My brother, who, like myself, approves of the RCA resoution, commented to me that they may yet succeed in snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. Well, they’re getting there.
    ———
    djf 05/10/2010 12:45 PM in reply to MJ
    Nicely said. I was in the process of making the same point but no need to repeat.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 12:52 PM in reply to lawrence kaplan
    No, RHS is not using RKB. RHS does not issue press releases and does not respond to critics. If someone asks him, he’ll answer. Otherwise, he will continue teaching. RKB decided, on his own initiative, to do this and before quoting or explaining what RHS, he went to RHS to ensure that he had it right. That seems like the reasonable thing to do before quoting someone.

    “My brother, who, like myself, approves of the RCA resoution, commented to me that they may yet succeed in snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. Well, they’re getting there.”

    I suspect that, like with the resolution, the RCA is moving slowly in making the recordings available in order to ensure that it is done well. There’s no rush. Better to delay and do it right than to rush and do it wrong.
    ———
    lawrence kaplan 05/10/2010 01:16 PM
    Gil: Right. Like RHS did not use Rabbi Betram Leff to write the letter to the TUMJ “clarifying” and defending his position.

    As for your last comment, I hope you are right. But, then, why can’t the RCA let everyone know that that is what they are planning to do?
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 01:16 PM in reply to hirhurim
    If they’re delaying to get it done well, then I’m all for getting things done well. However, in that event RKB should have waited to issue his ______________ [you fill in the word] until the primary source was available. Quite frankly, it seems to me that supporters and students of RHS should be more annoyed at this than others because I think it outs RHS in a poor light. But that’s just me.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 01:18 PM in reply to lawrence kaplan
    I can’t speak about Rabbi Leff but I am certain that RKB did this on his own initiative.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 01:21 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    RHS’s supporters do not see this as putting him in a bad light. I definitely don’t see it that way. The way it’s supposed to be is that he speaks, we listen and we try to understand what he is saying and why he is saying it. If there’s something ambiguous or incongruent then I must have misunderstood and should ask him to clarify.
    ———
    chakira 05/10/2010 01:25 PM
    1 person liked this.
    The palpable anxiety about our collective and individual relationships with RHS is really laughable. Seemingly modern, rational people who have no problem with goal directed action in other spheres are tripping over themselves to show how close they are to RHS. One is a “close talmid” the other darshens the shurgs and a third listened attentively for years to each beautiful word. What is even funnier is that the person in question is not a BABA or an ADMOR. He is a posek and YU RY. When the charisma and personality cult is totally absent or even anathema, there is a need to create it ex nihilo. FWIW I live in the same neighborhood as C”K Moreinu VeRabbeinu and feel the gentle breeze of his bekiyus as I walk along the Hudson River.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 01:29 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Okay; I’d like to listen to RHS so I can try to understand what he’s saying and why he’s saying it. Then if there’s something ambiguous or incongruent I can ask him or have RKB explain it for him. But even according to you, Gil, it starts with “he speaks, we listen.” We’ve haven’t been given the opportunity to listen before we get a “clarification” of something we haven’t heard. It’s simply backwards. And it’s the backwardness that, to me, puts RHS (and for that matter) RKB in a bad light.
    ———
    David Tzohar 05/10/2010 01:34 PM
    It might be interesting to compare the stand of Rav Schachter and the RCA on the question of womens ordination to that of their Dati counterparts in Israel. AFAIK and anyone can correct me if they know differently, there is NO Rabbi who could be considered Dati who is in favor of semicha for women. This includes “liberals” such as R’ Sherlow, R’Beni Lowe,and R’ Bin-Nun. The leaderts of the Dati community; rabbanei arim, Rashei Yeshivot and of course the Rabbanut HaRashit agree completely with R’ Shachters view.This is even though higher Torah learning for women and positions like to’anot rabbaniot have become widely accepted even by Rabbis who are considered to be “Chardali” Fortunately in Israeli religious community this is not even a question that is up for serious discussion. In the meantime I hope that Gedolim such as RHS will be able to continue to continue to withstand the pressures within Modern American Orthodoxy that threaten as RHS put it “harisas hadas” (Rachmana letzlan)
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 01:35 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    I agree with you, except this particular shiur was for a specific audience who heard it and acted on it. Perhaps people should be speaking with their own rabbis.
    ———
    am haaretz 05/10/2010 01:37 PM
    The bottom line is that it seems intellectually dishonest to say that providing the kind of hadracha that Shemaya and Avtalyon provided is not serara, but providing hadracha as a MO rabbi in the US is serara. I also think that it is a bad idea to have women rabbis, I just don’t think that it is constructive to provide reasons that won’t stand up in a gentle breeze.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 01:41 PM in reply to am haaretz
    I think it seems like intellectual dishonesty to comment about converts without looking at the sources: http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2004/11/converts-a
    ———
    am haaretz 05/10/2010 01:58 PM
    Thank you for providing the link. About women’s learning – my friend heard a shiur in YU Torah in which Rav Schachter basically said never to go on another date with a girl who quotes any Torah at all. (he was asked by a talmid whether to go on another date with a girl who rebuked him with a saying from p”a) I guess he was joking, but still, to me, that is not a joke that someone who truly believed that women’s learning was a good thing would make.
    ———
    ruvie 05/10/2010 02:00 PM in reply to David Tzohar
    do you really think that all those rabbis mentioned by you agree with rhs viewpoint and sources for not allowing women ordination? really… i notice you did include rav aharon lictenstein? any reason? it seems he is not on the same page of rhs (for the reasons of not allowing it) based on his comments at the rca.
    ———
    kolech 05/10/2010 02:06 PM in reply to David Tzohar
    In the end, all the rabbis you mentioned are going along with the Rabbah training program at Kolech.
    Rav Yehudah Gilad came out strongly in favor.
    The whole hevra of liberal rabbis were branded as reformers last summer after the conference.
    In case you missed all the article in the Israeli papers, here is a version in English for you.
    http://www.jpost.com/Home/Article.aspx?id=148682
    ———
    Jerry 05/10/2010 02:20 PM
    Gil,

    I re-read that old post of yours. Good chazarah for me, but just one question. You objected in this thread to someone who said that a pulpit rabb is not a serarah position because even a water carrier is a serarah position (I don’t think “water carrier” is at all an accurate translation – and I think translating it more accurately would mean a major nafka mina for your argument – but that’s for a separate post).

    If that’s the case, however, then how could you say in that old post that geirim can serve as teachers in schools (and yes I saw the Rav Moshe you quoted about this issue), and as members (leaders?) of charity organizations? Are these any less examples of serarah than a “water carrier”?

    With regard to Shemaya and Avtalyon, at least the first answer you give (which is paralleled in one of Tosafos’ answers about Devorah, which you probably discussed somewhere else) has implications for the debate over whether women can have positions of communal leadership.

    Also, Gil, while a lot of your readers may agree with you that RKB is right about RHS’s intent, I really think that you should be more understanding of those of us who genuinely consider ourselves either talmidim, or just big admirers, of RHS. When we say things like this, we don’t mean to be chutzpadik – we say this precisely because of how much we admire and respect RHS.

    And even if you want to say that these weren’t “public,” remarks, that is really just a technicality. This RCA Convention got more attention than any other in history, and RHS is – rightly – one of the most visible and famous members of that group. To assume that his remarks would never leave the room in which they were delivered is unreasonable.
    (Edited by a moderator)
    ———
    Aaron 05/10/2010 02:25 PM in reply to hirhurim
    “I definitely don’t see it that way. The way it’s supposed to be is that he speaks, we listen and we try to understand what he is saying and why he is saying it. If there’s something ambiguous or incongruent then I must have misunderstood and should ask him to clarify.”

    Do you consider him to be infallible? Isn’t it possible for him to be wrong?
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 02:29 PM in reply to Jerry
    I do not believe that it is mutar to discuss any flaws you believe RHS may have. You can respectfully critique something he has published but there is no heter to discuss him personally.

    By the way, I find it hard to believe that the RCA conventions when Rav Soloveitchik said controversial things got less publicity than this one.

    Most schools and charity organizations are private institutions.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 02:33 PM in reply to Aaron
    “Do you consider him to be infallible?”

    Of course not. But first you have to understand what he says. And on matters of this nature, he is one of the few who have the stature to have an opinion.
    ———
    Jerry 05/10/2010 02:34 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Gil,

    I wasn’t sure how to put it, and I knew you might feel that way. That said, there has to be some way for admirers of RHS to lament some of the way things have come out. Is there any muttar way to do that? He is a respected public figure. A giant! There has to be a way to talk about this in an open and halachically acceptable way.

    If you’re right about the Rav’s RCA conventions (maybe yes, maybe not), then the Rav would have had no reasonable expectation of privacy.

    So are shuls – at least in the way that you mean about schools. If “private” schools aren’t communal, then “private” shuls aren’t communal.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 02:37 PM in reply to Jerry
    Ask a she’eilah and tell me what you answer you get.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 02:38 PM in reply to Jerry
    “So are shuls – at least in the way that you mean about schools. If “private” schools aren’t communal, then “private” shuls aren’t communal.”

    I don’t think that’s true but, nu, ask RHS what the chiluk is.
    ———
    chakira 05/10/2010 02:44 PM in reply to hirhurim
    2 people liked this.
    When you say RHS is one of the few qualified to have an opinion, are you sure this is what you mean? It seems like even I have an opinion, and I am unqualified for many things. Perhaps what you meant to say was “dress up a legacy of sexism in prettified Rabbinic idiom?” That seems like something the RHS would be uniquely qualified to do, compared to other MO Jews.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 02:48 PM in reply to hirhurim
    “I find it hard to believe that the RCA conventions when Rav Soloveitchik said controversial things got less publicity than this one.”

    Believe it. Things were different before the internet and blogs. People didn’t know there were RCA comventions or what was being discussed other than the rabbis who attended. Take the Rav’s comments about “tav lemetav” that people quote here incessently; they weren’t known in the general community for years until they were circulated on the internet.

    Gil, you sound like my youngest daughetr who, when she was about 6, was surprised when I told her that when I was a kid, we sometimes missed Mary Martin’s Peter Pan which was shown on tv every year around Purim because sometimes it was on megillah night: “why didn’t you tape it daddy?” 🙂
    ———
    moshe shoshan 05/10/2010 03:02 PM
    “I do not believe that it is mutar to discuss any flaws you believe RHS may have. ”

    It seems to me that if we cannot discuss the flaws of our leaders the community as a whole is in big trouble. Of course there are proper ways of leveling such a crititque. To oppose any criticism is authoritarian. We all suffer for the flaws of our leaders
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 03:05 PM in reply to chakira
    You need to know economics before you arrive at a legitimate opinion on an economic subject, etc. You need to be extremely well-versed in Torah before you can arrive at a legitimate opinion on a complex subject like this. Of course, you can arrive at an opinion regardless, but it is uninformed and of little value. I, of course, arrive at opinions without sufficient learning but I defer to experts who have such learning when they voice their opinions.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 03:06 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    You mean back in the days before they had the internet and Yiddish newspapers published long descriptions of conventions with summaries and sometimes transcripts of speeches?
    ———
    Muss 05/10/2010 03:10 PM
    Gil, instead of posting a letter from R’ Brander telling us how he understand R’ Schachter, why not attach R’ Schachters own teshuvah in B’Ikvei HaTzon-Siman 5, where he applies the same exact reasoning to deem women’s prayer groups as yehareg v’al yaavor. It’s a simple halachic argument based on the sugya of arkesa d’misana in Sanhedrin. We don’t need apologetics here, let’s hear it from R’ Schachter’s pen itself and not from someone’s understanding of his lecture.
    ———
    RabbiG 05/10/2010 03:12 PM
    Hi Gil, I attended the RCA convention & I’m quite surprized that RHS’ commentduring his speach is getting the buzz it is.
    The samething happened with “monkey-gate” a few years back.
    I wouldn’t even call his speach a shiur.
    He shared a lot of Torah thoughts, but I wouldn’t have called it a shiur which has a clear source, question, and a novel new way to approach the sugya which ends up answering a perplexing problem.
    His speach stood on its own merits without this YVY business.
    He just added it as an aditional point to ponder.
    He took a novel application of RYBS’ use of YVY terminology regarding a Shabbos-bus to get people to shul, and said he was sure that RYBS would have made the same application to this issue as well.
    He wasn’t calling for anyone to commit martyrdom over women and semicha – just as RYBS didn’t issue a call for martyrdom over the Shabbos bus matter.
    Both of them used the YVY words to simply make an additional point about how serious of a breach they each saw the matter that faced them.
    Nothing more than that.
    Since there are parties who do not like the fact that a very big Talmid Chochom played a role in shooting down their dream of an egaliterian Orthodoxy, they try and tarnish him by harping on his choice of words and taking them out of context.
    Same as “monkey-gate”.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 03:14 PM in reply to Muss
    See section XII of this post: http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2004/03/womens-pra

    I have translated that entire chapter but it doesn’t read well in English because it is written in a Talmudic idiom and simply translating it for a different audience doesn’t represent it properly.
    ———
    chakira 05/10/2010 03:14 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Not all of the considerations are Torah based. You might object to women Rabbis because there is a bad economy and it would hurt the delicate Rabbi job market. You might see Torah objections as sustainable in and of themselves, but say that its morally unacceptable to not allow women to play any role in society in today’s day and age. Multiple levels of expertise, not all held by RHS, are in play. Beyond that there is the issue that even unqualified people are qualified to have opinions. Often, in a democratic system, they would be the opinions that matter most.
    ———
    emma 05/10/2010 03:15 PM
    “You need to know economics before you arrive at a legitimate opinion on an economic subject, etc. You need to be extremely well-versed in Torah before you can arrive at a legitimate opinion on a complex subject like this.”

    If rabbis are now conceding that this is about the “social fabric,” does that mean that only rabbis with sociological training can have legitimate opinions?
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 03:16 PM in reply to chakira
    Yes but the expertise in Torah is the key issue here, even if it isn’t the only one.

    Yes, anyone can have an opinion. You can vote for or against Obama based on the color of skin. That’s your prerogative but it isn’t worth much in this type of discussion.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 03:17 PM in reply to Aaron
    What are you referring to specifically when you say
    “unjustified denial to women of certain aspects of communal involvement.”

    Also, I still don’t understand why there are no co-ed yadin yadin semicha programs in any denomination.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 03:17 PM in reply to emma
    Gezeirah shavah “social” “sociological”? The social aspect is not meant as a sociological statement.
    ———
    chakira 05/10/2010 03:21 PM in reply to hirhurim
    I cannot believe you have the temerity to compare out and out racism to not knowing the sugya of arkasa demisanah. Really?!

    Second, there are a range of non Torah considerations that are equally important. Since he claims its destruction of religion in play, get your scholars of religion out. Since they say its authority, maybe you need to get a legal scholar to see who has what authority. Since you need to dilute the job pool, you might want to talk to the economists in the community. Will there be potential problems with maternity leave? Gotta ask the HR people. To call this a one dimensional R Schachter up down vote is to insult the hard earned expertise of people who deal in real world problems.
    ———
    Muss 05/10/2010 03:22 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Thank you, Gil. But perhaps you should make a reference to that teshuva in R’ Brander’s post. R’ Brander seems to impy that the YVY that R’ Schachter invokes is “lav davka.” R’ Schachter’s teshvua seems to say otherwise as he equates this with arkesa d’misana, where it certainly isn’t “lav davka.”
    ———
    Muss 05/10/2010 03:23 PM
    Thank you, Gil. But perhaps you should make a reference to that teshuva in R’ Brander’s post. R’ Brander seems to impy that the YVY that R’ Schachter invokes is “lav davka.” R’ Schachter’s teshvua seems to say otherwise as he equates this with arkesa d’misana, where it certainly isn’t “lav davka.”
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 03:23 PM in reply to chakira
    I cannot believe you are being overly picky with an analogy? Really?! All I was doing was giving an example of an uninformed opinion.

    I believe that the idea that scholars with little Torah training should be making halakhic decisions is inconsistent with our tradition.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 03:25 PM in reply to Muss
    I’m not so sure he ever meant that it is literally yehareig ve-al ya’avor.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 03:28 PM in reply to emma
    Which rabbis conceded that it is about “social fabric” per se ?
    According to the R Brander’s post above :
    “Women’s ordination is not just an issue of serarah (forbidden authority); the major concern regarding ordination of women is the challenge to the social/halakhic fabric of the Orthodox community. ”

    When trying to understand the “social fabric” of orthodox communities where else would you be looking for answers other than from bona fide talmidei chachamim/torah scholars/gadol hadors/halacha know it alls.
    ———
    chakira 05/10/2010 03:34 PM in reply to hirhurim
    I will explain it. One is uninformed. The other is pernicious and hateful.

    I think tradition is an important word to bring into the discussion. R Schachter is able to frame the decision in terms of Rabbinic idiom and classical sources. No one is denigrating this specific expertise. However, the range of other, equally important considerations are also in play. RHS can tell us how traditional this is. But we need others to tell us if it is feasible, morally desirable etc. Saying that this is not the case just serves to abdicate your critical judging faculties in the face of a pervasive myopia. If you really think he answers all the questions, who are you to answer the question of who answers all the questions? And if you are really willing to lower the stakes of your own expertise, my expertise, and my lawyer friend’s expertise so much, why should your opinion count in a society where those views are manifestly more important than the question, “how traditional is it?”
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 03:37 PM in reply to chakira
    I’m not saying that you can’t distinguish between the example and our case. I’m saying the distinction is irrelevant.

    No, in the Orthodox community halakhah is the domain of Torah scholars steeped in traditional study. Academics have no role in halakhah.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 03:39 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Yeah, back in those days when my father and a few of his friends read the Yiddish papers, but no one at Yu did and probably very few people under the age of 50. It simply wasn’t a topic of discussion, and very few people know what was being said.
    ———
    mycroft 05/10/2010 03:39 PM in reply to MJ
    “Even regarding basic questions of hilchos shabbos. I remember how a friend of mine who had been in his shiur for years had trouble getting a straight answer ”

    Hilchos Shabbos brings back fond memories to me of RHS as a young married man-giving a hilchos Shabbos shiur between kiddush and lunch Shabbos morning in Rubin Schul. RHS was IMHO very clear then. It was more than 40 years ago. He was clear then and whenI’ve heard him since most recently about a month ago he has been a pleasure to listen to.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 03:40 PM in reply to chakira
    Which legal scholars would you suggest for questions regarding “religious authority”/”serarah”.

    (your poetic piece on bekiyus and the hudson river was hilarious !)

    If I would open up a bais din I would hire godol hadors/ talmidei chachamim with yadin yadin semicha/brilliant fair judges from the secular courts/brilliant judaica professors/brilliant lawyers.
    ———
    chakira 05/10/2010 03:43 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Yeah, I agreed with you that “in the Orthodox community halakhah is the domain of Torah scholars steeped in traditional study. Academics have no role in halakhah.” I just do not think other questions like “is this morally necessary?” or “is this economically feasible?” are irrelevant. There is also the question of “how do we balance Halakhic reluctance with ethical neccesity?”

    You need a bunch of good people with a variety of areas of expertise to sit down and hammer out these questions. Philosophers can tell you what it moral. Lawyers can tell you what is serarah. Religious scholars can tell you what is destroying religion, and clergy from other faiths with relevant examples might help. Not all of these people are named R Schachter. He is just one guy, he cannot do ten things. Not that he does not do the thing he does exceptionally well.
    ———
    mycroft 05/10/2010 03:44 PM in reply to anon
    Obviously-that is why RHS is perfectly capable of clarifying anything that he wishes to do-unless he signs off on RKBs interpretation-it appears to me to be a political attempt by RKB to stop a firestorm.
    ———
    emma 05/10/2010 03:44 PM in reply to hirhurim
    “Gezeirah shavah “social” “sociological”?”
    sociology lav davka.

    as i suspect you understood despite your quibble, i was making something like chakira’s point, perhaps not as radically: when someone makes a statement about what the social fabric is, and a forward-looking statement about what will happen to that fabric in various scenarios, it seems reasonable to me to take them more seriously if they have some social-science expertise, and less seriously if they do not. Especially less seriously of they reveal that their understanding of the world does not account for many things those with different expertise know to be real.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 03:47 PM in reply to hirhurim
    “I believe that the idea that scholars with little Torah training should be making halakhic decisions is inconsistent with our tradition.”

    But that’s not really the issue. The issue is should the text or audio of RHS’s presentation to the RCA be nade public, and should a “clarification” of that presentation be published before the text of the presentation being clarified is public. As I wrote before, this is doing it backwards. Makes little sense, is unfair to the readers (how can I possibly seriously consider RKB’s comments without seeing the original comments that he’s clarifying [unless you want me to accept them based on who he is rather than what he’s saying]?), and makes it appear that someone’s hiding something. It’s seems so simple to me; give me the primary source and then, if you think necessary or appropriate, give me an explanation/clarification of that source. I must be missing something (but I think I’m not).
    ———
    emma 05/10/2010 03:48 PM in reply to jadedtopaz
    not exclusively social, but I understood the slash between social and halachic to be a conjunction. (otherwise, would be be left with the (to me implausible) position that the halachic and social fabrics are coextensive?)
    ———
    chakira 05/10/2010 03:58 PM
    Just to clarify, so I am not being unfair to Gil.

    I think that it IS fair to say that religion operates on a different schema of religious rationality which is totalizing and whose decisions are inscrutable to others outside of that language game (whatever you want to call it). This is the ground you seem to be staking out, listen to RHS because you listen to Rabbis.

    Fine.

    But then the jargon of expertise, the sociology talk, and the appeals to extraneous reasons need to drop. And second, do not expect me to treat you as a fellow traveler in the universe of reasons. You have decided that there is a sphere which has a “wild card” of legitimation because of some noumenal authority. Guess what? That is not a basis for an argument.

    Therefore what I am saying is that by entering into the thicket of justifications you implicitly concede that you are willing not to use the trump card, that you want to play with other rational folks and making rational statements. Great. But a rational question might include the aforementioned balance of tradition vs. morality (to use one example) where a philosopher and a tradition expert (RHS) might need to fight it out and come to mutually agreeable solutions. Since you cannot see this happening it seems disingenuous that you are even arguing. So is Halakha going to be a trump card and a unique language game that is incommensurable with the space of reasoned argumentation? Or is RHS gonna sit down and ask a religion scholar what it means to destroy religion?
    ———
    Skeptic 05/10/2010 04:03 PM in reply to chareidilite
    You misunderstand my point entirely — I was not being critical of RHS’s position at all — indeed I generally agree with him. But I would like to know what HE said — not what someone else thinks he meant. Is that really so much to ask?
    ———
    mycroft 05/10/2010 04:04 PM in reply to hirhurim
    RHS is much more than a talmid chacham par excellence-he is a leader. Leaders have to be aware of criticisms and misinterpretations.
    Al eader has to make himself clear-an example from YU-in the spring of 1968 YU or some division of it invited Lord Carradon to speak-some Betarnicks threatened to create trouble if he came-the Rav was furious at the Betarnicks-but to make sure there was no mistake about his intentions-the Rav spoke publicly in Rubin Schul about the issue. Since he spoke publicly in his own words his beliefs were widely known.
    RHS speaks very often-he can speak aboutthis topic too-if he believes it is important. I believe by his reported words that he believes it is important

    “the RCA is moving slowly in making the recordings available in order to ensure that it is done well. There’s no rush. Better to delay ”

    If the RCa has the tapes why the delay if they are going to releast the tapes-what is to do right-if you are going to release all the tapes that you have in your possession. Of course, maybe they believe they shouldn’t release internal tapes-then of course their decisions would have less probative value.
    ———
    Guest 05/10/2010 04:05 PM
    “No, in the Orthodox community halakhah is the domain of Torah scholars steeped in traditional study. Academics have no role in halakhah.”

    And in the Modern Orthodox community halakha is in the domain of Torah scholars who have taken into consideration the relevant scientific, legal, philosophical, sociological discourse of the day in consultation with all experts in all those pertinent fields before rendering any decision. [Imagine as an example R’ Yechiel Michel Epstein zt”l of a communal rabbi/decisor who did such.] Furthermore, in the Modern Orthodox community those who render decisions are open to a give and take with those in their community and are prepared to discuss at length their rationale and thought process and not rely on mediators to do it for them.
    ———
    Shlomo 05/10/2010 04:08 PM
    Then why on earth would they switch to Orthodox ?

    Because (to give one possible reason out of many) they thought that Orthodox was more honest and consistent about keeping halacha.

    And when it comes to the woman rabbi issue, arguably, the attitude is inconsistent.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 04:11 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    I’m not in control of the timing and neither is RHS. But the Jewish Week already published an Op-Ed based on hearsay. My recollection is that historically, it has taken the RCA a few weeks to get recordings of its convention on its website. It might already be available from Zalman Umlaus, if he was there to tape it. I don’t know if he was.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 04:12 PM in reply to chakira
    I think you over-jargonized your comment beyond comprehension. My impression, though, is that you want to limit the discourse of talmidei chakhamim. I don’t think it works that way.
    ———
    mycroft 05/10/2010 04:12 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    The conventions were written about quite regularly in theJewish media. Even the NYTimes would usually put in a piece or two about the convention. This fact was the basisi of the Ravs famous quip that he became much more impressed about the RCA when they held a convention despite their being a NY ne

  2. hirhurim 05/10/2010 04:14 PM in reply to mycroft
    I don’t think that RHS is being intentionally reticent about the subject. I’ve spoken with him about it and he keeps saying (correctly) that his position on the matter is well known.

    As to the RCA’s “delay”, for crying out loud. It’s a non-profit organization that does not have to and will not march to the pace of impatient bloggers. I’d like to hear the recording also but I’m realistic in my expectations.
    ———
    mycroft 05/10/2010 04:15 PM in reply to hirhurim
    not just the Yiddish newspapers published descriptions of the conventions-the Anglo Jewish Press and sometimes the general press did too.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 04:17 PM in reply to Guest
    Your first point, that halakhists consult with experts, is generally correct. But there are experts and there are experts. I don’t know of any posek (or rabbi professor) throughout the spectrum of Orthodoxy who regularly consults with social scientists before issuing a pesak.

    And your second point is puzzling. I know of very few rabbis who actively respond to internet questions and none who regularly read blog comment sections for challenges to their pesakim. Whom do you have in mind?
    ———
    chakira 05/10/2010 04:38 PM in reply to hirhurim
    4 people liked this.
    My interest is not in whether they are in charge of everything, nothing, or a few things. I do not care what role you assign to rabbis at all, since in a free society I can assign them a different, lower or higher role (or lower in one area, higher in another, the same in a third). Some people let Rabbis tell them how to use birth control, others think hashgachot are extraneous and refuse to pay heed to the Kosher Nostra. To each their own.

    My concern is with the sustainability of your argument. You are making an argument. This means you are making yourself vulnerable. Presumably there are counterarguments that could rupture your balloon, and conversely you may win over someone else’s point. So you might value halakha more than morality, I might value morality more than halakha. You might think halakha allows women Rabbis. I might disagree. I might think women Rabbis are a moral necessity. You may see them as leading to licentiousness and the spread of HIV.

    These are all arguments we are free to have with one another that neccesitate specific types of expertise and legitimation. We are in a sphere of reasons. We offer reasons one to the other and consider arguments. In turn we produce norms, consensually and through the consideration of arguments.

    Awesome.

    Now let’s imagine you say that there is a trump card. You will not consider any arguments because your spiritual leader, let’s call him, the Ayatollah, has decided on all the issues. I think there is room for this. You are free to listen to the Ayatollah, buy his special products and DVDs and send your kids to Martyrdom University. Great.

    But then do not say this is a rational argument. If I cannot conceivably win because you will invoke the value of the Ayatollah, then do not engage me. Furthermore, if the Ayatollah points to “social trends” or other extraneous reasons, this is contradictory. He need only refer to his authority as the representative of the Mahdi on earth (or the baal horaah of the generation– you get the idea).

    So basically I am calling you out on your bifurcated approach to rationality. Do you want to argue on the merits of points, or is the work of argument done by appeals to RHS? Either way is fine, but I think they do not mix.
    ———
    Jon_Brooklyn 05/10/2010 04:57 PM in reply to Nachum
    Oh come on, you know what I meant.
    ———
    Meir Shinnar 05/10/2010 04:59 PM
    1 person liked this.
    RKB wrote
    It is not just an issue of a particular halakhic issur; it is the challenge to the fabric of what defines Orthodoxy in contrast to other movements.

    Once the debate moves from the issue of halachic issurim to the realm of defining Orthodoxy in contrast to other movements – there is much greater room for public discussion.

    The notion that the (or even a..) defining issue of Orthodoxy in relationship to other movements is that we do not allow women in public roles – when this is not based on halachic issurim – is something that many of us find deeply troubling (and seems proof of my previous posts on the basis of the RCA resolution..) –

    It also does not reflect either historic or social reality (split with Conservative occured way before any issue of women’s roles – (1950s and 1960s Conservative shuls were not egalitarian),, and the egalitarianism (counting women in a minyan of the 1970s – which led to a greater distance) – preceded women’s ordination. Suggesting that what was a late blip on the scene is now part of the crucial distinctions seems problematic – and raises issues of why this is viewed as so important. Raising issues on basis of historical differences requires a sense of history

    The basis of our differences between O and Conservative were always viewed and presented as the relationship to halacha. Driving on shabbat was a premier example of the different relationship and view of halacha – not because O did not recognize the problem that C was solving – but because the solution was not halachic, and it became a symbol of a non halachic approach. The fact that C, once non halachic, adopted women’s issues as their cause – does not suddenly make all women’s issues the defining fabric of Orthodoxy – and we should not allow C to define who we are….
    (driving a car is a profoundly different issue- because the 1950s RA resoluiton permitting driving on shabbat was a major issue differentiating the two…)

    What is worst, it is a redefinition of what it means to be Orthodox. As Charlie Hall noted, the fabric of an Orthodox community does not change when a woman is a rabbi – and elevating it to this level is the most problematic statement yet…..
    ———
    commentor 05/10/2010 05:02 PM in reply to ruvie
    Maybe you are wrong? Its possible. But, it seems like you have determined you are right, and Rav Schachter needs to change to come to you, or he is out of touch.
    ———
    Al Gore 05/10/2010 05:17 PM in reply to am haaretz
    Some say they were the descendants of gerim.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 05:23 PM in reply to Meir Shinnar
    you stated :
    “RKB wrote
    It is not just an issue of a particular halakhic issur; it is the challenge to the fabric of what defines Orthodoxy in contrast to other movements.”

    you then concluded :
    “Once the debate moves from the issue of halachic issurim to the realm of defining Orthodoxy in contrast to other movements – there is much greater room for public discussion.”

    you forgot to mention that RKB also stated ;
    “the major concern regarding ordination of women is the challenge to the social/halakhic fabric of the Orthodox community. ”

    So I’m not sure that the issues are moving “from halachic issurim” just yet, as is clearly implicit in the fun versatile words “social/halakhic fabric of the orthodox community”.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 05:28 PM in reply to Shlomo
    really !?
    leaders or followers.
    I think the leaders of the Conservative movement are just as honest and consistent about keeping halacha as the Orthodox leaders especially in 2010.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 05:50 PM in reply to emma
    you originally asserted
    “If rabbis are now conceding that this is about the “social fabric,” does that mean that only rabbis with sociological training can have legitimate opinions?”

    The original quote RKB quote was :
    “the major concern regarding ordination of women is the challenge to the social/halakhic fabric of the Orthodox community.”

    Are you suggesting that a sociologist would be the best expert to consult for a “halachic ruling” on the social/halakhic fabric of the Orthodox community ?

    I guess everyone has different ways of understanding how life works.
    And how denominations become successful systems for transmitting the proper/truthful/traditional values…. (i’m still looking for the pure brisk/Lithuanian (mussar/hasidic free) real litvak denomination)

    I also think that many underestimate the powerful depths of pure unadulterated understanding, studying halacha properly (with the proper pure sources) can provide.

    And everyone learns differently…………
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 05:59 PM in reply to emma
    one last super quick question,
    Are the rules that govern the “halachic fabric” based on the rules that govern the “social fabric” or are they independent fabrics that have nothing to do with each other in a material way.
    Would you consider “minhag hamokom” a social or halachic piece of fabric.

    How are you differentiating between the two fabrics.

    I think the mechitzah is the biggest material issue on the social and halachic fabric front.
    ———
    lawrence kaplan 05/10/2010 06:02 PM
    Gil and Mycroft: If you think that after the Rav’s NOW famous speech at the 1975 RCA convention attacking Rabbi Rackman.there was one thousanth the amount of discussion as there is now about this RCA convention, you are dreaming in technicolor. In 1973 I wrote an article on the Rav for Tradition, so I had a particular interest in the Rav. .And, yet, I am not sure when I became aware of his talk. Certainly not right after the conference. Of course, I was in Montreal then and “out of the loop.” But I am writing from Montreal now. The point is that there is no “out of the loop” any more.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 06:03 PM in reply to lawrence kaplan
    How much of that is the nature of communication today?

    _________________________________________________________________
    Hotmail has tools for the New Busy. Search, chat and e-mail from your inbox.
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    ———
    emma 05/10/2010 06:13 PM in reply to jadedtopaz
    these questions should presumably be directed to Rabbi brander. I don’t know what he meant. All I know is that he implied that social and halachic are different and that both are at play.
    ———
    mycroft 05/10/2010 06:21 PM in reply to lawrence kaplan
    a”fter the Rav’s NOW famous speech at the 1975 RCA convention

    There are reasons why I believe that the 1975 speech became famous later-victors write history etc.Certain blogwriters quote that speech-rtather the more balanced info in your recent article about R Rackman.
    The Internet whcih we both seem to read on occasion is of interest to us- Query how many unique readers read Hirhurim a week? I’ve seen the millions of hits since its inception-but I suspect a lot of them are people like myself, Steve Brizel, youetc.
    ———
    lawrence kaplan 05/10/2010 06:25 PM in reply to hirhurim
    BTW, Gil, one of the most outstanding essays of the Rav, ‘Al Ahavat ha-torah u-Geulat Nefesh ha-Dor, was written as a response to criticism. The Editor of ha-Doar , based on a publshed interview with the Rav by Eli Wiesel (yes, that Eli Wiesel) took issue with the Rav concerning several issues.The Rav first clarified the remarks he made in the interview (no–he did not have a handler do it), and then proceeded to brilliantly and movingly set forth his postion about the issues in question. Indeed, we are an orphaned generation.
    ———
    lawrence kaplan 05/10/2010 06:26 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Precisely my point!
    ———
    mycroft 05/10/2010 06:40 PM in reply to lawrence kaplan
    Of even more interest are the reasons why the 1975 speech of the Rav gets the paly now-what gets remebered of what the Rav said would be an interesting question-eg why is it that the Ravs various decisions in what to do re interfaith issues are not remebered and only Confrontation is rreferred to_ I believe Prof Brill once referred to this point.
    Had Rabbi Rackman become YU pres-I doubt the 75 speech would have been remembered especially after 30 years of YUPR-interesting thought experiment.

    Gil of course refers to the communication change of today-In 1975 there was no Internet-the Arpanet-which I could remember every node on that existed on that network on a map at a computer center.

    Of course, how much attention s paid to these discussions by the Agudah, Chassidim, even YU RY -, or even OU machers is an open question.
    ———
    mycroft 05/10/2010 06:45 PM
    “that halakhists consult with experts, is generally correct. But there are experts and there are experts. I don’t know of any posek (or rabbi professor) throughout the spectrum of Orthodoxy who regularly consults with social scientists before issuing a pesak.”

    Gil a separate question-why not? Everyone talks about how Poskim deal with physicists, physicians etc in answering a psak halacha-why not with social workers, psychologists etc?

    “And your second point is puzzling. I know of very few rabbis who actively respond to internet questions and none who regularly read blog comment sections for challenges to their pesakim. Whom do you have in mind?”
    Agree with Gil-that is why sometimes those of us who frequent Gils blog might believe thatthe Internet has more power over Jewish issues than it really does.
    ———
    Guest 05/10/2010 06:47 PM
    I did not mean that they actively respond to Internet questions or comments on blogs. I did mean that when an issue is so enormous in scope and has such huge ramifications, it is the responsibility of that posek to discuss openly and publicly in a scholarly way their view and why they ruled in a certain manner. They also need to be available for comments and questions and not use rabbinic politicians to respond for them.
    ———
    Michael Makovi 05/10/2010 06:59 PM
    2 people liked this.
    > Rav Schachter felt this was different for women where the entire
    > purpose of ordination is to provide them with the credentials to be
    > “pulpit rabbis”.

    This is false. Women want the title so that they can do whatever male rabbis do, whether that’s to occupy a pulpit or to write books with the word “rabbi” on the cover. Women do NOT want the title simply so that they can occupy pulpits. After all, Esther Jungreis and Lynne Kaye are doing just fine with their pulpits even without formal titles.

    The fact that the RCA said nothing against Esther Jungreis or Lynne Kaye – both of whom DO occupy pulpits – but attacked Sara Hurewitz shows that the RCA’s issue is NOT with pulpits per se, but purely with the title. The RCA couldn’t care less what women DO, as long as they don’t have the TITLE.

    In short:
    (1) Women have been agitating for the title of “rabbi” NOT so that they can occupy pulpits, but so that they can have the same title for men, and get the same “pay” (the honor of a title) for the same work. But what that work is, and whether it includes pulpits, is an entirely different question. Whether or not women will occupy pulpits, this is entirely distinct from the question of their possessing the title of “rabbi”.
    (2) As I said, whether or not women can occupy pulpits is separate from whether they are called “rabbi”. Esther Jungreis and Lynne Kaye do NOT possess the title of “rabbi”, and both are nevertheless occupying pulpits. The RCA seems to have no objection.

    We thus see from the RCA’s own actions that it does NOT mind women’s occupying pulpits, but it DOES mind their being called “rabbi” even if they do NOT occupy pulpits.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 07:06 PM in reply to Michael Makovi
    how are you defining “pulpit”.
    ———
    Guest 05/10/2010 07:23 PM
    Don’t forget to include Elana Stein Hain who functions as the full-time leader of the “Amsterdam Minyan” at LSS. They have rotating rabbinic students intern at the minyan but she is the year around head of the minyan – delivering drashot, answering she’alot, delivering shiurim, etc.
    ———
    lawrence kaplan 05/10/2010 07:42 PM in reply to mycroft
    Actually, as I have often stated, and may have been the first to point out, the key text of the Rav re interfaith relationships is NOT Confrontation, but the position paper “On Interfaith Relationships,”
    first published in 1966, and which can be found in Community, Covenant, and Commitment, pp. 259-261.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 07:54 PM in reply to Michael Makovi
    The RCA did not say anything about ANYONE but that doesn’t mean that “they” had no problem with women moving into pseudo-rabbinic positions. Sometimes you turn a blind eye to improper practices because it isn’t worth the fight. This time, though, the issue was in the news and there was a great deal of confusion, so the RCA felt obligated to issue a formal resolution about the subject.

    The rest of your comment seems a bit overly picky. No one believes that there is only one motivation for an innovation. However, we need to deal with the predominant reason.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 07:57 PM in reply to lawrence kaplan
    Did the Rav respond to every criticism? The fact you can point to one specific essay tells me that he usually did not respond. Please allow Rav Schachter to utilize his judgment in determining when and when not to respond, just like the Rav was selective.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 07:59 PM in reply to Guest
    Rav Schachter is very available. Just call him. He may or may not speak more about this subject but his pesak is very clear and that is what is most important. And since the RCA voted on this subject, certainly your local RCA rabbi is available to discuss it also. Why ignore him?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
    ———
    emma 05/10/2010 08:40 PM in reply to Michael Makovi
    I don’t think Esther Jungreis is who you think she is.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 09:39 PM in reply to hirhurim
    “How much of that is the nature of communication today? ”

    Most of it. But you were the one who said: “I find it hard to believe that the RCA conventions when Rav Soloveitchik said controversial things got less publicity than this one.” The fact is, as my brother and I argue (from personal experience), they got MUCH less publicity, probably because of changes in communication (which is what I said way up earlier in the thread). But the point is, for whatever reason, what you find “hard to believe” is actually true as you appear to concede, although not openly.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 09:43 PM in reply to hirhurim
    I don’t really care about RHS responding; I’d like to know exactly what he said, with RKB’s filter.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 09:44 PM in reply to hirhurim
    How is his psak clear if it’s still hidden. Rav Moshe’s psaks are clear because they’re available for all to see. Things that are hidden and clarified are not, by definition, clear.
    ———
    Jerry 05/10/2010 09:49 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Gil: maybe the point is that when the Rav thought a clarification was in order, he issued it himself.
    ———
    Mark 05/10/2010 09:50 PM in reply to Michael Makovi
    Esther Jungreis is a pulpit Rabbi? Are you joking or are you referring to someone other than Rebetzin Esther Jungreis of Hineini because that EJ certainly doesn’t occupy a pulpit. She gives classes on a regular basis but that’s about it.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 09:56 PM in reply to emma
    whether or not “social” and “halachic” are “coextensive” on the fabric level , they can still be “codependent” ;-), in conjunction with or because of each other .
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 09:58 PM in reply to Jerry
    As does Rav Schachter.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/10/2010 09:59 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    Do you have any doubt whether he allows the ordination of women.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 10:11 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Nope. But the fact that that’s his position is not as dispositive to me as it is to you. Therefore, I’d like to know what he said to support that position; I’d like to know his reasoning. RKB thought his [RHS’s] reasoning was important enough to issue a clarification. This is an issue I know something about and care about. If someone of RHS’s stature is going to speak about it to our rabbinical leadership and then our rabbinical leadership uses his name in support of their decision, then I’d like to understand what’s behind all this. I ask again: what are they hiding? (My guess is that they’re not really hiding anything; they’re just handling this whole thing foolishly. As they say in political scandals [and no, I don’t think this is a scandal], the coverup is worse than the crime [no, I don’t think this is a coverup or a crime; I’m merely using an analogy]).
    ———
    Jerry 05/10/2010 10:12 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Not in this case or in the case Lawrence Kaplan talked about.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/10/2010 10:13 PM in reply to mycroft
    Absolutely. RYBS strongly disagreed with the splitting of RIETS off from YU.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/10/2010 10:14 PM in reply to lawrence kaplan
    Why is it strange that a Gadol has talmidim who explain his comments? That is hardly unheard of in Jewish history.
    ———
    MJ 05/10/2010 10:17 PM in reply to emma
    She is the closest thing that that American Orthodoxy has to a televangelist. That’s definitely something.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/10/2010 10:20 PM in reply to hirhurim
    This is absolutely the case. It should also be noted another of RHS’s many Midos in learning is that of being Shoel LiInyan and of taking an absolute klutz kashe and turning the same into a mini discourse in a manner that does not embarass the questionner.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/10/2010 10:23 PM in reply to joel rich
    This is absolutely the case. Any talmid of RHS can tell you that RHS is fond of pointing out the CI’s basic complaint about the MB”s role in Psak Halacha.
    ———
    Steg (dos iz nit der Å¡teg) 05/10/2010 10:25 PM in reply to David Tzohar
    R’ Yoel Bin-Nun is pro-women’s semikha. He wrote a teshuva for RAW and R’ Sara Hurwitz about it.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/10/2010 10:25 PM in reply to Aaron
    A lot of people talk the talk about Agunos but do nothing other than advocate the wholesale abolition of Hilcos Gittin . RHS ( and R M Willig) both walk the walk with their work on behalf of ORA.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/10/2010 10:31 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Why not attend RHS’s shiurim in Teaneck, Forest Hills and Flatbush before venturing to “understand what he is saying and why he is saying it”? Why not engage in Talmud Torah that is marked by Ameilus BaTorah before thinking that something that I don’t understand probably is based on what the speaker said, as opposed to my superficial understanding of the issue-which is frequently the case among all of us? I think that it is grossly inappropriate for anyone on this blog to be engaged in speculation or the equivalent of cross-examination of a Gadol BaTorah.
    ———
    guest 05/10/2010 10:31 PM
    “I do not believe that it is mutar to discuss any flaws you believe RHS may have. You can respectfully critique something he has published but there is no heter to discuss him personally.”

    Why isn’t it uman b’umnaso? I believe the chazon ish in his igros disagrees with you….Blogs may not be the best place for it, b/c toeles is problematic to assess on blogs, as I’ve learned to my chagrin, but that’s a separate story.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/10/2010 10:34 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    You can listen by ditching every shiur and other substitute for in depth learning and going to RHS’s shiurim and buying his tapes from R M Nordlicht.
    ———
    guest 05/10/2010 10:35 PM
    the source:

    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”×—
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 10:36 PM in reply to guest
    Can you please copy and paste the chazon ish source you are referring to, in its entirety.
    Or provide a citation for the original source .
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/10/2010 10:36 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Listen to the shiur on Gerus and related issues. The tension and anger over a possible discussion of Hakfaas Kiddushin is palpable and one can almost visualize grown men crawling under their seats because of RYBS’s strong feelings on the subject.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 10:37 PM in reply to guest
    ignore my request didn’t see your second comment , thanx.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/10/2010 10:38 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    The shiur in question has been available in print and on tape for decades since it was given.
    ———
    YC 05/10/2010 10:40 PM in reply to hirhurim
    re there was a great deal of confusion, so the RCA felt obligated to issue a formal resolution about the subject.

    That resolution did nothing to clear anything up. No one thought the RCA would sanction women Rabbis. Everything else it said could be taken in whatever way a reader wants to take it. I thank RHS for his clarity, to bad the RCA did not follow suit.

    re And since the RCA voted on this subject, certainly your local RCA rabbi is available to discuss it also.
    Since when do RCA Rabbis follow RCA resolutions.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/10/2010 10:41 PM in reply to chakira
    Lawyers, doctors and other professionals look at issues in the light of their training. Why can’t a Posek, especially a Gadol, be equally entitled to a POV based on his training and experience/
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/10/2010 10:43 PM in reply to chakira
    All of Jewish morality begins and ends with Halacha, as opposed to the importation of all of the external sources that you have mentioned.
    ———
    guest 05/10/2010 10:43 PM
    maybe this is too subjective – i don’t know – but I think the CI’s point is what people here are saying in other words – if you can’t criticize, then you are living under authoritarianism, nobody knows what’s what, etc
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/10/2010 10:45 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    Why? The convention was as closed to the public as the decision making in any professional setting where decisions are arrived at on a daily basis without a scintilla of transparency.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/10/2010 10:49 PM in reply to lawrence kaplan
    Really? Let’s face reality-RYBS’s public rebuke of R Rackman ZL’s proposal to discuss Hafkaas Kiddushin was a primary factor in costing R Rackman ZL any chance of becoming YU President,
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 10:50 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    I’m not sure (as is often the case) what you’re talking about. (The only reason I am saying that is because you say you’re replying to me.) I’m speaking about a very specific presentation that RHS gave at the RCA convention. That’s what we’re discussing and what his other shiurim and R M Nordlicht’s tapes have to do with this discussion is simply beyond me.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/10/2010 10:52 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    Really ? The shiur in question and its practical affects on the the RCA have been known for decades.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 10:52 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    It’s been around and available since the internet became popular. It was not known to many people or widely discussed before then.
    ———
    Charlie Hall 05/10/2010 10:52 PM in reply to Meir Shinnar
    1 person liked this.
    I was taught that a movement that starts using things other than halachah to define what is permitted or not, it isn’t Orthodox any more. And that clearly seems to be what is happening here — the non-halachic posts greatly outnumber the halachic posts. Has this blog ever done a point-by-point rebuttal of the essays by Rabbis Sperber, Bin-Nun, and Maroof?
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 10:53 PM in reply to YC
    How do you know its clarity? Were you there? Do you have a copy of it? I’d like to know its clarity; that’s what I’m asking for.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 10:55 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Fine; then RKB should have continued to keep the secret and not published his “clarification.” To “clarify” a secret presentation is, in my view, foolish and, essentially, meaningless. Keep it secret or make it public; what’s been done is like being half pregnant.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/10/2010 10:56 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    When you find a Gadol of equal stature who disagrees, why don’t you let us know instead of telling us that RHS’s POV is essentially of academic and intellectual interes to you and the editor of the JW who also complained in remarkably similar terms about the closure of the convention to the press opposed to understanding the issue based on considerations of Torah Lishmah? I think that the analogy to a coverup or crime is inappropriate for a Torah based discussion.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 10:57 PM in reply to Charlie Hall
    Will there be prizes (yadin yadin brownie points perhaps) for the best rebuttals .
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 10:59 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    ‘Really” what? Gil said the Rav’s comments on controversial topics at RCA conventions got lots of publicity. I said that wasn’t the case; they didn’t get lots of publicity the; they got it much later when internet discussions began. Are you saying that the shiur about RER got lots of publicity then and was widely discussed and known? If you are, please say that directly and tell us how you know it. Thanks.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/10/2010 11:03 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    It’s of interest to me because it’s on a topic that interests me (and many others in the MO community) and because the RCA made a decision based, in part, on it. But if they want to hide it, fine, they have that right; just don’t issue “clarifications” of material that you’re hiding. If you’re going to “clarify” it, have the intellectual honesty to produce the primary source that you’re “clarifying.”

    Sorry you didn’t like my analogy.
    ———
    Michael Makovi 05/10/2010 11:15 PM in reply to jadedtopaz
    Giving sermons. A pulpit is basically a podium.
    ———
    Michael Makovi 05/10/2010 11:16 PM in reply to emma
    Her talks from her podium are much longer than any rabbi’s from his pulpit.
    ———
    Michael Makovi 05/10/2010 11:17 PM in reply to Mark
    She is not a pulpit rabbi, but she gives talks in public, so what’s the difference? Is a podium really so different from a pulpit?
    ———
    Michael Makovi 05/10/2010 11:20 PM in reply to Charlie Hall
    Charlie, indeed. Agudat Yisrael even explicitly admitted that there was no halakhic problem. After all, can a woman give sermons in public? Yes. Can she teach halakhah? Yes. Can she counsel the troubled? Yes. Can she work in a non-Torah related field and know to her own satisfaction that she once demonstrated Torah knowledge? Yes. It seems there is NOTHING a rabbi does which a woman cannot do. So why do the RCA and Agudat Yisrael want to prohibit women to do something for which no halakhic prohibition exists? Have they found a heter for bal tosif?
    ———
    Charlie Hall 05/10/2010 11:38 PM in reply to Michael Makovi
    A woman can’t be a dayan on a beit din for conversion. A woman can’t be an eid under the chuppah. A woman can make the phone calls to get people to the minyan but doesn’t count as one of the ten herself. So there are indeed some things rabbis often do that a woman would not be able to do. (Note that I didn’t mention davening from the amud; most rabbis I know almost never daven from the amud.)

    But women are chayev in Shabbat, kashrut, niddah, and mourning, can teach in those areas, and can give halachic rulings to anyone who individually asks them a shilah in those areas if they are sufficiently knowledgeable — and those are precisely the areas mentioned in Sara Hurwitz’ semichah certificate. The revolutionary act was opening up advanced Torah study to women. Acknowledging that women have succeeded in that study is not revolutionary at all.

    This isn’t about overturning tradition, this is about acknowledging facts: There exist today women who are competent teachers in these areas and there is no reason to deny that.

    And I’ve never heard of anyone wanting to deny a male convert a similar acknowledgment.
    ———
    ruvie 05/10/2010 11:42 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    why do you need a gadol of equal stature? why not let the merits of the reasoning and sources stand on it own and be reviewed? are only certain “gadolim” allowed to critique or question the arguments ? this is not acceptable answer in our day.
    ———
    mycroft 05/10/2010 11:43 PM in reply to lawrence kaplan
    I agree as far as written texts go note the Ravs Big Ten. prohibitions on page 260. Note in page 261.
    especially-for the rationale and how the Rav states that we “are ready to enter into dialogue on such topics…which revolve about religious aspects of our civilization. Discussion ..will..be within the framework of our religious outlook and terminology…we are ready to discuss universal religious problems.
    I am far from an expert but my general understanding is that the Ravs decisions for the next 2 decades followed the framework of the letter you cited. I believe Prof Brill would maintain that since there is ample evidence what the Rav permitted to be discussed during this time period one should start with his decisions to see what the Rav held-it tends to much more liberal than many interpretations today of Confrontation.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/10/2010 11:44 PM in reply to Michael Makovi
    Which Agudat Yisrael response are you referring to specifically ?
    I’m not sure that the position(s) involving a podium generally constitute the same sort of positions the proverbial pulpit position generally involves .

    I guess its back to the age old question of what “semicha” really means and what the precise responsibilities are for those that receive “semicha” on the authoritative/jurisdictional and communal levels (and how those terms are defined halachically).
    ———
    mycroft 05/10/2010 11:56 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Way beyond my expertise but it is my impression that there are many who believe that the Halacha must be followed but do not necessarily believe that Yahadus revolves exclusively around obeying Halacha. There are those who believe that Jewish piety involves more than meticulous following of halacha that is necesssary but not sufficient.
    Note the Rav’s statement “Halcha is the floor not the ceiling”
    ———
    ruvie 05/10/2010 11:59 PM in reply to commentor
    of course i could be wrong. its not that i think i am right (even though i am not in favor of woman’s ordination) but i think the arguments and the reasoning attributed to rhs – since no one has produce a transcript yet so its only hearsay- do not registered to many in the mo community as valid. its not black and white as rhs appears to believe. this is a public policy issue that has many voices. and if many in the mo community believe that rhs haskafa and their differs that are allowed to (and maybe should) rely on other rabbis that are even less learned than rhs. to be a mo jew one looks at authority with a jaundiced eye. it would appear that rhs is in favor of women’s learning but not really in their advancement (based on their learning) in major public community roles. it would also seem that the rca has ignored rhs in this area (or at least the sysnagogues that have rca rabbis and official roles for women on their staff – e.g. lss).
    ———
    chakira 05/11/2010 12:06 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    He is entitled to his POV. That is what I said.
    ———
    chakira 05/11/2010 12:06 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    I did not advocate either importing or not. I just sketched both options. Please reread.
    ———
    mycroft 05/11/2010 12:19 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    I disagree with Steve-my guess is that it was decided like all other YU Presidential decisions by internal politics of the Board. Note of course that R Rackman was born a year before Dr. Belkin-he was 65 during that time period-no one would have guessed that R Rackman would be granted another 33 years or so of life.
    Previous Presidents if my recollection iscorrect were Dr Revel who was about 30 as was Dr Belkin when they both became President of YU. Both died before they were 65.
    If one wantrs to see how little IMHO the Rav would have been followed by the Board see his very public stements lifnei am veidah in Furst Hall when he bitterly attacked Dr Belkin andYU for changing their charter to be non sectarian with a different charter for RIETS-did theYU Board care then what the Rav wanted -no
    In the relatively recent selection of Joel weren’t the RY opposedto bringing in a non Rabbi as Prez-didn’t RMT andRMM protest and try and stop the appointment of a non Rabbi asPrez? Did that make a difference.?
    I note of course, the frequency of bloggers quoting the Rav 75 speech-and asl when was the last time his speech in FurstHall -with his public argument with Dr. Belkin and The Ravs response to Dr. Belkin don’t you trust me? I do but then the classic All men are mortal, proof.
    I suspect there is a lot of current political reasonswhich of the Ravs speeches are remembered..
    Similar to Prof kaplan-I was not aware of the Rackman speech when it was given-I was not in Montreal in 1975 but usually went to Philbrick Rd mozaei Shabbos.
    ———
    mycroft 05/11/2010 12:23 AM in reply to MJ
    She is a a women preaching Tzinuis while proclaiming Hineini.
    ———
    Nachum 05/11/2010 12:55 AM in reply to hirhurim
    I always thought they were *descendants* of geirim anyway. Sanchereiv lived centuries before them.
    ———
    Nachum 05/11/2010 12:58 AM in reply to Charlie Hall
    All due respect, Charlie, you’re not the top Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS; i.e., the “face” of YU.
    ———
    Nachum 05/11/2010 01:09 AM
    This morning a troubling thought occurred to me: While everyone is getting worked up about the “yeharg v’al ya’avor” half of the statement, I’m more troubling by the “shmad” allegation. In a world where less than a century ago a lunatic murdered one third of the Jewish people (would’ve killed them all if he had the chance); where another lunatic dreams of doing the same in one fell swoop; where European Jews can’t walk around with kippot and are attacked and murdered openly; where Jews are killed on the streets of Israel; it sort of borders on the obscene to talk about “shmad” in the context of Reform or Conservative Judaism- which, let’s be honest, doesn’t really pose any sort of threat to (Orthodox) Judaism, at least not any more, and certainly not to the “Open Orthodoxy” types, who, despite what R’ Steven Pruzansky may argue, are probably *more* committed to halacha than most.

    Just my two cents. And lest you accuse me violating Godwin’s law, let me point out that I wasn’t the first to use the word “shmad.”
    ———
    Shlomo 05/11/2010 03:12 AM in reply to Nachum
    “Shaat hashmad” is a technical term that has developed to refer to a specific halachic concept. There is no need to be concerned by its emotional associations any more than with a term like nichsei tzon barzel. What weirdo would make cast iron statues of sheep anyway?
    ———
    mycroft 05/11/2010 05:38 AM in reply to Nachum
    Nachum makes an excellent point
    ———
    Nachum 05/11/2010 06:53 AM in reply to Shlomo
    Maybe no one makes statues of sheep, but plenty of people are trying to kill Jews. Thus, to use the phrase in another context robs it of its still-current (sadly) meaning. It would be like calling the averah of gezeilah “chillul shabbat” or something like that.
    ———
    David Tzohar 05/11/2010 07:24 AM in reply to chakira
    I cant believe that you really think that philosophers can tell us what is moral. ‘Does this include Nietsche and Heidigger, the spiritual fathers of Nazism? I learned that only the divinely revealed Torah can tell us what is moral.Therefore we must look to past and present Gedolei Torah (IMO including RHS)
    ———
    David Tzohar 05/11/2010 07:46 AM in reply to Steg (dos iz nit der Å¡teg)
    Exactly where can I find this teshuva? If R’ Bin – Nun wrote that he is for giving women semicha Istand corrected. He is known as a iconoclast but I never heard that he has gone that far.
    ———
    David Tzohar 05/11/2010 07:52 AM in reply to guest
    מאוד מאוד היזהרו בכבוד חכמים
    ———
    David Tzohar 05/11/2010 08:00 AM in reply to guest
    You can criticize l’gufo shel inyan butnot l’gufo shel adam.
    Maybe this is a chiddush to you but Jewish tradition and halacha are based on authoritarianism.
    ———
    David Tzohar 05/11/2010 08:19 AM in reply to Nachum
    The use of the word shmad is perfectly legitimate. There is shmad ruchani . Hellenism was shmad ruchani. Haskalah was shmad ruchani.Any type of Judaism which accepts patrilinial Jewish identity and intermarriage is shmad ruchani and shmad kipshutto.where there is shmad there is yehareg v’al ya’avor afilu beyarketa d’messana.
    ———
    David Tzohar 05/11/2010 08:41 AM in reply to kolech
    1-What does “In the end”mean?

    2-What does “going along with ” mean?
    3-What is the “rabbah” training program? Has it produced any rabbahs?
    4-The fact that Yehuda Gilad came out strongly in favor of womens ordination(although in the article you linked he had a few disclaimers) IMO puts him and the kibbutz hadati on the outer fringe, and possibly beyond the pale of the dati tzioni community.
    5- I dont know if reformers is a dirty word but it accurately describes the Rabbis who support Kolech.
    ———
    David Tzohar 05/11/2010 08:45 AM in reply to ruvie
    IIUC R’ Lichtenstein didn’t dissent on the statement put out by the RCA and deferred to the ruling of RHS.
    ———
    Nachum 05/11/2010 09:03 AM in reply to David Tzohar
    In 2010, Reform and Conservative Judaism is simply not a threat to Orthodoxy. Kal V’chomer neither are committed halakhic Jews in the left wing of Orthodoxy- you may disagree with them, but they’re certainly not violating halakha.

    There are plenty of threats to Orthodoxy (and Jews as a whole) today, and this isn’t one of them.

    You want a real threat? A huge Chassidic group that believes that their dead rebbe is mashiach and/or god.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/11/2010 09:11 AM in reply to Nachum
    The issue is not the threat posed by Conservative and Reform but the erosion of Orthodoxy into what used to be the Conservative movement. It isn’t a matter of an outside threat but of what Orthodoxy might become.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/11/2010 09:14 AM in reply to David Tzohar
    On what do you base your understanding that RAL “deferred to the ruling of RHS”?
    ———
    moshe shoshan 05/11/2010 09:52 AM in reply to hirhurim
    Gil,
    what you fail to understand is that history does not repeat it self, at best it rhymes. What ever will become of JOFA/Avi Wiess et al. it will not be the conservative movement of the 1960’s
    ———
    hirhurim 05/11/2010 09:55 AM in reply to moshe shoshan
    It doesn’t have to be exactly the same to be objectionable.
    ———
    ruvie 05/11/2010 09:55 AM in reply to David Tzohar
    defer? you are kidding? he did not defer to rhs. in fact his reasoning is not at all similar to rhs. his statement left open the possibility that things can change down the road in favor of the idea. i believe he is preparing a more detailed statement than the one given at the rca. but since he agreed with the rca resolution does not mean he deferred to rhs.
    i also believe that he may not agree(he is lenient or encouraging of) with rhs on the public roles of woman in the jewish community.
    ———
    ruvie 05/11/2010 10:01 AM in reply to hirhurim
    one man’s erosion is another man’s enlightment
    ———
    Meir Shinnar 05/11/2010 10:04 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Steve Brizel
    All of Jewish morality begins and ends with Halacha, as opposed to the importation of all of the external sources that you have mentioned.
    Rav Soloveichik
    Halacha is a floor, not a ceiling..
    ———
    Jerry 05/11/2010 10:09 AM in reply to hirhurim
    I think at the end of the day what this really boils down to is people who actually take this seriously, versus people who live in reality and know that this doomsday scenario will never happen. Orthodoxy will obviously look different in 20 years than it does today, but morphing into actual Conservative Judaism? I don’t think so.

    Ultimately there is no way to “prove” either assertion, so we’ll just have to meet again in about a decade or two and see where we are. My prediction (worthless, I know): women will be rabbis and for all your bluster, Gil, about this being completely unacceptable, you’ll still be unable to actually break all ties with MO (which will still be one movement – the masses that make up MO just don’t have the koach for two), because sticking with MO is really the only way for you to stay sane while still being a part of the chareidi world.

    MO has always weathered major changes, and yes, I know, each major change is always “worse and more controversial than all the others.” But somehow I have a feeling that this too shall pass. Our community has too many things holding it together in fealty to Orthodoxy (e.g. almost everyone now goes to a yeshiva in Israel for 1+ years, a large portion of us went or go to YU, we’re almost all religious Zionists, we use the same hechsherim, we use the same siddurim and chumashim, most of our pulpit rabbis have semicha from RIETS, and the list goes on and on) for a major split like the one you envision to occur. Ultimately, we almost certainly will have some sort of female rabbinic position (or at least something that looks and feels like it, if just called something else), and everyone threatening to leave over that won’t be able to actually do it.

    It’s like when Newman constantly threatens to commit suicide in one of those early Seinfeld seasons, and Kramer insists that he’ll never actually go through with it because he doesn’t have the guts. Like Kramer, I’ll believe the threat (in this case defection from MO) when I actually see it!
    ———
    lawrence kaplan 05/11/2010 10:46 AM
    I agreee with Mycroft. The ruling of the Rav in the letter, as opposed to Confrontation, allows for dialogue on a wide range of issues of broad religious, if not theological, import. .Rabbi Wurzburger who, as all acknowledge, was very close to the Rav and consulted him on these matters, relates a story (which I cited in my Revisionism and the Rav” article) that once there was a proposal for an interfaith dialogue on the subject “Man in the Image of God.” Some members of the RCA felt that it has too theolgical a ring to it. The Rav approved the subject, quipping “So what should the title have been? Man as a Naturalistic Creature?!”

    I also agree with Mycroft re the 1976 election for the YU Presidency. Whatever role the Rav’s oppsition may have played in the outcome, and we do not know since there unfortunately has not been any scholarly study of this election, it had nothing to do with the public discussion or lack of it of the Rav’s RCA speech outside the halls of Yeshiva.

    One final point: Perhaps we bloggers overestimate the significance of blogs. But they are evidently significant enough for RKB to have singled them out in his article.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 10:52 AM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    If and when the shiur is made public, you can obtain, download , listen and then comment to your heart’s delight. In the meantime, AFAIK, demanding that the same be made public ala you had served a discovery demand or subpoena and noticed that the adversary was in default strikes me as singularly inappropriate.
    ———
    Meir Shinnar 05/11/2010 10:53 AM
    1 person liked this.
    Let me put another perspective – and why I find RKB’s discussion of RHS to be troubling and problematic (I have no evidence of whether it accurately represents RHS)

    Having lived through the 60s, 70s, and 80s, when the Conservative movement was going through the major changes especially with womens roles leading to its current egalitarian perspective, there was a clear Orthodox reaction to it. The reaction – which came out in both speeches and articles – had several different components.(I am not talking about the Aguda reacton, but that of the MO community, centered around YU and the rav)

    1) There was a clear sense that the egalitarianism was problematic and attractive to some segments of the O community

    2) The opposition to the egalitarian aspects were halachic – there were clear halachic guidelines about aspects of women’s role – minyan, shliach tzibbur, edut etc – which could not be violated. The public debate was extremely vocal and insistent that the objections were on a purely halachic level – NOT on a metahalachic or hikuy haminim or harisat hadat level.

    3) While some had, There WASN’T the general opposition – especially within YU circles close to the Rav – to the notion of the expansion of women’s roles – the MAIN issue clearly was whether it was halachically permissible or not – and secondarily, impact on the community. There was an effort to formulate halachically permissible alternatives.

    One clear model of this was the response to WTGs – even though non egalitarian, the social and religious context was the Conservative movement to egalitaianism. It is striking that in the rav’s response to it – even if we accept Rav Mayer Twersky’s version of the rav’s opposition – this notion that RKB puts forth in the name of RHS plays no role – the issue is the halchic issues (permitted with modication) – and impact on community and shul (metahalachic opposition). This raising the fact that Conservatives are egalitarian to an issur of all changes that suggest such egalitarianism was strikingly absent – even though the Conservative movement was far more of a force in the 1970s, and even though people left Orthodoxy in the 70s over this issue.

    Indeed, one of the rav’s shamashim gave a shiur to the RCA in the early 1980s about women rabbis – that there was no intrinisc problem, and that issues of serara can be avoided

    We are now 30 years later – the Conservative movement has ceased to be a threat to the Orthodox community, and now we are saying that everything we told you in the 70s and 80s is wrong – we have an intrinsic opposition to women rabbnaim and women roles – NOT based on halacha – but because the Reform and Conservatives do it – we are now elevating such opposition ” to the fabric of what defines Orthodoxy in contrast to other movements.” – opposition to women’s roles is now the defining meaning of Orthodoxy. Discrimination defines Orthodoxy? oy na lanu ki chatanu.

    (If I may use what is actually a very similar example. As is known, starting in the 19th century to today, liberal movements have elevated issues of social justice to be the defining issue of Judaism (prophetic morality…). There is much literature arguing against this interpretation. It is, however, one thing to argue that Judaism is not merely social justice, but another to argue that because Reform made social justice its defining issue, we are now against social justice – and this is the exact equivalent of what RKB says RHS said)

    It is this that is the problem that many of us face in understanding what is reported – and RKB’s report only intensifies the discomfort we had from the reports of RHS.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 10:53 AM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    That shiur cost RER any possibility of becoming a YU president.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 10:55 AM in reply to ruvie
    That is basic Psak Halacha 101, especially with rabbinic ordinances. See Rambam at the beginning of Hilcos Mamrim, especially the Kesef Mishneh there about the power of the Chachamim in every generation vis a vis Torah and Rabbinic ordinances.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 10:57 AM in reply to mycroft
    So we disagree. I think that RYBS’s views on this issue were not exactly discounted or dismissed by the YU Board, especially in light of YU’s then precarious fiscal state.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 10:59 AM in reply to hirhurim
    That was R G Rothstein’s point-the erasure of a boundaries re Halacha, Mesorah and Hashkafa between LW MO and RW CJ.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:00 AM in reply to Meir Shinnar
    It is the soruce of the Jewish approach on any issue.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:02 AM in reply to lawrence kaplan
    “Whatever role the Rav’s oppsition may have played in the outcome, and we do not know since there unfortunately has not been any scholarly study of this election, it had nothing to do with the public discussion or lack of it of the Rav’s RCA speech outside the halls of Yeshiva.”

    I have heard 100% the opposite on that issue,
    ———
    YC 05/11/2010 11:04 AM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    How do you know its clarity?
    Because RHS Shlita said women can not be rabbis
    Were you there?
    no
    Do you have a copy of it?
    no
    I’d like to know its clarity; that’s what I’m asking for.
    I was contrasting what I know about what RHS is quoted to have said VS RCA that praised women’s learning (Ztena rena or Talmud), leadership (Morah in 1st grade, Talmud Teacher, Dean of School, Yoetzet: what leadership is OK and what is not)…..
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:05 AM in reply to Jerry
    I wouldn’t be surprised if LW MO and RW CJ create some sort of women’s position because the boundaries between these two groups are disappearing rapidly, but I seriously doubt that women will ever be ordained in RIETS .
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:07 AM in reply to mycroft
    The shiur in question was given to the RIETS Alumni and IIRC, it was given in YU.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:08 AM in reply to mycroft
    RYBS gave shiurim and drashos on a wide variety of issues after the break with the YU board in the early to late 1970s. It is revisionism to claim otherwise.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:09 AM in reply to mycroft
    Without a sturdy floor, one falls into the basement.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:15 AM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    The shiurim of RYBS also have circulating for decades in a fairly accessible manner, whether in notes from RHS, the Noraos HaRav or tapes. The 1973 shiur on Korach is also well known to the Torah public. We are hardly talking about lectures in the FSU that have been smuggled out to the world ala samizdat.
    ———
    ruvie 05/11/2010 11:16 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    is rhs comments an official psak? if so then can i find a rav with a different hashkafa and follow him if he disagrees with rhs? does that rav need to be equal stature (or gadol)? according to ral i do not even have to follow all the rulings of my chosen rav (if one disagrees) let alone the one of greater stature but different hashkafa – see leaves of faith (which i paraphrased in an earlier comment)
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:16 AM in reply to chakira
    No-on any issue relating to Halacha and Mesorah, RHS is leagues above anyone on this blog in being capable of and being sought after to render an opinion.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:21 AM in reply to Mordechai Y. Scher
    Superb comment! Comments made in any closed professional setting are made exactly with the expectation that the same are benefit solely for the participants.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:26 AM in reply to chakira
    Chiddush of the day-it is racist to vote against Obama. How predicatbke, trite and having nothing to do with the issue unless one believes that such loaded terms such as racism, homophobia and misogony have any relevance to a discussion re Halacha.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:34 AM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    You just might gain some insight into RHS’s modus operandi and learn a lot of Torah Lishmah in the process if you worked on the same instead of demanding , preening and pretending that by listening to one tape of one shiur you might be able to offer another POV. Let me phrase it in the same way that R S Riskin rebuked a talmid in our shiur re his off hand observation of a Rishon -none of us are fit to shine the shoes of RHS.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:35 AM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    The shiur was published way back in the 1970s in print and the tapes of the shiur have been available for decades for a phone call to R Nordlicht.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:38 AM in reply to ruvie
    That’s in large part because MO has never come to grips with the fundamental concepts of Emunas Chachamim and Shimush Talmidei Chachamim.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:41 AM in reply to David Tzohar
    This is a very important point. Halacha looks at a Jew’s obligations in every context and how to fullfil the same. That is why there are numerous descriptive terms as to whether one has acted correctly. The common law system, especially the adversarial system, is premised on a person’s “rights”, real or imagined,. mininal compliance and looks askance at fulfilling the “letter of the law.”
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:42 AM in reply to David Tzohar
    Kolech has never been seen as mainstream RZ
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:48 AM in reply to Meir Shinnar
    Let’s drop the pretense of anonymity-which shamash of RYBS in the early 1980s are you referring to?

    1-2)Focussing on Halacha without considering metahalachic considerations has always been the hallmark of CJ.

    3)Many traditional Jews who left Orthodoxy for CJ left CJ when egalitarianism became the raison de etre of CJ.

    4) That which defines RJ and CJ as religious movements per se., not their adaption of secular liberalism, is the key in how one views Harisus Hadas.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 11:57 AM in reply to moshe shoshan
    How do you know that JOFA/HIR have not already crossed the impermissible line and incorporated CJ thinking into their approaches on Halacha and Hashkafa?
    ———
    ruvie 05/11/2010 11:58 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    i think its part of the dna of the mo community (a positive one i think). i think you are importing a charedei like ideology of daat torah or idol worship. its hard to believe in emunat chachamin when some of our gedolim make outrageous public comments (no matter how brilliant they are as talmedei chachamin – see rav ovadia yosef). it also doesn’t mean they understand the reality of the world outside the halls of the yeshiva (giving lectures outside yu doesn’t equate to living, understanding and being with the masses).
    ———
    HAGTBG 05/11/2010 11:59 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    And there we have it. Modern Orthodoxy has not come to grips with a fundemental Jewish concept, i.e. is not geneuinely Orthodox. I had no idea you mandated your YU-rebbe-zealotry as a halachic requirement (I had though you recognized it for the quirk it is) and it is certainly faschinating how you have now delegitimized 95% of your (many) Modern Orthodox detractors.
    ———
    HAGTBG 05/11/2010 12:01 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Steve, follow the chain so you actually understand what the person was saying rather then create a red-herring arguiment that no one ever said.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/11/2010 12:07 PM in reply to HAGTBG
    Steve is raising an important issue of halakhic process. Do the bigger communal issues get decided by world-class posekim or by local rabbis? It is not specifically Charedi to believe in a hierarchy of halakhic expertise.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 12:09 PM in reply to HAGTBG
    I don’t view Aseh Lcha Rav, Emunas Chachamim , the Razton HaTorah or Shimush Talmidei Chachamim as elements of a midas chasidus, chumros or hiddurim that are beyond the grasp and comprehension of every Jew-regardless of their hashkafic label. It is irony bordering on hypocrisy for the same Jew who can invoke Tzaar Baalei Chaim, which is based solely on Mkoros in TSBP , cannot recognize that he or she needs a rebbe on issues of Halacha and Mesorah.
    ———
    HAGTBG 05/11/2010 12:11 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    What are you talking about? Because the rights/duties of halacha and contemporary US law do not match up you therefore jump to the (false) conclusion that halacha only has duty and American law only has “minimal compliance.” In fact, both systems have many rights and many duties (and, in fact, a “right” is actually a duty on others).
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 12:12 PM in reply to ruvie
    Emunas Chachamim. as opposed to Daas Torah, is rooted in Chazal and Rishonim. Noone ever said that Gdolim were perfect, merely that they have a lot more Torah knowledge than any of us can ever dream of having and that they are entitled to express their POV, especially if we don’t understand the same, and the same seems foreign to our modus viviandi.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 12:13 PM in reply to HAGTBG
    I understood the clear implication of your most recent comment and responded accordingly.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/11/2010 12:19 PM
    At the end of the thread day, I believe that both R Schacter and R Weiss are godol hadors and their torah leadership should be analyzed accordingly.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/11/2010 12:19 PM in reply to Meir Shinnar
    I think you are misunderstanding in a problematic and troubling way both what RHS said and what the RCA resolution says. It does not oppose women’s communal roles but specific roles that are halakhically problematic on multiple levels.

    I’m not sure where you were in the 80s but even then RHS was speaking in the same terms he is using now. He is not the Rav and never claimed to be.
    ———
    chakira 05/11/2010 12:20 PM in reply to David Tzohar
    I think, with Kant, that religion answers the question “what may I hope?”
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 12:29 PM in reply to HAGTBG
    Halacha is absolutely focused on what is a person’s obligation at any time and place. I use rights in terms of what an individual views as his or unfettered discretion to do, with as minimal interference by the legal system, regardless of the context. A duty is an obligation to perform or refrain from performing a certain act. It is not a right that one exercises in one’s own choice. One has a a right to vote, not a duty to vote. One has a duty to obey the criminal justiice laws and other laws that govern society. The adversary system focuses on ensuring minimal disclosure, pushing the common law and statutory definitions of the law and presenting a certain view of the evidence, as opposed to a search predicated for the truth.
    ———
    HAGTBG 05/11/2010 12:44 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Nothing about the facts at hand would indicate we are talking about R H Schechter’s adjudicatory authority unless the critique here has indeed shifted to attacking the RCA for deciding by a majority, both great and small, rather then via a Vaad.

    You talk of halacic process and then communal issues. They are not the same. My garbage pick up is a very important communal issue; as it happens I rarely hear a rabbi adjudicate or speak of the matter.

    Steve is undertaking a process of delegitimizing all Modern Orthodox Jews who are not direct students of R H Schechter or someone of his level. This is because he appears to be responding to the comment that ruvie had stated MO = sceptical of all authority, in the midst of a much larger comment that also noted that the RCA did not follow RHS. In essence what Steve’s response would mean is that unless you are parroting the views of your betters not only might you be wrong on policy (as gadols may differ) but you are fundamentally lacking in a Jewish concept. Is it now a requirement of Modern Orthodoxy that your voice only matters if you went into the right shiur? And even were we to assume his comments went to the part of ruvie’s statements concerning the RCA and not all MO, that just makes it worse because he is saying even a majority of Orthodox rabbis have lost their way/credibility.
    ———
    Meir Shinnar 05/11/2010 12:46 PM in reply to hirhurim
    1) The issue of halachically problematic is what remains to be defined – as the basis of RKB’s presentation of RHS was specifically not that it was halachically problematic (specific issues of serara can be dealt with..) – but problematic because of the Conservative precedent.

    2) In the 1980s (especially early), to those not living an

  3. Meir Shinnar 05/11/2010 12:46 PM in reply to hirhurim
    1) The issue of halachically problematic is what remains to be defined – as the basis of RKB’s presentation of RHS was specifically not that it was halachically problematic (specific issues of serara can be dealt with..) – but problematic because of the Conservative precedent.

    2) In the 1980s (especially early), to those not living and breathing YU, but part of the general community – RHS was not such a major figure (not talking about gadlut batorah, but in perception of communal leadership) – and was felt (and is still felt by many..) to represent a position on related issues that was different and opposed to that of the rav. Change in this perception of stature occured by the late 80s, as the rav became far less active (even then, the story of the rav instructing his shamash that if it were said that he supported the YU 5 position on WTGs, to publicly come out against that, is well known…- but also instructive of the differences).

    3) RHS is not the rav, nor does he claim to be – but he rarely wants to be viewed in opposition to the rav –
    and RKB goes out of his way to say that “Rav Schachter’s comment that the Rav (R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik) had no problem with RIETS accepting geirim for semichah and that he, Rav Schachter, takes issue with that position of the Rav is not reflective of the key idea that Rav Schachter wished to communicate.”. His position is presented as a natural extension of the rav’s position on buses on shabbat

    Lastly WRT Steve Brizel.
    4) There is a major difference between my arguing with RHS on the proper interpretation of a rashba, – and the issue of understanding and reacting to historical and social trends – especially when it is clear to all that there were (and are) major figures who disagreed with RHS in his understanding – including his own teacher…
    ———
    HAGTBG 05/11/2010 12:47 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Evideintly you didn’t, since you yet again responded to the wrong chain. Let me put this another way: this is the rare instance where the old Echo system would suit you better.
    ———
    HAGTBG 05/11/2010 12:52 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    I do not disagree that halacha provides a more exact/narrow view of the scope a person has to seek the “good.”
    ———
    hirhurim 05/11/2010 12:55 PM in reply to HAGTBG
    I meant halakhic issues that affect the entire community. On major communal issues, you need someone with big halakhic shoulders. It doesn’t have to be R. Hershel Schachter but someone of major stature — R. Aharon Lichtenstein is certainly one.
    ———
    ruvie 05/11/2010 12:58 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    nobody has said that they cannot express their pov – not at all the issue. its that we are not even on any level to understand and therefore disagree or question them – just see how gil refers to rhs as an example. if people refuse to follow then according to halacha their psak doesn’t hold – nobody even suggests that you do not have to follow.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/11/2010 12:59 PM in reply to Meir Shinnar
    It used to be that Modern Orthodoxy rejected Da’as Torah because we didn’t accept that posekim can issue authoritative views on non-halakhic matters. It seems you are saying that posekim can’t pasken on halakhah either and that every person should decide halakhah for themselves.

    You also seem to be saying that anything not explicitly forbidden by halakhah can and should be done. That is a position I find problematic and troubling.

    My information, heard from someone who heard it directly from the Rav, is that the Rav agreed with RHS’s conclusion on WTGs but not on all the details of how he got there.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/11/2010 01:03 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    I haven’t “demanded” anything. I’ve noted that it’s problematic to put out a “clarification” of a speech that itself has not been made public. Am I interested in reading or listening to it? Sure. Does the RCA and RHS have the right to keep it private if they so desire? Sure. Do I have the right to demand it be made public? Of course not. Can someone “clarify” remarks that have not been made public? Sure. Is such a “clarification” wise? Not in my opinion.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/11/2010 01:06 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    I’m happy that you’re privy to the discussions that led to RNL’s election. perhaps you can write a history of what happened. I’d be interested in reading it together with the footnotes documenting what you say.
    ———
    dr. bill 05/11/2010 01:07 PM
    1 person liked this.
    The term meta-halakhic seems close to what to what others call religious. as prof. katz ztl has demonstrated traditionally the community leads on such religious issues, with halakhic guidance from its rabbinic leadership. It is important for Rabbis to clarify when they are speaking from a halakhic context and when they are expressing an important but very different religious perspective. It is also evident that the global village has any number of distinct communities for whom, as the RCA articulated, there is a need for local rabbinic guidance.

    If I understand all that is being written about RHS, he expressed both a halakhic POV and a meta-halakhic/religious POV. Given the reaction to even his halakhic viewpoint, I wonder if this whole debate does not make a rather strong point about the extent to which even acknowledged rabbinic leader has real serrarah!

    In any case, IMHO opinion the resolution adopted roughly reflected the sage advice of R. Lamm nearly a year ago. Much of the debate since then has added more smoke than clarity.

    And as prof. kaplan has pointed out the Rav ztl’s role in the selection of Dr. belkin’s ztl successor is yet to be studied. i can only add that what written about the separation of the yeshiva from the university is woefully innacurate at least as i have heard the story from one person trusted by both the Rav and Dr. Belkin. if history is any lesson, the separation has had minimal, if any impact.
    ———
    Meir Shinnar 05/11/2010 01:09 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Steve
    1-2)Focussing on Halacha without considering metahalachic considerations has always been the hallmark of CJ.

    I (and I think most observers) would say the reverse – the problem for CJ has always been allowing metahalachic considerations (need of community, egalitarianism, etc) to influence their approach to halacha …- and this approach is problematic on both the right and left…
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/11/2010 01:20 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    It would be nice (although by this time I do not expect it of you) if youwould actually make remarks rellevant to the discussion. Yes, shiurim were available. What I said was that I thought Gil was not correct that “I find it hard to believe that the RCA conventions when Rav Soloveitchik said controversial things got less publicity than this one.” Do you recall anything near the poublicity of that shiur as compared to RHS’s shiur about semicha for women? Did you know about the Rav’s RER shiur when it was given or shortly thereafter? Or did you, as I, learn about it later when a transcript of it began circulating on the internet? Do you recall lots of discssion about it at that time — anything close to the 230+ comments on this thread and this blog alone? Times have changed, and to pretend that the internet hasn’t cahnged modes of discussion, publicity and controversy in the MO community is to hide from reality.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/11/2010 01:23 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Who said anything about offering my own POV. I want to understand HIS POV, and I want to understand RKB’s “clarifiaction” of RHS’s POV. Can’t do that as well withour the prinmary source as with it. Strawmen are easy to knock down, Steve.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/11/2010 01:25 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Seems to me the burden of proof on that issue is on the one alleging they have crossed some line.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/11/2010 01:29 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    “that they are entitled to express their POV.” Another strawman; who ever said or implied taht Gedolim are not entitled to express their point of view. The issue is, once they express it what is the proper response or, more likey, what are acceptable responses.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/11/2010 01:33 PM in reply to hirhurim
    B TW, I wouldn’t mind reading RAL’s presentation which I understood was in written form after the skyping failed. Am trying to get a copy but so far unseccessful.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/11/2010 01:34 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Why don’t we leave WTG’s alone and rely on the Frimer brothers.
    ———
    S. 05/11/2010 01:34 PM in reply to hirhurim
    >You also seem to be saying that anything not explicitly forbidden by halakhah can and should be done. That is a position I find problematic and troubling.

    I doubt that’s what he’s saying. It seems to me the argument is that it’s not forbidden by halakhah AND it’s a good thing to do. No one who favors ordaining women believes that it can be done because it’s not forbidden, albeit it’s a bad thing.
    ———
    Anon1 05/11/2010 03:18 PM in reply to HAGTBG
    This comment by HAGTAG said, “In essence what Steve’s response would mean is that unless you are parroting the views of your betters not only might you be wrong on policy (as gadols may differ) but you are fundamentally lacking in a Jewish concept.”

    I’m waiting uneasily for some new edition of Pirkei Avot for moderns that says, with some distaste, that each generation of our Sages parroted the one before it.
    ———
    Anon1 05/11/2010 03:30 PM
    In some respects, this may be a parallel discussion:
    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/10
    ———
    Guest 05/11/2010 03:39 PM
    “You can criticize l’gufo shel inyan butnot l’gufo shel adam”

    pls. reread the chazon ish. i’m not saying that i agree with all povs expressed in this discussion (impossible obviously( or with the critiicsm of RHS/RKB or anything else. Maybe the CI doesnt even apply here.
    But in principle = why cant you criticize lgufo shel adam
    ———
    Meir Shinnar 05/11/2010 03:55 PM in reply to hirhurim
    1) I have never said that poskim shouldn’t pasken on halacha. what is remarkable about this discussion that NO ONE has presented a serious Halachic issue – that is not to say that one does not exist, and apparently it is rumored that RAL may have one, but none has been brought down – and the essence of RKB’s presentation of RHS’s position is that the problem isn’t halachic, as conventionally understood – there is even a recognition that any specific issur may be dealt with – but it is metahalachic, based on an approach to the Conservative movement – whose applicability may be debated…- wand was clearly not shared by his peers and teachers who dealt with the Conservative movement when the lanaguage of she’at hashmad had some validity.

    2) I have never said that anything not explicitly forbidden by halacha can and should be done – but some of us think that this is something that should be done unless forbidden by halacha – (a meta halachic approach sanctioned by many..)

    I have no problem with saying it is assur, here is a halachic reason why it is assur based on…. – what I find problematic and troubling is that people think that this shouldn’t be done, but can’t articulate a cogent reason why, or even recognize that any technical issurim can be dealt with, so invent a rationale based that discrimination is what defines us as Orthodoxy, r”l.

    3) WRT WTG- taking RM Twersky’s article seriously – the Rav was opposed, but, as he said to one rav, who also asked him directly, “halachically, it is muttar, muttar, but if you ask me – I wouldn’t do it” – so yes, the end conclusion is don’t do it (as per RHS). However, RM Twersky is very careful to delineate that there is a serious halachic issue of halachic integrity of differentiating between meta halachic considerations and halachic considerations – and the rav, whose stature in the Orthodox community was greater than anyone alive today, still did not impose most of his metahalachic considerations on the community (do you think that if he gave a public shiur blasting WTGs on communal policy grounds they would have survived??)
    ———
    moshe shoshan 05/11/2010 04:00 PM in reply to hirhurim
    fine, but the argument has been that we need to deal with this challenge the way we deal with the conservatives in hte mid 20th. I think this attitude is form of fighting the last war.
    ———
    moshe shoshan 05/11/2010 04:04 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    on what basis do you say that?
    ———
    moshe shoshan 05/11/2010 04:05 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    again, why are you in a position to have an opinion on this matter?
    ———
    moshe shoshan 05/11/2010 04:08 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    What the heck do you mean by “Mesorah”?
    ———
    moshe shoshan 05/11/2010 04:12 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    I dont know what “CJ thinking means” or who sets the “impermissible line”.
    I think I know R. Weiss and the JOFA leadership better than you and I also presume that i am in more regular contact with Conservative Rabbis than you. For all my criticisms of the former, there is a big difference between the two.
    ———
    moshe shoshan 05/11/2010 04:16 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Agreed. The problem now is that those who are considered leading poskim are all Rashei Yeshiva who are relatively cut off from the wider community. The Rav was a community rabbi before he was a rosh yeshiva. When community rabbis feel that the poskim dont really understand the situation they left in a bind. Of course the solution is not to let amei haaretz poskim major shailos
    ———
    Meir Shinnar 05/11/2010 04:25 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Steve
    How do you know that JOFA/HIR have not already crossed the impermissible line and incorporated CJ thinking into their approaches on Halacha and Hashkafa?

    As posted earlier, the dominant CJ approach was to allow metahalachic considerations to overrule halacha. I think comparisons to CJ are essentially polemical, an attempt to write people out of the community so they don’t have to be dealt with. However, if one was to make a serious comparison, a far better case can be made that the RW has adopted this aspect of CJ halacha and hashkafa – to allow metahalacha to rule the roost.. (albeit lehumra rather than lekula). this is why this whole strand is nonproductive…..
    ———
    hirhurim 05/11/2010 04:58 PM in reply to Meir Shinnar
    1) RHS has said that it is an halakhic issue. That is a pesak. You might have a different posek and that’s fine but it is troubling and problematic that some would seek to remove pesak from the realm of posekim.

    2) You are basing your statement that people can’t articulate a halakhic reason on blog comments. Have you done any further research?

    3) RM Twersky was exceedingly clear — in fact, this is the single main point of his article — that even if something is not technically forbidden it might still be impermissible.

    4) You have repeatedly stated that using metahalakhic considerations is a methodology of CJ, and you thereby imply that people like RHS who use such considerations are ironically closer to CJ than the heroes of LWMO. I wonder whether your judgment about metahalakhic considerations is correct because unquestionably Orthodox posekim such as Rav Kook, Rav Herzog, Rav DZ Hoffmann and Rav YY Weinberg incorporated such considerations into their pesakim. RHS is following in their footsteps. You might suggest that the current reality demands a different conclusion to the metahalakhic calculus than it did in the times of those earlier posekim, but that seems to me to be a decision reserved for posekim.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 05:42 PM in reply to Meir Shinnar
    Wrong again-CJ has always marketed itself as “:Halachic” without a concomitant committment to Mesorah.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 05:47 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    You missed my point in its entirety. The notion that RYBS’s remarks on any issuedid not result in publicity ignores the fact that everyone in the Torah world, from Agudah to the far left of MO always discussed and debated the same in the media and forums then available. I first bought the tape of the shiur. When RER left YU for BIU, the topic became academic except when discussing RYBS’s stances on related issues. The internet is a great source of Harbatzas Torah, but one has to remember that even on a blog as this, one must distinguish between Kodesh and Chol and remember that basic means of dissemination of Torah remain the same.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 05:49 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    If you were seriously interested in following RHS on this issue, your POV would be well taken. Given your stance on this issue, your interest is academic at best.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 05:50 PM in reply to Anon1
    Why don’t you see how the Rishonim understood Pirkei Avos-especially the first comment of the Bartenura who views them as MiSinai? The Mossad HaRav Kook edition certainly is available for anyone interested in this issue.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 05:53 PM in reply to moshe shoshan
    Mesorah means factors as “ain ruach chachamin noche mimenu” and knowing the Neshama of the Halacha between the lines of the Talmud , Rishonim and Acharonim so as to see what is a legitimate Chiddush and wnat is an unwarranted Shinui. , Being a Talmid Chacham means that one has mastered this facet of learning, as opposed to merely parroting the text.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 05:58 PM in reply to HAGTBG
    Seekin the good is part of either doing Chesed and Tzedakah, which RYBS defined as doing above the law and doing the right thing.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 06:01 PM in reply to HAGTBG
    It matters that one at least be aware of the halachic issues and look at one self in the mirrror and ask whether a particular choice of action is appropriate or not in the eyes of one’s rebbe.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 06:07 PM in reply to Meir Shinnar
    Meir Shinnar wrote in part:

    “There is a major difference between my arguing with RHS on the proper interpretation of a rashba, – and the issue of understanding and reacting to historical and social trends – especially when it is clear to all that there were (and are) major figures who disagreed with RHS in his understanding – including his own teacher…”

    And you think that you are on solid grounds to attempt to either disagree with RHS in how to learn Pshat in a Rishon and in his views on historical and social trends. Would you agree that anyone who is not in your line of work could disagree in public with the quality of your work? .
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 06:14 PM in reply to Meir Shinnar
    Meir Shinnar wrote in part:

    ” the rav, whose stature in the Orthodox community was greater than anyone alive today, still did not impose most of his metahalachic considerations on the community (do you think that if he gave a public shiur blasting WTGs on communal policy grounds they would have survived??)

    RYBS viewed the feminist critique of Halacha and TSB as sheer slander in the shiur on Korach, which was delivered during the early 1970s, the heady early years of feminism. How anyone can conclude that RYBS totally and completely approved of WTGs remains an example of LW MO revisonism.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 06:19 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    Joseph Kaplan wrote in part:

    “shiurim were available”

    That fact remains the key for anyone who sought or seeks to undertand the Divrei Torah of any Adam Gadol, not the “analysis” of blog commenters. It is amazing how many commenters on this issue are clearly not talmidim in any way of RHS, but view themselves eager to hear one shiur so they can act as judge and jury on RHS.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 06:21 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    Let me break it to this way-when a Gadol from your community issues a Psak, your duty is to follow it and then seek to understand the ins and outs of his Psak unless you are a Chacham Shegiyah Lhoraah who is entitled to a contrary POV.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 06:22 PM in reply to moshe shoshan
    Read R G Rothstein’s article on the issue.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 06:26 PM in reply to HAGTBG
    I think that there is also a Teshuvos HaRashba who points out that only those mitzvos that demarcate us as Jews ( which RYBS defined in a shiur on the Aseres HaDibros as expressing our covenantal relationship with God), as opposed to anything that is rational in nature require a Bracha. Neither Chesed nor Tzedaka entail a Bracha.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 06:27 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    R Rothstein already has raised the issue of the crossing of boundaries between LW MO and RW CJ and the Frimers’ review of Dr. Ross’s book raised similar concerns.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 06:29 PM in reply to moshe shoshan
    The person who delivered the news from RYBS to RER that he could not support his candidacy, may he have a refuah shlemah, told me that the shiur in question doomed any possibility of RER becoming the president of YU.
    ———
    Meir Shinnar 05/11/2010 07:39 PM in reply to hirhurim
    1 person liked this.
    1) For those who accept RHS as a posek, have asked him for a psak, and have heard him articulate it as a psak – it is a halachic issue. We are, however, discussing RKB’s presentation of RHS’s position – which, rather than presenting it as a straightforward psak – argued precisely for the metahalachic considerations – and indeed, recognized implicitly that the straight halachic problems were solvable. That is the problem.
    (I recognize that while RKB tried to represent RHS’s position, what he wrote may not truly reflect that position).
    ( I would add that while most of us would not presume to argue halacha with RHS – although we may rely on other poskim who do – a psak for such a controversial area would normally require not a dicta from on high ( the RCA did not turn to RHS – please tell us assur or muttar without reason) but a detailed explanation of the rationale…- and it is this that has been lacking…

    2) Can you (or anyone) point to an article delineating such a halachic position, or articulate one? I will agree that hirhurim or other blogs are not the best place for reasoned halachic discourse – but you defend the decision, you are in communication with the rabbanim – can you point to anything? Again, RKB’s post implicitly acknowledges the lack of a compelling halachic rationale…

    3) RMT was very clear that he thought the metahalachic considerations meant that those who wanted to follow the rav should not do it. My point is that that he also thought the distinction between halacha and metahalacha was important for the integrity of halacha, I think that it is also extremely clear that the rav never tried to stop it in a public fashion, and he could have – which is one of the reasons that there is a somewhat interminable discussion of what the rav’s position actually was…(the choice not to do something is as much a choice as the choice to do something…)

    4) I am not implying anything, and am quite aware of issues of public policy affecting psak. My point is that Steve Brizel’s nasty insinuations about CJ and JIR and JOFA are problematic – and, as I said, unproductive…( I was deliberately accusatory just to show how unproductive.)…

    However, one major issue that has to be understood is that public policy and metahalachic psakim are normally accepted from the poskim who share certain social and religious goals with the community – eg, for all the Chazon Ish’s gadlut, the RZ community would not accept public policy psakim from him about issues relating to the medina.. One point that this debate has made clear is that the RCA community does not share (as a community) all the social and religious goals – which make acceptance of a metahalachic psak by RHS (or by anyone else…) by the entire community problematic – and the attempt to impose such uniformity is one that will lead to more dissension. Both sides can point to major precedent in support of its goals – which means that the position of RHS (or anyone else …) is not dispositive on metahalachic issues.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/11/2010 07:41 PM
    In reply to a number of Steve’s replies to mine:

    1. “Let me break it to you” that I don’t need, nor do I appreciate, your telling me what my “duty” is.

    2. I don’t remember any discussion “in the Torah world” the Rav’s shiur about RER. You say you “first bought a tape of that shiur.” When? What discussions did you hear about it? Which LWMO debated it? In what media?

    3. Now I get it; RHS’s shiurim are only for those who commit to follow what he says. Okay; if that’s the standatd, I’m fine with it. But I think that RKB’s “clarification” should also be so limited and Gil shouldn’t have made a post out of it. (No Gil, I don’t really think that, but I think that what Steve’s comment would mean.)

    4. I don’t want, nor do I seek, the “‘analysis’ of blog commentators.” I seek the original analysis. And I don’t seek it to be “a judge and jury on RHS”; I seek it to find out from him what he actually said without anyone’s spin. That’ s how people form opinions; by listening and reading and thinking about discussions of ideas about matters that interest or effect them. The more information, the better; the closer to the original source the better. That, btw, is what I see as my “duty” in this situation; to get enough information so I use whatever brain and understanding and judgment God gave me to form an opinion.
    ———
    Guest1 05/11/2010 08:07 PM in reply to chakira
    “Philosopher can tell you what is moral?”
    First– that is incredibly naive. Among philosophers of ethics there is very little agreement– clarity might be a better word– about what it means to “be moral”, or what things have this property. Second, their judgment could only be relevant if you believed that something’s being halakhically prohibited is not sufficient reason to avoid it– which no ben Torah would agree with.

    “Lawyers can tell you what is serarah”
    Really? They can tell you what the halakhic concept of ‘serara’ entails??

    “Religious scholars can tell you what is destroying religion”
    What in the world are you talking about? There is nothing that sentence might mean that is remotely plausible in the context we are discussing.
    ———
    lawrence kaplan 05/11/2010 08:39 PM
    Re the Rav on WTG’s : I will take the Frimer Brother’s analysis over that of Rabbi Mayer Twersky any day of the week. For a start, the former’s is much better documented than that of the latter. The bottom line is that the Rav, unlike RHS, NEVER said that WTGs were assur. He disapproved of them strongly on grounds of public policy.

    Steve: The Rav’s critique of RER MAY have hurt, perhaps even fatally, RER’s chances for the presidency. But the issue we were discussing was how public and widespread was the discussion at the time.

    BTW, you might learn some civility.

    Steve; Th erav;
    ———
    mycroft 05/11/2010 09:30 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    The YU Board would have been concerned about MONEY-the Rav is crucial for MO-but as far a keseph-wealthy Jews count.
    If one counted votes on the Board -similar to Convention analysis back when political conventions meant something-iti s clear that RNL had far more imporrtant allies-not for hashkafic reasons but rather-except for a few years in Springfield Mass-RNL had served as assistant or associate Rabbi of the leading 2 MO schuls inManhattan.
    ———
    mycroft 05/11/2010 09:35 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Steve:I believe that is what you were told-and it is likely that the people who told you that believe it too-but I tend to agree with Prof Kaplan’s analysis-I believe that a Los Vegas oddsmaker in the 60s would have given very long odds on the chances of Rackman to be President.It is clear that even R Rackman realized it by the early 70s when he took a major possition at CUNY.
    ———
    mycroft 05/11/2010 09:37 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Where did I ever imply anything different?
    ———
    mycroft 05/11/2010 09:43 PM in reply to hirhurim
    One must rtemember that RYBS would often answer jhis talmidim who were local Rabbonim that they must answer the sheila themselves they are there. The Rav was abig believer in local psak-having said that-the Rav would offer to go over the sugya with the person askingthe sheila-but ultimately he would often insistthat the local Rav pasken for themselves-even when the local Rav tried to get the Rav to pasken.Of course, the Rav would also many times pasken for local Rabbonim.
    ———
    mycroft 05/11/2010 09:47 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Chazal also have a formalistic system not necessarily a search for the truth-see eg the classical story of keven shehegid shuv ano chozer umaggid-and Shimon ben Shetach and the witches and the false testimony against his son which caused his sons execution despite the retraction ofthe testimony.
    ———
    mycroft 05/11/2010 10:00 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Assuming the major communal issue involves Halacha I agree with you-the issue at hand is a halachik issue-butI disagree with the principle as stated- The Rav would always say he has no special expertise in non Halachik Isues-I would also say that applies to RHS like the Rav.
    An example of a non halachik issue for the RAv wheter or notIsrael should keep the Kotel. that decision whould be decided on the basis of military/diplomatic factors which the Rav did not claim special expertise. I believe I am roughly quoting his 68 speech on this sisue in Rubin schul.
    ———
    HAGTBG 05/11/2010 10:05 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    And therefore?
    ———
    mycroft 05/11/2010 10:06 PM in reply to hirhurim
    The Rav was unequivocally opposed to WTGs in schul-but his position on WTGs outside the schul was much more nuanced. I heard directly from a currently living Rabbi who when faced with the desire for WTGs in schul was told by the Rav absolutely not in schul-but then the Rav voluntarily added it was not even the question of the Rabbi but if they have the WTGt outside of the schul you need not get involved.
    The Rabbi involved is not a LWMO.
    ———
    HAGTBG 05/11/2010 10:15 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    No one was talking about that. You wrote that someone who argues on a matter (here one that appears to most people to be sociological) without a rebbe backing him up is not Orthodox.
    ———
    HAGTBG 05/11/2010 10:16 PM in reply to Anon1
    Are you rewriting it to say that?
    ———
    mycroft 05/11/2010 10:19 PM in reply to lawrence kaplan
    Prof Kaplan:
    I believe the Rav was clearly against WTGs in the schul the following I am repeating from a post elsewhere-this new commemting system makes it tough to read new comments only-

    .The Rav was unequivocally opposed to WTGs in schul-but his position on WTGs outside the schul was much more nuanced. I heard directly from a currently living Rabbi who when faced with the desire for WTGs in schul was told by the Rav absolutely not in schul-but then the Rav voluntarily added it was not even the question of the Rabbi but if they have the WTGt outside of the schul you need not get involved.
    The Rabbi involved is not a LWMO.””
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 10:36 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    1. Most of us don’t like to be told what to do or not to do or think in areas of Halacha or Hashkafa, especially when we have preconceived notions of what to do and what makes sense to us . It has been a problem for Klal Yisrael in general since Kabalas HaTorah.

    2. I purchased the tape of the subject shiur in the 1980s. However, verbatim written and edited versions were available in the 1970s, as R Gil has reminded us in a linked copy of the same. IIRC, an excerpted version was in R J Epstein’s paperback pamphlet which was published in the early 1970s.

    3. That’s wnat is called Talmud Torah Lishmah as opposed to studying something Lhachis or Lkanter. RYBS used to give the example of smoking a cigar on Shabbos while learning Maseces Shabbos. Yes, Talmud Torah Shelo Lismah has some value, but only if one views the same as possibly and ultimately enhancing one’s Torah knowledge and observance, as opposed to a purely “intellectual’ enterprise.

    4. Read your owm words. You have posited that you want the tape of the shiur for your own information so that you can make up your own mind, regardless of Talmidei Chachamim greater than you conclude differently. That is exactly being a judge and jury
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 10:41 PM in reply to HAGTBG
    My comment was in clear English but I will reiterate my point-Arguing a Halachic point without a rebbe who links you up with prior generations and helps you get closer to Har Sinai is highly problematic. RYBs said that if a person learned all of Shas without a rebbe , he had learned nothing because a rebbe knows the ins and outs and the between the lines so much more so than any talmid could ever hope to know.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 10:42 PM in reply to mycroft
    Thanks for the clarification.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 10:48 PM in reply to HAGTBG
    No one can deny the importance of either Chesed or Tzedaka in a Jew’s life. Yet, neither is defined as one of the many acts that are called Asher Kidshanu Bmitzvosav Vitzivanu.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/11/2010 10:50 PM in reply to ruvie
    I wouldn’t refer to Haskala as a positive virtue.
    ———
    Joseph Kaplan 05/11/2010 11:29 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    1. I don’t mind being told what my duty is, Steve, by people with knowledge and who I respect and have a relationship with. I do mind you thinking you have the right to tell me what my duty is. You don’t.

    2. We’ve beaten this one to death.

    3. You implication that I want to hear his presentation “lhavhis or lekanter” is typical of your smug and ignorant knowledge of who I am and how I act.

    4. In making my own decision I’m not acting as a judge and jury about what RHS says. There are lots of people who’ve said lots of things about this issue. They can’t all be right. I can’t listen to all. And what’s tight for me might not be right for someone else. My God, now if I don’t follow someone I’m being his “judge and jury.” May as well take away our brains and make us all robots.
    ———
    Richard Kahn 05/11/2010 11:49 PM
    Since we’re on the topic of authority and Jewish law (if we have to listen to the poskim/our rebbe), everyone should read Rav Lau’s Shabbat HaGadol drasha in which he decried the “popishness” of the haredi establishment and mindset.

    http://www.ramban.org.il/show.asp?id=37760
    ———
    ruvie 05/12/2010 12:18 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    interesting some might. i also viewed mo as descendants of beit hillel (beit shammai reminds me of charedei attitudes) and the rest of chazal who were revolutionaries in their time. they changed things and were anti- establishment – you remember those people.
    today – mo and all non-charedeim are the descendants of the maskilim as well. just look at what they advocated – knowledge of the hebrew language, grammar and literature, speaking hebrew (as oppose to yiddish), more emphasis on chumash and tanakh, secular studies. look at your yeshiva day school curriculum – its not the traditional one in the 1800s. enlightening – no?

    btw, i was forwarded today an article/profile of rav schachter that appeared in mischpacha magazine. i found the comments on secular studies interesting.
    ———
    Jim 05/12/2010 01:06 AM
    Some perspective from R Aron Soloveitchik here

    http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/744
    ———
    Nachum 05/12/2010 02:36 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Wow. I find it incredible (but not surprising) that any thinking Jew (apart from those educated with cliches) could say something like that.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/12/2010 09:44 AM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    1. None of us should think that we are morally automous persons who are so intelligent that we can make our own decisions on all issues or that are our decision making processes are so elevated that they are beyond questionning.

    2. Agreed. We agree to disagree.

    3. You have explained your POV on almost every issue relating to feminism and Orthodoxy. In that sense, your comments and your POV is undeniable.

    4. Emunas Chachamim means that we follow what a Chacham says and then and only then seek to understand the rationale, not vice versa. To suggest otherwise is to clearly imply that one follows Psak of any Gadol when it makes sense to me-which I think is illustrative of an intellectual approach premised on Kochi vAtzum Yodi.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/12/2010 09:47 AM in reply to ruvie
    There is a fascinating Teshuvah of the Nodah BiYehudah in which he writes that all of the disputes between Hillel and Shammai were Lshem Shamayim but that the same cannot be said about the disputes between the talmidim-Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai..
    ———
    mycroft 05/12/2010 09:54 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    You have a duty to follow your Rebbe-he need not be a gadol. It is very likely that your Rabbi if not a Gadol asks sheilot to someone else. It may even be prudent to loook for a Rav who acts sheilos to a gadol-but the average person has an obligation to listen to his Rav not the Gadol.
    Having said that it may well be the responsibility of a Rav to follow the generally accepted halachot in the area where he lives-but that is his responsibility-it is the layman responsibility to listen to the answers of those who he asked. BTW-a Rav needs to ask his own personal sheilot to other Rabbonim even if he is a greater talmid chacham-he would be a nogeah badavar otherwise.
    Certainly, if one has a relationship with a gadol like RHS for their own sheilot.One should consider themselves lucky.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/12/2010 09:55 AM in reply to Nachum
    I think that we have discussed both the positive and negative aspects of Haskala on Torah observance and study. Having seforim based on Kisvei Yad today is one positive aspect of Haskala. One cannot deny the historical evidence such as forged seforim, militantly secular and anti religious ( whether Charedi or RZ) Zionism etc.
    ———
    ruvie 05/12/2010 10:03 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    very nice. but even though they disagreed – the talmidim – they still married each other. they didn’t believe in sects -and only marrying within their community – how untrue today it would seem. only chareideim view the hashkalah as a third churban. do you agree that our current yeshiva curriculum reflects the changes they – maskilim- advocated or do you believe that we follow the traditional – mesorah based- education model of the 1800s?
    ———
    Michael Makovi 05/12/2010 10:15 AM in reply to jadedtopaz
    More or less the same as a “podium”.
    ———
    Michael Makovi 05/12/2010 10:21 AM in reply to jadedtopaz
    In the Jewish Star article on this controversy (http://thejewishstar.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/p…), Rabbi Avi Shafran is quoted as saying:

    “Tznius isn’t a mode of dress. It includes the idea that women are demeaned and not honored when they’re put in the public eye and put on a pedestal. The position he [Weiss] has created violated the concept. Putting a woman in front of a group of men and women on a regular or ad-hoc basis is violative of tznius. Halacha accomplishes much more than the letter of the law. There is nothing in the Shulchan Aruch about keeping a cat in the aron kodesh. It’s technically permitted but it’s wrong to do.”

    Notice two things:
    (1) Rabbi Shafran has no real halakhic arguments, so he has to make up arguments that are not in the sources. And how about asking the women if they feel demeaned, rather than protecting the poor defenseless women who can’t speak for themselves?
    (2) He says, “Putting a woman in front of a group of men and women on a regular or ad-hoc basis is violative of tznius.”, but where does that put Esther Jungreis?
    ———
    Anon1 05/12/2010 10:31 AM in reply to HAGTBG
    What do you think “uneasily” means?
    ———
    Meir Shinnar 05/12/2010 10:37 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Steve
    Emunas Chachamim means that we follow what a Chacham says and then and only then seek to understand the rationale, not vice versa. To suggest otherwise is to clearly imply that one follows Psak of any Gadol when it makes sense to me-which I think is illustrative of an intellectual approach premised on Kochi vAtzum Yodi.

    This applies when we have asked a she’ela of a chacham for psak – not for any statement of any chacham. I doubt, for example, that most people on this list follow Rav Elyashiv about his psak on Rav Slifkin or modern science – and this is without impugning the gadlut of rav Elyashiv, nor, for most of us, impugning emunat chachamim..

    While RHS may have framed his response as a psak (unclear, given that we still don’t quite know what he said), the RCA did not ask him for a psak, nor did most of the MO community ask him. Steve wishes we did , and assumes that we are obligated to – but that is not the reality – and many of us are following psakim and emunat chachamim of others….(Again, while the issue of accepting a psak is one thing, many of us who grew up in the era of RYBS have a profoundly different understanding of the relationship of the community to the major posek – and the autonomy which the local rav and talmide chachamim are supposed to have – than is the standard in the RHS era – and don’t think following the previous standard is such a bad thing…..)
    Lastly, any psak, once in the arena, becomes part of open discussion of the sources – milchamta shel torah – and the notion that someone is above the fray is inherently problematic.
    ———
    HAGTBG 05/12/2010 10:47 AM in reply to Anon1
    What do you think “rhetorical question” means? You weren’t the first one here to use it.
    ———
    lawrence kaplan 05/12/2010 01:00 PM in reply to Michael Makovi
    It should be noted that Rabbi Shafran’s position that “putting a woman in front of a group of men and women even on an ad hoc basis is violative of tznius” would rule out a mother’s speaking at her son’s Bar- Mitzvah or her daughter’s bat-mitzvah, a woman ever giving a devar Torah in front a mixed group, a woman teacihng a class in shul for a mixed group, etc. — all common practices in MO. Well, fine If that’s what the Hardim want for themselves , who am I to say no? But that they should presume to legislate for the Modern Orthodox? What gall!
    ———
    moshe shoshan 05/12/2010 01:03 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    You more and more present yourself as an expert on halachic process. What Mesorah do you have that give yu such insight that you can even disparage those (who clearly lack messorah) who disagree with you? You impress me as no different from you liberal opponents. Pontificating about halacha with out the requisite breath and depth of knowledge of proper massorah
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/12/2010 04:52 PM in reply to Meir Shinnar
    I think that it almost warrants no reiteration but if one does not follow RYSE and his Piskei Halacha, then RYSE’s views on R Slifkin are irrelevant. I do think that the question boils down to who is qualified to render Psak and the related issue of hierarchy on Halachic and Metahalachic issues. Merely stating that one follows other Poskim does not end the inquiry, but rather warrants analysis of the same as to (a) who is rendering the Psak, and ( b0 what are the bases and assumptions of the Psak in question.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/12/2010 05:00 PM in reply to Michael Makovi
    R Shafran’s comments re women speaking in front of men state what he believes is the case for the Charedi community. I think that there are a lot of superb women scholars that even Charedi men would do well to hear on a wide variety of issues, especially on Tanach and Jewish history. even if men deemed it necessary to sit behind a mechitzah. . I think that in the MO world this issue is largely a function of Minhag HaMakom and is by no means considered a complete or even partial departure from Tznius. If it were necessary to hear the lecture in question from behind a mechitzah, I would certainly do so, but if the lecture was to a mixed audience, I would certainly stay and listen as well.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/12/2010 05:07 PM in reply to Michael Makovi
    “pulpit rabbis” appears to be implying that the position(s) are specifically positioned within a sanctuary.
    Where else would you be setting up pulpit furniture other than in a sanctuary ?
    Podiums and Lecturns are not necessarily sanctuary furniture though i’m sure they can find their place behind the mechitza or up in the rafters on an as needed basis 😉
    Perhaps they can function as a mechizta too.

    The R Shafran quotes you reference appear to be missing their original context.
    Were they taken from some sort of published transcript or essay.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/12/2010 05:09 PM in reply to ruvie
    I think that we should be following the age based curriculum of the Mishnah. I do not think that the adage of “a thousand enter, but only one emerges capabale of Horaah” works for anyone other than the best and the brightest.
    ———
    commentor 05/12/2010 05:14 PM in reply to lawrence kaplan
    I think that is the problem with Modern Orthodoxy. You cant just dismiss something because chareidim do it and it violates your sense of modern sensibility. Maybe he is right. Maybe all of those things are wrong, but we are too weak to hold of it. Just like they are too weak to take it to the next logical step of keeping women at home. Tznius is not a made up concept. It is real, and we all violate. You make it seem like just by holding up a badge that says “I am modern orthodox” I can pick and choose what I want. That is not a system of integrity. I am not Chareidi and my wife works outside the home in a professional position. But, that doesnt make it ideal. It is probable that we are just too weak to give up the money. But, to say it is great that she gives presentations to men who are then staring at her if good and that since we do that, she should get up in a shul and do the same is not correct. I am not just talking about you, I am just replying with my thoughts.
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/12/2010 05:33 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    I think the minhag hamokom argument might work well for female rabbis in both the Reform and Conservative Movements 😉 (seriously). Its clearly muttar for both the Reform and Conservative movements if the change was accepted by everyone and everything is functioning perfectly on the communal level……

    I guess the question then becomes how does minhag hamokom become minhag yisrael and “din”.
    I guess if the change is accepted well by the “mokom” and there are no negative consequences…. (as if negative consequences is an objective concept with regards to communal power…. but whatever) .
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/12/2010 05:57 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    I also think that the “mechitzah” should be done away with.
    I have no idea where this minhag hamokom originated from or how and why it lasted so long.
    I have yet to see a well sourced reason for this .
    ———
    jadedtopaz 05/12/2010 06:00 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    I meant the mechitzah should be done away with during prayers………
    ———
    lawrence kaplan 05/12/2010 06:25 PM in reply to commentor
    I was not dismissing the Haredi practice. On the contrary, I said that if that is the Haredi view regarding tzenius, fine for them. But it is Rabbi Shafran, with his unqualified remark, who implicitly accused the ENTIRE MO community, where it is a regular practice for women to adress mixed groups, as violating tzenius. The MO do NOT see this practice as some sign of weakness. This is separate from the issue of women rabbis.
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/12/2010 06:32 PM in reply to commentor
    I think that your response is somewhat simplistic-I was at two dinners for local women only schools that are communal, but with a Charedi bent that both had women speakers before a mixed seating audience. Again, in MO communities, women speaking before a mixed audience depends on Minhag HaMakom and is not seen as either a total or partial breach of Tznius.
    ———
    lawrence kaplan 05/12/2010 07:11 PM
    Hey Steve! We agree for a change. Let’s treasure the moment.
    ———
    Meir Shinnar 05/12/2010 07:40 PM
    WRT charedim and women speaking in public: Almost 20 years ago, after the Pell grant scandal, Rav Svei gave a talk at the Aguda convention about it,which was published in the Jewish Observer.. The first part was simple – it shouldn’t have happened, we will make sure it doesn’t happen again. The second part was a root cause analysis – asking why this particular issue arose – and his answer was the lack of tznius – that women now spoke in public affairs – this reflected an essential lack of tzniut – and this lack of tzniut by indiviudals led to public embarasssment of the community.

    Regardless of how one views the cause/effect so identified, it is clear from that at that time, women speaking in public affairs (including, IIRC, women speaking at family smachot…) was becoming an increasing phenomenon in yeshivish circles – and Rav Svei strongly objected to it. I don’t know the actual impact of that objection, nor how common such public speeches are in yeshivish circles today. Avi Shafran’s article essentially repeats Rav Svei’s opposition.

    However, that objection did not carry much weight in the MO circles, where it is pretty much the norm (some shuls have an issue of women talking from the bima, especially in the middle or right after services – which is related more to the issue of woman rabbis than anything else – but that is a side issue) . In early go rounds on the issue of smicha for women, I posited this as one of the major changes that have occured in the MO community – including public roles, administrative roles, and advanced talmudic learning – and that smicha for women did not involve any essentially new features (except title…)For communities where women do not speak in public, the issues are very different. I am glad that Steve and I can agree on at least one thing….
    ———
    Steve Brizel 05/12/2010 08:52 PM
    Larry and Meir-I think that R Shafran’s point probably is valid in the Charedi heartland, but certainly not with respect to the dinners that I attended or the entire MO world . While adherence to Tznius is very important, one should be careful to avoid invoking the same as some sort of theodicy like reason like Lashon Hara to “explain” communal problems. That being the case, I stand by my comments re the superb women speakers who I would run to listen to , whether behind a mechitzah or in a mixed audience.
    ———
    Steg (dos iz nit der Å¡teg) 05/13/2010 07:30 AM in reply to David Tzohar
    http://www.hir.org/forms_2008/Complete_Sara_Hur
    ———
    Steg (dos iz nit der Å¡teg) 05/13/2010 07:44 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    1 person liked this.
    re anonymous shamash

    RHS himself said that women rabbis are okay a few years ago, see the yutorah link i linked to.
    ———
    David Tzohar 05/14/2010 06:26 AM in reply to Steg (dos iz nit der Å¡teg)
    Thanks for the link.I stand corrected on R’Bin Nuns position. I hope he will not accuse me of lashon hara for attributing to him a sexist view. FTR I find on the whole his arguments unconvincing , the examples he brings irrelevant to the present situation and his conclusions unacceptable. This in no way detracts from the great respect I have for him as a talmid chacham with special zchut as an original thinker in limud v’perush Tanach.
    ———
    thanbo 05/23/2010 02:27 PM
    If anyone still cares, I finally read the whole thread, and my response (mostly agreeing with RHS – surprised, Gil?) is at http://thanbook.blogspot.com/2010/05/maharats.html
    ———
    hirhurim 05/23/2010 04:27 PM in reply to thanbo
    I’m not sure what you mean. RHS quoted serarah as a reason!

    Interesting side point, see R. Shlomo Wahrman’s article on women slaughterers in Mesorah no. 13, particularly p. 87: http://www.ou.org/kosher/mesorah.htm
    (Edited by author 2 months ago)
    ———
    thanbo 05/23/2010 10:01 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Yes, he quoted serarah as a reason, but as Steg pointed out, he apparently forgot he had not regarded serarah as an insurmountable obstacle a few years ago. So in terms of RHS’ whole thought, serarah may have served a polemic/Daas-Torah purpose at the convention, but it’s not a real reason.
    ———
    hirhurim 05/24/2010 11:14 AM in reply to thanbo
    No, he’s paskened for years that serarah is a problem. He’s even quoted about it in the R. Haskel Lookstein biography.
    ———
    thanbo 05/25/2010 01:11 AM in reply to hirhurim
    Where?

    I just skimmed the Medoff biography (as reprinted in the R’ Haskel festschrift), and didn’t see such a position attributed to RHS anywhere. (I may have given the standalone copy to my mother), The closest I found was a passing reference to a shiur by RHS based on RYBS, and based on that shiur, RHL decided that he could put women on his shul board, as long as they didn’t have authority to spend large amounts of money without board approval. There was no mention whether RHS supported such an idea or not. RHS was also mentioned as having taught Gemara shiuirm to men & women at KJ.

    RHS’ own article in the festschrift is on other issues.

    Now, IIRC the first time RHL raised the issue of women on the board, one of his big machers cited serarah to him as a problem, and he set the issue aside. I think that was on a R’ Rakeffet tape.
    ———
    thanbo 05/25/2010 01:27 AM
    Interestingly, R Asher Lopatin gives a very different precis of RHS’ speech at http://morethodoxy.org/2010/05/05/understanding

    The shiur that RAL heard had a lengthy exposition of how ordaining women was indeed a yehareg v’al yaavor (I’m sure not meant literally, but still used for emphasis), on the basis that this ia a shaat hashmad (apparently because the 1950s was, when RYBS initially raised the issue in terms of davening in a C/R synagogue), in which case even changing to a non-Jewish way of tying one’s shoelaces is yehareg v’al yaavor. Maybe he did mean it literally, if he laid out the whole argument in such detail. Although, who’s going to hold a gun to a rabbi’s head and say “Ordain this woman or I kill you”? I think his assessment of the interdenominational situation is rather dated. At any rate, RAL’s summary says nothing about serarah – maybe that was RKB’s own addition? Maybe the “confrontational questioner” raised the issue because RHS had, as you claim, mentioned serarah as a potential problem in the past?

    R Yitzchak Adlerstein http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2010/04/… claims that RHS offered both arguments.

    With such contradictory summaries, no wonder people are calling for the tape to be released. Maybe we are becoming Charedim, as Mishpacha Magazine welcomes RHS into the fold – in that our Gedolim are being manipulated by handlers, until we don’t know what they really say.
    ———
    Jordan 06/10/2010 11:12 AM in reply to Nachum
    I think it is a mistake to assume we know what R’ Schachter thinks on any issue other than those on which he has commented. It is not fair to him nor to those with whom he may disagree to put words in his mouth.
    ———
    Jordan 06/10/2010 11:19 AM in reply to grend
    Might this point be the very reason why RHS put emphasis on the socio-historic aspects of the discussion? Certainly, R’ Aharon Lichtenstein at the same RCA convention made it clear, (according to my source) that Serara was not his major concern.

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