R. Aryeh Frimer / In the opening article, “Orthodox Feminism: Keeping the Conversation Honest,”[2] appearing in the first issue of Dialogue, R. Eytan Kobre attacks the theology and halakhic methodology of some of the more radical proponents of “Orthodox Feminism.” En passant, he also finds Modern Orthodoxy guilty of hypocrisy. This is because, on the one hand, the latter charge Haredi publications with hagiography and lack of historicity, while at the same time tolerating the misrepresentation of Jewish law and principles of faith by Modern Orthodoxy’s left flank (top of p. 2).

Keep the Conversation Honest

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Indeed! Keep the Conversation on Orthodox Feminism Honest![1]

Guest post by R. Aryeh A. Frimer

Rabbi Aryeh A. Frimer is the Ethel and David Resnick Professor of Active Oxygen Chemistry at Bar Ilan University (E-mail) and has written extensively on the status of women in Jewish law; see: http://bermanshul.org/frimer/.

In the opening article, “Orthodox Feminism: Keeping the Conversation Honest,”[2] appearing in the first issue of Dialogue, R. Eytan Kobre attacks the theology and halakhic methodology of some of the more radical proponents of “Orthodox Feminism.” En passant, he also finds Modern Orthodoxy guilty of hypocrisy. This is because, on the one hand, the latter charge Haredi publications with hagiography and lack of historicity, while at the same time tolerating the misrepresentation of Jewish law and principles of faith by Modern Orthodoxy’s left flank (top of p. 2).

Intellectual honesty is the leitmotif in R. Kobre’s review. So to be honest, I must own up to agreeing with much of what the author writes regarding the problematics of Radical Orthodox Feminism in both theory and practice. In light of some of my recent publications,[3] this should come as no surprise. Indeed, the author spends substantial time quoting and concurring with me – though he notes my admission to the nefarious crime of being a “Halakhic Feminist.”[4] He also quotes liberally from others: from R. Gidon Rothstein “a self-identifying left-leaning Orthodox writer;” from R. Dov Linzer, “dean of Chovevei Torah” (R. Kobre resists using the qualifier Yeshiva); and, last but certainly not least, from haRav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik zt”l, “the preeminent sage of Modern Orthodoxy” (the encomium should not have been limited to Modern Orthodoxy; he was one of preeminent sages of Klal Yisrael). Indeed, all the aforementioned Rabbis are strongly identified with the “Centrist Orthodox” camp. Since such citations comprise much of the work, it would seem that – by R. Kobre’s own admission – Modern Orthodoxy is innocent of the charge of hypocrisy he lays at its feet. This camp has dealt with the problematic issues raised by radical Orthodox Feminism extensively, critically and above all with painful honesty and candor. The upshot of all this is that R. Kobre’s article has little if anything new to offer in the way of facts or insight.

R. Kobre has thus used a well known debater’s tactic of criticizing an opponent’s camp by describing the worse traits of some of its members, but at the same time praising his own group by describing its best representatives. However, as just noted, many Modern Orthodox spokesmen have publicly pointed out the faults and failings of the Radical Feminists, and chastised those responsible. I have seen no comparable honest soul-searching on the right – or in R. Kobre’s extensive writings – regarding Haredi authors’ blatant misrepresentation of biographical facts. After all, one who criticizes others must himself be above criticism. As Hazal admonish us – keshot atsmekha ve-ahar kakh keshot aherim (correct yourself and then correct others).[5]

Indeed, intellectual dishonesty is not only an issue of commission but also omission, and this article suffers from offenses of the latter kind.

(1) First, not one argument, quote or article cited in this paper is footnoted – neither those cited in support of Kobre’s thesis, i.e., Rabbis Soloveitchik, Rothstein or myself, nor those who come under attack: Rabbis Avi Weiss, Martin Lockshin, Emanuel Rackman, and Daniel Sperber, and Tamar Ross, Tova Hartman[6] and others. Indeed, the last five are not even identified by name.[7] In the spirit of the intellectual honesty that R. Kobre purports to champion, his intelligent readers should be allowed to study the original material themselves, and not forced to pass judgment solely based on R. Kobre’s selected presentation.

(2) Second, the author has failed to take seriously the legitimate concerns and desires of educated and able women for a greater role in avodat Hashem. Thus, in the course of his citing R. Dov Linzer’s critique of Radical Orthodox Feminism (p. 17), R. Kobre finds it necessary to criticize R. Linzer for empathizing with those women who want to play a more participatory role in ritual. Kobre believes that such compassion and respect encourages theses Feminists to seek unpermitted avenues for themselves. But how can R. Kobre chastise R. Linzer for carrying out what Hazal themselves encouraged him to do: to search for legitimate avenues through which to give women nahat ru’ah (spiritual satisfaction).[8] As to the forbidden avenues R. Kobre is concerned about, these R. Linzer has repeatedly rejected in no uncertain terms.[9] On mark are the following comments of R. Linzer:

While it is necessary for us to explore opportunities to allow for greater inclusion of women in areas of ritual, we cannot allow such an impulse to compromise a rigorous approach to halakha and the halakhic process. If we rightfully take offense when halakha is misread to exclude women’s participation when such a conclusion is not warranted, then we must be extremely careful ourselves not to misread halakha to include women’s participation when the sources do not allow for such a reading. Only if we fully internalize our absolute need to be true to halakha can we be responsibly responsive and inclusive.[10]

The fact is that many halakhically committed women are in search of wider opportunities for unmediated communal rituals. For example, while both men and women are enjoined by Jewish law to pray daily, women need not fulfill their obligation within the context of communal services. Since it is the men who are obligated in public prayer and Torah reading, it is the men who count for the required minyan and lead the community in these rituals.[11] Thus, from the perspective of Orthodox women, public prayer rituals as a rule involve the intermediacy of men. While this may be the halakhic reality, there are many women who are nevertheless in search of a more active and meaningful involvement in the spiritual moments of public prayer.

One response has been women’s tefilla (prayer) groups which give many women nahat ru’ah; ease the discomfort some women feel at permanent exclusion from minyan; intensify concentration and kavana; provide an opportunity to sing praise to God, out loud, without fear of objections related to kol isha; encourage more serious study of the tefillot, Torah portions and haftarot; enhance diversity of practice, within halakhic parameters, of the Jewish community; and consequently strengthen the perception that Orthodox Judaism is sensitive to individual spiritual needs.[12] It is true that the rabbinate has been seriously split on the advisability of such prayer groups – for a variety of hashkafic and public policy grounds.[13] But if the verdict is indeed in the negative on this innovation, some appropriate meaningful alternatives must be seriously considered. As avi mori R. Norman E. Frimer z”l would wisely say: “To succeed as educators and religious leaders, it is not enough to say (Psalms 34, 15): ‘Sur me-ra‘ (steer clear of evil) – you must also suggest a good alternative, ‘va-aseh tov‘ (and do good).”[14] After all, disqualifying a particular response to the desire of women for greater religious involvement does not delegitimize the fundamental validity of that underlying need – certainly, if it has been affirmed by Hazal themselves!

(3) Somewhat related to the issue of women’s tefilla groups, is the issue of how the Orthodox community celebrates life cycle events. In the case of a male child there are a variety of events, such as shalom zakhar, brit mila, pidyon ha-ben, bar-mitsva (including keri’at haTorah, aliyya, haftara, devar Torah and even serving as hazzan), aufruf and/or Shabbat hatan. For daughters the opportunities and the spiritual quality of the celebrations are much more limited. Women’s prayer groups often serve as the venue for such communal celebrations. Indeed, women, who are only marginally involved in tefilla groups on a regular basis, do eagerly attend when some special occasion or event is celebrated – be it a simhat bat (or zeved ha-bat), bat mitsva, engagement, Shabbat kalla, or a women’s Megilla reading. However, if, as noted above, the verdict is indeed in the negative on tefilla groups, then nahat ru’ah considerations require the rabbinate to actively seek out meaningful ways and appropriate frameworks to celebrate these formative and transitional moments.

(4) R. Eytan Kobre is correct for criticizing those elements of Modern Orthodoxy which encourage women’s aliyyot and “Partnership Minyanim.” Indeed, the overwhelming consensus of posekim maintains that these practices enjoy no halakhic sanction and are beyond the pale.[15] But as noted above, Hazal have bidden us to be concerned with women’s spiritual satisfaction – and R. Kobre does not acknowledge as legitimate many rituals, benedictions and prayers which a large cadre of first class posekim have permitted women to perform in public.[16] For example, inasmuch as women are halakhically obligated in hearing the Megilla, the notion of a women’s Megilla reading for women poses less of a problem for rabbinic authorities than does the idea of a women’s prayer group. As a result, a long list of posekim[17] – including rabbinic leaders in Agudas Yisroel (Agudath Israel)[18] – concur that there is little if any halakhic problem with women reading Megilla for themselves, individually or in a large group. Indeed, women’s Megilla readings have become quite popular in Israel and around the world because it is an example of a truly permissible unmediated ritual, referred to above. Despite the substantial halakhic support for these practices, why is there a refusal in the Yeshivish/Haredi community to even tolerate this practice?

Similarly, despite the widespread impression to the contrary, women too, are obligated by the majority of posekim to recite Birkat haGomel in the .presence of a minyan.[19] They may rise in the women’s section and say it as the whole congregation responds.[20] Furthermore, Shulhan Arukh[21] rules clearly that three or more women can make their own zimmun prior to birkat ha-mazon. Indeed, R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l[22] indicates that three women, who ate with fewer than three men, may make a zimmun even in the presence of the men, and the latter may join in the response “barukh she-akhalnu …”. Finally, there is also substantial rabbinic precedent for women to recite kaddish for a deceased relative.[23] If there is indeed such ample and distinguished halakhic support for each of these practices, why do they continually come under attack from the right?

Undoubtedly, R. Kobre will express an honest concern for the propriety of these practices because they are relatively novel. However, many gedolim are already on record indicating that public policy considerations should sway the rabbinic leadership to encourage their practice. Indeed, R. Ahron Soloveichik’s[24] comments regarding kaddish yetoma:

Nowadays, when there are Jews fighting for equality for men and women in matters such as aliyyot, if Orthodox rabbis prevent women from saying kaddish when there is a possibility for allowing it, it will strengthen the influence of Reform and Conservative rabbis. It is, therefore, forbidden to prevent women from saying kaddish.

In a similar spirit, the outstanding American posek, R. Joseph Elijah Henkin writes:[25]

It is known that were it not for kaddish, many would refrain from teaching prayer to their sons and would not come to synagogue. When they come because of kaddish, they also come a bit closer to Judaism the rest of the year; and for that reason itself, one should not rebuff the na’arot [girls] either, since it fosters closeness to Judaism.

Finally, regarding women’s Megilla readings, R. Ovadiah Yosef writes:[26]

The custom of women who make a minyan by themselves for mikra Megilla… should be encouraged.

Yes, R. Eytan Kobre has given Modern Orthodoxy a piece of his mind. But has this same ish emet admonished his own community for ignoring Hazal‘s concern for women’s nahat ru’ah? Has he challenged the Yeshivish/Haredi community for its intolerance of religious practices sanctioned and supported by preeminent Gedolim? Indeed! Let us keep the conversation on Orthodox Feminism honest. Serious Torah discourse deserves nothing less!


[1] This paper is dedicated to the memory of imi morati haRabbanit Esther Miriam Frimer a”h – the first Orthodox Feminist in my life. I would like to publicly thank (in alphabetical order) Maier Becker, R. Dov Frimer, R. Shael Frimer, Joseph Kaplan, Rachel Levmore, Menachem Malkosh, Joel Rich, David Schaps, Shira Leibowitz Schmidt, Uriella Shames, Risa Tsohar, R. Eli Turkel and Joel B. Wolowelsky for reviewing earlier versions of the manuscript and for their constructive criticism and perceptive comments. The author, however, bears sole responsibility for the final product.
[2] R. Eytan Kobre, “Orthodox Feminism: Keeping the Conversation Honest,” Dialogue, 1:1 (Spring 5771/2011), pp. 3-24.
[3] (a) Aryeh A. Frimer, “Feminist Innovations in Orthodoxy Today: Is Everything in Halakha – Halakhic?” JOFA Journal, 5:2, pp. 3-5 (Summer 2004/Tammuz 5764) – available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/JOFASummerFinal1.pdf (PDF). (b) Aryeh A. Frimer, “On Understanding and Compassion in Pesak Halakha – A Rejoinder,” JOFA Journal, 5:3, p. 6 (Winter 2005/Tevet-Shvat 5765) – available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/JOFAWinter%20pdf.pdf (PDF). (c) R. Aryeh A. Frimer, “Guarding the Treasure: A Review of Tamar Ross, Expanding the Palace of the King –Orthodoxy and Feminism,” BDD – Journal of Torah and Scholarship, 18, English section, pp. 67-106 (April 2007) – available online at http://www.jofa.org/pdf/uploaded/1206-DQLN0171.pdf (PDF); (d) R. Aryeh A. Frimer, “Lo Zo haDerekh: A Review of Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber’s Darka shel Halakha,” The Seforim Blog (12 June 2008) – available online at: http://tinyurl.com/68pcur. (e) R. Aryeh A. Frimer and R. Dov I. Frimer, “Partnership Minyanim,” Text and Texture (Rabbinical Council of America), May 23, 2010 – available online at http://text.rcarabbis.org/?p=909.
[4] Indeed, a respected friend of mine wryly commented, “Who would’ve thunk it, Frimer, that you, of all people, would become a leading spokesman for Agudas Yisroel!”
[5] Bava Metsi’a, 107a; Bava Batra 60b.
[6] On p. 14, line 6, the author describes Dr. Tova Hartman as “an influential Orthodox feminist scholar and wife of an equally prominent left-wing Orthodox leader.” Contrary to this descriptive, Tova Hartman is the daughter of R. Prof. David Hartman and the sister of R. Dr. Donniel Hartman. She is not presently married.
[7] See the comments of R. Gil Student, Hirhurim – Musings, “New Periodical: Dialogue 1:1” (May 22, 2011); available online at https://www.torahmusings.com/2011/05/new-periodical-dialogue-11/.
[8] Sifra, Parsheta 2; Hagiga 16b.
[9] See the review of the first issue of Dialogue by R. Harry Maryles, Emes ve-Emunah, May 22, 2011; available online at http://haemtza.blogspot.com/2011/05/dialogue.html.
[10] R. Dov Linzer, “A Response to ‘Women’s Eligibility to Write Sifrei Torah,’” Meorot: A Forum of Modern Orthodox Discourse, 6:2 (Marheshvan 5768; November 2007) pp. Linzer 1-11, at p. 11 – available online at http://tinyurl.com/23eqjl (PDF). See also the comments of R. Emanuel Feldman, “Orthodox Feminism and Feminist Orthodoxy” Jewish Action, 70:2 (Winter 5760/1999), pp. 12-17 at p. 15 – available online at http://www.ou.org/publications/ja/5760winter/orthodox%20feminism.pdf (PDF).
[11] See: Aryeh A. Frimer, “Women and Minyan,” Tradition, 23:4, 54-77 (Summer 1988). PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/Batch%201/0019.pdf (PDF).
[12] Gitelle Rapoport, Letter to the Editor, Tradition, 33:2 (Winter 1999), p. 82.
[13] See the discussion in Aryeh A. Frimer and Dov I. Frimer, “Women’s Prayer Services: Theory and Practice. Part 1 – Theory,” Tradition, 32:2 (Winter 1998), pp. 5-118, text following note 25. PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/Batch%201/0021.pdf (PDF).
[14] A former student of mine recently commented: “Being so blithely tossed aside by the likes of R. Kobre is, in some ways, quite liberating. If I am already on the outside, perhaps I am no longer subject to the will of halakhic insiders. I can go off to a Partnership Minyan, trusting that the G-d who created me knows who I am and that the halakhic establishment surely does not. So, in some ways, he provides a fine impetus for women stepping outside the camp and indulging in extra-halakhic practices. It is people like you and R. Linzer that create the problem. If I am being addressed with seriousness, with compassion, with respect for my intelligence and with encouragement for shouldering ol ha-mitsvot with my brother Jews, then I am forced to behave like an insider – weigh the words of the Rabbis and Sages, consider the practices of my sisters in more traditional segments of the community and curb my appetite for halakhically questionable practices that, by any other measure, might make perfect sense to me.”

A prominent talmidat hakham and To’enet Rabbanit had this to say regarding the seeming insensitivity of the right wing Rabbinate, as reflected in R. Kobre’s piece: “There are real issues that pain Orthodox women and men. When the ‘truly Orthodox’ rabbinic establishment totally ignores the legitimate pain and problems, even as they become more and more intense, and chooses to put up barricades to prevent the pain from even being heard – they have only themselves to blame for those who defect, trying to resolve the problem on their own. The pain of being ignored, cast aside, left in limbo, castigated for having an opinion – will not stay bottled up in today’s day and age. When the ‘truly Orthodox’ rabbinate prefers to keep its blinders on, by their very own hands, they are turning the sensitive and needy into the type of individual R. Kobre finds abhorrent.”
[15] See notes 3d and 3e, supra, and the references cited therein. In particular, in a lecture given in July 2009, R. Joshua Shapiro reported on a conference (held several years before) of the religious Zionist rabbinic organization “Tzohar.” A halakhic forum, comprised of Rabbis Jacob Ariel, Shlomo Aviner, Chaim Druckman and Aaron Lichtenstein, concluded that Kehillat Shira Hadasha has crossed the red line of what could legitimately be considered Orthodox practice; see: http://www.yrg.org.il/show.asp?id=33537. R. David Stav, Chairman of Tzohar (conversation with DIF, Oct. 16, 2009), confirmed the accuracy of this report.
[16] These and many other issues have been previously discussed by Joel B. Wolowelsky; see: Joel B. Wolowelsky, Women, Jewish Law and Modernity: New Opportunities in a Post-Feminist Age (Hoboken, N.J.: Ktav, Inc., 1997); Joel B. Wolowelsky “Feminism and Judaism: Women, Tradition, and the Women’s Movement, by Michael Kaufman – Review,” Judaism 47 (Fall 1998), p. 499; Joel B. Wolowelsky, “Embers to Radical Flames,” Hamevaser, Tevet 5759 (January 1999).
[17] See the discussion in (a) Aryeh A. Frimer and Dov I. Frimer, “Women’s Prayer Services: Theory and Practice. Part 1 – Theory,” Tradition, 32:2 (Winter 1998), pp. 5-118, text following note 25. PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/Batch%201/0021.pdf (PDF); (b) Aryeh A. Frimer, “Women’s Megillah Reading,” in Traditions and Celebrations for the Bat Mitzvah, Ora Wiskind Elper, ed. (Jerusalem: Urim, 2003), pp. 281-304. PDF file available online at: http://tinyurl.com/63xfmpn (DOC).
[18] In the words of R. David Feinstein: “You can’t forbid women from doing that in which they’re obligated.” See the discussion in Aryeh A. Frimer and Dov I. Frimer, supra, note 17a, note 221 therein.
[19] R. Hayyim Joseph David Azulai, Birkei Yosef, O.H., 219:2; R. Elijah Shapiro, Elya Rabba O.H., 219:12; R. Schneur Zalman of Lyady, Seder Birkat haNehenin 13:3; R. Yaacov Emden, Siddur Sha’arei Shamayim, Birkat haGomel, 2; R. Ephraim Margaliyot, Sha’arei Efrayyim 4, Pithei Sha’arim 28; R. Joseph Hayyim, Ben Ish Hai, Ekev, 5; R. Abraham Danzig, Hayyei Adam 65:2; R. Eliezer Waldenberg, Resp. Tziz Eliezer 13, 17; R. Barukh Goldberg, Penei Barukh, Bikur Holim keHilkhato 2:33 – see also comments of R. Y.Y. Fisher therein who notes that the custom nowadays is that women do make the haGomel blessing; R. Abraham Alkalai, Zekhor le-Avraham II, O.H. II, sec. 12; R. Judah Samuel Ashkenazi, Siddur Beit Oved, Birkat haGomel laws 22; R. Jacob Culi, me-Am Lo’ez, Vayera, p. 348; Derech Yeshara 2, 12.
[20] R. Hayyim ben Israel Benveniste, Knesset haGedola, O.H., 219:9 – cited by Birkei Yosef, O.H., 219:2; R. Shneur Zalman of Lyady, Seder Birkat haNehenin 13:3; R. Judah Ashkenazi, Be’er Hetev, ibid. no. 1; Mishna Berura, ibid., no. 3; Kaf HaHayyim, ibid. no. 3; R. Ovadiah Yosef, Yehave Da’at IV:15, note 1; R. Ovadiah Yosef, Resp. Yabia Omer, VIII:22, no. 10; R. Barukh Pinhas Goldberg, Penei Barukh, Bikur Holim keHilkhato 2:33, note 80.
[21] Shulhan Arukh, O.H., 199, no. 6; Encyclopedia Talmudit, XII, “Zimmun” sec. 8. See also: R. Ari Z. Zivotofsky and Naomi T.S. Zivotofsky, “What’s Right with Women and ZimmunJudaism, 42:4(168), (Fall, 1993) pp. 453-464; R. Ari Z. Zivotofsky, “Legal-ease: What’s the Truth about … Women’s Zimmun?,” Jewish Action, 60:1 (Fall 5760/1999), p. 52; Joel B. Wolowelsky, Women, Jewish Law and Modernity: New Opportunities in a Post-Feminist Age (Hoboken, N.J.: Ktav, Inc., 1997), pp. 34-42; Joel B. Wolowelsky, “Women and Zimmun,” in Traditions and Celebrations for the Bat Mitzvah, Ora Wiskind Elper, ed. (Jerusalem: Urim, 2003), pp. 257-268.
[22] R. David Auerbach, Halikhot Beita 12:7. n. 14. R. Aharon Lichtenstein, in an oral communication to R. Dov. I. Frimer, concurs.
[23] For recent reviews, see: Joel B. Wolowelsky, “Women and Kaddish,” Judaism 44:3 (Summer 1995), pp. 282-290; Joel B. Wolowelsky, Women, Jewish Law and Modernity: New Opportunities in a Post-Feminist Age (Hoboken, N.J.: Ktav, 1997), pp. 84-94; R. Reuven Fink, “The Recital of Kaddish by Women,” The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society 31 (Spring 1996), pp. 23-37; R. Yehuda Herzl Henkin, Letter to the Editor, The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society 32 (Fall 1996), pp. 97-102; reprinted in Equality Lost: Essays in Torah, Halacha and Jewish Thought (Jerusalem: Urim, 1999), pp. 42-53; R. Yisroel Taplin, Ta’arikh Yisrael, sec. 19, no. 19, note 34; R. Eliav Shochetman, “Aliyot Nashim la-Torah,” Kovets haRambam (Jerusalem: Mossad haRav Kook, 5765/2005) [Sinai 68:135-136], pp. 271-349, at p. 341 and note 306. See also the collection of articles at: http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/tfila/kadish/legufo-2.htm.
[24] R. Ahron Soloveichik, Od Yisrael Yosef Beni Hai, end of sec. 32, p. 100.
[25] R. Joseph Elijah Henkin, Kitvei haGri Henkin, II, Teshuvot Ibra, sec. 4, no. 1; see also R. Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, cited in Ta’arikh Yisrael, supra, note 23; Resp. Iggerot Moshe, O.H., V, sec. 12, no. 2.
[26] R. Ovadiah Yosef, Yabia Omer, VIII, O.H., sec. 56, end of no. 4.

About Aryeh Frimer

237 comments

  1. “The custom of women who make a minyan by themselves for mikra Megilla… should be encouraged.”

    Doesn’t R’Yosef permit a woman to read the megillah even for a man?

  2. Steg (dos iz nit der shteg)

    For a while i’ve thought that there’s an underlying problem in the discourse between Integrationist (Modern) Orthodoxy and Isolationist (Chareidi) Orthodoxy. Growing up “MO”, i was taught that part of the tragedy and punishment of Galut is the fact that we lack a Sanhedrin. If we had a Sanhedrin, our duly-empowered hhakhamim would have wide powers to redraft halakhot derabbanan and re-interpret halakhot de’oraita, keeping Halakha more of a living system, able to absorb and respond to the changing realities of life. Mi-pney hhata’einu galinu mei’artzeinu, however, and we no longer have a Sanhedrin and so the system is broken. It’s flat-out broken. It can’t do what it’s supposed to do, and so we need to limp along, patching the holes where we can, until we merit yemot hamashiahh and a reconstituted Sanhedrin.
    What this means is that the system is imperfect. There’s nothing we can do about it, but we have to recognize it — the halakhic system is not perfect; it’s broken, and we can’t fix it at the moment. But we can sympathize with people who “fall through the cracks”, whose concerns and conundrums aren’t adequately addressed by the system as it is right now, stalled and frozen in an unnatural caricature of itself. Understanding this gives us more sensitivity to individuals’ plights, and allows us to try to make whatever small patches we can in order to promote the ideals of Torah in the world including nahhat ruahh and the drakheha darkey no‘am that we sing/mention every shabbos.
    In the Chareidi world, though (and in some of the “Modern Orthodox” world also), there seems to be more of an idea that the System a it is, is perfect. That recognizing the brokenness of the Halakhic System would be somehow impugning imperfection to Gd instead of to ourselves. And so all the effort goes into justifying the status quo, when it shouldn’t be justified at all, but lamented.

  3. It’s interesting how people are popping up devoting serious responses to this Dialogue stuff.

  4. In note #22, RAF points to two oral communications of poskim permitting women to recite zimun before men. However, any serious student of this sugya knows that this issue is not so simple. Or the Megillah issue.

    The epistemology employed to reach decisions between MO, Chossidish, and Yeshivish is to blame for the huge gaps in understanding this issue. We are not talking the same language, so we don’t understand each others views

  5. Rabbi Joshua Maroof

    Steg, a thoughtful comment. You make a good point.

    One statement in R Frimer’s piece perplexed me: R. Dov Linzer is strongly identified with Centrist Orthodoxy? I would question that assertion. He is the Rosh Yeshiva of the Flagship Open Orthodox Institution! In the public mind he is strongly identified with Left Wing Orthodoxy, regardless of what his personal views may be.

  6. “For example, while both men and women are enjoined by Jewish law to pray daily, women need not fulfill their obligation within the context of communal services. Since it is the men who are obligated in public prayer and Torah reading, it is the men who count for the required minyan and lead the community in these rituals”

    it’s the other way around: because men are the ones counted in the minyan, they are the ones who have to show up.

  7. In the public mind he is strongly identified with Left Wing Orthodoxy, regardless of what his personal views may be.

    So are you.

  8. >>HAGTBG on August 22, 2011 at 12:16 am
    ‘In the public mind he is strongly identified with Left Wing Orthodoxy, regardless of what his personal views may be.’

    So are you

    Charedishe media projection is distinct from “the public mind”.

  9. Why does Avi Weiss get the title of Rabbi but Daniel Sperber doesn’t?!

  10. Charedishe media projection is distinct from “the public mind”.

    Or, just because he “cleared” himself on this forum after being grilled, doesn’t mean he’s been “exonerated” elsewhere.

  11. realized my mistake it said Rabbis

  12. Charlie Hall asks: “Doesn’t R’Yosef permit a woman to read the megillah even for a man?” Because the Mehaber brings two views, ROY rules that leKhathilla a woman should not read for a man. BeDiavad, or bi-she’at ha-dehak (where there is no male available to do so) he rules that that it is permitted – because this is the halakha me-ikar ha-din. The case I was referring to, and to which the quote I brought from ROY is dealing with, is a woman’s Megilla reading, where women read for women. ROY rules that they should be encouraged.

  13. Steg writes: “What this means is that the system is imperfect?” Yes, as are all human run systems – lo ba-shamayyim hi. What is amazing, however, is how well it does work. Though I consider myself a Halakhic feminist, it is necessary to acknowledge that Halakhic values do not always jibe with those of certain elements of modernity.
    For example, all Jews share the same level of kedushat Yisrael, Jewish sanctity. Nevertheless, Jewish law distinguishes between the obligations of kohanim (priestly clan), leviyim (Levites) and yisraelim (other Israelites), as well as between males and females. But this lack of identity between men and women in religious obligation leads us to the inescapable conclusion that Judaism is most definitely not egalitarian. And that’s the heart of the problem or as Shakespeare would say: “Aye, there’s the rub.”
    Women’s exemption from mitsvot asei she-ha-zeman gramman – about which there is no dispute – is derived in the Oral Law through the use of the hermeneutical principles (Kiddushin 34a). Maimonides (Commentary to Mishna, Kiddushin 1:7) posits that this exemption is rooted in ancient oral tradition. In either case this exemption is deemed to be biblical in origin. The bottom line, then, is that halakhic Judaism maintains that God Himself ordained and commanded non-identical roles for men and women.
    This clearly does not sit well with feminists. Indeed, Judith Plaskow (Judith Plaskow, “The Right Question is Theological,” in Susannah Heschel, ed., On Being a Jewish Feminist: A Reader (New York: Schocken, 1995), pp. 231-232) believes that this is “a profound injustice of the Torah itself in discriminating between men and women.” For those whose highest commitment is to halakha, this lack of identity in religious roles is a resounding rejection of certain basic feminist values. It suggests that the Torah’s set of priorities is not always consonant with those of modern day radical feminism.

  14. Gedalia Walls writes: “In note #22, RAF points to two oral communications of poskim permitting women to recite zimun before men. However, any serious student of this sugya knows that this issue is not so simple. Or the Megillah issue.”
    Regarding Zimmun, I would like to note that we are talking about three women making their own zimmun in the presence of men [who can even answer]. The preeminent poskim on record permitting them to do so are Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ZT”L, and she-yibadel le-hayyim Tovim ve-arukim, Rav Aharon Lichtestein. Of course there are other opinions – but these are not poskim that should be ignored. As far as Women’s Megilla readings are concerned, see the tens of leading poskim in note 17b above who are matir.

  15. AYGC writes: “it’s the other way around: because men are the ones counted in the minyan, they are the ones who have to show up.”
    I beg to differ. From the Rishonim it is clear that the ability to count for a Minyan stems from ones obligation in the performance of that ritual. Kindly see my article on Women and Minyan cited in note 11 above.

  16. R. Frimer, you ask why the charedi rabbinate has not been more sensitive to the need to increase women’s ritual participation – I suppose the question is whether ‘rightist’ women are interested in greater ritual participation. In my experience of the charedi community, I don’t get the sense that women are clamouring for it, having largely been ‘successfully’ educated and socialised into accepting traditional roles.
    I think there is also far greater reluctance to ‘press rabbanim to come up with solutions’. There’s less of a conception that non-rabbinic individuals can come up with ideas that challenge the view of the rabbinic hierarchy, but nevertheless contribute to greater spirituality.
    There is also the question of how far ‘right’ one is looking. For a not insignificant proportion of charedi women, even driving is forbidden (i.e. most chassidim and Bnei-Brak style yeshivish) – so asking why their rabbis have not allowed them to conduct megillah readings is really besides the point.

  17. “I beg to differ. From the Rishonim it is clear that the ability to count for a Minyan stems from ones obligation in the performance of that ritual. Kindly see my article on Women and Minyan cited in note 11 above.”

    Clear, no less. what exactly in the article is supposed to deal with this issue?

  18. J. I have no doubt that haredi women are not clamouring for ritual involvement. But they are searching for avenues for spiritual involvement. Take for example the involvement in “Berakhot parties”, women’s groups for the recitation of Tehilim, The number of women that continue after high School to Seminars. If these women feel spiritually fulfilled – that’s fine. But why knock women who express a need for greater unmediated spiritual involvement; and why attack those spiritual leaders who empathize with them. We have to assure that the responses are halakhically valid. But Haza”l already told us to be concerned with women’s nahat Ruah.

  19. AYGC, my feeling was that you were putting the cart before the horse. Maximal Obligation in a ritual is a pre-requisite to counting for the minyan for that ritual. Basically In those rituals in which women are obligated equally with men, most poskim hold that women indeed do count for the requisite minyan. See: Aryeh A. Frimer, “Women and Minyan,” Tradition, 23:4, 54-77 (Summer 1988). PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/Batch%201/0019.pdf.

  20. R. Frimer – I would presume that the ‘knocking’ of “women who express a need for greater unmediated spiritual involvement” and the rabbanim who seek to halachically accommodate them is due to a jaundiced view of the motivations of women who express themselves in this way, and the social/educational model which leads them to do so. There is a reason that ‘rightist’ women have been socialised into not desiring such things – their rabbinic leadership have a very particular view of gender; thus the desire by women to increase ritual participation is itself an indication that their model is not being adhered to, which in turn is problematic for those who fundamentally view other models as illegitimate.

    To give an example, IIRC, there is a teshuva in Mishneh Halachos which pokes fun at women who seek to be ‘more pious’ than their grandmothers through learning and greater participation in tefillot – it is clear that what it at stake here is one’s view of the appropriate delineation between the genders in general; and to changes in what is perceived to be traditional practice – when an issue comes up that impinges on both of these questions, then for certain poskim a red flag is waved straight away. That is why, to a certain extent, a debate on the technical points related to mikrah megillah or serarah is almost a diversion from the real issue – what is the correct place for women within the ‘farhesya’ of ritual observance and how do the sweeping social changes observed since the dawn of modernity influence the way we view this question?

    Thus, your cogent arguments that this or that practice can be defended halachically is besides the point – for the same reason that it is not technical halachic reasons motivating R. Shmuel Vozner to prohibit women from driving – the very fact that your arguments are halachically sound make them, in the eyes of certain rightist ideologues, that much more dangerous, in that they serve to legitimise a model of femininity which they reject. I don’t think that they would be convinced that Chazal’s reference to ‘nachat ruach’ for women should serve to legitimise an entire societal paradigm they view as fundamentally illegitimate.

  21. Dear Aryeh,

    Thanks for sharing and I personally identify with much of what you wrote. That said, I didn’t read Kobre’s article, but from what I gathered he was actually quite intellectually honest or at least consistent in his position: the only viable boundary is no female involvement in ritual that has traditionally been defined as male oriented. This is a straightforward policy that is much easier to maintain than navigating between tefillah – Torah reading – zimmun – megillah – kaddish – dancing with a Torah – gomel etc.

    What he did not say and which I find more interesting is that the haredi/hardal world has also demonstrated a keen awareness of the need to give nahat ruah just without couching it in “response to women’s spiritual needs” terminology. Tehillim groups, amen get-togethers, collective hafrashas hallah and baking, trips to Kever Rahel, even charismatic rebbetzins etc are the creation or adaptation of rituals that have no codified male ID and therefore can be adopted by women as their own without them threatening traditional boundaries etc. There are no issues of ziyuf or hikui and therefore no need to make sharp distinctions. The lines remain: men’s area and women’s space. Of course there is a lack of self-reflective acknowledgement that these came in response to a zeitgeist but my point here is that for those who are intent on maintaining clear borders between male-female domains you are not that different than other more liberal Modern Orthodox figures. What you all have in common is allowing women into men’s ritual space.

    With much respect u-ve-yedidut,
    Adam

  22. “But they are searching for avenues for spiritual involvement. Take for example the involvement in “Berakhot parties”, women’s groups for the recitation of Tehilim, The number of women that continue after high School to Seminars”

    Examples could also be ones that serve acceptable social groups for women or hepl punch their tickets-chareidi girls interested in getting married to a good catch find it as necessary to go to Seminary as chareidi boys to go to Yeshiva.
    My son when he was 2 years ago expressed about “womens shiurim” a truth that 2 year olds can-I go to a gemarrah shiur at schul before mincha-I have done that at all schuls that I have gone to for decades. The schul at the time had a “womens shiur” at peoples houses. My wife asked my son do you wish to go with Daddy to mens shiur instead of womens shiur with me. My sons 2 year old answer: “Mens shiur no good learning no nosh, womens shiur good nosh no learning” Atthe gemarrah shiur I told the story to the Rabbi- and his comment was appropriate-the women think they can fool their husbands they can’t even fool a 2 year old.

  23. J. and Adam,
    Much thanks for your fascinating and insightful comments.

  24. Prof. Frimmer,
    Does the appearance of your response to Korbe imply that it was not accepted for publication in “Dialogue”?

    Also on “nahat ruah” for women see also https://www.torahmusings.com/2010/07/why-should-we-be-excluded/

  25. R Frimer concedes that many of the women in the MO community who participate in the (halachikally sanctioned) activities seem to do so out of Radical Orthodox Feminism more so than from a spiritual motivation thus tainting the entire endeavor. Thus in R Kobres mind the serious minded need only think more like their haredi sisters and they will find spiritual fulfillment. In R Frimers mind its a question of throwing out the baby with the bath water. Does the undeniable presence of the radical feminists deligitamize the whole endeavor and should we force the truly spiritually motivated to conform with a Haredi approach because of those who have a less spiritual and more feminist agenda? Teiku

  26. While I disagree with much of what R. Frimer wrote, and agree with much as well, I would like to highlight what I think is the most important point of the article even if it is just a side point:

    [15] See notes 3d and 3e, supra, and the references cited therein. In particular, in a lecture given in July 2009, R. Joshua Shapiro reported on a conference (held several years before) of the religious Zionist rabbinic organization “Tzohar.” A halakhic forum, comprised of Rabbis Jacob Ariel, Shlomo Aviner, Chaim Druckman and Aaron Lichtenstein, concluded that Kehillat Shira Hadasha has crossed the red line of what could legitimately be considered Orthodox practice; see: http://www.yrg.org.il/show.asp?id=33537. R. David Stav, Chairman of Tzohar (conversation with DIF, Oct. 16, 2009), confirmed the accuracy of this report.

    On another issue, I believe R. Kobre was referring to Tova Hartman’s ex-husband, Prof. Moshe Halbertal. And he told me that he omitted names in his original article to avoid ad hominem attacks, although I don’t think he succeeded.

  27. Dear Moshe, To be honest, I never sent it to them. I’m sure they would not have published it anyway – since I don’t toe the party line. Both Rabbis Broyde and Slifkin tried unsucessfully. The original plan was to publish all the responses together in a separate volume, but that seems to have fallen through. Rabbi Student was kind enough to allow us to publish here.

  28. R. Adam: I think your point is spot on except that I would use different terminology. Rather than speaking of gender space, Charedim are willing to add to tradition but not change it. I think this is most consistent with Rav Soloveitchik’s view on chiddush and shinuy.

  29. R. Gil – Would you care to elucidate your areas of disagreement? – I’m sure your readership would appreciate a thoughtful exchange of views on the topic by people whose positions are near enough that they can communicate effectively with each other, whilst still maintaining enough differences to keep the discussion interesting.

  30. Anon: IY”H I will include it in my planned post this week on shelo asani ishah.

  31. Shmuel, I have been involved with Orthodox Feminism almost from its very inception in 1972. I have carried out hundreds of informal intereviews and try to keep my finger on the pulse. I would argue that the vast majority of women involved in some facet of Halakhic Feminism are le-shem Shamayyim and concerned by halakha. Nevertheless, much of the vocal leadership is substantially more radical. If the rabbinate refuses to take the proverbial bull by the horns, their abdication will result in a vacuum – filled by those who will supply those in need with responses – which to my mind are irresponsible and unbased. I’ve tried over the last 40 years to do my research carefully and deeply – so that I won’t be guilty of either permitting the forbidden or forbidding the permitted. [See at length note 232 to “Women’s Prayer Services: Theory and Practice. Part 1 – Theory,” Aryeh A. Frimer and Dov I. Frimer, Tradition, 32:2, pp. 5-118 (Winter 1998). PDF File available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/Batch%201/0021.pdf%5D

  32. Gil,
    I dont think you understood adam’s point.

  33. Adam,

    That was one of the best observations I have ever read on this matter.

    Thanks so much for posting it.

  34. Tehillim groups, amen get-togethers, collective hafrashas hallah and baking, trips to Kever Rahel, even charismatic rebbetzins etc are the creation or adaptation of rituals that have no codified male ID and therefore can be adopted by women as their own without them threatening traditional boundaries etc.

    A. Is there a way to measure “nahat ruah” or is this all subjective and based on anecdote? If one person comes to a rabbi and says I want to lain, well that is her nahat ruah concern but is she representing only herself, 10 others or 10,000 more? If a few come to the same rabbi the question still remains.

    B. It seems to me “nahat ruah” can easily turn the concerns of a few or the one into changing the communal model for the many.

    C. If we allow that this development to some degree addresses “nahat ruah” is there any responsibility for any rabbinic leadership (including charedi) that has not adopted the maximalist halachically permitted view to go further … to go to the line (assuming there are some women in their community who want to read megillah, hold Torahs etc.)? Is there a requirement on them to adopt halachic viewpoints from communities outside their own?

    D. If haredi activities/communal tweaks do address “nahat ruah” do we find this phrase or its source material coming up in charedi halachic discourse on the matter? Or is the fact that it addresses this concept happenstance or a third option?

  35. Tehillim groups, amen get-togethers, collective hafrashas hallah and baking, trips to Kever Rahel, even charismatic rebbetzins etc are the creation or adaptation of rituals that have no codified male ID and therefore can be adopted by women as their own without them threatening traditional boundaries etc.

    A. Is there a way to measure “nahat ruah” or is this all subjective and based on anecdote? If one person comes to a rabbi and says I want to lain, well that is her nahat ruah concern but is she representing only herself, 10 others or 10,000 more? If a few come to the same rabbi the question still remains.

    B. It seems to me “nahat ruah” can easily turn the concerns of a few or the one into changing the communal model for the many.

    C. If we allow that these haredi developments to some degree addresses “nahat ruah” is there any responsibility for any rabbinic leadership (including charedi) that has not adopted the maximalist halachically permitted view to go further … to go to the line (assuming there are some women in their community who want to read megillah, hold Torahs etc.)? Is there a requirement on them to adopt halachic viewpoints from communities outside their own?

    D. If haredi activities/communal tweaks do address “nahat ruah” do we find this phrase or its source material coming up in charedi halachic discourse on the matter? Or is the fact that it addresses this concept happenstance or a third option?

    (minor change from prior post to improve clarity)

  36. Moshe Shoshan writes: “Also on “nahat ruah” for women see also https://www.torahmusings.com/2010/07/why-should-we-be-excluded/

    It is indeed a wonderful piece and right on point. If the search is leShem Shamayyim, the answer may be no, but the questions needs to be treated with respect.

  37. R’Steg,
    I think you hit the nail on the head.
    KT

  38. “this lack of identity in religious roles is a resounding rejection of certain basic feminist values. It suggests that the Torah’s set of priorities is not always consonant with those of modern day radical feminism.”

    Can we stop calling simple egalitarianism “radical”? By what working definition of “radical feminism ” other than “thing I want to marginalize” is chafing at separate women’s galleries (e.g.) “radical” by contemporaty standards? We are not talking about a highly developed theory of Orthodox sexual politics, but about the application of basic second-wave principles thathave become pretty universally accepted. I get that some of those are also with halacha, but the discussion is not helped by trying to minimize the culture clash by dismissing everything incompatible with the torah as “radical.”

  39. R. Gil,
    With all due respect, the footnote about “red lines” is only “the most important point of the article” if you care more about whom you get to call “not orthodox” than about how to help women with contemporary sensibilities (who are being produced by MO institutions at an astounding rate) connect to God, Torah, etc.

  40. R’ Frimer: You wrote:

    “From the Rishonim it is clear that the ability to count for a Minyan stems from ones obligation in the performance of that ritual. Kindly see my article on Women and Minyan cited in note 11 above.”

    But is it so clear that l’kulei alma there is an actual obligation ( as opposed to it being just a very good thing to do), even for men, to daven with a minyan – note the SA’s wording of “yishtadel,” pace R’ Moshe’s interpretation. And if there is no technical obligation, then what?

  41. Menachem Butler

    No discussion of the Amen phenomenon can possibly be complete without the brief essay by Prof. Shnayer Z. Leiman, posted online at the Seforim blog here (http://seforim.blogspot.com/2006/11/shnayer-leiman-on-puzzling-passage-in.html).

  42. emma: There are plenty of ways for women with “contemporary sensibilities” to connect to Torah that do not mimic men or non-Orthodox movements. The only problem I see is among women who want complete gender equality, which isn’t halakhically possible. R. Frimer and other Orthodox feminists are, I believe, leading women directly into a halakhic brick wall. What R. Frimer has discovered is that his fidelity to halakhah and its brick wall is not shared by many other feminists.

  43. “Can we stop calling simple egalitarianism “radical”?”

    No, we won’t. Second wave feminism, in the context of Orthodox Judaism, IS radical. Also, if MO is producing droves of woman believe that egalitarianism is a basic value, MO is going to be in major trouble.

  44. No, sorry, it IS in major trouble – hence, Open Orthodoxy.

  45. Emma,
    The term radical suggests the insistence on a guideline or value which leads to a break with halakha. Hence your comment to both me and R. Student are intimately linked. My point was that the existence of the exemption of mitsvot asei she-ha-zeman geramman demonstrates that Halakhic Judaism rejects total egalitarianism between genders. Nor is there egalitarianism between between all males (Kohen, Levi, Yisrael). Rabbi Student was demonstrating that Halakhic Judaism rejects aliyyot for women – despite what egalitarianism would advise.

  46. RA – I get it, “in the context of orthodox judiasm” it may be radical. but that’s not what “radical feminism” means to regular english speakers.
    if the point is: feminism and halacha are fundamentally incompatible, then fine. say that. don’t say “radical feminism is incompatible with halacHah,” which suggests that its only the radical form where problems arise, when that is simply not true.

  47. emma: But not all forms of feminism are incompatible with halakhah. Equal pay for equal work, protection of rape victims, and the like are perfectly compatible.

  48. Rabbi Frimmer, thank you for your polite response despite my exasperated tone. As I said to Rafael, my issue is that “radical feminism” actually means something (well, OK, it refers vaguely to a collection of not-always-compatible ideas) in contemporary feminist discourse. So does “egalitariansim,” and they are not the same. I take your point that halahca is not egalitarian. THat’s in fact pretty obvious. I do not think it is helpful to refer to egalitarianism as “radical” when it is not.

  49. But Rabbi Frimer, as you see from Emma’s comments, there is a great tension in MO (full disclosure: I am not MO) that exists when children are taught that full equality and egalitarianism is normal and desired while also taught adherence to Torah and halochoh. This results in the inevitable situation whereby a young, well educated MO woman says to herself that while in the wider world she is an equal, in Judaism is not. And the emphasis on egalitarianism leads to the attitude, being expressed by Open Orthodoxy adherents, that things must change in order to accomodate those feelings of being unequal. That is why I believe that egalitarianism will eventually lead to a big split in MO, if it hasn’t already.

  50. you really want to talk about the treatment of rape victims in halacha?

  51. gil: please elaborate on: ” There are plenty of ways for women with “contemporary sensibilities” to connect to Torah that do not mimic men or non-Orthodox movements.”

    connecting to torah in many ways do mimic men and that seems to be ok in the mo world – bat mitzva and learning torah especially gemera are just two examples. women need to choose their derech if its halachikally permissible as oppose to be told it looks like…..

  52. “Rafael, my issue is that “radical feminism” actually means something (well, OK, it refers vaguely to a collection of not-always-compatible ideas) in contemporary feminist discourse. So does “egalitariansim,”

    While I agree with you that radical feminism does mean something in our culture, I believe that “radical feminism” is not found in feminist discourse but is a term coined by anti-feminists to discredit feminists. In other words, nothing is too radical for feminists, especially the changes being pushed by heterodoxy and Open Orthodoxy, but the same changes are characterized as radical not by feminists themselves (I believe that the difference in degrees between “radical” feminists and mainstream feminists is minute) but by feminism’s critics. And make no mistake: Othordoxy is a living critique and rejection of feminism.

  53. I liked the original article mostly because it focussed on what should be done rather than on all the things to which one can/should say no. (Saying no is hardly a chiddush and does not really answer the underlying issues, which is why I thought the footnote about partnership minyanim was hardly “the most improtant” part.)
    R/ Frimmer is also honest that this is a difficult issue since there is a fundamental conflict of values. Because of that conflict I am not personally convinced that “halachic feminism” does not lead women directly into a brick wall. But instead of just saying that (i.e., saying no), it would be great if opponents on this thread would follow the lead of the original article and articulate a more affirmative vision.

    What should MO be doing differently? If the answer is “stop teaching women that they have an equal chelek in learning torah, and start teaching them that their primary avodah is childrearing,” OK. Good luck with that. Just say it out loud.

  54. This is somewhat off topic, but there is a theoretical question regarding women reading megillah for men that I have wondered about, and I wonder if R. Frimer can answer, l’halacha v’lo l’ma’aseh. The Shaagas Aryeh explains the opinion of the Beha”g that a woman cannot read for a man as stemming from the man’s obligation being Mi Divrei kabbalah, while the woman’s is a straight d’rabbanan. He also says that the evening reading is d’rabbanan, in contrast to the morning reading being divrei kabbalah. Thus, would he say that a woman could read for a man at night even according to the Beha”g?

    Back on topic, I think that various commentators have adduced interesting and, I think, sound reasons why R. Frimer’s approach meets strong opposition on the right. However, I think they fall short of explaining the emotional heat on the subject, which seems to me far greater than the level of emotional heat on other seemingly comparable subjects, for example, secular studies. I think there is a sense that opposition to the change in sexual mores associated with the 1960’s and 1970’s is more central to Chareidi self-identification than, say, opposition to secular study; that one thing that drives Chareidi isolationism is the sense that the so-called sexual revolution changed society for the worse, particularly weakening family structure, which they wish to avoid at all costs. Thus, approaches that might be considered intellectually within the Chareidi community are rejected viscerally if they seem at all connected with the sexual revolution. Consider the question of Mezuman for women–if there were no association with feminism, I find it hard to believe that the Chareidi world would not insist on being choshesh for the shitta of the Ro”sh (and the Gr”a) that is obligatory. Instead, it is looked on with extreme suspicion despite the explicit permission of the Mechaber and the stance of the two aforementinoed Gedolim who consider it obligatory.

  55. “I believe that “radical feminism” is not found in feminist discourse but is a term coined by anti-feminists to discredit feminists”

    Rafael, this difference in our perception of the meaning of this term says a lot about how different the circles we run in must be… Radical Feminism does have a wikipedia page, btw, about all the self-identified radicals out there. But it also doesn’t take a particularly sophisiticated culture critic to distinguish betty friedan from andrea dworkin, and to decide which of them has ideas that are more “radical” to most americans…

  56. Mike S: See this article: http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/703939/_Aaron_Cohen/11._Women_Reading_the_Megillah_for_Men:_A_Rejoiner

    ruvie: Just because something is standard in some parts of the MO world does not mean that I have to accept that it is OK. I don’t think women should learn Gemara in the same beis medrash-, chavrusa-style as men. Women can adopt mitzvos aseih she-ha-zeman gerama and can embrace tefillah three times a day. Most importantly, there is much more to Judaism than ritual — chessed and tzedakah.

    emma: What should MO be doing differently? If the answer is “stop teaching women that they have an equal chelek in learning torah, and start teaching them that their primary avodah is childrearing,” OK. Good luck with that.

    I agree and it is a fundamental problem in the MO community. Childrearing is unpopular in the general world and it is a huge problem. Parts of the MO community (and Charedi community) that do not treat women who stay home and raise their children as the ideal will continue to fall apart.

  57. emma: I think we will generally agree regarding rape victims.

  58. >However, I think they fall short of explaining the emotional heat on the subject, which seems to me far greater than the level of emotional heat on other seemingly comparable subjects, for example, secular studies.

    While I question if this is a comparable subject, I suspect that the issue is changing “our” women into something much worse. People who do not care for Western ideals do not look at Western women as something they want their wives, daughters and sisters to be, or in the case of women who don’t care for Western ideals, something they themselves want to be. On a very primal level this is seen as sticking your nose into my bedroom, my kitchen, my everything. Keep your laws off my sister’s body, for frummies.

  59. ” there is a great tension in MO (full disclosure: I am not MO) that exists when children are taught that full equality and egalitarianism is normal and desired.”

    Other than halacha, should our children not be taught that full equality and egalitarianism is normal and desired? Or to put it another way, where, other than in halachic matters, should we teach our children that full equality and egalitarianism are not notrmal and desired. And although “full equality” and “egalitarianism” were linked in the quoted material, If you think there are such areas I would appreciate it if you would separate full equality and egalitarianism.

  60. Gil: Thanks for the link, which was interesting. However, it really doesn’t satisfy my curiosity which was pointed more at understanding the view of Shaagas Aryeh on the boundary between D’rabbanan and Divrei Kabbalah, rather than on the practical implications where the normative answer among Ashkenazim is quite clear.

  61. “Childrearing is unpopular in the general world and it is a huge problem”

    I’m not sure that the general world’s disinterest in childrearing should be considered problematic at all. The world’s population is still dramatically increasing, despite falling fertility levels in the west. I don’t think there’s a single geographer/demographer who thinks that the world’s problem is a lack of people (some might think that low fertility levels will cause the population to decline too quickly in certain regions, but I don’t think per se they would with there to be more people in the world). Whether or not halachically observant people should take this into account is another discussion.

  62. “Other than halacha, should our children not be taught that full equality and egalitarianism is normal and desired? Or to put it another way, where, other than in halachic matters, should we teach our children that full equality and egalitarianism are not notrmal and desired. And although “full equality” and “egalitarianism” were linked in the quoted material, If you think there are such areas I would appreciate it if you would separate full equality and egalitarianism.”

    All I am pointing out is that this teaching, whether good or bad or nothing, creates this situation and MO is or will face increased pressure from its young to overhaul halochoh that will not be based on normative halachich processes and practices, or will have no basis in halochoh at all. I also believe, as I have stated before, that even the moves by Open Orthodoxy will not quell the thirst of young MO motivated primarily by the secular values they are taught or that they see in the world around them ie. they won’t accept the brick wall, as Emma put it so well.

  63. Gil, today, 10:20 am: “There are plenty of ways for women with “contemporary sensibilities” to connect to Torah that do not mimic men or non-Orthodox movements. The only problem I see is among women who want complete gender equality, which isn’t halakhically possible.”

    ruvie, today, 10:39 am: please elaborate on: ” There are plenty of ways for women with “contemporary sensibilities” to connect to Torah that do not mimic men or non-Orthodox movements.”

    connecting to torah in many ways do mimic men and that seems to be ok in the mo world – bat mitzva and learning torah especially gemera are just two examples. women need to choose their derech if its halachikally permissible as oppose to be told it looks like…..

    Gil, 11:08am: Just because something is standard in some parts of the MO world does not mean that I have to accept that it is OK. I don’t think women should learn Gemara in the same beis medrash-, chavrusa-style as men. Women can adopt mitzvos aseih she-ha-zeman gerama and can embrace tefillah three times a day. Most importantly, there is much more to Judaism than ritual — chessed and tzedakah.

    Me: So lets review here. Gil says there are plenty of ways that women can connect to Torah without mimicking men or the non-Torah Jews. Ruvie says, what are you talking about, even women learning gemarah is mimicking men and the bat mitzva the non-Orthodox.And Gil, says, you are indeed correct. Women should visit the sick, give tzedakah and do acts of chesed and pray three times a day. Not learn Gemarah and the like.

    Wowsers Gil. I wonder how bad it was in Europe 100 years ago if women were not permitted these wondrous innovations. In fact I can’t see how your response would be any different had you told the girls to go bake good cookies.

  64. I would be interested to hear Rabbi Frimmer’s take on the general disinerst in women’s tefillah groups, which he mentions a lot in this article, among women under 40. Meaning, none of my friends are interested in them, for example. And not because they are not interested in “unmediated” public religious expression, but because they have swallowed the critique of this particular form of expression that it is “made up” and “not real.”

    In general, I wonder about the whole nahat ruah paradigm. Does it depend on women’s ignorance of the “real” nature of what is being offered them? (e.g., the fact that telling them “akfu yadaychu” is actually telling them not to do “halachic” smicha?) What happens when the women start learning gemara and figure that out? would they still get nachat ruach from the act?

  65. Aprt from the relative sophistication of the way it is expressed, is there any substantial diffference between Gil’s position and Rav Shach’s response to a group of Beis Yaakov girls who came to ask him about a difficult Ramban al Hatorah, that they should rather focus on making tasty cakes?

  66. HAGTBG, to be fair, Gil did not say that there are plenty of “innovations” for contemporary women. His position is apparently that even women with “contemporary sensibilites” should not feel any lack of options for “connecting to Torah” because they still have all the traditional avenues open.

    I agree that there is nothing about doing chesed that is inherently incompatible with contemporary sensibilities. But that’s only part of the picture. The rest of the picture is “if it’s so great why are men always getting speeches about how its not nearly as important as learning Torah, the latter being the only real way to connect to the mind of God?” That’s where the contemporary sensibilities come in – the combination of the meme that Torah learning is THE mitzvah, and not just a mitzvah but the only way to realy understand God, with the idea that women should be and are able to know God like anyone else.

  67. His position is apparently that even women with “contemporary sensibilites” should not feel any lack of options for “connecting to Torah” because they still have all the traditional avenues open.

    I honestly have no idea what Gil’s real view is. Once upon a time, before the Maharat/Rabbah issue, he basically said a woman could essentially do many functions of the role so long as it had a clear different title and the functions were all permitted to a woman http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2004/12/ordination-of-women.html

    Now look at this.

  68. The biggest obstacle to intellectual honesty is the insecurity that leads intelligent, committed and well meaning Jews to draw boundaries that exclude other equally intelligent, committed and well meaning Jews from Avodat ha’Shem.

    With respect I must say that under the guise of civility and footnotes, R. Frimer engages in some intellectual dishonesty of his own.  In his seeming need to state “not me ‘gov” and/or his  need to preach to his Centrist choir, R. Frimer goes out of his way to delegitimize the many Orthodox Jews I have encountered who actively participate in (lay led) Partnership Minyanim.  

    That he disagrees with their hashkafa is legitimate; that he wishes to debate their halachic basis is legitimate; but, writing out these Orthodox Jews who have found Partnership Minyanim as their solution to the moral and halachic challenge as “beyond the pale” stoops to the level of R. Kobre’s rhetoric about which R. Firmer complains.

  69. gil – i was under the impression – maybe incorrectly – that all in the mo world have agreed that is perfectly acceptable to have bat mitzvahs and learn gemera (i did not know there is an issue of men “styled” chavrusahs). the impression from your comment is its only some parts (sounds like a minority) – i had assumed that would be yeshivash/charedei world not the mo world. isn’t adopting mitzvot aseih she-ha-zeman gerama anything but mimicking men (you made it sound like all things that mimic men or other denominations is not acceptable – maybe i am reading in too much)?

    as hagtbg points out with regards to europe 100 years ago your reasoning would also deny women most changes since the time of chazal which most authorities have accepted as good.

  70. IH,

    All this works only if one follows your axiom that it is virtually impossible to write out anyone whom you deem intelligent, committed &c. For you, the very act of writing people out is illegitimate, for any reason (unless you’re Chabad, of course).

  71. Anon: I’m not sure that the general world’s disinterest in childrearing should be considered problematic at all.

    I meant it in the sense of the quality of childrearing, not in terms of population growth. When parents outsource childrearing, it is bad for the community. I’m not saying that every woman has to stay home and raise her children. I’m just saying that this should be treated as an ideal to strive for.

    HAGTBG: I was very careful not to say that women shouldn’t learn Gemara. I only refered to the bais-medrash style. And I didn’t say that there is anything wrong with a bas mitzvah, provided it follows the guidelines of R. Moshe Feinstein and the Seridei Eish.

    Anon: Where did I imply that women should not learn Chumash with mefarshim?

    emma: The rest of the picture is “if it’s so great why are men always getting speeches about how its not nearly as important as learning Torah, the latter being the only real way to connect to the mind of God?”

    I think this, too, is a problem. Men should not be driven exclusively to learning. But beyond that, women and men have different roles within Judaism. That is the brick wall we’re discussing.

  72. HAGTBG: There is a difference between what is allowed and what should be done. Women *may* learn Gemara chavrusa-style and become experts in Torah and pasken she’eilos. However, I don’t think it’s a good thing in general. But there are always exceptional individuals.

    ruvie: Do all the MO girls-only schools teach Gemara the same way the boys-only schools do? My impression is that they do not. Call them RWMO if you want.

  73. Although for the record I am in favor of anyone and everyone baking tasty cakes.

  74. So, IIRC:
    issue: women want more opportunities for spiritual connection.
    MO solution: allow them to participate in existing previously male-dominated ritual where halachically allowed.
    Charedi solution: invent new areas for them to participate (e.g. berachos parties, tehilim groups) so there is no blurring of the lines.
    Its been pointed out that the first solution has problems and may lead to running into a halachik brick wall. Doesn’t the second solution also have its own problems? Is this not where “40 women baking challa”, schlissel challa, etc. with all the problems of kishuf and magical superstitious thinking come from?

  75. my point was not that men should not be directed to learning. my point was that the whole way ppl talk about learning has to change if you don’t want women to want in. Women want in because it’s not just another mitzvah. (Even Y Liebowitz deviated from his commandment-only view of mitzvot when it came to women performing limmud torah.) If you want to move towards a true “separate tafkids”/”different roles” universe that is not transparently vulnerable to the critique of giving men the “better” tafkid, then you need to really move towards a discourse in which learning torah is either conceived very differently or genuiely open to women as a whole (not just exceptional individuals, and not just grudgingly).

  76. R. Gil, it is easy to make a joke out of the rav shach story, but in what way, if any, do you fundamentally disagree?

  77. gil – “ruvie: Do all the MO girls-only schools teach Gemara the same way the boys-only schools do? My impression is that they do not. Call them RWMO if you want.”

    i do not know (my boys went to a non coed schools and my daughter to a coed school). but can you clarify what is wrong with women studying gemera in chavrusa? do women at stern that study advanced gemera not allow to study in chavrusa?

  78. H: issue: women want more opportunities for spiritual connection.

    I’m not sure that this is always the issue. We tend to assume it but it sometimes seems to be more than that.

    Doesn’t the second solution also have its own problems?

    I consider it a problem but I don’t think that all rabbis do.. This problem is eminently solvable if rabbis want to, by de-emphasizing the magical and superstitious aspects of Judaism. However, many rabbis embrace these aspects and don’t consider them a problem. Their followers are generally the ones who are the most superstitious.

    emma: it is easy to make a joke out of the rav shach story, but in what way, if any, do you fundamentally disagree

    I am not against women learning anything. Period. Did I not already make that clear?

  79. >Its been pointed out that the first solution has problems and may lead to running into a halachik brick wall. Doesn’t the second solution also have its own problems? Is this not where “40 women baking challa”, schlissel challa, etc. with all the problems of kishuf and magical superstitious thinking come from?

    This is not a problem for the Chareidi world.

  80. HAGTBG: There is a difference between what is allowed and what should be done. Women *may* learn Gemara chavrusa-style and become experts in Torah and pasken she’eilos. However, I don’t think it’s a good thing in general. But there are always exceptional individuals.

    Allowed … should be done. So, to review, when we got Rabbah Hurwitz, clearly different feminized title … admits she can not do many things a rabbi can do. You did not say it was a bad idea. You did not say Sarah Hurwitz, you are not one of those exceptional individuals. You said it was outside Orthodoxy and rabbis Sperber and Weiss crossed the line. You wanted R’ Weiss expelled from the RCA. And you also noted you personally had thought it crossed the line when she was “Maharat” and the title distinction was clearer still.

  81. do you believe that at some point a woman who expresses interest in learning more torah should nevertheless, ideally, be directed towards other, more traditionally female, pursuits?

  82. And for my own position I feel I need to say that I heard the R’ Schach story with cookies the first time. I have also heard it with cake. Teyku.

  83. Rafael at 10:35 AM has put his finger on a critical point. living as a modern Orthodox Jew is not trivial. Life is complex and nuanced. My only response is to make it clear that, when it comes to Avodat Hashem, Judaism believes in role playing, division of responsibilities. The ultimate importance of the role stems from its being the fulfilment of Retzon Hashem. Rabbi Saul Berman’s 1972 Tradition article on the subject is outstanding, IMHO.

  84. gil – didn’t see some of your earlier comments before my last post.

    “HAGTBG: I was very careful not to say that women shouldn’t learn Gemara. I only refered to the bais-medrash style.”

    it appear that you objected to – women shouldn’t (i assumed halachically) – to beit medrash style learning for women. may i ask why is it objectionable from halachik or other religious reasoning?

    but then you say: “HAGTBG: There is a difference between what is allowed and what should be done. Women *may* learn Gemara chavrusa-style and become experts in Torah and pasken she’eilos. However, I don’t think it’s a good thing in general. But there are always exceptional individuals.”

    why is chavrusa style not a good thing from halachik level? i assume to you are clarifying your previous statement which i queried.

  85. HAGTBG: So, to review, when we got Rabbah Hurwitz, clearly different feminized title … admits she can not do many things a rabbi can do. You did not say it was a bad idea.

    It is not a feminized title. She is a woman rabbi and says so herself. Her claims to the contrary to different audiences are bologna.

    You wanted R’ Weiss expelled from the RCA.

    No, I did not.

    And you also noted you personally had thought it crossed the line when she was “Maharat” and the title distinction was clearer still.

    Yes, because Maharat is the same role as rabbi.

    emma: do you believe that at some point a woman who expresses interest in learning more torah should nevertheless, ideally, be directed towards other, more traditionally female, pursuits?

    No, if she can teach Torah then she should be encouraged to do so. And if she is not a good teacher, then like any man she should be encouraged to do something else.

  86. Gil,
    I am sorry, there is a range of positions regarding women learning Gemara, but given that it is ok at least in some circumstances, what could possible be the difference between chevruta vs frontal teaching? Chevruta as the norm is a fairly recent innovation. the practice has spread because it has proven to be educationally valuable. If women are to be taught gemara why limit the use of pedagogical tools? I find this distinction very disturbing.

  87. ruvie: I’m not saying that there is a halakhic problem with women learning Gemara beis medrash-style. I’m saying that it is a bad idea to encourage them to act like men.

  88. GIL:

    “I was very careful not to say that women shouldn’t learn Gemara. I only refered to the bais-medrash style.”

    please clarify what is wrong with bais-medrash or chavrusa type learning
    i understand why it would be assur for girls to learn gemara, but if one accepts it is mutar, then does the mode matter?

    RUVIE:

    there are plenty of MO schools that don’t teach girls gemara. whether or not a school teaches gemara to girls probably depends on
    a) if the school it truly MO or what i call pseudo-MO
    b) if the parents care/are aware

  89. Mike S. at 10:55 AM
    Regarding Women reading for men, the view you raise is extensively discussed in the poskim and is a variation of “Shitat haMarheshet.” I deal with this at length in Section III.A of my article on “Women’s Megillah Reading,” Aryeh A. Frimer, In “Traditions and Celebrations for the Bat Mitzvah,” Ora Wiskind Elper, Editor; Urim Publications: Jerusalem, 2003; pp. 281-304. PDF file available online at: http://mj.bu.edu/rsrc/MailJewish/MjReaderContributions/WomensMegillaReadingRev3.doc; HTML files available at http://www.lookstein.org/articles/women_megilla_reading.htm and http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/english/tfila/frimer2.htm.

    ————————————

    emma at 12:19 pm writes:
    “I would be interested to hear Rabbi Frimmer’s take on the general disinerst in women’s tefillah groups, which he mentions a lot in this article, among women under 40.”
    Our many conversations with women across America active in women’s prayer groups reveal that in many—though certainly not all—communities, the generation of the daughters (now in their late teens and twenties) are substantially less interested in such groups. Indeed, the total documented number of women’s prayer groups has not grown over the past decade (1995-2005) and hovers somewhere around 50; see the following URLs: http://wtgdirectory.helping.org.il/dir.html and http://www.edah.org/tefilla.cfm. (The latter site lists 57 groups, but the file is out of date; Rahel Jaskow, personal communication to AAF [Sept. 15, 2005].) In 2004, Joel Wolowelsky wrote that, ‘‘The number of tefillah groups has hardly increased dramatically over the years.’’ Joel B. Wolowelsky, ‘‘Conscientious Consciousness,’’ JOFA Journal, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Summer, 2004), p. 8. This was reiterated by Sharon Sholiton Goldberger in WTN Digest – 12 Mar 2009 to 13 Mar 2009 (#2009-33) and subsequent comments. These younger women do eagerly attend when some special occasion or event is celebrated, be it a Simhat Bat (or Zeved haBat), Bat Mitsvah, a Shabbat Kala, or a women’s Megilla reading; nevertheless, they are only marginally involved in the tefilla group on a regular basis. While this trend is unquestionably worthy of further documentation and analysis, various interim interpretations of these facts have been put forward. One possibility is that it is a result of negative social pressure; the “daughters” fear that involvement in such groups would stigmatize them as “Women’s Libbers,” affecting possible future shiddukhim or employment possibilities. Another relates this phenomenon to the fact that this second generation—unlike many of the mothers—has benefited from extended periods of intensive higher Jewish learning. On the one hand, these daughters are dissatisfied with what they view as the incompleteness and inauthenticity of the women’s prayer service; on the other, they are substantially more attracted to advanced Torah scholarship, which they value as more permanent and genuine. Put simply, they aspire to being talmidot hakhamim and perhaps even poskot someday, rather than hazzaniyyot. In addition, generally speaking, the more women become involved in Torah study and scholarship, the more at peace they are with Jewish tradition as it stands. We note in this regard that R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik verbalized on many occasions his belief that—public policy issues aside—the women’s energies were being misdirected in their battle for prayer groups. These intellectual and spiritual energies could be more properly, profitably and permanently invested in Torah scholarship (conversations with R. Baruch Lanner, R. Binyomin Walfish and R. Charles Weinberg). Indeed, the Rav actively supported women’s involvement in all areas of Torah study, and he himself inaugurated the Talmud program at Stern College for Women on October 11, 1977.

  90. “I’m saying that it is a bad idea to encourage them to act like men.”
    Some might say that the very act of looking at a vilna shas is “acting like men.” What is the principled line being drawn? Or is the point just to have some “heker” that women and men are different?
    What about sitting in a sukkah – is it “acting like men”? When is doing a mitzvah just doing a mitzvah, “doing a mitzvah like men”?

  91. GIL:

    “I’m not saying that there is a halakhic problem with women learning Gemara beis medrash-style. I’m saying that it is a bad idea to encourage them to act like men.”

    ???

  92. “This is not a problem for the Chareidi world”

    I would qualify that: for most of the Chareidi world.

  93. >I would qualify that: for most of the Chareidi world.

    Enough that it doesn’t really matter. As far as I can tell, for the few whom such things are a problem, they clearly make a calculation that the lesser of the two evils is to turn a blind eye or only mildly criticize it rather than to launch a war against such things. Evidently the alternative (possibly saying that things written in holy seforim are nonsense or avoda zara) is seen as much worse.

  94. IH at 12:41 pm

    It wasn’t Aryeh Frimer who said that Kehillat Shirah Hadasha was beyond the Halakhic pale – but rather the four leading Modern Orthodox poskim in Israel: Rabbis Jacob Ariel, Shlomo Aviner, Chaim Druckman and Aaron Lichtenstein. In fact that is the overwhelming consensus of Poskim – See notes 3d and 3e, in the article and the references cited therein.

  95. beis medrash-style?

    R Gil – what is distinctively male about chavrusa style learning or beis medrash style learning? Is the idea that women should remain, at all times, NICE i.e. they shouldn’t argue too much?

  96. Some might say that the very act of looking at a vilna shas is “acting like men.”

    No problem, they should be learning Steinzaltz… like most of the men, to be honest.

  97. Just a gut feeling that it is too much like men. Nothing more profound or objective than that. Just an opinion.

  98. >Enough that it doesn’t really matter. As far as I can tell, for the few whom such things are a problem, they clearly make a calculation that the lesser of the two evils is to turn a blind eye or only mildly criticize it rather than to launch a war against such things. Evidently the alternative (possibly saying that things written in holy seforim are nonsense or avoda zara) is seen as much worse.

    Nah, they can kick it upstairs by saying stuff like “we are not on a madreiga to do or understaned such things” – pretty much like they do regarding various superstitions of the talmud.

  99. >Nah, they can kick it upstairs by saying stuff like “we are not on a madreiga to do or understaned such things” – pretty much like they do regarding various superstitions of the talmud.

    That only works if you want to ignore it yourself. That’s not going to make people who are involved in this stuff ignore it. The only way to do that is open combat.

  100. R. Frimer’s response goes a long way in proving Eytan Kobre’s point.

    I find it interesting that the erudite Rabbi Frimer elected to selectively cite an early (1947) writing by Rabbi Henkin addressing a that would seem to support his own position.

    1. The beginning of the citation, which readers may not take the time to look up, refers to men.

    2. At the end of that teshuvah, Rabbi Henkin writes only that, because of its possbble long-term influence — it should not be “nidcheh bishtei yadayim,” completely and absoultely rejected.

    3. In a later and far better-known quote, written in 1963 (Hapardes 37:6, p. 6), Rav Henkin makes his position far more clear: “If the daughter will come to pray in the Women’s Section, and will improve her behavior in terms of sanctifying Shabbos, Kashruth, purity, nad modesty — which are fundamentals — and she also would then like to say kaddish for the women while Kaddish is being recited in the men’s section, PERHAPS there is no objection.”

    This second teshuvah makes it apparent that his first teshuvah was exactly what it says: simply a directive not to throw out the daughters whose only connection to Yiddishkeit may be through this Kaddish. The 1947 letter was written when there were few, if any, Jewish educational opportunities for a girl to take advantage of, and this was a lifeline.

    Not so in 1963, and certainly not so today.

    Kobre did a good job of calling a spade a spade. R. Frimer’s reponse just uses the spade to dig himself deeper in a hole.

  101. aiwac — no.  The point is that there are intelligent, committed and well meaning Jews who consider themselves Orthodox and who are considered as Orthodox by others who are being written out as beyond the pale solely on the basis of their participation in Partnership Minyanim (by R. Frimer in this post, citing others).  You also, btw, seem to have misunderstood my position on Chabad (which was that to the extent people want to engage heresy hunting…).

    R. Frimer — Editorial judgement is part and parcel of intellectual honesty.  You chose to make the points you wished to make using the evidence you wished.  That you relied on a citation to make a disparaging point is par for the course and hardly addresses my critique.

  102. Emma wrote: “…learning Torah…being the only real way to connect to the mind of G-d?” That’s where the contemporary sensibilities come in – the combination of the meme that Torah learning is THE mitzvah, and not just a mitzvah but the only way to realy understand G-d, with the idea that women should be and are able to know God like anyone else.”

    A response [from “Rav Schwab on Prayer,” Artscroll 2001, pp. 33-34]:

    “The different natures of men and women require a difference in the mitzvos needed to elevate them and bring them closer to HaKadosh Baruch Hu…The purpose of the fulfillment of all mitzvos is to form a bond with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. The performance of mitvos with love creates this bond…Men, by their nature, require more mitzvos to bring them close to G-d. However, women were created with an innate nature which is more in accordance with the will of HaKadosh Baruch Hu than men. They do not require the same “corrections” as men do to bring them close to G-d. ‘He has made me in accordance with His will’ means that women do not require all the mitzvos which men do to achieve the love and worship of Hashem.

    “The same idea applies do talmud Torah, from which women are exempt…Learning for the sake of learning, just to occupy one’s mind with the intricacies of Torah, even if the practical application of the law is already known, is limited to men. A women who learns Torah does not become greater in yiras Shamayim because of it. True, she may become very learned in Torah, but this is not the object of talmud Torah…If a woman were to learn and know Gemara just as well as a man, it still would not make her one iota better than she is. It would have no influence on her relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. A woman does not need talmud Torah to come close to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. A woman can even have prophecy — the closest possible relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu — without learning Torah.”

  103. ” Maharat is the same role as rabbi”

    Sara Hurwitz is doing the same things at HIR as Rabba Hurwitz as she did as Maharat Hurwitz as she did as Madricha Ruchanit.

  104. “Just a gut feeling that it is too much like men. Nothing more profound or objective than that. Just an opinion”

    My view (just a gut feeling as well) is that a lot of “policy” positions on womens issues come from just these sort of intuitions about gender roles. I would really love it if you and others would interrogate these feelings and try to formulate them a bit better, since I think they are ultimately where the action is. As “just” gut feelings they are no less influential, just more difficult to dicuss.

  105. Which of the gedolei ha’poskim where matir women’s tefillah groups? Also, the Rav zt”l paskened that women should hear men reading the megillah. See http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/758856/Rabbi_Aryeh_Lebowitz/Ten_Minute_Halacha_-_Women_Laining_Megilah

  106. Which of the gedolei ha’poskim where matir women’s tefillah groups?

    Who matirs the girls at beis yakov’s to daven in women-only groups in the morning?

  107. Charlie: Sara Hurwitz is doing the same things at HIR as Rabba Hurwitz as she did as Maharat Hurwitz as she did as Madricha Ruchanit.

    Agreed. The title Rabbah was just too much in people’s faces but the objections should have been raised earlier.

    Ari: Which of the gedolei ha’poskim where matir women’s tefillah groups?

    While I oppose women’s tefillah groups, there is some basis for them in halakhah. R. Shlomo Goren supported them. See Rabbis Frimer’s paper.

    HAGTBG: Who matirs the girls at beis yakov’s to daven in women-only groups in the morning?

    Entirely different circumstance. The schools have no real alternative for logistical reasons.

  108. “The schools have no real alternative for logistical reasons”

    The obvious alternative is for everyone to daaven completely bi-yechidus – no joint singing of adon olam, no chazanis saying the ends of brachos, etc. In the younger grades kids might get lost without some amount of synchronization, but that is hard to argue about high school.

  109. Entirely different circumstance. The schools have no real alternative for logistical reasons.

    The point is that there is nothing innovative about WTG per se, any such innovation having already been permitted vis a vis the schools. As for whether its appropriate for the local situation/circumstance, many distinguished poskim/talmidei chachamim/rav hamakom permitted it for their own communities. And that was general policy in the MO world and still is, despite one big fight nearly 20 years ago. Whether or not the poskim meet some anonymous person’s definition of “gedolei haposkim” is irrelevant.

  110. ” And that was general policy in the MO world and still is, despite one big fight nearly 20 years ago. ”

    That is to allow the local posek to make the call.

  111. R’ Art,
    We often each look at a teshuva and see our own reflection.
    KT

  112. The attempt at finding precedent for WPGs in girls’ schools is erroneous. They are teaching the girls how to pray. It is a chinuch exercise.
    They don’t try to simulate a men’s minyan in any significant degree. Certainly there is no Torah readings on Mondays and Thursdays.

  113. Emma: Let me rephrase – there is no BETTER alternative

    HAGTBG: You mean like local rabbis deciding on whether to use a microphone on Shabbos? The rabbis who forbade WPGs were proven right by history.

  114. “HAGTBG: Who matirs the girls at beis yakov’s to daven in women-only groups in the morning?

    Entirely different circumstance. The schools have no real alternative for logistical reasons.”

    Many have 10 men employed and thus could have a legitimate minyan for girls to daven in the morning.

  115. The rabbis who forbade WPGs were proven right by history.

    I am trying to come up with a way of presenting your point where its not entirely self-suiting speculation and am having difficulty. As well say that the rabbis who prohibited the permitted, and who had the greater voice the decade previous, were ignored when they later tried to prohibit the prohibited because they showed they didn’t care about a large segment of their community. So the rabbis who permitted WTGs were proven right by history.

    As for microphones, I am frankly not as aware of all the issues as with WTG where it devolved into rabbis putting forth arguments about “bad motivation” of people they never met and communities they rarely entered.

  116. “The rabbis who forbade WPGs were proven right by history.”

    Jumping the gun a bit, Gil. Just saying it doesn’t make it so.

  117. “Many have 10 men employed and thus could have a legitimate minyan for girls to daven in the morning.”

    Or they could do what a lot of boys’ yeshivot and co-ed schools do and open their minyanim to the public. I’ve davened at SAR High School, the Telshe Yeshiva, and Yeshivat Chovevei Torah — and that is just in Riverdale.

  118. I beg to differ. From the Rishonim it is clear that the ability to count for a Minyan stems from ones obligation in the performance of that ritual. Kindly see my article on Women and Minyan cited in note 11 above.

    The GRA certainly would disagree with this statement. And it is against the simply reading of Rashi in Sanhedrin and the Rambam in Yesodei ha Torah.

    To explain, women are obligated in the mitzvah of kiddush Hashem, which at times requires one to martyr oneself rather than transgress. This includes the big three aveiros, and any aveirah that is bepharhesya — before 10. The number 10 must be 10 adult males Jews. Thus while a woman is obligated in kiddush Hashem, she does not “count” towards the minyan that makes up an “edah.” This is a din deoraysa.

    IOW, women simply do not qualify to make up an halakhic public. Even if they are obligated in a mitzvah (kiddush Hashem) that may require the presence of a “public.”

    (Acc. to Rashi in Sanhedrin, this is precisely the issue the gemara had with non-Jews. The gemara had a question as to whether non-Jews are obligated in Kiddush Hashem. It tried to bring a proof from Elisha who approved the Captain of the Aramean army to return to Aram and bow before an idol with the King of Aram, which he had to do under penalty of death. Acc. to Rashi, the gemara rejects this proof, because the individual was returning to Aram where there were no Jews. So there was no “pharhesya,” even though there were hundreds of non-Jews who acc. to the gemara’s question might well have been obligated in Kidduh Hashem. Acc. to Rashi, the gemara’s question was never answered — it was possible that non-Jews are obligated in Kiddush Hashem, but in that case the person was going to a place where there were no Jews.

    The point is, one can be obligated in Kiddush Hashem without counting for the minyan of “pharhesya.”)

  119. Tal Benschar,

    In what way would the GRA disagree with that statement.

  120. “As for microphones, I am frankly not as aware of all the issues as with WTG where it”
    To be fair there arethose who were matir a microphone under limited conditions-including can’t be manipulated on Shabbos, locked up, and had to meet certain technical requirements-I believe Rav Unterman among others was mattir them.

  121. “AYGC, my feeling was that you were putting the cart before the horse. Maximal Obligation in a ritual is a pre-requisite to counting for the minyan for that ritual. Basically In those rituals in which women are obligated equally with men, most poskim hold that women indeed do count for the requisite minyan.”

    why do you assume that it works in both directions? when the obligation is on an individual, those individuals obligated may (or may not) form the tzibur that consitutes a public for that mitzva. for tefila betzibur, the essence of the obligation is for a public to be constituted, and this obligation must be conditioned on the definition of the public for this purpose. those who are considered members of the public are necessarily obligated. if this analysis is wrong: how do you know that women are exempt from tefila betzibur?

  122. gil: “ruvie: I’m not saying that there is a halakhic problem with women learning Gemara beis medrash-style. I’m saying that it is a bad idea to encourage them to act like men.”

    the statement is so broad and covers everything that is proven meaningless by many examples as bat mitzvah, learning gemera(cited before), mitzvot aseih shaziman gerama as well as involvement in communal affairs (right to vote, election to councils,public office, etc). i would assume the same logic would exclude or not encourage women – since it is being like men – to be ceos, partners in law firms, doctors, etc eventhough its in the secular world.

    otoh, there is a time honored position in halacha of not allowing something that may be muttar because of the consequences that may lead from such action not being desirable to the community. the question will revolve around what are the consequences and who gets to decide.

    “Just a gut feeling that it is too much like men. Nothing more profound or objective than that. Just an opinion.”

    can you identify what bothers you about “too much like men” and why is it bad besides the all encompassing refrain that hashem created us with different roles (since those roles have changed over the last 2000 years – in judaism as well as outside – why do you assume the roles will not change from what it was (or is)in the future – is it the pace of change?).

    the downside for not allowing change: i am reminded of a statement by rav kook (responsa orah mishpat, 112) – it is precisely by seeing that we are willing to permit whatever an in depth reading of the law makes permissible that they will understand that we are permitting it because of the truth of torah and many who adhere to torah will come to heed the words of halakhic teachers. BUTIF IT IS FOUND THAT ARE THINGS THAT THE LAW ITSELD WOULD PERMIT BUT THAT RABBIS LEAVE AS PROHIBITED, SHOWING NO CONCERN ABOUT THE RESULTING BURDENS AND DIFFICULTIES IMPOSED ON THE JEWS, THE RESULT WILL BE A GREAT DESECRATION OF HASHEM’S NAME …. in the end this will lead to a distrust of our rabbis . the question is are we there yet and in which communities?

  123. Steg (dos iz nit der shteg)

    Though I consider myself a Halakhic feminist, it is necessary to acknowledge that Halakhic values do not always jibe with those of certain elements of modernity.

    Rabbi Frimer:

    Ribbi Yehoshua‘ ben Leivi says in masekhet Sanhedrin that just as God holds us accountable for picking up bad habits from the other nations of the world, so too God holds us accountable for not picking up their good habits. If we had a functioning sanhedrin we would be able to discuss and debate which elements of modernity are consonant with Halakhic values and which aren’t. And considering the fact that the sanhedrin would be empowered to re-edit halakha, i don’t think it’s so clear that the value of egalitarianism would be as ‘obviously’ taboo then as people insist it is now.

  124. Tal Benschar, there are three major schools regarding women and Minya. The Gra belongs to the second school – maintaining that women never count for a minyan. But the majority hold like the first or third school which maintain that women count whenever they are obligated equally with men, or when the purpose of the minyan is to publicize. PLEASE read: Aryeh A. Frimer, “Women and Minyan,” Tradition, 23:4, 54-77 (Summer 1988). PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/Batch%201/0019.pdf (PDF). It’s all in there.

  125. Steg 12:06
    “I don’t think it’s so clear that the value of egalitarianism would be as ‘obviously’ taboo then as people insist it is now.”

    How could Sanhedrin undo mitsvot Asei she-hazeman gramman? That exemption is both learned from derashot and is a Halakha leMoshe MiSinai (see article)!

  126. i don’t think m”a shehazman grama is relevant to most areas where there is agitation regarding women and halacha.
    to the extent it is relevant: consider what would happen if sanhedrin were to decide that eyno metzuve veose has greater schar than metzuve vose. we’d have women in kollel supported by male speech therapists

  127. As for microphones, I am frankly not as aware of all the issues as with WTG where it”
    To be fair there arethose who were matir a microphone under limited condition
    ============================
    and there were those who said (this was the majority in the us100 years ago) that our grape juice is shehakol and not ok for kiddush – but a generation or 2 later everyone thinks “accepted psak” was that way forever and immutable.
    oh well-when will they ever learn?
    KT

  128. ““accepted psak” was that way forever and immutable.
    oh well-when will they ever learn?”

    Halacha is not eternal it is the halachik process that is eternal.

  129. steg – ” If we had a functioning sanhedrin we would be able to discuss and debate which elements of modernity are consonant with Halakhic values and which aren’t.”

    is the sanhedrin the end all be all in this issue? do you actually need a sanhedrin to answer this question? your earlier post stated:

    “If we had a Sanhedrin, our duly-empowered hhakhamim would have wide powers to redraft halakhot derabbanan and re-interpret halakhot de’oraita, keeping Halakha more of a living system, able to absorb and respond to the changing realities of life.”

    i find the statement interesting but question the accuracy of the observation. do you feel chazal in the talmud failed or couldn’t redraft and reinterpret halacha to a moe living system – (it looks like the tanaaim certainly did)? or is that only the purview of a sanhedrin? and is that historical true or a viewpoint of what the sanhedrin was empowered to do (whether they did or did not)? i still find your post most interesting and hopefully you will expand on it.

    mycroft: btw, i believe that the statement is the torah is perfect and eternal ( not halacha). halacha is the implementation or application of the eternal torah in the real world which at times can be messy and imperfect- see the end of kamtza/bar kamtza where r’ yochanan is castigated for not saving jerusalem and lo bashamayim hee (a better example)

  130. I have already noted in several of my articles that we take issue with those who would enact women’s aliyyot in practice, hastily undoing more than two millennia of halakhic precedent – simply because an article or two has appeared on the subject. Considering the novelty of this innovation, religious integrity and sensitivity requires serious consultation with renowned halakhic authorities of recognized stature – prior to acting on such a significant departure from normative halakha. (See the related comments of R. Emanuel Feldman, “Orthodox Feminism and Feminist Orthodoxy” Jewish Action, 70:2 (Winter 5760/1999), pp. 12-17 at p. 13). It often takes several years time before a final determination can be reached as to whether or not a suggested innovation meets these standards. But that cannot provide adequate justification for haste. This is all the more true when the almost unanimous opinion of leading Modern Orthodox Poskim argues that women’s aliyyot are beyond the pale.

    The halakhic process has always been about the honest search for truth – Divine truth (See: R. Aryeh A. Frimer, “Feminist Innovations in Orthodoxy Today: Is Everything in Halakha – Halakhic?” JOFA Journal, 5:2 (Summer 2004/Tammuz 5764), pp. 3-5 – available online at: http://tinyurl.com/2fgqsu.). To adopt one particular approach – simply because it yields the desired result, lacks intellectual honesty and religious integrity. It is equivalent to shooting the arrows and then drawing the bull’s-eye. To paraphrase Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz: we must always ask ourselves whether we are in reality serving the Divine will or our own (Yeshayahu Leibowitz, “On Faith and Science,” Rabbi Moshe Zev Kahn – Mr. Samuel G. Bellows Memorial Lecture, Rabbi Jacob Berman Community Center – Tiferet Moshe Synagogue, Rehovot Israel, April 1986).

  131. R, Frimer,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Leibowitz a big supporter of women’s participation in religious life (incl. aliyot)? I seem to recall a letter of his supporting this.

  132. The problem with the cautious, patient, self-denying approach advocated for liberals is that the conservatives – one suspects – are not so cautious, patient and self-denying. Rather, they enjoy their conservative approach and are having their religion exactly as they like it and they’re having it right now.

  133. I would be surprised, but Eini Yode’a

  134. I believe, consistent with his general philosophy of halachik observance as obedience, Y. Leibowitz was not a proponent of women observing things they were not commanded to, including mitzvot aseh she-hazman grama that most authorities consider praiseworthy for women to perform (with or without a bracha). The one exception was torah learning, regarding which he did advocate women’s participation given the special status of torah learning as not just an act of obedience, but a way to know God.

    Don’t recall the primary sources, but Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy seems to confirm my recollection:

    “Thus on the one hand, we have the ritual commandments required of men and not required of women. These mitzvoth are indeed “meaningless,” having no intrinsic value beyond their status as mitzvoth that God requires in his service by men and not women. They do not reflect any exalted status for men or yield access to some sort of religious experience beyond the mere burden of performance. Given this, the desire of women to take on such practices in the name of equality reflects a fundamental misunderstanding—or at least a non-Leibowitzian understanding—of the nature of these commandments. And yet, when it comes to the highest level study of Torah and access to public office, both of which had traditionally been halakhically forbidden to women, Leibowitz takes a very different view. Barring women access to the study of Torah “is not to exempt them from a duty … but is to deprive them of a basic Jewish right … [that] renders their Jewishness inferior to that of men” (Judaism, 129). ”
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/leibowitz-yeshayahu/#MetHalStaWom

  135. Besides, he was a great – though controversial – philosopher and theologian, but by no means a posek or halakhic authority.

  136. R E Kobre is a polemical writer whose writings appear in Mishpacha and on Cross Currents. IMO, his writings are marked by being of an overly argumentative nature and minimize the role of a committed MO.

  137. “The halakhic process has always been about the honest search for truth – Divine truth (See: R. Aryeh A. Frimer, “Feminist Innovations in Orthodoxy Today: Is Everything in Halakha – Halakhic?” JOFA Journal, 5:2 (Summer 2004/Tammuz 5764), pp. 3-5 – available online at: http://tinyurl.com/2fgqsu.). To adopt one particular approach – simply because it yields the desired result, lacks intellectual honesty and religious integrity. It is equivalent to shooting the arrows and then drawing the bull’s-eye. To paraphrase Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz: we must always ask ourselves whether we are in reality serving the Divine will or our own.”

    Assuming this is really true (Q: what is allowing something for nachat ru’ach other than result oriented decision making?), the more difficult question is determining which side does draws the bulls-eye this way? As you wrote earlier, one person’s apologetics is another person’s thoughtful reasoning. I have yet to see anyone on any side of a hotly debated or controversial halachic issue say (or, perhaps more importantly, think) that the Divine Will doesn’t support the conclusions they have reached.

  138. For me nahat Ruah is a consideration for continuing to search for creative, but halakhically sound, solutions. Nahat Ruah does not determine what the final answer has to be. That’s intellectually dishonest. If the answer is no – then it’s no. Unfortunately, many feminists are unable/unwilling to accept “no” as an answer. That is why I keep returning to Mitsvot Asei she-ha-zeman gramman. This is an example of a divinely ordained exemption for women – with all its repercussions.

  139. R. Frimer wrote:

    “The halakhic process has always been about the honest search for truth – Divine truth”

    This is a shockingly, naive statement from an otherwise educated person. At *most*, this may describe the subjective feeling of the posek. But to anyone with knowledge of social and political realities this statement is completely absurd.

  140. R’ Frimer –
    “The halakhic process has always been about the honest search for truth – Divine truth.” I always found this statement problematic and can you be so kind to expand on it. I always have thought that the halachik process is an imperfect way – the best we can do – to decide the implementation of the Torah in the real world. What truth do you speak of? And can divine truth change so often and be divine? If your statement is correct then I would have a hard time rejecting the bat kol in the famous lo bashamayim hee aggadatah ( I understand the explanations just that they seem apologetic and hallow). It’s hard to understand or see the search for divine truth in the Halacha process of cases like the brain death controversy and organ donation. I guess j. Kaplan has a point – it depends on who draws the circle.

  141. MO,
    Such an approach to Law comes under the rubric of Positivism.
    As to your last statement, I refuse to respond to haughty mockers. You owe me an apology.

  142. R. Frimer,

    Calling your approach to Law “Positivism” proves nothing. It is an empty statement that does not address the criticism.

  143. To be clear, calling the halakhic process an “honest search for truth–Divine truth” is a way of trying to bolster the authority of poskim, by putting them above the fray, above the petty “subjective” concerns of the common people. The poskim are being likened to angelic beings whose motives are completely pure.

    Unfortunately, the is no evidence supporting this assertion.

  144. I think that R A Frimer and R D Adam Ferziger have presented some excellent arguments rooted in Halacha and in basic sociological truths that the fellow sympathizers of radical egalitarian feminism cannot dismiss without acknowledging that their arguments, whether in terms of where there is a halachic will, there is a halachic way, viewing the Mesorah as different if its transmitters had been female or pronouncing the Mesorah of TSBP as inherently transgressing on the rights of women, are beyond the pale of MO. Furthermore, when RAL, hardly an extremistm joins with other Rabbanim in Israel in viewing Shirah Chadasha ( any by extension, similar groups in the US) as beyond the pale of MO, the frequent justification of the popularity of the same IMO hardly constitutes a compelling argument.

  145. In particular, R Frimer deserves a special Yasher Koach for his continued stance against those who dismiss the objectivity of the Halachic process. R Ferziger’s comments illustrate the great divide between those who see the issue as men’s and women’s space and those would obliterate the same merely to satisfy the contemporay Zeitgeist that the only differences between men and women are functional-the act of childbirth.

  146. Ruvie,
    There are no simple answers to tough questions. I refer you to the articles below in which I discuss the search for truth via the Halakhic process.

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

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

    “Guarding the Treasure: A Review of Tamar Ross, Expanding the Palace of the King –Orthodoxy and Feminism,” Aryeh A. Frimer, BDD – Journal of Torah and Scholarship, 18, English section, pp. 67-106 (April 2007). See especially sections III and IV. PDF file of the as published article available online at http://www.jofa.org/pdf/uploaded/1206-DQLN0171.pdf; PDF file of the as submitted article available online at http://www.lookstein.org/articles/treasure_frimer.pdf.

  147. Steve Brizel wrote:

    In particular, R Frimer deserves a special Yasher Koach for his continued stance against those who dismiss the objectivity of the Halachic process.

    Why does someone deserve a “special Yasher Koach” for simply asserting a position without giving reasons?

    I thought this was entitled “Keeping the Conversation Honest!”

  148. MO-obviously, you disagree with R A Frimer. However, your tone implied the often voiced and IMO mistaken POV that there is no objective phenomemon known as the halachic process-which is asserted by many who deny the existence of the Mesorah of TSBP. R Frimer deserved a Yasher Koach for reasserting the supremacy of Halacha, even when the answer is “no.”

  149. R’ Aryeh,

    You and your brother are probably the leading experts on WTG vis-a-vis halacha. I haven’t read your article, or the original psak of the five RIETS RY in a long time. But I remember reading them when they came out and a number of times thereafter. My question is based on that psak and your exeprtise and intellectual hinesty as set forth in that article. And I don’t know if you can or want to answer this question publicly, but I’ll ask it anyway: do you really think that those RY looked at the issue of WTGs the way you did — that is, with an open mind as to their halachic acceptability — or, do you think, as I do, that their conclusion was foregone, and all they did was look for halachic justifications for it. And I understand that there may have been later piskei halacha or articles that were written the way you say halacha should be adjudicated and which came out against WTG. But my point simply is that, AISI, your condemnation of some feminists for adopting a particular approach so as to come to a desired result could and should be cast with a far wider net.

  150. Steve Brizel wrote:

    “your tone implied the often voiced and IMO mistaken POV that there is no objective phenomemon known as the halachic process”

    Of course, there is an objective phenomenon called the halakhic process, but the people who participate in it are subjective. A posek is no different than you or me. Being called a “posek” doesn’t put you above subjective concerns and considerations any more than does being called a “supreme court justice.” We all recognize how partisan the supreme court is. Why would we assume that poskim are any different?

  151. MO wrote in part:

    “Of course, there is an objective phenomenon called the halakhic process, but the people who participate in it are subjective. A posek is no different than you or me. Being called a “posek” doesn’t put you above subjective concerns and considerations any more than does being called a “supreme court justice.”

    IMO, this is another popular misconception. RMF in his intro to Igros Moshe refers to Dvar HaShem Zu Halacha. AFAIK, no Rishon, Acharon or Posek arrived at his position via the horse trading and partisan considerations associated with the secular judicial process. We assume that Poskim are Baalei Mesorah, with a far greater knowledge of Torah than us and who have an abililty to help us fill in the white space between the lines, as opposed to merely being walking encyclopedias.

  152. Joseph Kaplan-re your query to R Frimer, I would suggest that R Frimer’s subsequent writings indicate that he has become far more sympathetic to the views enunciated by the RIETS RY in response to what he perceives as the extreme rhetoric and arguments set forth the advocates and sympathizers of radical egalitarian feminism

  153. So we are supposed to accept that poskim are objective because R. Moshe Feinstein declared it to be so?

    Circular reasoning?

  154. I will accept that most psak is not arrived at by crass “horse trading and partisan considerations.” That does not mean that it is not “subjective” in the sense of being influenced by the circumstances (material and pschological) of the decisor.

  155. MO wrote in response:

    “So we are supposed to accept that poskim are objective because R. Moshe Feinstein declared it to be so?

    Circular reasoning?”

    Actually, RMF was quoting the Talmud-he was merely enunciating what he understood to be a self evident fact.

    Emma wrote:

    “I will accept that most psak is not arrived at by crass “horse trading and partisan considerations.” That does not mean that it is not “subjective” in the sense of being influenced by the circumstances (material and pschological) of the decisor”

    Proof and a definition of ” being influenced by the circumstances (material and pschological) of the decisor” please? “

  156. steve b – Proof and a definition of ” being influenced by the circumstances (material and pschological) of the decisor” please? “

    are you stating that psak is not affected by place or time of the posek (like the difference between sephardim and ashkanazim)? there are no subjective factors that are taking into consideration in the process? please define what you mean by objective so we don’t argue pass each other.

  157. Emma wrote:

    “are you stating that psak is not affected by place or time of the posek (like the difference between sephardim and ashkanazim)? there are no subjective factors that are taking into consideration in the process? please define what you mean by objective so we don’t argue pass each other.”

    I would agree that there are various traditions in Psak-German, Litvishe, Galitizaner, Hungarian, as well as what is called Ashkenaz and Sefard. What is Shekias HaChamah for the Gaonim and the Gra should never be confused with how Rabbeinu Tam defined Shkiah. The fact that RYBS and RMF disagreed on some issues or that RYBS and the SR disagreed on one aspect of Hilcos Arbah Minim during Shnas HaShmittah was rooted in their objective understanding of the Halacha, as opposed to the subjective fact of the constituency who their POV was expressed.

  158. It is one thing to argue subjective factors and say that a posek may have certain personal negios and viewpoints (I am not arguing for or against that). It is quite another to issue a psak based on an ideology that is all-encompasing, like feminism, Marxism, or some other total and complete ideology.

    What feminism has done is to cloud the waters so that if a posek today determines an issue in favour or more female participation, how can one say it wasn’t driven by the feminist ideal of egalitarianism?

  159. For what it’s worth, here is a citation from RJDB in the introduction to his Contemporary Halakhic Problems IV, regarding the objectivity of pesak halakhah:

    “Halakhah is a science in the sense that, in its pristine form, there is no room for subjectivity. That is not to say that there is no room for disagreement. Disagreement abounds in the natural sciences no less so than in Halakhah. But, in picking and choosing between contradictory and conflicting theses, the scientist acts on the basis of the canons of his discipline as understood by his quite fallible intellect, not on the basis of subjective predilections. A halakhic decisor faces the same constraints…

    “The halakhic enterprise, of necessity, proceeds without reference or openness to, much less acceptance of rejection of, modernity. Modenity is irrelevant to the formulation of halakhic determinations. Torah is timeless and eternal. Modern insights may help us to understand and appreciate both principles and minutiae of Halakhah in ways heretofore unknown, but they do not at all effect [sic] particular determinations of Halakhah. Strides made in the modern age have facilitated observance of mizvot with ease and comfort. Although modernity has opened new vistas it has, at the same time, created new problems. Modernity has also given rise to social as well as technological phenomena unknown in days gone by. Those problems and those phenomena must be appreciated by a halakhic decisor functioning in the modern age, but his decisions are made within a transcendental framework in which the term “modernity” has no cognitive meaning.”

    [S. Spira’s editorial note: far be it from me to challenge RJDB, but I think he meant to write “affect” instead of “effect”.]

  160. SB – your last response was to Ruvie, not me, but I don’t think he and I disagree. I do think we are talking past each other re: what “objective” means – by what definition of objective can different, “objective” people (from different times, places, or traditions) arrive at different results appplying the “same” law to the same faccts?

    Rafael A., I am not sure what makes an “ideology” more problematic than “personal negios” shared by, say, everyone who lived in medieval Provence. How can we be sure that poskim’s views on [insert some area of halacha that yakov katz et all showed changed in parallel to social/economic changes] were not driven by social or economic factors?
    If jews-being-feminists is just part of our time, just like jews-being-wine-merchants was part of the middle ages in some places, how is it all of a sudden a huge problem that halachists take that into consideration?

  161. or perhaps a better example: if a posek decides something to make it easier to run a modern state in the holy land, how can we ever know that he wasn’t driven by a “zionist” or “democratic” ideal, both of which are all-encompassing ideologies as much as “egalitarianism” is? Or, what is the big deal if he was?

  162. Sorry… I myself am guilty of sloppy typing… the first sentence of the sentence paragraph should read “much less acceptance of or rejection of”. Thank you.

  163. There I go again… “second paragraph” not “sentence paragraph”. My profuse apologies.

  164. “Joseph Kaplan-re your query to R Frimer, I would suggest that R Frimer’s subsequent writings…”

    Steve, I am really interested in R’ Aryeh’s response (should he care to do so) and not your “suggestion” as to what his position is. And I am quite familiar with his subsequent writings. Indeed, you might have noticed (or perhaps not) that my name appears in footnote 1 of this post.

  165. Emma wrote;

    “SB – your last response was to Ruvie, not me, but I don’t think he and I disagree. I do think we are talking past each other re: what “objective” means – by what definition of objective can different, “objective” people (from different times, places, or traditions) arrive at different results appplying the “same” law to the same faccts”

    Emma-I mentioned the existence of various schools , IOW or Darchei HaPesak, which have been existent for hundreds of years. How else would you explain the variant views on the definition of Shekias HaChamah? Machlokes in Halacha represents creativity, not the absence of a univeral lock-step approach. Objective means that RYBS and RMF can disagree on whether one can cover a hat and that RYBS and the SR can disagree on Hilcos Arbah Minim during Shnas HaShemittah and that the CI’s commentary on SA:Orach Chaim can find numerous instances where the MB changed the accepted Psak Halacha. It has nothing to do with either sociology or psychology.

  166. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “Steve, I am really interested in R’ Aryeh’s response (should he care to do so) and not your “suggestion” as to what his position is. And I am quite familiar with his subsequent writings. Indeed, you might have noticed (or perhaps not) that my name appears in footnote 1 of this post”

    I saw the footnote-did you ask R Frimer why his views have changed over the years? If not, why not? WADR, any reader of R Frimer’s writings, regardless of whether he was accorded a footnote in his most recent article, would have detected such a change, as well as his growing lack of comfort with the proponents and sympathizers of radical egalitarian feminism-no matter how the same are posed. More fundamentally, since when does writing a footnote imply that the author agreed with all, some or any of the contentions of the author of the footnote, unless stated speficially?

  167. Shalom Spira wrote:

    [S. Spira’s editorial note: far be it from me to challenge RJDB, but I think he meant to write “affect” instead of “effect”.]

    Most likely he meant effect – the verb, not the noun.

  168. R Frimer himself noted:

    “This paper is dedicated to the memory of imi morati haRabbanit Esther Miriam Frimer a”h – the first Orthodox Feminist in my life. I would like to publicly thank (in alphabetical order) Maier Becker, R. Dov Frimer, R. Shael Frimer, Joseph Kaplan, Rachel Levmore, Menachem Malkosh, Joel Rich, David Schaps, Shira Leibowitz Schmidt, Uriella Shames, Risa Tsohar, R. Eli Turkel and Joel B. Wolowelsky for reviewing earlier versions of the manuscript and for their constructive criticism and perceptive comments. The author, however, bears sole responsibility for the final product”

    Assuming that a reviewer of an early draft has received the Torah Mi Sinai of the author’s opinion, especially in the light of the last sentence, and in the absence of any specific mention of a particular content of a reviewer of an early draft, IMO is an extraordinarily dubious POV. To the contrary, the same in no way grants such a person an either a POV that is either objective or an insider’s. In the most objective sense, such a person was part of a dialogue that the author conducted , but yet came to his own conclusions.

    I would maintain that any reader of R Frimer’s writings is as entitled to express a POV as to what he or she thinks of the article and R Frimer’s evolution over the years. Denial of such a concept is IMO an unfair limitation on the right of any reader to express his or her own POV, regardless of the popularity of the same.

  169. One of many possible examples: The fact that the ban on polygamy started in a place where the majoirty culture was monogamous has “nothing to do with sociology or psychology?”

  170. Emma wrote:

    “One of many possible examples: The fact that the ban on polygamy started in a place where the majoirty culture was monogamous has “nothing to do with sociology or psychology?”

    Using your approach-the Halacha LiMoshe MiSinai of Lavud was developed post facto to the absence of trees in the Land of Israel. WADR, looking at such factors is historically interesting, but neither the stuff of how Lomdus is defined, halachically determinative nor terribly informative.

  171. For more on the interaction between authors and those who they mistakenly anticipate support the main thesis of their work, see the following link. https://www.torahmusings.com/2007/06/on-expanding-palace-ii/

  172. Steve, let it go. All Joseph Kaplan was saying with the footnote comment was that he is familiar w R. Frimmer’s work. He did not claim any infallible ability to interpret that work or trends within it – that’s why he asked R. Frimmer a question. You are still entitled to your opinion, but it is strange to insist that Joseph Kaplan has to care about your opinion as to what R. Frimmer thinks as a substitute for R. Frimmer’s own enunciation of same.

  173. Steve b. – you did not answer emma’s simple question.

  174. Emma-I consider the subject of R Frimmer’s evolution closed.

    Ruvie-I think that if one grasps the fact that there are indeed diffferent schools of thought re Psak, and the different views of various Gdolim on many Halachic issues, then I answered your mutual inquiries.

  175. ““accepted psak” was that way forever and immutable”

    See anyone not do business with lo Yehudim Dec 24 or Dec 23?

  176. “More fundamentally, since when does writing a footnote imply that the author agreed with all, some or any of the contentions of the author of the footnote, unless stated speficially?”

    Emma, thank you for your response to this. You saved me the trouble.

  177. Steve
    How does “I think that if one grasps the fact that there are indeed diffferent schools of thought re Psak, and the different views of various Gdolim on many Halachic issues, then I answered your mutual inquiries.” explain what it is to be objective?

  178. Steve
    How does “I think that if one grasps the fact that there are indeed diffferent schools of thought re Psak, and the different views of various Gdolim on many Halachic issues, then I answered your mutual inquiries.” explain what it is to be objective?

  179. “I would maintain that any reader of R Frimer’s writings is as entitled to express a POV as to what he or she thinks of the article and R Frimer’s evolution over the years. Denial of such a concept is IMO an unfair limitation on the right of any reader to express his or her own POV, regardless of the popularity of the same.”

    Steve, I wouldn’t think of limiting or denying your right to express any POV you want. I just wanted to say that when I asked R. Frimer a specific question I was (and still am) interested in his answer; I really wasn’t looking for your answer nor do I care about your answer or POV. But please, feel free to answer and comment all you want (not that you need my permission to do so).

  180. “However, as just noted, many Modern Orthodox spokesmen have publicly pointed out the faults and failings of the Radical Feminists, and chastised those responsible. I have seen no comparable honest soul-searching on the right – or in R. Kobre’s extensive writings – regarding Haredi authors’ blatant misrepresentation of biographical facts.”

    As one who knew Eytan Kobre decades ago and last met himless than a month ago-I find his writings at times may not appear to show the fine mensch that I personally believe him to be.

  181. First, allow me to note that there is a 7hr time difference between Israel and the US. I sometimes sleep…

    Emma 12:04 PM: Thanks for your wonderful presentation of prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz’s position on Feminism and Halakha.

    Ruvie 2:15: Tough questions can’t be answered within a few lines. But I have done my best to deal with the question of of the Halakhic Process and the search for truth in the following articles cited below.
    (1) “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
    (2) “On Understanding and Compassion in Pesak Halakha – A Rejoinder,” Aryeh A. Frimer, JOFA Journal, 5:3, p. 6 (Winter 2005/Tevet-Shvat 5765). PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/JOFAWinter%20pdf.pdf.
    (3) “Guarding the Treasure: A Review of Tamar Ross, Expanding the Palace of the King –Orthodoxy and Feminism,” Aryeh A. Frimer, BDD – Journal of Torah and Scholarship, 18, English section, pp. 67-106 (April 2007) – Section III and IV. PDF file of the as published article available online at http://www.jofa.org/pdf/uploaded/1206-DQLN0171.pdf; PDF file of the as submitted article available online at http://www.lookstein.org/articles/treasure_frimer.pdf.

  182. Joseph Kaplan and Steve Brizel,
    I highly value both your opinions. My theoretical views have not changed. But practically, I am now much more cautious and convinced that the Rav JB Soloveitchik’s conservatism was not unjustified. Unfortunately, the cutting edge of Feminism is in many cases not interested in Halakha. This saddens me a great deal and I sometimes feel betrayed.
    I continue to support women’s prayer groups, provided they are done properly [Absolutely no devarim she-bikedusha or birkhot haTorah or birkhot Haftara]. But I am aware that they may well have lead into partnership Minyanim which I emphatically against. But I do see their redeeming value for nahat ruach.
    As Far as the RIETS Psak on WTG, it was clear to me that this was a public Policy Decision which they couched in Halakhic terms. That is why the Rav refused to sign. For him Psak is Psak and Halakha is Halakha. It is undoubtedly the community Rabbis job to be concerned about the communal spiritual welfare. In the long run, perhaps the psak was justified. But they erred in misrepresenting their decision as a halakhic one. Dov and I did our best to set the record straight.

  183. In my previous response
    “For him Psak is Psak and Halakha is Halakha.”

    Should have been
    For him Public Policy is Public Policy and Halakha is Halakha.

  184. In my response from 3:19AM:
    “Unfortunately, the cutting edge of Feminism is in many cases not interested in Halakha.” See “Feminist Innovations in Orthodoxy Today: Is Everything in Halakha – Halakhic?” Aryeh A. Frimer, JOFA Journal, 5:2, pp. 3-5 (Summer 2004/Tammuz 5764). PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/JOFASummerFinal1.pdf

    “But I do see THEIR redeeming value for nahat ruach.”
    I was referring to Women’s tefilla Groups

  185. “That is why the Rav refused to sign. For him Psak is Psak and Halakha is Halakha. It is undoubtedly the community Rabbis job to be concerned about the communal spiritual welfare.”

    The Rav at times refused to pasken even for close talmidim certain specific local issues-he would say to them you are there I’m not-he would even offer to review the relevant sources with the talmid but at the end he felt certain issues must be answered by the local Rav.
    The Rav certainly believed in authority of local Rabbanus.

  186. The Rav clearly felt that the local Rabbanim were on the front lines and should make the final determination on whether a situation needed to be attenuated by Public policy or she’at ha-dehak considerations. However, when it came to radical changes from genrations of synagogue practice, he wanted to be consulted. The latter cases required one with broad shoulders and vision. Religious sincerity desrves nothing less. Not every rabbi is a Posek.

  187. Thank you Aryeh for your response.

  188. R Aryeh-thank you for your response. I will let the reader judge for himself or herself whether R Frimer’s writings have evolved since the publication of his original article in Tradition with his critiques of feminists expressed in JOFA’s publications and elsewhere.The bottom line IMO remains whether Nachas Ruach, unaccompanied by a committment to Halacha and Mesorah, has any value in its own right or is merely feminist code.

  189. R’ Frimer: Thank you for your emotional honesty on the issue.

    R’ Gil: Perhaps a future (guest) post could talk about objectivity in psak?

  190. “I continue to support women’s prayer groups”

    Taking the adice of your own post, given the evidence that women’s prayer groups generally do not provide nahat ruah to the younger generation of women, what alternative would you propose or support, if any?

  191. Re: Leibowitz

    See here, where in a letter, Leibowitz is of the opinion that it should be possible to allow Women’s aliyot (in Hebrew):

    http://www.tapuz.co.il/Forums2008/Faq/Question.aspx?ForumId=241&qId=22899

  192. Just as an aside, I think that all our efforts and attention w/regard to women need to be the “moderate majority” which is split between halacha and their own spiritual needs. There’s no point in debating radicals, no matter what side they’re on. We can only try to sway the undecided to more moderate positions.

  193. Dear AIWAC,
    Thanks for the Leibowitz source. His assumption that Kevod haTsibbur is a social-secular concept is in error. Please read sources 3d and 3e. Prof. Leibowitz was a creative philosopher, not a posek.

  194. Dear Emma,
    There is nothing like a women’s prayer group for celebrating rites of transition. Women’s Megilla readings are also of immense value. And then there is limmud hatorah – lilmod u-lelamed – of which the Rov was very supportive.

  195. R. Frimer,

    My point was not that Leibowitz is right, just that he is not necessarily an ilan on which you would wish to be nitlah.

  196. Emma-I agree with R Aryeh re women’s learning, whether at seminaries, SCW , graduate work or neighborhood shiurim-which in at least one shul in my neihghborhood, are given by women and are open to men and women.

  197. “given the evidence that women’s prayer groups generally do not provide nahat ruah to the younger generation of women”

    Many younger women I’ve spoken to, including some who celebrated rites of passage in WTGs and had a great deal of hakarat hatov to them, became, as they grew older, more uncomfortable with them because of the forced nature of some of the ways they are set up. They immediately felt at home in Shirah Chadasha.

  198. “Aryeh Frimer on August 24, 2011 at 3:22 am
    In my previous response
    “For him Psak is Psak and Halakha is Halakha.”

    Should have been
    For him Public Policy is Public Policy and Halakha is Halakha”

    Not necessarily so-there are certainly living very close talmidim of the Rav who have stated that they are not sure the Rav would pasken the same way today that someone should rather not hear shofar on Rosh Hashana than enter a mixed seating synagogue just to hear shofar. This living person stated it is likely that the Rav ruled that way when it was not so clear as today that Orthodox Jewry can’t accept mixed pews. Certainly public policy-person to the best of my knowledge never was a pulpit Rabbi but was a RY.

  199. “Steve Brizel on August 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm
    Emma-I agree with R Aryeh re women’s learning, whether at seminaries, SCW , graduate work or neighborhood shiurim-which in at least one shul in my neihghborhood, are given by women and are open to men and women.”

    Sadly YU in my general neighborhood ran a satellite Kollel Yom Rishon and one of the guest speakers was a women talking about the Sreidei Eish-only women were invited!!!

  200. “Aryeh Frimer on August 24, 2011 at 6:34 am
    The Rav clearly felt that the local Rabbanim were on the front lines and should make the final determination on whether a situation needed to be attenuated by Public policy or she’at ha-dehak considerations.”
    Agreed

    ” However, when it came to radical changes from genrations of synagogue practice, he wanted to be consulted. ”

    The Rav was opposed more than mostto changes in synagogue practice-I know a living ex synagogue Rabbi who is currently in chinuch, In the mid late 70s some women in his then schul wanted to start a WTG in schul-he asked the Rav who told him in schul he can’t allow it-the Rav proceeded to add despite not being asked “if they want to meet outside of schul you need no oppose it”
    The Rav offeredto come to the Rabbis schul and speak about it-but since the Rav was not that young then-now his then age does not seem that old to me-, The Rabbi thanked the Rav but told the Rav Rebbe your psak is all that I need. The Rabbi told me in retrospect he wished that he ahd invitedtheRav -he would have heard a clear delination of the Ravs viewpoints istead of the current debates of what they were.
    The latter cases required one with broad shoulders and vision. Religious sincerity desrves nothing less. Not every rabbi is a Posek

  201. Joseph Kaplan on August 24, 2011 at 7:28 pm
    “Many younger women I’ve spoken to, including some who celebrated rites of passage in WTGs and had a great deal of hakarat hatov to them, became, as they grew older, more uncomfortable with them because of the forced nature of some of the ways they are set up. They immediately felt at home in Shirah Chadasha”

    How truly ironic! They rejected WT groups because it seemed forced, but warmly accepted Shira Chadasha which the overwhelming number of poskim maintain is against Halakha! This is another example of “If it feels good, it must be good.” Not a very halakhic approach! Something has gone very much awry in our education for this to happen.

  202. The genie is not going back into the bottle. Partnership Minyanim are the successful product of the long search for finding a hashkaficly Orthodox balance between Halacha and modernity. It is becoming more mainstream day after day.

    If R. Frimer was correct in the concluding sentences of his last comment, those involved would just move to complete egalitarianism, which they have not. Those who chose these minyanim continue to consider themselves Orthodox. That R. Frimer disapproves is no more relevant than R. Kobre’s disapproval of him.

  203. ” Unfortunately, the cutting edge of Feminism is in many cases not interested in Halakha. ”

    Obvious to a child of 2 in grade 6.

  204. “Not every rabbi is a Posek”
    Everyone is a posek-see eg kashrus, Taharas Hamishpacha etc-just major policy decisions and cases of importance eg ishus most Rabbonim won’t touch.

  205. IH
    That R. Frimer disapproves is no more relevant than R. Kobre’s disapproval of him.

    I disapprove, because of my own extensive analysis, which IY’H will be published shortly. But primarily because that is the view of the overwhelming consensus of all the poskim – including modern orthodox gedolim. Which renowned Posek supports Partnership minyanim?

  206. R. Frimer — Those to your right, say the same thing (to you) and pose the same question about any number of issues that divide the MO world from the Yeshivish/Charedi world.

  207. Dear IH,
    I’d be pleased to call your bluff. Give me an issue on which some of the gedolei haposkim have not ruled in support of normative Modern Orthodox practice. When it comes women’s aliyyot, these gedolim simply don’t exist.

  208. Please remind me which MO posek speaks at the Daf Yomi siyum, for instance. Let’s not play games, please.

  209. I’m nowhere near caught up on comments but I saw this most recent one. It is the *Agudath Israel of America* Daf Yomi siyum.

  210. IH,
    Your ducking. I want an example of something that Normative Modern Orthodox Judaism considers perfectly Halakhic, on which there is not some Bona Fide Gadol which has come out to support or justify it.

  211. R. Frimer — no, you’re missing the point. Partnership Minyanim are the successful product of the long search for finding a hashkaficly Orthodox balance between Halacha and modernity. It is becoming more mainstream day after day amongst the Modern Orthodox amcha. MO is not going to disown it’s amcha.

  212. “overwhelming consensus of all the poskim – including modern orthodox gedolim. ” – could the same not be said about women’s prayer groups? (that the “overwhelming consensus” of modern orthodox (and other) “gedolim” is against them?)

  213. Emma wrote: “could the same not be said about women’s prayer groups?” Having written a 150 page article on the subject, I can tell you that you are not accurate. See: “Women’s Prayer Services: Theory and Practice. Part 1 – Theory,” Aryeh A. Frimer and Dov I. Frimer, Tradition, 32:2, pp. 5-118 (Winter 1998). PDF File available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/Batch%201/0021.pdf; HTML file available at: http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/english/tfila/frimmer1.htm#start; Word file available at: http://mj.bu.edu/rsrc/MailJewish/MjReaderContributions/WmnSrvRev15-1.doc.

  214. IH wrote: “It is becoming more mainstream day after day amongst the Modern Orthodox amcha. MO is not going to disown it’s amcha.”

    I challenge your numbers and prognosis. They said the same thing about Conservative Judaism. The latter is stagnating badly while orthodxy thrives. Besides a split in Modern Orthodoxy is unfortunately looming and a new “Conservadox” Jewry may be in the Wings.

    I do my best to avoid prophecy – and try to be loyal to halakha. The rest I leave to the One Above.

  215. IH wrote: “Partnership Minyanim are the successful product of the long search for finding a hashkaficly Orthodox balance between Halacha and modernity.”

    I repeat my charge: If it’s so halakhic, why is their NO renowned Posek who supports them.

  216. R’ Josh,
    Thank you very much for correcting my linguistic error. I didn’t realize effect can also be a verb. I guess my English skills are *rusty* and need polishing [-“lashon nofel al lashon”, given that R. Frimer, shlit”a, teaches oxygen chemistry.]

    R’ Steve Brizel,
    Ye’yasher kochakha on all your points, which are all well taken (as always), and all enhance the honor of the Torah. At the same time, just to make the shakla ve-tarya complete, regarding your illuminating comment Aug. 23 at 6:20 p.m., Emma might respond that there is a difference between Lavud [Halakhah li-Mosheh mi-Sinai, universally accepted] and Rabbeinu Gershom’s enactment [not universally accepted (Shulchan Arukh Even Ha’ezer 1:9 and Shu”t Yabi’a Omer OC 9:85:21).] I’m not saying I’m necessarily a polygamy advocate. To me, the only polygamy of interest is to learn many tractates of Sha”s (as per the gemara in Eruvin 53b that each tractate of Sha”s one studies counts as another marriage, and the gemara in Bava Batra 58a that the greatest beauty in the universe is the sparkling beauty of the Shekhinah). Still, in defense of Emma, I just wanted to point to this possible distinction between Lavud and Rabbeinu Gershom. There we go… ve’amekh kulam tzaddikim… everyone emerges a winner from this discussion…

  217. R. Frimmer, I know that you are the expert here. I guess what I mean is that while it may not be true that “not a single gadol” permits WTGs that does not mean that the “overwhelming consensus” does not forbid. In fact, many people believe the consensus is strongly against WTGs, that people like you rely on problematic minority opinions in a results-oriented process, etc. Your answer is that they are wrong on the facts, but reasonable people seem to disagree on that. If so the difference between WTG and partnership minyanim is perhaps one of degree, not kind?

  218. Emma, your question is astute as ever. Yes, I would say that the majority of poskim were against WTG for public policy reasons. But if you read my article you will some “very heavy hitters” who will support WTG if they are leShem Shamayyim. But that’s a very far cry from partnership minyanim where the overwhelming majority oppose them on Halakhic grounds. I use the term overwhelming because life has taught me to be cautious. But I am still waiting for someone to stand up and say that these and these Gedolim support women’s aliyyot. I would also recommend reading my piece below about what it means to act halakhically: “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

  219. “The genie is not going back into the bottle. Partnership Minyanim are the successful product of the long search for finding a hashkaficly Orthodox balance between Halacha and modernity. It is becoming more mainstream day after day” – IH

    “Dear IH,
    I’d be pleased to call your bluff. Give me an issue on which some of the gedolei haposkim have not ruled in support of normative Modern Orthodox practice. When it comes women’s aliyyot, these gedolim simply don’t exist.” – Rabbi Aryeh Frimer

    “Please remind me which MO posek speaks at the Daf Yomi siyum, for instance. Let’s not play games, please.” – IH

    “I’m nowhere near caught up on comments but I saw this most recent one. It is the *Agudath Israel of America* Daf Yomi siyum.” – Reb Gil

    “IH,
    Your ducking. I want an example of something that Normative Modern Orthodox Judaism considers perfectly Halakhic, on which there is not some Bona Fide Gadol which has come out to support or justify it.” – Rabbi Aryeh Frimer

    “Partnership Minyanim are the successful product of the long search for finding a hashkaficly Orthodox balance between Halacha and modernity. It is becoming more mainstream day after day amongst the Modern Orthodox amcha. MO is not going to disown it’s amcha.” – IH

    LOL! A classic exchange with IH on Hirhurim

  220. Rafael — I so rarely see Charedim smiling, I’m pleased I made you laugh. But, please do quote the full context. The last response is missing the key opening:

    “R. Frimer — no, you’re missing the point. Partnership Minyanim are the successful product of the long search for finding a hashkaficly Orthodox balance between Halacha and modernity. It is becoming more mainstream day after day amongst the Modern Orthodox amcha. MO is not going to disown it’s amcha.”

  221. orthodox feminist

    You all know and agree that “the halakhah” is a fabrication of human beings, not a divine gift. Giving women equal rights is a just plain good idea and “the halakhah” ought to accommodate it, except that the good old rabbis want to keep their boys clubs segregated. Change and accommodation are good things, not bad. Bravo to Frimer for a massive investment of time and energy. He’s on the one yard line and now needs to rush just one more yard for the touchdown. Go team.

  222. “Hirhurim on August 25, 2011 at 9:02 am
    I’m nowhere near caught up on comments but I saw this most recent one. It is the *Agudath Israel of America* Daf Yomi siyum””

    Agreed thats why I never understood the hue and cry that this MO Rabbi etc was not given proper Kavod ath the Daf Siyyum.Itis an Agudah production. Daf Yomi is an Agudah project-they’ll let anyone study-even Mycroft did over a cycle of it-including for a few years often went to shiur at Agudah headquarters before and after fire at William St. They were always hospitable to someone who certainly didn’t dress as if I were from their machene.
    One would not expect the DNC to give the Chairman of the RNC a prize seat at their convention or vice versa.

  223. orthodox feminist on August 25, 2011 at 7:12 pm
    You all know and agree that “the halakhah” is a fabrication of human beings, not a divine gift.

    As one who also calls himself an Orthodox Feminist, I am frothing at the mouth. As an Orthodox Jew, I disagree with nearly every word in your post. Halakha is not a “fabrication”. You seem to deny the divine validity of Torah she-be’al peh, of the Kelalei haDerash, Mitsvot Asei she-hazeman Geramman. If you were trying to get a “rise” out of me – by golly, you succeeded. I strongly suggest you read my Review of Prof. Tamar Ross’s book:
    “Guarding the Treasure: A Review of Tamar Ross, Expanding the Palace of the King –Orthodoxy and Feminism,” 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.pdf; PDF file of the as submitted article available online at http://www.lookstein.org/articles/treasure_frimer.pdf.

  224. “Rafael — I so rarely see Charedim smiling…”

    Is that usually after you’ve cut them off in traffic? 🙂

  225. “You all know and agree that “the halakhah” is a fabrication of human beings, not a divine gift. Giving women equal rights is a just plain good idea and “the halakhah” ought to accommodate it, except that the good old rabbis want to keep their boys clubs segregated. Change and accommodation are good things, not bad. Bravo to Frimer for a massive investment of time and energy. He’s on the one yard line and now needs to rush just one more yard for the touchdown. Go team.”

    Could this be a real orthodox feminist, or a Chareidi agent provacateur?

  226. R’ Aryeh, take a very deep breath. You’ve heard of internet trolls, haven’t you? Well, now you’ve met one (virtually, that is). [Non-]Orthodox Feminist doesn’t deserve your time or your frothing.

  227. R Aryeh-welcome to the world of PC feminism, where if you don’t agree with every contention and conclusion advanced by radical egalitarian feminists, you can’t possibly be a feminist.

  228. lawrence kaplan

    That “Orthodox feminist” is a troll is clear– except to Steve Brizel. I tend to lean to the view expressed by Rafael Araujo that “she” (most likely “he”) is a Haredi agent provacateur.

  229. As per a recent conversation with Eytan Kobre, I expressed my POV that his article expressed a common Charedi perspective which minimized the role of RYBS as a Gadol HaDor, who was viewed such by his contemporaries such as RAK and RMF, as opposed to merely a leader of MO, regardless of whether Mr. Kobre and others whose parents attended his shiurim, who might have some of RYBS’s writings in their home and who refuse to allow his Gadlus to be belittled by their children. WADR to Mr. Kobre, one cannot have it both ways.

    With respect to that portion of my 8.23.11 comment that viewed Mr. Kobre’ views as being dismissive of MO in general, I apologize for such a generalized perspective, and with respect to the issue at hand, namely WTGs, etc,, which many and myself view as hardly the defining factor of a committed MO Jew. I believe that R Frimer has superbly summarized the issues. I look forward to an article by Mr. Kobre in which he describes his tour of the RIETS Beis Medrash and his discussions with some of its RY, and/or a Shabbos in a committed MO community.

  230. Perhaps I am too late (I was on vacation), but I feel compelled to respond to this:

    Tal Benschar, there are three major schools regarding women and Minya. The Gra belongs to the second school – maintaining that women never count for a minyan. But the majority hold like the first or third school which maintain that women count whenever they are obligated equally with men, or when the purpose of the minyan is to publicize. PLEASE read: Aryeh A. Frimer, “Women and Minyan,” Tradition, 23:4, 54-77 (Summer 1988). PDF file available online at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/Batch%201/0019.pdf (PDF). It’s all in there

    I cannot concur with your exposition of the three schools. As I have pointed out, Rashi expressly holds, like the Gra, that a minyan for the mitzvah deoraysa of kiddush Hashem (i.e. martyrdom) is not a function of being obligated in that mitzvah. This is why he holds that while a ben-Noach might be obligated in Kiddush Hashem, that would only be in the presence of ten Jews.

    All of the views of the “First School” are acharonim. That counts for little when their view contradicts the view of Rishonim.

    For that matter, IMO, the view of the “First School” contradicts the gemara. The gemara in Sanhedrin states that it is “peshita” that pharhesya must consist of Jews. It then answers a query of whether 9 Jews and 1 non-jews would be sufficient in the negative, citing with the famous double gezeira shaveh of Toch Toch, Edah Edah. So the gemara clearly states that a “minyan” for that purpose must be 10 Jews.

    Yet the very next part of the gemara asks whether non-jews are obligated in Kiddush Hashem. (Acc. to Rashi, this question was never answered.) The gemara’s question makes absolutely no sense acc. to the “First School” — if counting for a minyan is a function of obligation in the mitzvah, the gemara just ruled that non-Jews do not count — not even 1 out of 10! This seems clear proof that the two issues (counting for the 10 and obligation) are independent.

    As for the “Third School,” they are discussing pirsumei nissah, which is a completely different concept than a minyan. (I am a bit dubious that the number 10 has any meaning in that context. Generally there the idea is that more is better. That is why it is preferable to hear megillah in a large shul with 100s of people than a small minyan of 10.)

    The reason I am harping on this is that the “minyan” of Kiddush Hashem is deoraysa. The minyan of davar she be kedusha is derabbanan, and is clearly patterned after the former — the gemara in Megillah even cites the very same gezeirah shaveh as does the gemara in Sanhedrin, even though, as the Ran states, davar she be kedushah is a derabbanan halakha. So kol de tikkun rabbanan ke-ein deoraysa tikkun.

  231. Tal Benschar writes: “All of the views of the “First School” are acharonim”
    Did you read the paper cited? You seem to have skipped over the view cited by Meiri that women count whenever Hayyavot, The Ran Meiri, Sefer haMikhtam and other Rishonim that hold that women count for a minyan by Megilla because they are Hayyavot like men. Furthermore, had you read the paper you would see the reasons for the difference between the Minyan of Kiddush Hashem (which is DeOraita and where women count according to many many poskim) and Tefilla Betsibbur (which is derabanan and the Derasha is an asmakhta) Where they don’t at all. The guiding principal for the first school is Hiyyuv. Read the article please.

  232. R. Frimer: I read the paper, thank you. WADR, your response is avoiding the question. Can you cite a single Rishon that holds that women count for a minyan with respect to Kiddush Hashem (martyrdom)? Or that minyan in that context is in any way related to obligation in that mitzvah?

    (Whether there are derabban’s, like the berachos of Megillah, that include both the concept of 10 and the concept of obligation is interesting, but besides the point. To some extent, this may relate to the machlokes of Rashi and R. Tam about whether to recite a davar she be kedushah, it is enough for a single person who has not yet davened to recite them before 10, or whether you need a majority of the 10 to be obligated now, e.g. not davened already. R. Tam’s requirement that a majority be obligated now — concurred in by the Rambam — seems to indicate that there is something more than merely reciting davar sh bekedusha in front of an audience of 10.)

  233. Tal Benschar wrote: “Can you cite a single Rishon that holds that women count for a minyan with respect to Kiddush Hashem (martyrdom)? Or that minyan in that context is in any way related to obligation in that mitzvah?”

    In all honesty, I cannot. All I have are the Rishonim I cited above that state that the rules of minyan are guided by obligation. If you insist on separating kiddush Hashem from all other Minyan requiring rituals because it is de-oraita and they are derabbanan, then you cannot then come back and try to learn anything from kiddush hashem to these rituals. They may use the same derasha – but one is a real derash (KH) while the other is merely an asmakhta. Hazal borrowed the concept of MInyan by KH and applied it to Rabbinic rituals. So says the Ran explicitly. Hence the rules may be different. All the rest is in the article.

  234. Since I see this issue is being discussed in the other thread, I will continue it there.

  235. I want to thank all those who commented on my paper and took part in the lively discussion. Yiyasher Kokhakhem le-Oraita! Besides, I learned what an internet troll is (:-)! Hodesh tov.

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