Rav Soloveitchik on Women Rabbis

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R. Aryeh Frimer has published an essay on the position of R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik regarding the ordination of women as rabbis (link). It is partially based on an essay in Shi’urei HaRav on Yoreh De’ah (available for purchase here: link), which is translated in this post (link). One reader e-mailed me that this essay is a vindication of my position:

I have been avidly following the recent discussion at the RCA Convention and on the various blogs regarding granting women semikha. I was rather surprised, however, that in all the active give and take, there is one opinion that has not been placed center stage. I am referring to the view of Moreinu veRabbeinu haRav Yosef Dov haLevi Soloveitchik zt”l, known by his students as “the Rav”. The reason for this may well be the fact that the Rav never discussed this issue head on. However, there are several solid pieces of evidence which indicate, to my mind, that the Rav would clearly have opposed having women serve as Shul Rabbis and their receiving semikha.

The first piece of evidence is found in the recently published shi’urim of the Rav on Yoreh De’ah.[1] In contradistinction to Rav Soloveitchik’s Talmud shi’urim – which were very lomdish and had a large element of creativity and hiddush – the tone of the Yoreh De’ah shi’urim were halakha le-ma’aseh. The Rav’s primary goal in the latter was to clarify the various views of the Mehaber, Rema and nosei kelim in preparation for semikha exams.[2] In one the first shi’urim, the Rav dealt with the ruling of Rema to the effect that our custom is not to allow female ritual slaughterer (shohatot). The Rav suggests that the reason for this is that nowadays being a ritual slaughterer requires kabala – the authorization/certification of a recognized scholar testifying to the candidate’s knowledge of both the theory and practice of shehita. It should be emphasized that receiving kabala has community wide repercussions since it generally allows the bearer the right to apply for a position of shohet anywhere.

Read the full essay here: link.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor 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 currently is serving his third term on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and also serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazineand the Board of OU Press. He has published four 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.


  1. phineasGage 06/27/2010 10:27 PM
    Rabbi Student,
    Can you remind me how you extrapolated the issur of women serving as rabbis? I’m not sure where to find it on your site.
    phineasGage 06/27/2010 10:27 PM in reply to phineasGage
    oh whoops, you link to it.
    Jerry 06/27/2010 10:56 PM
    What exactly do you think is supposed to be the impact of this for those who already thought you were wrong about this? I think this will simply convince those who were already convinced and do nothing for those who were not. That’s fine, I suppose, if that was the intent.
    This is my name 06/28/2010 12:13 AM
    Since when do people care what the Rav actually held? There are plenty of psakim the Rav held were assur and people go ahead and do them anyways (yet think they follow the Rav). [Hallel on Yom Ha’Atzmaut would be one example (see the recently published The Rav Thinking Aloud; Techeiles on Tzitzis another example]. For one a bit closer to home. The Rav held that the 3 weeks have the laws of Shneim Assar Chodesh, the twelve months of Aveilus for a parent. The Rav was very stringent in laws of Aveilus. Do you think he would say the 3 weeks is a proper time to arrange a get together with free food and rememberance trinkets? If someone would ask if he should hold that party during his year of Aveilus (r”l) or right after, what would the Rav have said? How about going to such an affair?
    Aryeh Frimer 06/28/2010 01:33 AM in reply to This is my name
    1 person liked this.
    Halakha is a supposed to be a search for truth, as best as we can do so. Sure there are many poskim who disagree with the Rav, but it is through the dialectic that the truth is revealed and honed. It is for this reason that we study and analyze both the opinion of beit Shammai and Beit Hillel. This discussion is closely related to the fundamental question of why “Eilu ve-eilu divrei Elokim Hayyim.” After all one is ultimately wrong. Many answers have been given (See: the excellent discussion in “The Dynamics of Dispute” by R. Zvi Lampel). But clearly it is through the clash of ideas that the truth ultimately emerges. Since we have great respect for the Rav’s analysis and clear thinking, his opinion should be part of the discussion on women’s ordination. My article is not a plea that we necessarily accept the Rav’s view, but that we weigh and consider his position seriously.
    Jenny 06/28/2010 03:06 AM in reply to This is my name
    People such as RHS and other YU RY’s, who definitely believe they are following the ways of RYBS, yet say hallel on YHA and wear techeilet on their tzitzit. Maybe the Rav’s position could be a bit more complex than he’s given credit for in a work like Thinking Out Loud.
    Jenny 06/28/2010 03:13 AM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    In an instance in which Eilu V’eilu applies, and both have legitimacy, the ultimate decider is the “menchlichkeit” of each side (Eruvin 13).

    By the RW world dismissing the conflict out of hand, they are taking a risk. If they’re right, that the Women-Smicha position has no legitimacy (i.e. Reform) – great, they’ve followed in the ways of the great Rabbis of previous generations. However, if there is legitimacy to the position, and a halakhic decision must be made, I think it’s clear to anyone that there’s one side of the argument which has shown “menchlichkeit”, and one that hasn’t (i.e. 5tjt of last week).
    moshe shoshan 06/28/2010 03:23 AM in reply to Jerry
    You may or may not be convinced by these arguments against women rabbis. However, I think the Frimmers have done a pretty good job of demonstrating that the Rav was very concerned with issues of women in communal positions of leadership. It seems highly unlikely that h ewould have approved of a female mara d’asra.
    I think this fact is of great significance to the question of female rabbis in the MO community and especially the RCA’s position on them. That being said I think the Rav’s position on serara needs more clarification. For more than half a century, the Rav’s wife and then his daughter headed the “school committee” at Maimo, a position of significant discretion and power with in the school. How does this square with what the Frimmer’s report?
    Aryeh Frimer 06/28/2010 03:45 AM in reply to moshe shoshan
    According to several poskim, the serara prohibition does not apply when the elected individual does not enjoy exclusive, final decision-making power. No violation is involved, therefore, when dealing with an appointment to a council which reaches decisions together as a group, such as election to the Knesset (Rabbi Yosef Kafah, Ha-isha Ve-chinukha, Amana, 5740, p. 37), a municipal Religious Council, or to a synagogue board (Rav Soloveitchik discussed in Article). Likewise, a position does not qualify as serara if its holder’s decisions require the consent of a higher authoritative body. For example, the decisions of a school principal (such as employing or dismissing teachers) must be approved by the board of education (Rabbi Aryeh Leib Grosenes, Shu”t Lev Aryeh, 2:21).

    For further discussion see: “Women in Community Leadership Roles in the Modern Period,” Aryeh A. Frimer, In “Afikei Yehudah – Rabbi Yehuda Gershuni zt’l Memorial Volume,” R. Itamar Warhaftig, ed., Ariel Press: Jerusalem, 5765 (2005), pp. 330-354 (In Hebrew). HTML file available online at http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/mishpach/maamad/nash…. See also “Women in Community Leadership Roles – Shul Presidents” “Text and Texture” of the Rabbinical Council of America (June 2, 2010) – available online at http://text.rcarabbis.org/?p=931.
    moshe shoshan 06/28/2010 05:23 AM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    This still does not address my question regarding heading the Maimonides school committee. Its not clear to me that Mrs. Soloveitchik or Twersky were answerable to anybody during their tenures. Neither were they elected. I just dont see how that squares with what you have described as the Rav’s position on the matter. There are numerous highly reliable people in Boston who could be consulted for more details
    joelrich 06/28/2010 05:38 AM
    Leaving aside the meta issue (women’s roles in orthodoxy-which imho is the real issue at play), would R’YBS (or other poskim) have a priblem with a community which did not have a paid rav (or did-but that’s another layer) where a woman was recognized as the most halachically knowing, wise person (and pastoral-but that’s another layer) and thus people went to her for halachic (and other-but that’s another layer) opinions?
    Mike S. 06/28/2010 06:02 AM
    1 person liked this.
    Rav Rackeffet quotes Rabbi Holzer saying theRav’s objection to women a shul presidents was not one of serrara (which anyone who has ever known one knows shul presidents do not have) but one of tzniut. Specifically, making announcements in front of the whole kahal. It would still seem to indicate his position on shul rabbis. The chair of the Maimonides school committee may have had more power than a shul president never made speeches.
    mycroft 06/28/2010 06:09 AM in reply to Jenny
    No one could believe that it is the Ravs position to sayHallel on YHA-having said that he did not make a big deal about it. RHS and otherss were leading talmidim of the Rav-but all to greater or less degree have other influences on them besides the Rav. Even RAL who is probably as close to hashkafa to the Rav of any figure today has sted openly that he has other influences including RAS and Rav Hutner
    mycroft 06/28/2010 06:17 AM in reply to moshe shoshan
    Agree with Moshe Shoshan-one must look at the reality of what happened in Boston and certainly by people whowere as close to and loved and listened to the Rav as anyone
    mycroft 06/28/2010 06:23 AM
    It is certainly very likely that the Rav would have been opposed to “women Rabbis”-having said that he did not come out against the concept-and the issue was certainly in play by the early 70s. I heard a limudei kodesh teacher at YU speak in hisn schul i in the UWS n the early 70s and advocate female Rabbis.. There was no hue and cry at the time against that Rabbi. I don’t recall the Rav making any comments and in the early 70s the Rav was still a manhig.
    ruvie 06/28/2010 06:33 AM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    “Halakha is a supposed to be a search for truth, as best as we can do so.”
    is this an unanimous opinion and what is the source for this statement or view?
    is there any reason why nobody sees the rav’s view evolving over time (depending on the real world or possibility he may change his opinion) as oppose to being static and fix. did he change his opinion on other matters during his lifetime? is this pertinent to the discussion?
    thanks for all your articles – its been a pleasure to read – esp. the footnotes.
    Aryeh Frimer 06/28/2010 07:46 AM in reply to joelrich
    The Hinukh makes it clear that the people went to Devorah haNeviah to pasken halakhic questions asnd the gedolim of the Generation consulted with her to learn the halakha. That is charismatic leadership which is not a problem. The problem is a position with discressionary power to which people are bound to listen.
    aryehfrimer 06/28/2010 07:51 AM in reply to Mike S.
    I don’t know Rabbi Rakeffet’s source. Mine is R. Binyamin Walfish who spoke to the Rav directly about women’s issues for the RCA during 1983-1984 – as I say in the article
    aryehfrimer 06/28/2010 08:01 AM in reply to mycroft
    In the Conservative Movement the Issue of Women Rabbis started in the 70’s and was not resolved until October 1983. It was never a cause celebre by the Orthodox until late in this decade. The Rav would never have had reason to make a public declaration on the subject during his active years.
    Aryeh Frimer 06/28/2010 08:08 AM in reply to ruvie
    See my discussion in “Feminist Innovations in Orthodoxy Today: Is Everything in Halakha – Halakhic?” Aryeh A. Frimer, JOFA Journal, 5:2, pp. 3-5 (Summer 2004/Tammuz 5764). PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/JOFASummerFinal1.pdf.
    See also my discussion in “Guarding the Treasure: A Review of Tamar Ross, Expanding the Palace of the King –Orthodoxy and Feminism, Brandeis University Press, Waltham 2004, xxiv + 342 pp.,” Aryeh A. Frimer, BDD – Journal of Torah and Scholarship, 18, English section, pp. 67-106 (April 2007). PDF file of the as published article available online at http://www.jofa.org/pdf/uploaded/1206-DQLN0171….
    Jerry 06/28/2010 08:48 AM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    Rabbi Frimer,

    Just to clarify, when you say “bound,” do you mean practically compelled or obligated, or do you mean theoretically compelled or obligated? It seems to me that if you mean the former, then certainly a community rav or mara d’asra – in almost all cases in the modern Orthodox world – does not have the power to bind people to listen to him. Most congregants would laugh at the notion. Whether or not this is a good thing is a separate issue (I don’t think it’s black and white, but that’s also a separate discussion). But it does have implications for whether such a position constitutes serarah.

    If, however, you mean the latter, then at least there is some distinction between Devorah and a shul rabbi. But that puts one in the awkward position of claiming that there is a greater theoretical obligation to listen to the decisions of some first year smicha graduate in the Podunk Iowa Synagogue than to the decisions of one of the most famous nevi’ei Hashem – and no doubt a first class talmidah chachama – in our history. You may argue that this is, indeed, the case – but if so, it just doesn’t pass the smell test for legitimacy.

    Also, isn’t there a Tosfos on the question of Devorah’s serara that gives the answer that it was okay since the people accepted her upon themselves? If a community nowadays were to do the same thing, then that should not be a problem according to Tosfos.

    In any event, thank you for a very interesting article!
    Mike S. 06/28/2010 09:46 AM in reply to aryehfrimer
    His source was R. Emmanuel Holzer
    Aryeh Frimer 06/28/2010 09:52 AM in reply to Jerry
    Generally speaking, the Synagogue Rabbi is the one consulted for all ritual decisions in the Shul: Can women dance with a Sefer Torah on Simhat Torah in this Shul; Can women give divrei Torah in this shul; Can the shul have a women’s Prayer Group. If the Rabbi says yes or no – that’s shul policy. And that’s Serara over the community. Clearly each congregant will personally do as he/she likes, though many congrgants will view their Rabbi as their ultimate Halakhic authority. Of course the community may decide not to renew the Rabbi’s contract, but until that time, his word is usually final.

    As far as Devorah haNevia is concerned, see: “Women in Community Leadership Roles in the Modern Period,” Aryeh A. Frimer, In “Afikei Yehudah – Rabbi Yehuda Gershuni zt’l Memorial Volume,” R. Itamar Warhaftig, ed., Ariel Press: Jerusalem, 5765 (2005), pp. 330-354 (In Hebrew). HTML file available online at http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/mishpach/maamad/nash…. See also “Women in Community Leadership Roles – Shul Presidents” “Text and Texture” of the Rabbinical Council of America (June 2, 2010) – available online at http://text.rcarabbis.org/?p=931.
    Baruch Pelta 06/28/2010 10:34 AM in reply to This is my name
    emma 06/28/2010 10:42 AM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    It’s interesting that you pick three gendered examples of policy questions a shul rav would decide.

    Also, do you formulate a “hashkafic” or philosophical explanation of why a women cannot have discretionary, binding authority? Which contemporary understandings regarding human capabilities are you willing to discard to do so? Or is it just a rule?
    jadedtopaz 06/28/2010 11:49 AM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    Which Talmudic and Biblical precedents in particular, does the Rambam use to formulate his (unacceptable) opinions on “serarah”.
    Aryeh Frimer 06/28/2010 12:00 PM

    I picked Gendered examples because that’s the topic under discussion and because thes are the type of community issues which modern Rabbis face regularly. As far as why women were limited by serara, several possibilities have been suggested (see sources cited above at 9:52 AM Today). I find them all a bit problematic. But I sense it has to do with priorities, in which the Torah accepts role playing and rejects egalitarianism. Different roles are of equal spiritual value, as long as it is retson haBeorei. There is an excellent discussion of this by Rabbi Saul Berman in Tradition in the 1970s. I’ll try to locate it
    ruvie 06/28/2010 12:06 PM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    the first article you reference doesn’t reference classical sources (second reference link doesn’t work)
    to the question of is halacha a search for truth? or could it be that halacha is the practical application of torah in the real world and that is what ratzon hashem is?
    the second question of evolving (or changing)views of the rav over his lifetime or whether he would have change his views on certain matters is still one of interest.(interestingly, i am told, that ral doesn’t view woman rabbis as a serara issue but then again he may have been influence by others than the rav).
    emma 06/28/2010 12:09 PM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    Aryeh Frimer 06/28/2010 12:12 PM in reply to emma
    R. Saul F. Berman, “The Status of Women in Halakhic Judaism,” Tradition, 14:2 (Fall 1973), pp. 5-29.
    Joseph Kaplan 06/28/2010 12:35 PM
    I posted the following comment on Text and Texture:

    I object to the title of this post by my friend R’Aryeh — “The View of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l on the Ordination of Women.” A more correct title would be “R. Aryeh Frimer’s Analysis of the ordination of women based on his understanding of the Rav’s position in related matters.” Perhaps I’m being overly picky, but at a time when so many feel free to say what the Rav “would” say were he alive today and asked a question that had not been asked before — or, indeed, what he would say *today* about a question he *did* opine on — one should be careful not to put words in the Rav’s mouth that he did not utter. R’ Aryeh notes at the very beginning of his piece that “the Rav never discussed this issue head on.” If that is the case (and I don’t think anyone disputs it is), to say “Thus we have shown that the Rav believed that women serving as communal rabbis was forbidden,” is simply wrong. We don’t know what the Rav believed about this issue and, unfortunately, we can never know what he believed. We can only surmise which is what the always thoughtful and erudite R’Aryeh did. I would have hoped that he would have been more careful, in both title and text, to more clearly make this distinction.
    JB Rocks 06/28/2010 12:44 PM in reply to This is my name
    Can you please clarify? When did the Rav say that techeiles is assur?
    Aryeh Frimer 06/28/2010 01:03 PM in reply to ruvie
    Regarding Halakha as a search for Truth, Read R. Zvi Lampel’s book “The Dynamics of Dispute” and his excellent presentation of Eilu veEilu Divrei Elokim Hayyim
    Aryeh Frimer 06/28/2010 01:11 PM in reply to Joseph Kaplan
    Sir Joseph,
    Your point is well taken. However, I believe that the evidence I bring is convincing if not conclusive. If you want me to admit that, given the Rav’s creativity, another possibile interpretation of the evidence I bring is feasible – I admit it. But I honestly believe it to be extremely unlikely. Thanks for your insights and comments.
    ruvie 06/28/2010 02:07 PM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    i am simply asking whether it is correct when you state it as a simple fact that everyone agrees to(indisputable fact and understanding in judaism)? or is it more complicated and your assumption (“search for truth…..one is ultimately wrong….clearly it is through the clash of ideas that the truth ultimately emerge”).
    if truth is the quest then shouldn’t textual analysis and correct original versions and readings (dividing up the strata of who what and when each part of the talmud was written and context of that society) be the only correct way to find the truth (or original intention)?
    will try to read the chapter tonight (but my recollection is the different classical ways that it was understood-rashi,tosafot,ritva etc) to see if it sheds light.
    This is my name 06/28/2010 04:02 PM in reply to Jenny
    Jenny, the book Thinking Aloud has a verbatim transcript of an entire Shiur dedicated to one topic: Saying Hallel on Yom HaAtzmaut, It’s a good 60 pages in the book, just transcribing what the Rav said. It’s quite straightforward, and not complex at all. What the Rav held about it used to be a disagreement among students (who were at that shiur), it’s now no longer a question, it is plain and simple. R’ Schachter may have his own opinion –which is different than the Rav– regarding Hallel, that often happens. But in YU’s Yom HaAtzmaut to Go article written by Josh Flug why is there no mention whatsoever regarding R’ Soloveitchik’s point of view? Why do we only respect the Rav as Moreinu V’Rabbeinu when we see fit?
    Jon_Brooklyn 06/28/2010 04:17 PM in reply to This is my name
    … and yet there’s also testimony that he said it. Are the people that bring it lying?
    This is my name 06/28/2010 04:23 PM in reply to Jenny
    Thinking Aloud does not discuss Techeiles, I was just mentioning that as another example. R’ Shachter is free to have a mind of his own, but I do not think he would claim the Rav would say a person should wear Techeiles nowadays.
    [My third example was the Hirhurim get together –which is planned for the 3 weeks– which is a pretty ironic time for a get together of people who respect the Rav and his opinions. I’m sure Gil will find some student of the Rav who permits something of this sort, though I heard one student say the Rav would forbid large birthday parties. Certainly something where you’re giving out remembrance trinkets tells me it’s a bit too happy an occassion for the 3 weeks. Unless the remembrance trinkets would all say something like, remember the Churban]
    This is my name 06/28/2010 04:25 PM in reply to Jon_Brooklyn
    If you read the book you’d see he said you should not say it, but if he’s stuck in a Shul that says it he will say it with them, but without a bracha
    hirhurim 06/28/2010 04:33 PM in reply to This is my name
    Respecting the Rav as one’s teacher does not mean following every pesak of his. I’m not quite sure why you would think that it does.
    hirhurim 06/28/2010 04:34 PM in reply to This is my name
    The Rav did not say that the Three Weeks have *all* the dinim of 12 chodesh. I have no idea what he would say about the get-together. I asked a she’eilah and was told that it is OK.
    This is my name 06/28/2010 04:37 PM in reply to hirhurim
    Every student of the Rav I ever heard of said it has ALL the dinim of Shneim Assar Chodesh. Which law did you think it does not have the same?
    This is my name 06/28/2010 04:39 PM in reply to hirhurim
    It doesn’t mean you have to follow his Pesak. But I assume many of the readers do follow his Psak regarding this. For example, most MO rabbis who allow people to shave during the three weeks (up until the 9 nine days) rely on his Psak (which says that you may shave when it starts looking bad). Do they pick and choose which part of his psak they want to follow?
    Similarly, if we are all respecting his opinion, many of us actually follow his opinion in this case, which would make it a poor time to choose for a get together, considering many will want to follow his opinion.
    hirhurim 06/28/2010 04:42 PM in reply to This is my name
    I have never heard that.
    hirhurim 06/28/2010 04:43 PM in reply to This is my name
    Sorry but that was the best time for the people around whom I scheduled the event. There will actually be someone in 12 chodesh coming, although he will not be eating based on his rav’s pesak.
    This is my name 06/28/2010 04:48 PM
    Alright, if you ask I think you will hear that. In regards to Sefiras Ha’omer and the 3 weeks –though many don’t realize it and therefore I have heard a Shul Rav explain this during Sefira– if you rely on the Rav’s opinion to shave, you should also follow his opinion regarding get togethers.
    This is my name 06/28/2010 04:48 PM
    If it’s Sha’as Ha’d’chak I’m sure there are reasons to be lenient. Though, that works for you, but perhaps the readers should be warned to ask their Rav regarding this.
    hirhurim 06/28/2010 04:52 PM in reply to This is my name
    I heard it the other way around. The issurim that were instituted (by minhag) were based on the issurim of 12 chodesh, but not all issurim of 12 chodesh apply.

    As to the get-together, I was told it isn’t a simcha so it isn’t simchas merei’us. I have no idea how the Rav held on that. I don’t see it in the Shiurei HaRav on Tisha B’Av and Aveilus. I’m actually going to a shul dinner the next night.
    Aryeh613 06/28/2010 05:08 PM
    if you look in the essay on the parallels between aveilus chadasha and aveilus yeshana, printed in “Out of the Whirlwind” you will find that the Rav explicitly says that it is not an exact parallel regarding certain halachos. It makes for an easier shiur to repeat if you take out the nuance, but it is not an accurate reflection of the Rav’s opinion.
    This is my name 06/28/2010 05:22 PM in reply to hirhurim
    I have a dinner I need to go to as well, but I’m sure the Rabbi in my case was not concerned with the Rav’s opinion.
    This is my name 06/28/2010 05:27 PM in reply to Aryeh613
    I don’t have Out of the Whirlwind handy right now, but even if there are some cases of differences, my understanding is that this area is not one of them
    This is my name 06/28/2010 05:37 PM in reply to Aryeh613
    Anyhow, thank you for the correction, I assume Rabbonim summarize it that way for simplicity’s sake. [Unless they heard a different shiur where the Rav himself didn’t mention those nuances]
    mycroft 06/28/2010 10:39 PM in reply to aryehfrimer
    But this Rabbi advocated it openly in the early 70s-why wasn’t it controversial-certainly one of the more famous UWS MO Rabbis.
    mycroft 06/28/2010 10:44 PM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    For better or worse, any succesful NA Rav will tell you that he can’t force anything-he must persuad. Having said that a Rav with integrity might have to leave a schul if he gets overruled on major items-but he can’t force his will on anyone or the schul.
    Bob 06/28/2010 11:32 PM
    What I’m curious about is what posek gave reshus for This is My Name to post a comment on a blog. It’s one thing to be on the Internet for business, but to read and comment on a blog…by Slifkin’s publisher, no less!? Chalila vichas!

    No, but seriously, what adam chashuv gives that reshus?
    aryehfrimer 06/29/2010 01:56 AM in reply to mycroft
    The Issue of Women Rabbis was only in the Conservative movement in the period of 1973-83. No one of stature took it seriously in the Orthodox world. Orthodox Feminism essentially started in 1972 and they were concerned with ritual, women’s prayer groups, women dancing with a sefer Torah on Simhat Torah. The Rav only instituted Gemara at Stern in the 70’s. There really weren’t Talmidot Hakhamim – certainly not in Halakha or Talmud. The big issue in the 70’s was women on Synagogue boards.
    Aryeh Frimer 06/29/2010 02:03 AM in reply to mycroft
    Part of the Job description of a Shul Rabbi is to determine shul policy. That’s what the contract almost always says. If the Balabatim don’t listen they have violated the contract. Many shul’s in Israel will avoid hiring a Rabbi for just that reason – they don’t want their hands tied.
    moshe shoshan 06/29/2010 05:52 AM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    I still dont understand how you reconcile your account ofthe Rav’s position on Serara and the power held my his wife and daughter on the school committee.
    Aryeh Frimer 06/29/2010 06:15 AM in reply to moshe shoshan
    Either he held that decisions made by committee are not Serara;
    or that they were the best suited for that job because they had the Rav’s ear, trust and influence;
    better yet, that they were merely the Rav’s representatives – and ultimately, he ran the school.
    ruvie 06/29/2010 09:00 AM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    r’ frimer – after reading the chapter- eiliv’eilu – i didn’t see how that answered the question of what are the sources for your statements – i am assuming talmud – of:
    “Halakha is a supposed to be a search for truth, as best as we can do so.”
    “it is through the dialectic that the truth is revealed and honed. ”
    “But clearly it is through the clash of ideas that the truth ultimately emerges”
    i am interested from where and how do we know (or assume) that halacha is the search for truth and that through the gemera’s argumentation the truth is revealed. is it the truth that you speak of related to what hashem told moshe as to the correct halacha or truth in a general sense. is this a uniform belief in judaism?sorry for being picky.
    Shlomo 06/29/2010 10:17 AM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    “or that they were the best suited for that job because they had the Rav’s ear, trust and influence;”

    That would undermine your entire argument. When people choose a rabbi for the shul, they choose the one whom they consider best suited for the job. If they think a particular woman is best suited, by this logic that woman should be allowed to become shul rabbi.
    jadedtopaz 06/29/2010 10:23 AM in reply to ruvie
    I actually thought that “but clearly it is through the clash of ideas that the truth ultimately emerges”
    was a great quote.

    Also reminded me of Professor Noah Feldman’s book preview for “Scorpions, The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Supreme Court Justices” here
    And his point about the different strong personalities of the Justices, and the constitution.
    Aryeh Frimer 06/29/2010 10:27 AM in reply to ruvie
    Rav Lampel’s discussion cites several different views among Rishonim and Aharaonim as to how to explain why even the view which is not accepted according to the Halakha, is Divrei Elokim Hayyim. Was all of Beit Shammais learning Bitul Zeman? The various answers make clear that attaining truth comes from the clash of ideas; that beit Shammai – even though they are totally rejected le-halakha {beit Shammai bimkom Beit Hillel eina mishna} was necessary to hone Beit Hillel and hence are critical to the truth clarifying process; that making mistakes along the way is part of the process of attaining truth. Kindly read the sources again and you will see that the search for truth is the driving force of halakha. We try our best to attain the absolute truth, but we are humans and lo baShamayyim hi. So we follow the rules and hope we approximate the truth the best we can. Study Lampel’s sources again. It’s all there.
    David Tzohar 06/29/2010 11:19 AM in reply to joelrich
    Your comment is relevant to the question: is Jewish life like a layer cake, or more like a strudel where the hard but somewhat flaky crust holds the sweet filling within. I love these food metaphors, but seriously I agree that the real issue is womens role in orthodoxy in general. IMHO the “rabbah” controversy is a non issue and in the long run women will never be accepted as leaders, definately not as poskim in the Torah world. The more important issues are those that relate to womens learming and Torah scholarship and the more general questions of the womens role in the family, having a career etc.
    David Tzohar 06/29/2010 11:50 AM
    The bat kol proclaimed eilu veilu divrei elokim chayim VEHALACHA K’BET HILLEL. As opposed to other places where the bat kol is not accepted because “lo bashamayim hi” here the KBH intervenes to emphasize that while all of the discourse of chachamim is ‘divreu elokim chayyim” there is only one way of halacha, one truth( at least b’olam hazeh). Bet Hillel and Bet Shamai are equally important but there is and can only be one Torah not shtei torot
    jadedtopaz 06/29/2010 12:26 PM in reply to David Tzohar
    But I thought “shivim panim la-torah”.
    This is my name 06/29/2010 01:34 PM in reply to Bob
    Which one of the Rav’s Talmidim says it is forbidden?
    On a serious note, I appreciate how you think a discussion regarding what the Rav actually held is looked at as ridiculously charedi ultraorthodox
    llennhoff 06/29/2010 04:29 PM in reply to This is my name
    I think the ‘Charedi ultraorthodox’ parts of the discussion are the ideas that if we knew how the Rav ruled that would suffice to end all discussion, and that if we knew how the Rav would have ruled then, we can be sure he would have ruled the same way now.
    Irice 06/29/2010 04:30 PM
    It is important to note that bringing a proof that women are excluded from serarah from the position of a shochet is questionable. The reason is that not everyone agrees that a shochet u’bodek is a communal position of authority. Most notably, the Divrei Malkiel 5:50 is very clear that a Shochet is not in a position of serarah. http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=80
    Bob 06/29/2010 06:16 PM in reply to This is my name
    1.You yourself said your rabbi doesn’t care what the Rav said. Now c’mon, stay with me. I’m just asking who gave you reshus to use the comments section of a blog.
    ruvie 06/29/2010 08:17 PM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    r’ frimer – upon a more close reading of r’ lampels’s chapter – you referred to – i am now even more confused (lets not forget that i dwell with the amei haaretzs of the world). please see the following quotes:
    “these and those (eilu v’eilu)” simply is that we must follow decisions reached through halachic procedure, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THOSE DECISIONS ACTUALLY MATCH G-D’S ORIGINAL INTENTIONS.
    and:but “these and those”…adage is rather in reference to a seperate question, that of absolute thruth,WHICH IS NOT TECHNICALLY THE CONCERN OF HALACHA.

    i would like to refer you the 11th century talmudic dictionary, the aruhk, which decribes halacha as: something which came from ancient days and will last to the end of time or alternatively something to which israel goes.
    so to say that halacha is the search of truth – i still wonder where that idea comes from? halacha seems to be the outcome of lengthy arguements… as well as the practical application of the torah – whatever that may mean- that was given to us and what we- through study – created as a people. there is searching for answers but necessarily the truth or ratzon hashem. i think that is the reason we do not pay attention to the bat kol – its irrelevant to us living on earth.
    lastly, i think r’ lalmpel’s translation these and those are the words of a living g-d should be the living words of g-d (hayim i think gramatically is on the divrei – assuming that g-d is neither living or dying but just is) it torat hayim not alokim hayim. but then again dikduk was not my strong subject.
    ruvie 06/29/2010 08:19 PM in reply to jadedtopaz
    it is a great quote. someone should copyright it.
    This is my name 06/29/2010 08:58 PM in reply to Bob
    You clearly misread what I wrote. Here’s what I said :
    I have a dinner I need to go to as well, but I’m sure the Rabbi in my case was not concerned with the Rav’s opinion.
    I didn’t say the Rabbi running the dinner was MY rabbi, I said the Rabbi running the dinner doesn’t care. Just as I didn’t assume the shul dinner Gil had to go had to be his Shul dinner and his Shul Rabbi.
    Steve Brizel 06/29/2010 09:19 PM in reply to mycroft
    Perhaps, RYBS, considering the source, deemed the comment not worthy of a public response,
    Steve Brizel 06/29/2010 09:23 PM in reply to moshe shoshan
    Just curious-do we know that that RYBS’s wife ZL and his daughter did not check with RYBS on halachic and hashkafic issues within Maimonides?
    Bob 06/30/2010 09:16 AM in reply to This is my name
    Um, what? If your rabbi is concerned with the Rav’s opinion, why are you going to the dinner?

    Stop playing games, and please answer the question of who gave you reshus to comment on blogs.
    David Tzohar 06/30/2010 01:16 PM in reply to jadedtopaz
    la-torah, lo lahalacha
    Steve Brizel 06/30/2010 03:36 PM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    One more comment on this issue-graduates of Maimonides can confirm that RYBS spent a lot of his spare time in Boston at Maimonides. There are more than a few stories of REYBS learning with students who had been thrown out of a class, etc. I suspect that RYBS was clearly far more involved in Maimonides in the sense of a hands on basis than has been discussed so far in the comments and which R S Farber’s book certainly alludes to as well.
    Steve Brizel 06/30/2010 03:42 PM in reply to ruvie
    It is all fine and well to quote the Aruch and to assert that Halacha is followed regardless of whether it matches G-d’s original intentions. Yet, do not we assume that TSBP is dependent on the means of interpretation which are transmitted to the Chachamim and Baalei Mesorah of each generation, regardless of a Bas Kol or other such extra legal phenomena? See the Hakdamah of the Netziv to HaEenek Shealah.
    Steve Brizel 06/30/2010 04:24 PM in reply to ruvie
    Does not the Talmud in more than one instance refer to “Dvar HaShem-Zu Halacha” and view “Hilcasa” and “Shema Minah” as indicative of the final conclusion of a debate?
    mycroft 06/30/2010 07:22 PM in reply to Aryeh Frimer
    A contract for a Rabbi-I personally have been influenced by a North American Rabbi who refused contracts-as long as both sides were happy he would stay there. Of course, the advantage for the Rabbi one never gets into contract renewal discussions-one just stays as long as both are happy
    mycroft 06/30/2010 07:26 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    The Rav was certainly involved in Maimonides-thus it is ludicrous to believe that anything was done there that he disapproved of-eg mixed classes, curriculum etc.
    ruvie 06/30/2010 10:41 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    when someone makes a comments that halacha is a search for the truth or ratzin hashem – i am curious how that we know that. i too have been taught that as a truism but as the read more i would like to know how we came to believe it – is it true and everybody agrees that this a tenet in judaism. therefore, i quoted the arukh and the sentences in the book that would indicate that the stattements aren’t truisms but ideology that has become the norm in defining the term.
    i think the the tanaim believed that they were a continuation of the bible and had the ability to create their own laws (within certain parameters – the amoraim later narrowed their rulings). does it not say that r’ ishmael said “in three instances the halacha overrules scripture. the torah says…. but the halacha is….in these three cases the halacha UPROOTS – OKROT (hebrw) – scripture” tj kidushin 1:2,59d. see also mechilta de r. ishmaelnezikim chaptr 2.
    one can say that tsbp is everything that is not in the tanakh (ex books that didn’t make it – ben sira, judith, jubilees etc – although i am not sure what you call them besides apochrapha). tbsp is transmitted and created from in each generation. i do not what you assume. i assume there was always an interpretation that was handed down from day one – somebody had to explain the contradictions and what the verses in the tanakh meant so we can fulfill mitzvot – that would be part of tsbp.
    do not comprehend the rest of your post and its connection to what i simply ask about halacha, truth and ratzon hashem.
    ruvie 06/30/2010 10:54 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    please find the source. but dvar hashem could simply be the chumash. since we don’t pasken form the chumash or even the mishnah only from the gemera we determine the halacha. and based on your statements – therefore what? do not understand the rest of your statement and what it has to do with anything in the discussion.
    if ratzon hashem is so important then please explain the following – the chumash is dvar hashem so how can we not want to do yibum (even if we don’t feel its right – why ever do halitza)? why not give nothing to my wife/daughter when i die? how dare i not give my eldest a double portion? if we really believe that ratzon hashem is the end all then how dare we not obey every intent of hashem’s in the bible – please explain. what am i missing. there are probably better examples than the one’s i have provided (please add to the list) but again i am an am haaretz and its past my bedtime.
    This is my name 07/01/2010 12:45 AM in reply to Bob
    Bob, it really isn’t that complicated. There is a specific reason I have to go to the dinner and I have no interest in discussing it in public. (Incidentally, I did not discuss if I would I eat there or how long I would stay, all I said is I have to attend and that the Rabbi running the dinner was not concerned with the Rav’s opinion).
    Bob 07/01/2010 06:56 AM in reply to This is my name
    Right….your purposeful ambiguity says it all.
    Steve Brizel 07/01/2010 12:58 PM in reply to ruvie
    I think that Dvar HaShem Zu Halacha, which is a statement in the Gemara , implies that Halacha is determined by the Chachamim via the discssions in the Gemara.

    See R Asher Weiss’s shiur on Ratzon HaTorh-there are many Halachos that we follow despite the absence of an explicit verse in the Torah , which Chazal , Rishonim and Acharonim asume are of a Torah nature.
    ruvie 07/01/2010 02:13 PM
    i am not disagreeing on how halacha is set. it would seem from the gemera that ratzon hashem is not sometimes relevant to what is the halacha. if we care about ratzon hashem then how could that be? its a really simple question. the assumption i think is that whatever chazal decides ends up retroactively ratzon hashem because he gave us the torah in order for us to figure it out and sometimes in a messy real world ratzon hashem – original intent – may not be the determining factor in halacha.
    the question still remains unanswered.
    Steve Brizel 07/01/2010 02:42 PM in reply to mycroft
    Ain Haci Nami

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