Announcement: RIETS Yarchei Kallah

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

RIETS Yarchei Kallah

Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 25-27
Doubletree Hotel, Somerset, NJ

Concurrent shiurim at different levels
Beit midrash with YU students

Fascinating presentations by R. Meir Goldwicht, R. Yaakov Neuberger, R. Yona Reiss, R. Hershel Schachter, R. Zvi Sobolofsky, Rebbetzin Peshy Neuberger, R. Menachem Penner, and Rebbetzin Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky

Special Motzei Shabbat with recreation and inspiration

Kumsitz with Rabbis Mordechai and Simcha Willig

For more information, please call (212) 568-7439 or e-mail [email protected]

About Gil Student

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


  1. More disappearing women?

  2. Nothing has changed since the last time that argument was debunked:

  3. I don’t see any comments there, debunking or not.

  4. We discussed it somewhere, maybe in the comments to the News section.

  5. The debunking is that nine speakers are listed, and six are depicted. That leaves over 3 who were not. Two of them are women, and one is a man.

  6. Ye’yasher kochakha R’ J. and respondents. In my opinion, there is a real halakhic reason for the stringency to omit a representation of the nashim tzidkaniyot who will be speaking, since those nashim tzidkaniyot are married ladies. And why does this make a difference? Because the gemara in Ketubot 17a prohibits a gentleman (other than the husband) from looking at a married lady. In fact, some poskim even hold this is a problem for the witnesses of kiddushin, and therefore claim that the witnesses only look at the veil, not the lady herself (-see Artscroll there in Ketubot 17a for extensive references). I appreciate not all poskim agree with this approach (-see the scholarly debate in Tradition between R. Yehudah Herzl Henkin, shlit”a, and R. Emanuel Feldman, shlit”a, on the role of habituation in Halakhah, both of whom are tzaddikim gemurim), but it is founded on a real sugya and it certainly seems reasonable for the organizers at Yeshiva University to be sensitive to the stringent opinion in order to accommodate the sensitivities of those who are unusually stringent. As the gemara in Bava Batra 58a states that the greatest beauty in the universe is the sparkling beauty of the Shekhinah, this is the aesthetic experience that the organizers of the Yarchei Kallah want gentlemen to experience when they see the poster.

    However, that said, there is definitely an obligation to give honor to the nashim tzidkaniyot, and I see no reason that they should be second-class speakers (chas ve-shalom) compared to the gentlemen speakers. [On the contrary, the gemara in Niddah 45b states that ladies are endowed with greater understanding that gentlemen. Thus, the lady speakers are the first class speakers, ashreinu she-zakinu le-kakh.] Therefore, to be perfectly egalitarian, I recommend that all future signs omit pictures of all human beings, ladies as well as gentlemen. This way, everyone receives equal treatment, and kevod ha-beriyot is championed.

  7. I also note that RMF (IM OC 1:40) was sensitive to the stringent opinion. He recommends that when a moreh hora’ah is asked a halakhic question by a lady [-I assume he means a married lady, though I admit I am placing words in RMF’s mouth], the moreh hora’ah should look in the other direction while talking to her.
    Apparently, this is based on the gemara in Ketubot 17a. Thus, Yeshiva University deserves congratulations for accommodating the stringent opinion in the formulation of its sign, even if other poskim disagree.

    Indeed, I will take this opportunity to note (in an effort to defuse a tense international conflict surrounding Iran) that it emerges that Mohammed wasn’t the first human being to think of the concept of separation between married ladies and gentlemen. He actually borrowed his ideas from the Sages of the Talmud. I call on all Iranians (who are devotees of Mohammed) to take this to heart, and to therefore realize that it is time for them to abandon their ill-advised pursuit of nuclear weapons (as the Sages of the Talmud require; see Contemporary Halakhic Problems Vol. 3 by J. David Bleich, first chapter, on the prohibition against nuclear war).

  8. RSS, After my initial reaction to the opening part of your comment (i.e., what world does he live in, and whatever it is, what world does he think the vast majority of this blog’s readership lives in?), I then read this at the end: “Therefore, to be perfectly egalitarian, I recommend that all future signs omit pictures of all human beings, ladies as well as gentlemen. This way, everyone receives equal treatment, and kevod ha-beriyot is championed.” For someone who believes in what you initially wrote, this idea is quite impressive.

  9. We discussed this- YU has a database of standard pictures, which include all Roshei Yeshiva (who are all men) and many women, who you can see on various posters and emails they send out, as well on their website. They don’t have the women here; hence no picture. Note that R’ Willig is one of two men at the bottom and the other isn’t pictured.

  10. “However, that said, there is definitely an obligation to give honor to the nashim tzidkaniyot, and I see no reason that they should be second-class speakers (chas ve-shalom) compared to the gentlemen speakers”

    if one can’t look at a picture of a woman, surely one can’t go hear her speak and potentially c”v see her. I suppose it’s best if women not go hear the men’s lectures either (lest the male speaker and men in the audience see the women in the audience), so it all works out on the egalitarianism front.

  11. Thank you, R’ Joseph Kaplan, for your kind words. [Thanks, also, R’ Nachum and R’ cp.] Indeed, your illuminating response raises essential questions: how could society possibly function if gentlemen never look at married ladies? I myself was educated in a Jewish day school (-a marvelous one at that) where my best teachers (both in elementary and secondary school) were indeed married ladies. Did I never look at my teachers? Surely, that would be pedagogically counterproductive, and so further elaboration on my previous comment is needed.

    RMF in YD 2:109 allows gentlemen and ladies to meet and converse together in a corporate meeting hall. I take it for granted (-although again I am placing words in RMF’s mouth) that RMF means that the gentlemen will look at the married ladies while speaking to them.

    Similarly, RMF in YD 3:73 allows ladies to teach gentlemen in a Jewish day school. I presume (-although again I am placing words in RMF’s mouth) that RMF means that the gentlemen students will actually look at the teacher.

    Evidently, when there is a functional necessity, a gentlemen may momentarily glance at a married lady. The source for this principle is apparently the gemara in Sotah 21b which authorizes (and indeed obligates) a gentleman to look at a lady in order to save her from drowning. It is not because of piku’ach nefesh that this is allowed, since the gemara in Sanhedrin 75a indicates that a gentleman may not look at a lady even for piku’ach nefesh. Rather, it is because there is a functional necessity; without looking at the lady, the gentleman will not be able to properly extricate the lady from the water. Thus, a momentary glance that serves a utilitarian goal is permissible.

    As such, participating in a corporate meeting where married ladies are executive officers, or in a classroom setting where married ladies serve as teachers, is permissible since any glace at the married lady occurs for a utilitarian purpose.

    However, when a married lady asks a moreh hora’ah a question (e.g. whether to repeat the amidah on account of omitting ya’aleh ve’yavo), RMF apparently felt that – generally speaking – the moreh hora’ah can just as competently answer the question without seeing the interlocutor. So he recommended looking the other way. More significantly, at a wedding, the gentlemen can dance in front of the lady without actually needing to see the lady. And thus the gemara requires the gentlemen to look the other way. And some will claim even the witnesses of kiddushin can avoid seeing the lady by simply focusing on the veil.

    Thus, the Yeshiva University question reduces to the following investigation: can the Thanksgiving weekend be just as functionally announced without actually publicizing a representation of the married ladies who will serve as speakers?

    Again (-and I thank R’ Joseph Kaplan for the encouragement), while I congratulate Yeshiva University on the beautiful poster for this year’s event, I would recommend that for next year, there should be one standard for all: either we say there is a functional necessity for every speaker’s representation to be publicly manifest, and all the pictures should be there, or we say that the conference can be just as competently planned with no representation manifest, and no pictures should be there. I am inclined toward the latter option.

  12. “YU has a database of standard pictures…”

    This rationale is wearing thin. Just about everyone that speaks these days has a headshot they can e-mail to the organizer in mins.

  13. It also seems, btw, that Rebbetzin Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky is (or recently was) “Director of Yeshiva University’s innovative YU Connects program” so the fables YU database would include her, no?

  14. Well, I looked them up on YU Torah. They have pictures of Penner and Neuberger, but not Sobolofsky or S. Willig.

  15. Lawrence Kaplan

    I just saw this shabbat a brochure for the YU program in Teaneck. There were pictures of all the participants, including Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky and Dr. Rena Novik. This idea that YU material, in principle, does not include pictures of women is absurd. This is a non-issue.

  16. Well, then they obviously had a photographs they didn’t use. Perhaps this is simply the application of different approaches for different market segments, as any professional marketing department would employ.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

The latest weekly digest is also available by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter