R Aryeh Frimer / I continue to be amazed each time a very old fact is resurrected and rehashed, and presented if it were a brand-new piece of evidence. This time it was Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative), who cited a 1471 siddur transcribed by the scribe, polemicist and geographer R. Abraham Farissol for an Italian patroness. This siddur, that has been known and studied for decades, contains the text: “she-asatani isha ve-lo ish – who has created me a woman and not a man.” Schonfeld goes as far as to maintain that “[this] siddur has revealed an early example of egalitarian Jewish prayer, presenting historical attempts to battle gender inequality… This Siddur proves that the degrading attitudes towards women, which we are seeing in certain extreme religious communities in Israel today, are a modern distortion of Judaism.”

She-lo Asani Isha Revisited, Once Again!

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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: bermanshul.org/frimer.

I continue to be amazed each time a very old fact is resurrected and rehashed, and presented if it were a brand-new piece of evidence. This time it was Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative), who cited a 1471 siddur transcribed by the scribe, polemicist and geographer R. Abraham Farissol for an Italian patroness. This siddur, that has been known and studied for decades, contains the text: “she-asatani isha ve-lo ish – who has created me a woman and not a man.” Schonfeld goes as far as to maintain that “[this] siddur has revealed an early example of egalitarian Jewish prayer, presenting historical attempts to battle gender inequality… This Siddur proves that the degrading attitudes towards women, which we are seeing in certain extreme religious communities in Israel today, are a modern distortion of Judaism.” (link).

Schonfeld’s statement is astounding for a variety of reasons:

It is not at all clear as to why Schonfeld considers the benediction “she-lo asani isha” a reflection of inauthentic Judaism. On the contrary, there is no doubt as to the authenticity of the text of this benediction – since it appears thrice in Rabbinic literature: in the Tosefta, the Talmud Bavli and the Yerushalmi.[1] Despite the fact that all Jews share the same level of kedushat Yisrael (Jewish sanctity),[2] Jewish law, nevertheless, distinguishes between the obligations of kohanim (priestly clan), leviyim (Levites) and yisraelim (other Israelites), as well as between males and females.[3] Women are generally freed from mitsvot asei she-ha-zeman gramman (time-determined positive commandments), which include, inter alia: sukka, lulav, shofar, tefillin and tsitsit[4] – and this exemption is deemed to be biblical in origin. This lack of identity between the religious obligations of men and women leads us to the inescapable conclusion that Judaism is most definitely not egalitarian. Both the Tosefta and the Yerushalmi make it clear that the “she-lo asani isha” benediction is related strictly to men’s greater obligation in commandments – not to any inherent added value or worth men have over women.

In addition, while the Farissol siddur is a curious piece of liturgical history, Farissol’s reading “she-asatani isha ve-lo ish” is totally absent from the well-documented Italian rite. This clearly indicates that it was completely rejected by mainstream Jewish liturgy.[5]

Finally, I wonder why Schonfeld finds Farissol’s reading of any halakhic import? We know nothing of R. Farissols’s halakhic credentials or his halakhic underpinnings. Indeed, to the best of my knowledge, neither he, nor any of his religious rulings, has been cited authoritatively anywhere in the halakhic literature.

As to the intent and import of “she-lo asani isha” benediction, the reader is referred to several recent articles and posts.[6]


[1] B.T. Menahot 43b; J.T. Berakhot 9:1; and Tosefta Berakhot 6:18.
[2] For further discussion, see: 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: link (PDF). In Resp. Iggerot Moshe, O.H. VI, sec 2, R. Feinstein notes that – though their obligations are similar, a non-Jewish slave, unlike a woman, cannot recite a berakha on the performance of a mitsvat aseh she-hazeman gramma. This is because his kedushat yisrael is limited to what he is obligated in. On the other hand, a woman has full kedushat yisrael, but was partially exempted from the performance of specific mitsvot.
[3] See: R. Saul J. Berman, “The Status of Women in Halakhic Judaism,” Tradition, 14:2 (Fall 1973), pp. 5-29.
[4] See: Mishna Kiddushin 1:7; Tosefta Kiddushin 1:10; Talmud Kiddushin 29a, and Kiddushin 33b and ff.
[5] The same comments are true for George Jochnowitz’s Judeo-Provencal prayerbook (Roth Manuscript 32) with a similar formulation; see George Jochnowitz, “…Who Made me a Woman,” Commentary, April 1981; pp. 63-64; George Jochnowitz, “Women’s Blessings,” Commentary, October 1981, Reader Letters.
[6] Aryeh A. Frimer, “Feminism and Changes in Jewish Liturgy: A Review of Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber’s On Changes in Jewish Liturgy: Options and Limitations,” Hakirah, XII (Fall 2011) 65-87 – available online here: link (PDF) . This paper was reprinted without notes under the title “The Wrong Changes in Jewish Liturgy,” Hirhurim – Musings, October 11, 2011, available online at: link.

About Aryeh Frimer

203 comments

  1. Undoubtedly, she will argue that in doing so, we have no evidence that Farissol was ostracised in the way that she and her reform colleagues are despite his seemingly having the “courage” to play with the wording of the Bracha. I’d be more impressed by such an argument if there was evidence that he contributed other so called egalitarian innovations consonant with her reformation. It reminds me of the story regarding the person who asked the Rav, R’ Soloveitchik ז’ל, what his reaction would be if they found some scrolls in Qumran or elsewhere which were at significant odds with our Mesorah. The Rav replied words to the effect “Nu, so you think there weren’t Apikorsim, Revisionists, or reformers in those times”. והמבין יבין

  2. You are correct in one sense, the siddur doesn’t prove a while lot. However, the larger point is accurate. The radical separation of genders and degradation of women is quite contrary to the Torah. Whether it is only a modern phenomenon is a more difficult question. If Jews who consider themselves bound by Torah and Mitzvot continue to respect the Eida HaCharedit after the most recent Kol Koreh, the lunatics have taken over the asylum of Judaism. It is time to recognize them as a religion that very closely resembles, but is not identical to, Traditional Judaism. Just as we protest those on the Left who may err on the side of bein adam lchaveiro, we must also protest those who ignore the basic interhuman obligations that the Torah commands.

  3. the well-documented Italian rite

    As one can see from Shadal’s Machzor Kol ha’Shana k’Fi Minhag Italiani printed in 2 volumes by Shlomo Bilforti, Livorno 5616 (1855/6) — the imagined purity of “our” Birkot ha’Shachar is imaginary.

    From that Machzor, which I own, I have scanned in: 1) Birkot ha’Shachar, 2) Sh’mone Esreh for Shacharit Chol; and 3) Aleinu and have made it available at: http://tinyurl.com/89286o7.

  4. “The radical separation of genders and degradation of women is quite contrary to the Torah. Whether it is only a modern phenomenon is a more difficult question.”

    You mean the answer is difficult for you. I’m sure you can think on the spot of 10 sayings from the Gemara that would be considered misogynous in modern liberal society. Or the Rambam. Or the customs of almost all Edot HaMizrach up until the 20th century.

    Revisionism is bad from the left as it is from the right.

  5. I don’t think there is any need for revisionism. As R. Sperber writes in On Changes in Jewish Liturgy (pp. 128-129):

    It should always be borne in mind that, in any case, there is no standard version of Jewish liturgy. Yemenites pray differently from Ashkenazim, and Halabim (Syrian Jews) differently from Moroccans. Indeed there are siddurim in which variant versions of a specific prayer were printed alongside one another in parallel columns (e.g. Siddur Hanau). Over the past forty years or so, changes and modifications have been made in certain prayers to fit new political situations in the State of Israel. Therefore we should not, and need not, seek unanimity in our liturgy. Let there be another nusah of tefillah, one that will be acceptable within the context of modern-day Orthodox feminist thinking, and which hopefully will gain ever wider legitimacy.

    At the same time, we must exercise great care to retain the traditional elements of our prayer book, to preserve its character and structure, to ensure that any additions, deletions, or alterations do not contradict or conflict with normative halachah and, as far as possible, to preserve the style and spiritual ambience of our traditional prayers. Intense thought and study, together with extreme caution, are required before any emendations may be made, for it is easy to destroy but difficult to build constructively.

  6. “In addition, while the Farissol siddur is a curious piece of liturgical history, Farissol’s reading “she-asatani isha ve-lo ish” is totally absent from the well-documented Italian rite. This clearly indicates that it was completely rejected by mainstream Jewish liturgy.[5]”

    Unknown, not rejected.

    Yes, I agree with the rest of the post. It’s not news, nor does her inferences derive from the existence of the siddur.

    As for “Farissol,” trying to marginalize him as a cipher and a possible am ha’aretz is a mistake, in my view. He may not have been a halachist, but his perush to Avos and Iyov are cited respectfully by many. R. Samson Raphael Hirsch also did not realistically possess much in the way of “halakhic credentials or halakhic underpinnings,” but there is no doubt that if he had done something like this to the liturgy people would assume it to be of some significance.

  7. Shimon S. Of course one can find all sorts of statements. However each statement has to be viewed in the context of the history and culture around it. Being pro slavery in the 1700’s is different than advocating the enslavement of black people in the 21st century. There is no attempt at revisionism, but context is key. I suggest Rav Eliezer Berkovitz Jewish Women in Time and Torah for more expanded explication of the issue

  8. The siddur has nothing to do with *Shelo Asani Ishah.*

    The siddur was written for woman. Therefore it would have been nonsensical to include *Shelo Asani Ishah*.

    In the siddur, *Sheasani Ishah velo Ish* is replacing *Sheasani Kirtzono*

    So this siddur only exemplifies a precedent for changing *Sheasani Kirtzono*

    As R. Frimer has pointed out many times this bracha is not in the Talmud and changing it is much less problematic.

  9. Isaac Balbin: Thanks for the quote from the Rav. So true!

    Noam Stadlan: I agree that the when it comes to Right wing extremism, black is not beautiful!

    IH: Thanks for posting pages from Shadal’s Italiani machzor. Could you bring to our attention the differences you consider important. As to your quote from R. Prof. Sperber, I deal with it in my review of his book cited in endnote 6.

    S. “Unknown, not rejected”
    The most profound way to reject a halakhic statement is to totally ignore it. You don’t even give the author the kavod of mentioning his existence.

    MO “The siddur has nothing to do with *Shelo Asani Ishah.*”
    You are correct. But R. Schonfeld views the text “she-asatani isha ve-lo ish” as a response to it and an example of “historical attempts to battle gender inequality” as represented by *Shelo Asani Ishah*. Schonfeld views the beracha “she-asatani isha ve-lo ish” as a blow for egalitarianism. It was to this “spin” that I was responding. My review of R. Sperber’s book discusses the propriety of making up new berakhot.

  10. The most profound way to reject a halakhic statement is to totally ignore it. You don’t even give the author the kavod of mentioning his existence.

    Yet you respond to the statements of a female conservative rabbi whose credentials and arguments you consider invalid? I guess you were aiming at something other than profundity.

  11. 5:39 above was my comment

  12. MJ: Your point is well taken, though unnecessarily acerbic. However, considering that Prof. Sperber (in his book on liturgy)and many others before him, also raise the same point – I thought it of value to respond.

  13. In the post above at 7:11 “also raise the same POINT” – namely the egalitarianism of “sheAsatani isha ve-lo ish”

  14. R’ Frimer,
    Is the word “she-asa-tani” even grammatically correct?
    Thanks.

  15. So what? Thats your starting point? It is highly significant that at a time when women’s rights were even more retrograde than they are now (except perhaps in Islam, Meah shearim etc.) there was a prayer book that had a different formulation. Unless you can prove the author to have been some kind of heretic it stands as a valid approach to his community and if it was in his community, it could be in another community.

  16. R. Samson Raphael Hirsch also did not realistically possess much in the way of “halakhic credentials or halakhic underpinnings,”

    I believe some of his Teshuvot were recently published, perhaps in Shemesh Marpeh?

  17. David S.: 1471 is pre-Shulhan Arukh and the situation, particularly regarding a benediction for women was not completely codified. The Mehaber rules that women should say no berakha, or say she-asani kitsono without shem umalkhut, because she-asani kitsono does not appear in the Talmud. The Rema rules that since it is a long standing custom she-asani kitsono can be said with shem umalkhut. But she-asatani isha ve-lo ish appears nowhere in the halakhic literature and we have no halakhic record of it ever being said. Certainly after the codification of the SA there is no room whatsoever for creativity. Farissol’s innovation is clearly problematic – and was never accepted by the Jewish liturgical tradition.

  18. Aryeh Frimer: “The most profound way to reject a halakhic statement is to totally ignore it. You don’t even give the author the kavod of mentioning his existence.”

    Shvach.

    Aryeh Frimer: “Jewish law, nevertheless, distinguishes between the obligations of kohanim (priestly clan), leviyim (Levites) and yisraelim (other Israelites), as well as between males and females.”

    This is an important sentence because it distinguishes, albeit subtly, between two different types of objections. A) Zero-sum egalitarianism, and B) Non-egalitarian conscientiousness (these are, ahem, working titles).

    The argument R. Frimer makes here is a good one with regard to (and IMHO a tyuvta to) the Egalitarian approach, since the latter’s objections theoretically apply equally to any privileged group.

    With regard to the Non-egalitarians (myself included), however, I think it actually sharpens the problem. After all, the Non-egalitarians recognize that people are different, and that groups of people may have different functions. But two things are true about priests and Levites that are not true about women.

    A) The existence of priests and Levites (and thus their differentiation from Yisraelim) is easily explicable. Religions need functionaries and (e.g. bi’ymei ha’Bayis) leaders. Even Christianity, which has far better egalitarian credentials than Judaism, learned this lesson. And Judaism being an ethno-centric religion that believes, at least to a certain extent, in zchus avos and the like, it makes sense that – if Judaism is to have functionaries and leaders (as it must) – these people should come from a specific family group that will then be distinguished from among the rest of the People.

    Many of the distinctions between men and women, on the contrary, serve no apparent purpose. Given all that we know of ancient (and less ancient) Jewish societies, some of this looks like the influence of “the patriarchy,” or whatever (and if it’s not, then it at least rises to the level of maris ayin). Since the Non-egalitarians are, in my experience, fully halachic Jews, they accept that the halacha is the halacha. But when there is room to accommodate the largely positive changes regarding women’s status in Judaism, we try to allow it. And, more importantly, we try, in any case, to be understanding even when those changes cannot (or should not) be made. And the case of She’lo asani ishah is one where historically R. Frimer – even with his admirably nuanced approach (and I say this with the highest sense of respect) – sometimes seems a bit tone deaf.

    B) In terms of the history of Halachah, it’s almost sleight of hand for R. Frimer and others to point to the differences between priests and Levites as justifying (or at least serving as a prototype for) current differences between men and women. After all, the traditional differences between priests and Levites and the rest of the People have been largely phased out of current reality: there is no Bayis (i.e. no korbanos, no YK avodah, no terumah, no ma’aser), no arei miklat, and not even any residual pride of place in kerias ha’Torah (who the heck considers rishon a kavod anymore? If anything, shlishi or shishi are seen as much more bekovodik…and a kohen/levi can’t even get those!).

    In fact, our community has – for centuries – been trending away from the sharp distinctions between hereditary/genetic classes, and towards a, dare I say, more egalitarian model of leadership: the rabbinate, where leadership positions are set within a meritocracy. And we can glimpse this shift already bi’ymei Ezra, where one can sense a negative reaction against the stultifying, non-meritocratic leadership of the priests (which might, or might not, remind one a bit of the Non-egalitarian objectors of today).

    So trying to counter the Non-egalitarian feminists with the distinctions between priests, Levites and Yisraelim ironically makes the problem even worse, since the NEFs can just turn around and respond that, in hachi nami, our community has done everything halachically possible to minimize those distinctions to the point where no one even thinks about them any more! (And lest one think that no one WOULD have objected to those distinctions since it’s not a 20th century hot button issue, I refer you to Sefer Ezra and, perhaps, to the conflicts between Sadducees and Pharisees).

  19. David: “Is the word “she-asa-tani” even grammatically correct?”

    It indeed is.

  20. One more point: the deployment of the Tosefta’s argument as somehow not representing a value judgment is plain wrong. And it is particularly disturbing that people who are otherwise big admirers of the Rav are nonetheless the loudest of those asserting that “extra halachos and opportunities for mitsvah observance doesn’t mean better!”

  21. …pages from Shadal’s Italiani machzor. Could you bring to our attention the differences you consider important.

    The primary difference for the purposes of our discussion is the replacement of “She’asani Yisrael” where we have “She’lo Asani Goy”.

    Similarly, in Shomeh Esreh — which you made a big todo over in the last discussion – there are textual changes. And in Aleinu, “She’hem Mishtachavim” is reformulated rather than excised.

    Our liturgical texts are more fluid – and more susceptible to change from societal norms – than you are willing to admit.

    —-

    Net net: what is the chidush in your latest post that sheds light rather than heat?

  22. David S.
    IMHO she-asatani is incorrect grammatically. She-asa oti = She-asani; She-asita oti = she-asitani

  23. Actually, I think שעשתני is probably more grammatically correct than שעשני, considering that we start out the Brakhah בלשון נוכח – second person (Barukh ATAH).

  24. For a study of this blessing from an academic scholarly perspective that puts the Farissol text in its larger context, see: Tabory, Joseph. “The Benedictions of Self-Identity and the Changing Status of Women and of Orthodoxy.” Kenishta 1 (2001): 107–38.

    As to the “well documented Italian rite,” — no medieval rites are yet “well documented.” We have hundreds of manuscripts, especially of the Italian rite, with thousands of variants in them, essentially unstudied as of yet. Shadal’s Mahzor Minhag Roma was published based on a single sixteenth century manuscript.

  25. R. Farissol actually uses the spelling שעשיתני sheasitani, which is grammatically correct. David pronounced it wrong (sheasatani instead of sheasitani).

  26. IH: as far as I could detect, the changes in Shadal’s siddur in the Shemoneh esrei are in the middle berakhot. In any case the changes are minor. As to the hiddush in my post, there really is none – if you read the complete Hakira Article. I was invited by Hirhurim’s distinguished moderator to respond to Rabbi Julie Schonfeld’s comments – and so I did. Some of the comments have been really enlightening, and I am trying to digest them.

  27. Yeedle: Yes, I blew up the text and you are correct. I just copied the transliteration in the article. Yiyasher Koach

  28. R. Frimer, the article you linked to offers no transliteration, just a translation to English.

  29. R. Frimer — I don’t have time today to review the sh’moneh esreh differences again, but I recall changes in the b’rachot you claimed were textually sacrosanct.

    —–

    I must add that I take issue with both Rabbis Schonfeld & Frimer on the use of the word “egalitarian” or the phrase “gender inequality” in respect of this liturgical issue. The issue is one of sensitivity, not of equality. While some may be fine saying it, using whatever rationalization they wish; there are others – both male and female – who find it inappropriate.

    —–

    As a practical matter, many congregations simply start t’filla b’tzibur after Birkot ha’Shachar thus bypassing the problem; and it is then up to each individual to choose how to deal with this particular bracha.

    Rabbi Lopatin’s suggestion (http://morethodoxy.org/tag/shelo-asani-isha/) of replacing “she’lo asani isha” with “She’asani Yisrael/Yisraelit” seems an obvious solution for those who feel they can’t say the currently normative formulation. Indeed, it precisely follows the precedent of the Italiani – which bypassed “She’lo Asani Goy” in that exact manner.

  30. I received the following email from an anonymous Rosh Yeshiva:

    Professor Frimer:

    Your recent posting on birkat she-lo asani isha was forwarded to me by a student. With admiration, I must point out that you have hit the nail squarely on its head. The Conservative Movement has long searched out idiosyncratic girsa’ot to buttress extra-halakhic social policies it has prejudged from non-halakhic perspectives. The classic example may be the citation of a reference in the Mordekha to rabbenu simha’sview that a woman may be counted as a tenth in a minyan which he cites only to reject it. What a leap to use this as a basis for counting women for Rov Minyan.

    The answer has been provided by Professor Neil Gilman. Conservative Judaism is not halakhic.

    It seems foolish for me to complain since the Conservative Movement is essentially irrelevant today. That saddens me since the movement preserved Jewish identity and served as a way station toward Orthodoxy.

    be-hokara

  31. R Frimer-WADR to yourself and R Gil, and paraphrasing R Issac Balbin, I fail to understand the necessity to respond to a clearly heterodox critique of Birkas HaShachar based on a manuscript that you proved quite easily was never part of the mainstream Nusach HaTefilah in Italy or anywhere else, and which is contrary to the simple understanding of the sources cites in Footnote 4 of your post.

  32. For more analysis on the letter received by R Frimer ftom a RY,and the elecvation of a Daas Yachid ( R Simcha) as a source for women’s purported ability to be part of a minyan, see R M Meiselman’s Jewish Woman in Jewish Law at PP 135-138.

  33. Geoffrey Dennis

    The bracha as preserved is an affront to human dignity, an important category of halakhic thought. If that makes this “authentic” aspect of Judaism indignified and offensive, so it is.

  34. Geoffrey Dennis-May I suggest thatb you review the Encylcopedia Talmudit’s entry on Kavod HaBriyos? WADR, there is a huge difference between what you describe as “human dignity”, and Kavod HaBriyos.

  35. Finally, I wonder why Schonfeld finds Farissol’s reading of any halakhic import? We know nothing of R. Farissols’s halakhic credentials or his halakhic underpinnings. Indeed, to the best of my knowledge, neither he, nor any of his religious rulings, has been cited authoritatively anywhere in the halakhic literature.

    ————————-

    This is classic Conservative “halachic” analysis. Find one source, somewhere/anywhere, to support a result that has already been decided even if that source has no other support in halachic literature, even if that source has been roundly rejected in other halachic literature.

  36. IH wrote:

    “I must add that I take issue with both Rabbis Schonfeld & Frimer on the use of the word “egalitarian” or the phrase “gender inequality” in respect of this liturgical issue. The issue is one of sensitivity, not of equality. While some may be fine saying it, using whatever rationalization they wish; there are others – both male and female – who find it inappropriate”

    IH-what description would you use other than “egalitarian” or “gender inequality” to describe the different roles ascribed to the genders? “Misogynist” RL?

  37. A quick history quiz for anyone even vaguely familiar with the issues. Fill in the missing words to the following sentences:

    “________is the theory, _______ is the practice.”

  38. Steve — You missed my point. The Farissol text demonstrates this is not about any modern debate — but, about sensitivity. To anachronistically extrapolate modern ideas about the role of women from a 1471 text is absurd.

    Given you often quote the Netziv, please consider this (translated) quote from his first wife, Rebbetzin Rayna Banya:

    How bitter was my aunt that, as she would say from time to time, “Every empty-headed ignorant man,” every ignoramus who hardly knew the meaning of the words and who would not dare to cross her threshold without first obsequiously and humbly obtaining her position, would not hesitate to boldly and arrogantly recite to her face the blessing of she-lo asani isha. Moreover, upon his recitation of the blessing, she was obliged to answer “Amen”. “And who could muster enough strength,” she would conclude with great anguish, “to hear this eternal symbol of shame and embarrassment to women?”

  39. Sorry, the quote is from Rabbi Baruch Halevi Epstein (the author of the Torah Temima and the son of the Aruch ha-Shulhan), in his memoirs, Mekor Baruch, about Rebbetzin Rayna Banya.

    Ref: “On Changes in Jewish Liturgy” (p. 36)

  40. IH wrote:

    ” To anachronistically extrapolate modern ideas about the role of women from a 1471 text is absurd”

    Obviously, the Netziv’s first wife recited the Bracha, but rejected the twist supplied to the same by the ignoramuses of her time. I would hestitate to call Rebbitzen Rayna Batya a feminist or model for feminists.

    with respect to the use of texts and moderm debates, in the right hands, this is exactly what Talmidei Chachamim do all the time-evaluate modern times in the light of Halacha, as opposed to evaluating Halacha in the light of modernity.

  41. Aryeh Frimer “The most profound way to reject a halakhic statement is to totally ignore it. You don’t even give the author the kavod of mentioning his existence.”

    That’s one possibility when something goes unmentioned. The other is that it was not known. Do not forget that this was a manuscript, not something printed in many copies and widely distributed. Again, I don’t think the existence of this siddur says the things that Rabbi Schonfeld says it does, but I do take exception to your contention that such a nussach was “completely rejected.”

  42. I’ve always wondered about that Rayna Batya quote. People don’t randomly say the bracha in women’s faces- they say it once a day, in shul.

    Perhaps she meant that when she heard it in shul, she was personally offended? That’s bad, and we should bear it in mind, but it’s not like it was actually aimed at her.

    (It’s possible there are jerks who do say it the way she describes, but the rest of the quote indicates that all men were very respectful to her.)

  43. “I believe some of his Teshuvot were recently published, perhaps in Shemesh Marpeh?”

    Correct, but a few teshuvot are not “halachic credentials.” Countless rabbis write teshuvot, but that doesn’t make them major parts of the halachic conversation. My point was that no one would say or think of R. Hirsch as a major, or even minor, posek (except people interested in raising his prestige in today’s climate where rabbis can barely be regarded as great if their majors contributions were not Talmudic or halachic). Yet if he had made a nussach like this, such is his prestige that I do believe it might be given attention, despite his lack of halachic credentials.

  44. On the Torah Temimah and Rayna Batya, it’s worth reading Dan Rabinowitz’s article: http://www.traditiononline.org/news/converted/Volume%2035/No.%201/Rayna%20Batya%20and.pdf

  45. Lawrence Kaplan

    I am surprised that R. Frimer did not respond to Prof. Ruth Langer’s comment, considering her great expertise in the field.

  46. The controversy is interesting (see also Prof. Shaprio’s contribution), but begs the interesting question in regard to the issue of “She’lo Asani Isha” — why would R. Epstein cite this particular vignette that opens a controversial topic?

    Perhaps someone who has read Mekor Baruch in full could explain.

  47. He was talking about her and describing her character and the conversations he had with her.

    I doubt it was much of a controversial topic or a can of worms 80 years ago when it was published.

  48. “I am surprised that R. Frimer did not respond to Prof. Ruth Langer’s comment, considering her great expertise in the field.”

    Professor Langer’s book is required reading for anyone discussing these topics: To Worship God Properly: Tensions Between Liturgical Custom and Halakhah in Judaism (Cincinnati: HUC, 1998).

    What she writes about the medieval manuscripts suggests that the relative uniformity we find in the age of the printing press is not the rule but rather an anomaly. Which perhaps isn’t so surprising.

    It is an honor to Rabbi Frimer and to this forum that Professor Langer has participated in the discussion.

  49. IH: “(see also Prof. Shaprio’s contribution)”

    Source?

  50. Gil: Wow. So it’s fiction? Painful to say, as the son of a great talmid of the Torah Temimah, but I’ve heard such whisperings before.

    I cracked open Makor Baruch (the original) once. He lost me on about page two, when he meanders off into a discurses on the etymology of “yeshiva” after mentioning the word once. I think that goes on for pages.

    Overall, though, he strikes me as a great man and talmid chacham.

  51. I guess in academia its different, but why should Rabbi Frimer respond to an ordained Reform rabbi? (flame away)

  52. I wish professor would tone down his rhetoric so that his important message might be more broadly heard.

  53. MO wrote:
    In the siddur, *Sheasani Ishah velo Ish* is replacing *Sheasani Kirtzono*

    So this siddur only exemplifies a precedent for changing *Sheasani Kirtzono*

    Only if this siddur post-dates the standardization of she’asani kirtzono. As you note, this berakahah is post-Chazal. How late is it? Which is really two questions: date of authorship is the smaller one, dates of communal acceptance are more significant.

  54. Rafael: I asked Prof. Frimer to write the post because the article had popped up in a few (Orthodox) places.

  55. I don’t understand. Even Schonfeld must admit that all the other siddurim including shelo asani ishah. So how does she conclude that the anti-women view is modern if other than Farissol every rishon and acharon recited the berachah she hates so much?

  56. Lawrence Kaplan

    Rafael Araujo: “(flame away)” I am sorely tempted, but will not give you the satisfaction.

    As to the substance: Rabbi Frimer referred to the “well documented Italian rite.” Prof. Langer, a distinguished scholar of medieval liturgy, noted, based on her research, that there is no “well documented Italian rite.” Perhaps you mighy explain to me what this has to do with her being ordained as a Reform rabbi?

  57. Larry Kaplan asks why I didn’t respond to Prof. Langers claim that the Italian rite is not well- documented. The answer is that I don’t have the ability or broad knowlege to prove her wrong. But what is crucial for our discussion is that by her own admission, we have hundreds of manuscripts from the Italian rite, with thousands of variants in them, including Shadal’s Mahzor Minhag Roma. Yet noone has cited even one Italian rite variant which does not have “she-lo Asani Isha” or “she-asani kirtsono.” They certainly do not have Farissol’s “she-asatini isha ve-lo ish”!

  58. Lawrence Kaplan

    Rabbi Frimer: So now you have, indeed, responded. And to an ordained Reform rabbi, no less.

  59. Lawrence Kaplan

    BTW, I wonder whether Prof. Langer generally follows hirhurim or whether someone just called her attention to this particular post.

  60. Prof. Kaplan: Kabel et ha-emet mi-mi she-amaro…

  61. Admittedly, I am not on that madreigah.

  62. Micha, She-asani kirtsono appears already in the Abudarham and the Tur, so it predates the 13th century.

  63. Orthodox rabbi(s) beat up on Conservative rabbi(s).

    *yawn*

    Who cares?

  64. Micha, She-asani kirtsono appears already in the Abudarham and the Tur, so it predates the 13th century.

    That shows that “sheasani kirtzono” was accepted by some authorities/communities, not by all (a point which helps your side of the argument in this case, while weakening your argument in general).

  65. “I would hestitate to call Rebbitzen Rayna Batya a feminist or model for feminists.”

    Exactly right. And yet even she considererd the bracha an “eternal symbol of shame and embarrassment to women.”

  66. Joseph Kaplan-I think that Rebbitzen Rayna Batya did not view favorably ignormamuses and worse who used the bracha in question as a means of insulting women, as opposed to the text of the bracha by itself.

  67. Steve — which part of:

    “And who could muster enough strength,” she would conclude with great anguish, “to hear this eternal symbol of shame and embarrassment to women?”

    did you not understand?

  68. IH-look at the entire passage:

    “How bitter was my aunt that, as she would say from time to time, “Every empty-headed ignorant man,” every ignoramus who hardly knew the meaning of the words and who would not dare to cross her threshold without first obsequiously and humbly obtaining her position, would not hesitate to boldly and arrogantly recite to her face the blessing of she-lo asani isha. Moreover, upon his recitation of the blessing, she was obliged to answer “Amen”. “And who could muster enough strength,” she would conclude with great anguish, “to hear this eternal symbol of shame and embarrassment to women”

    I think that the reaction cited therein was prompted by the inappropriate comments of men whose lack of knopwledge provoked them to make such a comment. Again, viewing Rebbitzen Rayna Batya as a proto feminist IMO cannot be viewed as a reasonable conclusion. OTOH, it is well known that when Talmidei Chachamim entered the home of R C Kanievsky and were greated by Rebbitzen Batsheva Kanievsky Zicronah Livracha, they would stand up in her presence because of her Torah knowledge and Yiras Shamayim.

  69. IH and Joseph Kaplan-take a look at the link to R D M Shapiro’s view on the story in question. Do you feel intellectually at ease in relying on a story that may very well be a fabrication?

  70. Steve — There is no question that the Ba’al Torah Temima wrote it; the academic debate is over what, if anything, his aunt said that he quoted. Either way, it makes my point that some view the bracha as inappropriate — and this has been the case since before the role of women changed and feminism took off.

  71. Anon.: Thanks for the references to Shapiro.

    And, as pointed out above the right transliteration of the Brakhah is She-asitani and not She-asatani.

  72. Anon.: Thanks for the references to Shapiro.

    And, as pointed out above, the right transliteration of the Brakhah is She-asitani and not She-asatani.

  73. In ancient times, the iron age and before, communities were governed by physical strength. Most males were and are stronger than most females, and the demonstration of such strength was important, to keep the community from being attacked and to maintain status and order within the community. This meant that men had to be deferred to by women. It is out of this period that Jewish tradition starts. Most Jewish values and principles are unaffected by this, but the maintenance of discrimination by sex can no longer be justified in this age.

  74. One more source: http://ishimshitos.blogspot.com/2008/06/defense-of-torah-temimah-redux.html (which has an embedded link to his response to Prof. Shapiro on TraditionOnline).

  75. R D Shapiro, whose books, I admire for their documentation, and style, despite his advocacy of a long gone MO, stated:

    ” know the feminists will be upset with this, but we must assume that the entire dialogue between him and Rayna Batya,[17] which shows her as a proto-feminist, is contrived and has no historical significance other than revealing that Epstein himself wanted to call attention to the sad fate of talented women who are not permitted to study Torah In the unlikely event that he does accurately portray Rayna Batya, all I can say is that the punishment of one who tells tall tales is that even when he tells a true story he is not believed”

  76. “Most Jewish values and principles are unaffected by this, but the maintenance of discrimination by sex can no longer be justified in this age.”

    Where have I heard/read that before? Hmmm….

  77. IH wrote:

    “One more source: http://ishimshitos.blogspot.com/2008/06/defense-of-torah-temimah-redux.html (which has an embedded link to his response to Prof. Shapiro on TraditionOnline”

    WADR, the linked source cannot be considered as refuting either R Shapiro or R Rabinowitz and basically concedes the lack of reliability of the version printed in Makor Baruch.

  78. IH-noone questions that the Baal Torah Temimah wrogte Makor Baruch. What is at issue is the authenticity of the account of the story of Rebbitzen Rayna Batya-at least from the POVs of R D Shapiro and R d Rabinowitz, neither of whom are known for Charedi POVs.

  79. Steve — happy to have you on board with the rest of us who admire Prof. M Shapiro’s documentation and style.

  80. R. Frimer: “Yet noone has cited even one Italian rite variant which does not have “she-lo Asani Isha” or “she-asani kirtsono.” They certainly do not have Farissol’s “she-asatini isha ve-lo ish”!”

    Probably because most of them have not yet been studied. At least that’s my impression and I welcome Prof. Langer’s comments. If this is so, I’m not sure your point is valid. All we’re left with is the fact that there is no such thing as a “well established Italian rite.”

    Thus, all we have at this point is Shadal and Farrisol. I agree that even this is much ado about nothing, but we need to be clear about the facts.

  81. ‘Again, viewing Rebbitzen Rayna Batya as a proto feminist IMO cannot be viewed as a reasonable conclusion.”

    You simply ignore what’s said, even when I agree with you. And I do agree that RRB was not a feminist, proto or otherwise. And yet she still found the bracha insulting. To my mind this demonstrates 2 things. First, the claim that all the brouhaha over this bracha is simply “radical feminism” is nonsense. Second, that we’re mainly dealing with a question of sensitivity, not theology.

  82. While a number of people were side-tracked by Prof. Langer’s affiliation, did anyone else look up the reference she provided?

    Prof. Tabory’s article can be found at: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/uploaded/517-DJMB5131.pdf

    Given his expertise on this topic, I find it a bit strange that R. Frimer does not seem to be familiar with this article, but perhaps I misunderstood Aryeh Frimer on January 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm.

  83. Anonymous wrote:

    “You simply ignore what’s said, even when I agree with you. And I do agree that RRB was not a feminist, proto or otherwise. And yet she still found the bracha insulting. To my mind this demonstrates 2 things. First, the claim that all the brouhaha over this bracha is simply “radical feminism” is nonsense. Second, that we’re mainly dealing with a question of sensitivity, not theology”

    Actually, we were dealing with whether the story was a fabrication-regardless of how feminists like to spin its dubious veracity.

  84. Noam stadlan:

    “There is no attempt at revisionism, but context is key.”

    How does that support your claim that “radical separation of genders” is possibly only a modern phenomenon?

  85. Anonymous at 7:21 was me.

  86. With all due respect to the learned participants in the conversation about the formulation sheasani ishah velo ish, including many friends of mine – and some sorrow about the gratuitous lack of respect shown to at least one – I think that it proceeds from a false premise, namely that this formulation is intended to be more egalitarian than she’asani kirtzono. Laaniyut daati, anyone seeking to accomplish that would have simply used “shelo asani ish”. This formulation is intended simply to concretize she’asani kirtzono, which it sees as too vague, so it spells out that G-d’s Will here – for which He is to be praised, even though it appears to be a negative – is to have made me a woman, rather than a man. The last phrase is included to make clear that being a woman is not a positive. It therefore seems to me that davka from a feminist perspective the standard formulation, which leaves room for positive understandings, is greatly preferable.

  87. R. Klapper — See Prof. Tabory (link above) pp. 121-125 and perhaps you can share your reaction.

  88. Aryeh Klapper: Interesting! I actually wondered why it was formulated that way. It seems obvious now that you bring it up.

  89. Yeedle: “And, as pointed out above, the right transliteration of the Brakhah is She-asitani and not She-asatani”

    Yup. Apologies, I blew it again!

  90. Jerry: “Probably because most of them have not yet been studied.”

    Trust me, if something other than she-lo asani isha or she-asani kirtsono appeared we’d all know about!!! It’s one of the first things researchers look for!!

  91. IH: You’re not dan me le-khaf zekhut. Of course, I am acquainted with R. Prof. Joseph Tabori’s article. Not only were we colleagues at Bar Ilan, but we’re even shtickle Mishpucha. I cite him in footnote 61 of the Hakira Review cited in note 6 in this post (and Available online). In fact, Prof. Tabory is the one who invited me in the first place to review R. Sperber’s book for a Symposium at Lander College in Jerusalem. I didn’t refer to it since it really isn’t relevant.

  92. It therefore seems to me that davka from a feminist perspective the standard formulation, which leaves room for positive understandings, is greatly preferable.

    Rabbi Klapper, you are missing the point. At this point it does not matter what the intention was behind that formulation any more than the intention behind the original shelo asani isha.

    From a feminist perspective, if men persist in saying shelo asani isha despite its prima facie contemptuous tone, then women might as well adopt a formulation that (again, prima facie) expresses a degree of contempt for the opposite sex as well, or at least expresses the idea that there are actually positive reasons to thank God for being a woman instead of a man.

    Is she’asani kirtzono more egalitarian yes – but only if both men and women say it. As long as men keep saying shelo asani isha it remains an expression of resigned acceptance that men are better off, but we bless God for the bad just as we bless him for the good.

  93. As far as Rayna Batya is concerned, even if it can be proven beyond a shassow of a doubt the she never complained about shelo asani Ishah, the fact that the Torah Temimah veiwed such a statement as being worthy of being spoken by an esteemed rebitzen suggests that he thought it a valid perspective and one to be dismissed lightly.

  94. I didn’t refer to it [Tabory] since it really isn’t relevant.

    […]Here we find a positive expression of pride in being a woman, and this blessing appears also in Hebrew, in at least two prayer books copied by Abraham Farisol, between 1470 and 1480, according to the Italian rite.49

    (49) JTS ms. MIC 8255, copied by Abraham Farisol in 1471 (comp. David Ruderman, The World of a Renaissance Jew: The Life and Thought of Abraham ben Mordecai Farisol, Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College, 1981, p. 158, # 13; my thanks to Dr. Joel Kahn who brought this manuscript to my attention and to Dr. Ruth Langer who showed it to me in the JTS library); Jerusalem, JNUL, Ms. Heb 85492, written in Mantua in 1480 (this ms. was mentioned by Shalom Sabar, “Bride, Heroine…”, Proceedings of the 10th World Congress of Jewish Studies, D/2, Jerusalem, 1990, p. 68). One wonders whether Farisol had not carried this version with him from his home town in Provence, Avignon. For the general relationship of women to prayer in Italy at this time see Howard Adelman, “Rabbis and Reality: Public Activities of Jewish Women in Italy During the Renaissance and Catholic Restoration”, Jewish History, 5/1 (Spring 1991), pp. 30–32.

  95. Aryeh Frimer: “Trust me, if something other than she-lo asani isha or she-asani kirtsono appeared we’d all know about!!! It’s one of the first things researchers look for!!”

    I agree. But from what I know of work with manuscript collections, that would only be true if the entire collection had already been surveyed and (at least roughly) catalogued. At that point, the manuscripts/fragments would still await publication, but scholars would have a rough idea of what is in them.

    Often, however, manuscript/fragment collections have not even been surveyed at all. Some researchers will term these (mostly in order to generate interest and funding) “hidden” collections. Many Islamic manuscript collections at Oxford, Cambridge, the Wellcome Library, Yale, etc. have not been studied at all. The large manuscript collection from Turfan has been surveyed, and I believe some have been published, but many fragments haven’t even been looked at. Ditto for many Zoroastrian manuscript collections that are just sitting around the world, waiting to be looked at.

    In these cases, even if some massive chiddush was contained in one of the manuscripts, it’s quite possible (even likely) that no one has yet seen it. I would not be surprised at all to learn that the same is true of the Italian prayer manuscripts.

    Thus, the fact that nothing of the sort has popped up yet is not proof of anything. Again, all that remains is that we do not have a “well documented Italian rite.”

  96. Moshe Shoshan wrote:

    “As far as Rayna Batya is concerned, even if it can be proven beyond a shassow of a doubt the she never complained about shelo asani Ishah, the fact that the Torah Temimah veiwed such a statement as being worthy of being spoken by an esteemed rebitzen suggests that he thought it a valid perspective and one to be dismissed lightly”

    Why is that so, especialliy if the story was a complete fabrication or figment of the author’s imagination? While we were on the same subject, could someone send me a PDF of the critique of the TT by R MM Kasher ZL?

  97. IH: Other than Prof. Tabory’s speculation, what new has been added by this quote?

  98. “Schonfeld goes as far as to maintain that “[this] siddur has revealed an early example of egalitarian Jewish prayer, presenting historical attempts to battle gender inequality… This Siddur proves that the degrading attitudes towards women, which we are seeing in certain extreme religious communities in Israel today, are a modern distortion of Judaism.”

    How does she know this? This is clear case of her projecting her modern feminist sensibilities on what happened centuries ago.

  99. Other than Prof. Tabory’s speculation, what new has been added by this quote?

    R. Frimer — I’m confused. In your post you dismissively write:

    In addition, while the Farissol siddur is a curious piece of liturgical history, Farissol’s reading “she-asatani isha ve-lo ish” is totally absent from the well-documented Italian rite. This clearly indicates that it was completely rejected by mainstream Jewish liturgy. […] We know nothing of R. Farissols’s halakhic credentials or his halakhic underpinnings.

    Prof. Langer, followed by Jerry, have addressed the incorrectness of the well-documented Italian rite

    The Prof. Tabory article indicates the siddur in the JTS library is actually one of two known to exist – the other one in Jerusalem – and that Farissol himself has been studied by the eminent scholar Prof. David Ruderman.

    Yet, you claim that: a) you are familiar with this article; and, b) I didn’t refer to it [Tabory] since it really isn’t relevant.

    Does not compute for me, I’m afraid.

  100. Same author, IH.

  101. “Why is that so, especialliy if the story was a complete fabrication or figment of the author’s imagination? ”

    Putting aside whether we should be so quick to adopt this view, it would be significant because it was *his* view. Writing 90 years ago, without a feminist agenda, this was how he saw the bracha. That is a pretty good statement that someone who was traditional, Orthodox, rabbinic, and without any of the baggage that all of us bring to the table about feminist issues one way or the other, could see it as insulting.

  102. Indeed my point. Ref the subsequent discussion the JTS one may have been a one-off.

  103. More generally, the article by Prof. Tabory illustrates this is a much more nuanced issue than either of R. Frimer’s recent polemics.

  104. Lawrence Kaplan

    IH: I do not understand your response to Nachum. Also, the fact that Abraham Farissol was studied by David Ruderman does not make him an halakhic authority.

  105. Prof. Kaplan — rather than rehashing what was said and when, could you summarize your view as to whether the two issues Prof. Langer raised:

    1. The incorrectness of R. Frimer’s statement: “the well-documented Italian rite”; and,

    2. The relevant scholarship of Prof. Tabory as it relates to this issue.

    Has been reasonably explained or corrected by R. Frimer, as they relate to this post of his on Hirhurim? I do not think he has.

    Regarding Ruderman’s book, have you (or R. Frimer) checked it regarding scholarship of halachic credentials? Surely, the book rates a footnote to R. Frimer’s assertion that “We know nothing of R. Farissols’s halakhic credentials or his halakhic underpinnings”.

  106. Prof. Ruderman, that is. (and – “have been reasonably …).

  107. Lawrence Kaplan

    IH: With reference to your first point: Obviously, I feel it is relevant. Indeed, if you were following the thread carefully, you will see that it was I who requested that R. Frimer respond to Prof. Langer’s point that there was no “well documented Italian rite.” Moreover, it was only after my request that R. Frimer withdrew his contention that there was such a well documented rite.

    Re Prof. Tabori’s article: It is an important article and is relevant to the larger discussion, and I thank you for linking to it. I do not think, however, it is relevant to R.Frimer’s present rather narrowly defined post.

    As for Prof. Ruderman: He is very fine and distingshed scohlar, but I am sure he would be the last person to claim that his area of expertise is halakhah or halakhists. Note his later book on Avraham Yagel, an important 17th thinker, but, like Farissol, not an halakhic authority.

  108. Prof. Kaplan,
    I think IH’s point is simply that we cannot say Farissol credentials are unknown without referencing Ruderman. Prof. Ruderman is not an expert on halachah, but as an historian, he may well have brought in some relevant information about R. Farissols creditials.

  109. Prof. Kaplan — I can’t find where “R. Frimer withdrew his contention that there was such a well documented rite”. Aryeh Frimer on January 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm makes no such concession and even clearer non-concession is Aryeh Frimer on January 12, 2012 at 1:52 am (responding to Jerry). Could you refer me what you had in mind, or would you now agree this remains an open issue that can still be corrected?

    Prof. Tabory, In his article, directly discusses the manuscript raised by R. Schonfeld to which R. Frimer polemical post responds. He also references a 2nd later such siddur that is in Jerusalem and the relevance that R. Farissol has been documented by an eminent historian of the Jewish Renaissance (thanks MDJ, as well). Prof. Tabory further provides further context for the entire discussion. Minimally, R. Frimer should have used more cautious wording and a footnote; a situation that can still be corrected.

    I was also unimpressed by the ad hominem at the start of Aryeh Frimer on January 12, 2012 at 2:07 am. It was precisely because I was being dan le-chaf zchut that I probed the issue of Prof. Tabory’s article indirectly. [Which is why I also responded to you with “rather than rehashing what was said and when”.]

  110. For the record, I feel the need to reiterate something I said at the beginning of the thread for proper context of my own position:

    I take issue with both Rabbis Schonfeld & Frimer on the use of the word “egalitarian” or the phrase “gender inequality” in respect of this liturgical issue. The issue is one of sensitivity, not of equality. While some may be fine saying it, using whatever rationalization they wish; there are others – both male and female – who find it inappropriate.

    As a practical matter, many congregations simply start t’filla b’tzibur after Birkot ha’Shachar thus bypassing the problem; and it is then up to each individual to choose how to deal with this particular bracha.

    Rabbi Lopatin’s suggestion (http://morethodoxy.org/tag/shelo-asani-isha/) of replacing “she’lo asani isha” with “She’asani Yisrael/Yisraelit” seems an obvious solution for those who feel they can’t say the currently normative formulation. Indeed, it precisely follows the precedent of the Italiani – which bypassed “She’lo Asani Goy” in that exact manner.

  111. IH: If you would be more at ease if I retract well-studied, I would be happy to. However, what is important is that despite all the MS we do have of the Italian rite NONE confirm Farissol’s text. Prof. Tabori who I quote in my full paper (Cited on Hirhurim 3 Months ago) adds nothing to this point.

    I also reiterate my claim that Farissol is nowhere cited in the Halakhic literature, not even in passing. He was a scribe, a polemicist, commentator on Tanakh – not a Halakhic authority.

    leAniyyut da’ati, Rabbi Lopatin and Kanefsky’s pieces are Halakhically very very poor. The text She’asani Yisrael (SAY) is totally wrong, and it is eminently clear that it was introduced by the censor. Hence to argue that it is valid lekhathilla is unconscionable. But assuming you do, then to be halakhically consistent, you must admit that according to all sources that bring this girsa – it is followed by shelo asani Aved (SAA) and Shelo Asani Isha (SAI). To go ahead and say in the same breath: “But according to the MB if you say SAY you are Patur from SAA and SAI” is a tartei deSatrei – Self-contradictory. The MB only says what he does assuming that it is Assur to recite SAY le-khathila.

    But now Rabbis Lopatin and Kanefsky want to say it’s a she’at ha-dehak which ke-di-avad dami. I deny it is a she’at ha-dehak. But even according to them – it’s not a she’at ha-dehak regarding She-lo Asani Goy, but on She-lo asani Isha (SAI)!!!!! So don’t say SAI!!!! Why discard two good berakhot (SAA and SAI) and corrupt another (SAG) – just because you don’t want to say SAI. The halakhic math doesn’t work out. This is a classic example of haAhava mekalkelet et haShura – your laudable sensitivity to women’s spiritual needs has badly clouded your halakhic judgement.

  112. IH: Both siddurim were made by the same author/scribe.

  113. Nachum — yes, and?

  114. Nachum — see See Prof. Tabory pp. 121-125 before responding: http://www.jofa.org/pdf/uploaded/517-DJMB5131.pdf

  115. Rabbi Frimer – well put.

    The problem with getting academia and historical perspectives involved leads to this entire discussion whether Farissol was a halachist or not, or what variants existed at the time that Farissol lives. In the broad scheme of things, Farissol’s opinion is a blip on the radar, since it set no halachic precedent and was not taken up by poskim. However, what Schofield and the injection of feminism does is elevate a marginal opinion and gives it some kind of authority so that, given the times we live in, we should take advantage of it to either introduce it to our davening, or use it to support other rejected practices, like “sheasani yisroel/yisreolis”.

  116. Lawrence Kaplan

    Rafael Arujo: It is a Conservative rabbi, and not academics or historians, who, as you correctly point out, has elevated this marginal opinion.

  117. Rafael — Believe it or not, I would accept the argument that “Farissol’s opinion is a blip on the radar” in a halachic discussion. But, R. Frimer writes as if it were academic scholarship both in this post and in the previous one.

    Prof. Tabory, I understand has Orthodox smicha.

  118. 2:48pm was IH

  119. IH Prof. Tabory indeed has Orthodox smicha.

  120. S wrote:

    “Putting aside whether we should be so quick to adopt this view, it would be significant because it was *his* view. Writing 90 years ago, without a feminist agenda, this was how he saw the bracha. That is a pretty good statement that someone who was traditional, Orthodox, rabbinic, and without any of the baggage that all of us bring to the table about feminist issues one way or the other, could see it as insulting”

    WADR, if the author of the TT, whose works have been called into question as to their accuracy,, and which have required major efforts at justifying the bona fides of the same, if not wholesale editing to correct numerous errors, invented such a story out of thin air to support his POV, that is unfortunately akin to the submission of a legal argument that is predicated on utterly inadmissiblen evidence or writing a journal article in any discipline based on “facts” which have been created to support the author’s POV. I find it curious that so many posters who normally view R D M Shapiro as the most au courant POV on such matters simply ignore his POV that the entire episode is a complete fabrication. I guess that such a story elevates such an author into the same league as the Bsamim Rosh, whose works remain discussed in some Torah circles, albeit with a cautionary word to the reader, despite the very critical views of the CS and the Avnei Nezer about the contents of the Bsamim Rosh and the POV of the author.

  121. Dr. Kaplan: “It is a Conservative rabbi, and not academics or historians, who, as you correctly point out, has elevated this marginal opinion.”

    Quite right. I think this thread is interesting because of the broad agreement on many issues between R. Frimer and those who, in others posts, disagreed with him. I believe this is because, as I pointed out earlier in the thread, not all those who approach the blessing in question differently than R. Frimer are the sort of zero-sum egalitarians that R. Frimer and others on this thread oppose (rightly, I believe).

  122. Steve,

    I have hesitated, of late, to respond to you, for reasons that I think many will understand. I’m interjecting here only because I am extremely bothered by your dismissal of the Torah Temimah. Regardless of how he put together his seforim – and I believe almost everyone here is maskim to the points raised by Prof. Shapiro – the fact remains that his perspective, however it came to be, is still to be valued if only for the sole reason THAT HE EXPRESSED IT!!!

  123. “. I find it curious that so many posters who normally view R D M Shapiro as the most au courant POV on such matters simply ignore his POV that the entire episode is a complete fabrication.”

    Many posters? Whom? IH? Me?

    You feel comfortable equating the Torah Temima with Saul Berlin? Is this what you went on record saying?

  124. IH, of course I read the piece. How do you think I knew that both siddurim are from the same pen?

  125. S-Read R D Shapiro’s linked article re the TT, and Rebbitzen Rayna Batya, especially the footnotes referencing the critique of R MM Kasher Zl on the TT, and the many problems re citations of various mareh mkomos therein. Once upon a time, the TT was a popular sefer. It is evident, and has long well been known, that the TT was a sefer that was poorly edited and that its author engaged in plagiarism.

  126. S-FYI-from R M Shapiro:

    “To this I would only add that, knowing Epstein’s reputation as a plagiarizer and how he manufactured stories, one should not take seriously any of his “recollections.” I know the feminists will be upset with this, but we must assume that the entire dialogue between him and Rayna Batya,[17] which shows her as a proto-feminist, is contrived and has no historical significance other than revealing that Epstein himself wanted to call attention to the sad fate of talented women who are not permitted to study Torah In the unlikely event that he does accurately portray Rayna Batya, all I can say is that the punishment of one who tells tall tales is that even when he tells a true story he is not believed. We must, however, remember that even when it comes to stories that are certainly false (and there are loads of them being invented all the time, and then repeated by the gullible), one should not be discouraged when reading them. Rather, one should keep in mind Saul Lieberman’s famous comment: “Nonsense is nonsense, but the history of nonsense is scholarship.””

  127. Nachum — Sorry if I was twice unclear on that. Note, however, there are other sources illustrating that Farissol was not the only one experimenting in this manner.

  128. Obviously I have read it.

    The snippet you quoted from Shapiro does not discredit the point being made by IH (and I agree) that even if it is his own view, that is still significant. Frankly, in the Torah world policy is buttressed by stories of shady provenance all the time. “‘When it hurts you cry out!’ said the Brisker Rav, and therefore I have a right to attack you,” and so forth. But again, the point here is also whether or not someone who wasn’t tainted by 50 years of Betty Friedan in the Western consciousness could think this bracha insulting to women, and the story demonstrated convincingly that it could.

    As for whether or not I have to accept Shapiro’s view that we must assume the entire thing was made up, I disagree. Ask Marc Shapiro if he thinks I have a right to an opinion on such things.

    I also don’t know who gave you the right to glibly dismiss the Torah Temima as a has-been? As far as I can tell, he is still studied and much loved by many, and his seforim are still founts of Torah.

  129. Rav Kasher has his own detractors. Will you throw him under the bus too if he said something you didn’t like?

  130. S -then please read this as well:

    “As far as the first few questions are concerned, I can only say that the entire report of Rayna Batya discovering the relevant text in Ma’ayan Ganim was made up by Epstein. This book, which was published in Venice in 1553, is an extremely rare volume. There would have only been a few copies of this book in all of Lithuania. (In Torah Temimah Epstein also says that it is a rare book.) It is therefore impossible to imagine that the rebbetzin, sitting in Volozhin, would just so happen to come across this volume on her husband’s bookshelf. Of this, there can be no doubt, and I assumed that Epstein, who was a great bibliophile, later in life came across the book and in his desire to publicize its contents, created the dialogue with Rayna Batya.

    Yet thanks to R. Yehoshua Mondshine’s recent article,[21] I see that I was mistaken in my assumption. The truth is that Epstein never even saw the book and thus did not know the true nature of Ma’ayan Ganim. He learnt of the relevant passage, which he places in Rayna Batya’s mouth, from an article that appeared in Ha-Tzefirah in 1894. We see this from the fact that the Ha-Tzefirah quotation mistakenly omits some words, and the same words are omitted in Mekor Barukh. This shows that his knowledge of this book came in 1894 and that he never discussed it with Rayna Batya, who died many years prior to this.”

    Look at it this way-it is highly ironic that many who accept willy nilly R D Shapiro’s scholarship, but also applaud his championing of the MO of the 1950s, simply ignore his POV as gto the veracity of a document. Like it or not, the TT has been severely criticized, and to ignore the same IMO raises grave questions as to the reliability of an undedited TT, as opposed to the edited editions of many Rishonim and Acharonim on Chumash.

  131. S -please note the following statement by R D M Shapiro;

    “I know that there are people who are very upset at me, believing that I have given ammunition to those who chose to censor and withdraw My Uncle the Netziv. I make no apologies. We must combat falsehoods and plagiarism no matter where they emanate from.”

    IMO, this is an eloquent statement of the fact that Chasomo Shel HaKadosh Baruch Hu Emes.

  132. I read his entire article. “It is therefore impossible to imagine that the rebbetzin, sitting in Volozhin, would just so happen to come across this volume on her husband’s bookshelf.” is not something I can agree with. Impossible? As for the quote, it’s possible that when he read the piece in Hatzefirah he jotted it down; why should we assume that he committed it to memory as a teenager when his aunt told it to him? Again, we’re talking about what is possible.

    “many who accept willy nilly R D Shapiro’s scholarship, but also applaud his championing of the MO of the 1950s”

    I ask you again – whom do you mean? Please name names. You said they’ve commented in this thread. Name them. Do tell. Do you mean me? Yes or not?

    Finally, this a detour. Again, even if he invented the story, and the point of view is his own, it still shows that without exposure to modern Western feminism a person could see the bracha as insulting women.

  133. Steve,

    Let’s assume we all accept 100% what Dr. Shapiro is saying. The mere fact that the Torah Temimah still said it – even if he consciously fabricated the whole thing – meant that he accepted the underlying message. The import of this is not affected one iota by the story’s veracity, or lack thereof.

  134. “Once upon a time, the TT was a popular sefer.”

    How bizarre. It still is, very much so.

  135. Jerry and S-this is R Dan Rabinowitz’s conclusion:

    “The findings in this article seem to confirm the judgment of some scholars that the rabbinic sources cited by R. Epstein should not betaken as accurate and that they require independent confirmation fromthe original sources.” Certainly the inconsistencies found in MB castserious doubt as to its value as a completely accurate historical account.
    We will never know what lies behind the puzzling inaccuracies in R.Epstein’s oeuvre, nor is it for us to speculate. R. Menachem Kasher,after setting severe strictures about the reliability of R. Epstein’s cita-tions, nevertheless expresses a charitable understanding of the circum-stances that may have brought this about. Noting R. Epstein’s state-ment in MB that he lived a “life of suffering” (hayyei tsa’ar), R. Kasherwrites that R. Epstein was a “great man” (adam gadol) whose “is “amonumental work” (avoda anakit), and he attributes the many inaccu-racies in the work to R. Epstein’s difficult and inordinately busy lifewhich did not permit him to check his sources as carefully as he shouldhave”

    Would you be comfortable learning from any sefer or hearing Krias HaTorah from a Sefer Torah sheino mugah?WADR, is not the seemingly blind accepting an “underlying message” without checking the veracity or lack thereof of any such story akin to relying on Daas Torah or on any assertion that is factually unsupported?

  136. I dunno, Steve. Do you learn the works of the Satmar Rav?

  137. See Footnote 4 of R Dan Rabinowitz”s article:

    “4.A cursory check would have revealed that there are troubling allegationsconcerning even such objective works as his Torah Temima. Manyresearchers have noted questionable quotes and unreliable sources. See R.Menahem M. Kasher, Torah Shelema, 26 (285-301); Natan Tsevi Friedman,”Al Torah Temima,” Sinai 58 (1965) 85-90; Ya’akov Bazak, “Al DerekKetivat Torah Temima,” Sinai 66 (1969) 96-100; Torah Temima ed. R.Moshe Yehiel Halevi the Admor of Ozerov, (Tel Aviv, 1972); R. Moses J.Feldman, Meshivat Nefesh, (Brooklyn, NY, 1982). The Meshivat Nefeshdevotes the entire volume to correcting the Thrall Temima.
    In his introduction to Torah Temima, R. Epstein addresses the issue ofplagiarism. He requests the reader to attribute any inadvertent plagiarismto the result of the fifteen years of labor that went into the publication ofthat work. (This part of the introduction does not appear in the translationof Torah Temima; “Essential Torah Temima”, Feldheim Publishers, 1990).For another explanation of this problem, see Philip Birnbaum, TefilotTisrael u-Mussar ha-Tahadut (New York, 1971) pp.130-131. But seeMeshivat Nefesh, op. cit. pp. 18-24.
    Besides inaccuracies in his own work, R. Epstein commonly explainedapparent inconsistencies in the siddur by claiming they were the result ofearlier printing errors. Other scholars dispute this. See Kasher, HaggadaShelema (Jerusalem, 1977) p. 86. Though he does not mention R. Epsteinby name, he clearly refers to him, as this comment appears in MB (vol. 3,pp.1398-1401) and in Barukh She’amar on Tefila (Tel Aviv, 1970) p. 339.See also the Satmar Rebbe, R. Yoel Teitelbaum, Vayoel Moshe (Brooklyn,NY, 1961) p. 408. One particularly interesting example of R. Epstein’stendency to be careless with texts is in reference to the change in BirkatHamazon of magdil to migdol. R. Epstein has explained that publishershave misread the abbreviation Shin Bet for Samuel II, as an abbreviation tomean Shabbat and Yom Toy (MB vol. 3 pp. 1408-1410); also quoted inBarukh She’amar on Tefila pp. 214-215. (Y.L. Maimon, Toledot ha-Gra(Jerusalem, 1954) p. 47 attributes this to Gra (R. Eliyahu of Vilna) I havebeen unable to locate this in any of the books of Gra or his students. Thenext change listed by Maimon is also found in R. Epstein Barukh Sheamarp. 131 and I have been also unable to locate this in any of the books ofGra or his students.) This is an impossibility, for Abudraham, who lived inthe fourteenth century, quotes this custom, and the division of Samuel intotwo books occurred in the sixteenth century (see A. Berliner, KetavimNivharim (Jerusalem, 1969) vol. 2, p.133).”

    I once heard that the TT claimed that the Nusach HaTefila of Mkadesh Yisrael vHazmanim was incorrect that the correct text would have read “Mkadesh Yisrael VChag HaMatzos”, etc, and that when the same was mentioned to RYBS, he dismissed the same as Apikorsus.

  138. FWIW, I have had a TT for many years, which has numerous mareh mkomos highlighted for easy reference. Untill I read the articles by R D Shapiro and R Rabinowitz, all I ever heard were unsubstantiated murmurings that the sefer had never been really accepted within the yeshiva world. The two articles in question raise the serious issue of relying , citing ,and quoting from a sefer that both of the above authors view in the most charitable sense as a sefer sheino mugah, or worse, a sefer ripe with evidence of plagiarism. IMO, one would be hard pressed to claim that the sefer can stand a comparison to the works of Netziv, Meshech Chachmah and Malbim on Chumash.

  139. “Would you be comfortable learning from any sefer or hearing Krias HaTorah from a Sefer Torah sheino mugah?WADR, is not the seemingly blind accepting an “underlying message” without checking the veracity or lack thereof of any such story akin to relying on Daas Torah or on any assertion that is factually unsupported?”

    I would be comfortable learning from any sefer. A wise man taught me the importance of looking up any citation, anywhere, ever, and caveat emptor. Mainstream seforim which you haven’t thrown into the garbage also misquote and misconstrue things. The bottom line is, if someone quote the Sifre, it’s your job to look it up.

  140. “IMO, one would be hard pressed to claim that the sefer can stand a comparison to the works of Netziv, Meshech Chachmah and Malbim on Chumash.”

    I don’t understand this at all. And the Netziv can’t hold a candle to Ibn Ezra. What are you talking about? Is this a contest? The Netziv, Meshech Chochmah, and Malbim wrote commentaries which are completely different from the Torah Temimah. Learning those three commentaries bring certain things to the table, learning the Torah Temimah brings something else. You are not comparing a similar, competing work which is superior, so I don’t understand the point.

  141. Steve,

    No on CARES whether the story actually happened (unless, I suppose, one is writing a biography of Rebbetzin Rayna Batya).

    The story of the Maharal’s golem most likely lo hayah ve’lo nivra, but we may learn from it nonetheless. In fact the Rambam’s entire approach to midrash aggadah is based on this principle!

    V’cha’domeh: The story of George Washington and the cherry tree is probably false. But we learn a lesson from it nonetheless. And Prof. Louis Feldman is fond of pointing out that Julius Caesar’s last words never would have been “et tu Brute” (because he never would have died speaking such an amaratzusdike language as Latin!), and yet, as Prof. Feldman also says, that’s one of the most powerful moments in literature.

    You’re simply missing the point.

  142. Steve b. – nice to see you have fully recovered and your comprehension of the english language ( after comments to jerry and s. posts) is in peak form.

  143. There is a difference between history simpliciter and intellectual history or a history of ideas. The fact that a source makes conterfactual claims is not always relevant to its value as a piece of intellectual history. This is particularly true when we are looking at periods where the difference between a literary or rhetorical technique and a fabrication was not operative. The fact that Rashbi never said the things attributed to him in the Zohar does not render it a series of lies, but alerts us to the fact that it reflects the mystical explorations of people living in the 13th century. Similarly the fact that Epstein may very well have constructed a literary version of his aunt as the mouthpiece for his own ideas – perhaps ideas he did not feel comfortable expressing on his own – means what , that they are mere lies, or that they likely reflect his ideas and preoccupations?

  144. Nachum-I think that if you want to have the fullest understanding of the arguments for and against Zionism, one should certainly read the works of its most vociferous opponents, namely the SR and REW, as well as its most vocalm supporters. I would also note that despite their anti Zionist credentials, REW’s seforim on Shas are classics, and even the ArtScroll hagiography includes examples of how REW was able to decipher incorrect attribution of the views of major Rishonim. IIRC, when the RIETS Kollel was learning Hilcos Mikvaos a number of years ago, an article in the then published Hamevaser described how the Halachic works of the SR on Hilcos Mikvaos were considered excellent works and that a few members of the Kollel, including R B Simon visted the SR’s successor and R Yisrael David Harfenes, a prominent Satmar Talmid Chacham to discuss the same. Relying on unedited sefarim merely repeats the errors of prior generations and refusing to read the POV of someone who does not share one’s hashkafic view who was a great Gadol but who was a militant anti Zionist IMO do not aid the study of Torah.

  145. S wrote:

    “The Netziv, Meshech Chochmah, and Malbim wrote commentaries which are completely different from the Torah Temimah. Learning those three commentaries bring certain things to the table, learning the Torah Temimah brings something else.”

    Take a look at R Cooperman’s introductions to Meshech Chachmah and Netziv.

  146. S wrote:

    “I would be comfortable learning from any sefer”

    That is where we differ. A Sefer Torah ( or any Torah related book ) Sheino Mugeh is a work of dubious halachic value

  147. R Cooperman sets forth the purposes of Meshech Chachmah and Netziv as built on Parshanut of Chazal and TSBP,and contrasts the same with other commentators that engage in apologetics.

  148. MJ wrote:

    “There is a difference between history simpliciter and intellectual history or a history of ideas. The fact that a source makes conterfactual claims is not always relevant to its value as a piece of intellectual history. This is particularly true when we are looking at periods where the difference between a literary or rhetorical technique and a fabrication was not operative. The fact that Rashbi never said the things attributed to him in the Zohar does not render it a series of lies, but alerts us to the fact that it reflects the mystical explorations of people living in the 13th century. Similarly the fact that Epstein may very well have constructed a literary version of his aunt as the mouthpiece for his own ideas – perhaps ideas he did not feel comfortable expressing on his own – means what , that they are mere lies, or that they likely reflect his ideas and preoccupations”

    What about the quaint notions of intellectual honesty and Chasamo Shel HaKadosh Baruch Hu Emes?

  149. Jerry-Myths about George Washingon and Julius Caesar are myths, but do not detract from their greatness. As for the Maharal, see an article in Chakirah which illustrates that the entire POV of Maharal towards Aggados Chazal and Medrashim was practically unheard of among the Rishonim.

  150. Jerry-To sum up, noone denies the greatness and achievements of George Washington, Julius Caesar or the revolutionary style of Maharal in Hashkafa and Parshanut. Yet, the Rabinowitz and Shapiro articles confirm that the author of the TT, who was not a careful author, who plagiarized, and presented many opinions of a dubious nature, fabricated an entire story.

  151. Ruvie and all interested-The refuah is underway, but far from complete as regaining my stamina is a prime objective. While I did not need to go a rehab clinic, my surgeon told me that such is a common occurrence for serious surgery of the kind which will always render me very aware of the simple translation of the Bracha of Asher Yatzar.

  152. I officially give up.

  153. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: Evnn though you are not fully recovered, which we all hope will ocuur, with God’s help, very soon, your most recent comments on this thread show that you are fully up to your usual standard. Of course yesh dorshin li-shvach,ve-yesh dorshin…

  154. What about the quaint notions of intellectual honesty and Chasamo Shel HaKadosh Baruch Hu Emes?

    Are you passeling MB and TT or Zohar?

    Should I go on listing the teshuvot that appear to have been written in response to what are mostly likely fictitious cases of the posek’s own invention? Are they therefore false and lack intellectual honesty, or can’t we just say that a posek wanted to explore the halakhic dimensions of a hypothetical case, perhaps one similar to another he had encountered in other responsa, and given the conventions of the ShU”T genre presented it as an actual question he was presented with?

  155. I wouldn’t go so far as to say “it’s all good” to the extent that the Torah Temima may have been a plagiarist or inventor of things for the sake of a good vort. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that his seforim are still valuable. Even an unchecked sefer Torah can be, you know, checked. Especially nowadays where we all have a copy of obscure sources right within reach.

  156. MJ-I merely pointed out that many Talmidei Chachamim, especially those cited by R Rabinowitz in Footnote 4 of his article, have serious reservations about many entries in the TT and Makor Baruch. As for the Zohar, the argument as to its being authored by Rashbi , is an argument that has divided many Talmidei Chachamim and academicians, regardless of their own personal religious beliefs.I woulod prefer not to wade into that issue because there are so many competing arguments and rationales as to why certain Acharonim declared the Zohar a forgery that IMO, all of the arguments ignore the fact that the bottom line of the argument is whtether non rational and mystical philosophical doctrines exist within Judaism. While I suspect that Larry Kaplan would disagree, I think that even Rambam would agree that certain fundamentals of Jewish belief and as to HaShem’s expectations of us cannot be demonstrated by pure reason alone ( See Yad Yesodei HaTorah 8:1, Teshuvah 7:1; Gerushin 2:2) That being the case, one need not write a doctoral thesis to see the impact of the Zohar on Halacha and Hashkafa.

  157. “I merely pointed out that many Talmidei Chachamim, especially those cited by R Rabinowitz in Footnote 4 of his article, have serious reservations about many entries in the TT and Makor Baruch. ”

    This footnote does not even mention Mekor Baruch.

  158. S-the footnote in question dealt with the following portion in the article by R Rabinowitz:

    “Many articles and books devoted to identifying women scholarshave relied on a single source for their diverse material.’ That source is asection in Mekor Barukh (henceforth MB) by Rabbi Barukh HaleviEpstein,2 author of the well-known Torah Temima.3 R. Epstein’s rendi-tion of the material is unfortunately not always faithful to the primarysources.4 Many of those who use R. Epstein’s “sources” do so uncriti-cally—often without giving him credit for the citations!s—and thus sim-ply repeat his errors.”

    I think that the intent of the above is that R Epstein, in all of his works, can be fairly criticized as not being “always faithful to the primary sources”.

  159. S wrote:

    “I wouldn’t go so far as to say “it’s all good” to the extent that the Torah Temima may have been a plagiarist or inventor of things for the sake of a good vort. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that his seforim are still valuable”

    See the above mentioned footnote. There are seforim that are devoted to correcting the mistakes in the TT.

  160. Steve b – ” all of the arguments ignore the fact that the bottom line of the argument is whtether non rational and
    mystical philosophical doctrines exist within Judaism”
    It’s a fact that Judaism has a mystical philosophical doctrines before the Zohar as well- there is no argument on this – see Sefer yitzirah and bahir.

    Is there any academics that believe that rashbi wrote the Zohar?

  161. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: See the end of Guide 3;21, in connection with Maimonides’ view regarding “the Deity’s knowledge of what is other than He”, where he discusses the method that should be used with reference to matters that cannot be demonstrated by reason.

  162. Ruvie-I don’t disagree with your most recent post. I am also aware that the issue of the authorship of the Zohar is certainly an issue that divides academics , and has caused no small share of ink to be spilled even among traditional authorities. Take a Look at R Y Kolatch;s Masters of the Word, Vol. 1, Pages 233-235 for a good overview of the authorship issue. I think that it can be easily maintained that the mystical traditions that you mentioned, as well as the Zohar, have contributed positively to Jewish life and tradition and enhanced our Avodas HaShem. As R Kolatch notes in Footnote 43, focusing on the authorship of the Zohar is a way of discrediting Kabalah altogether. IMO, such arguments in our time are all too often found together with such species of Charedi bashing as debates on the MB-AS, etc.

  163. Larry Kaplan-would you agree that Rambam in the above cited section from MN3:21 as well in Yesodei HaTorah 2:10 is suggesting that there is a limit on man’s understanding the ways of HaShem?

  164. Ruvie-The fact that an academic says something that presents a challenge to an accepted Halacha or Hashkafic doctrine has never caused me to lose sleep. Academicians work from a POV of seeking verification of all facts. If one works from the premise of being a Maamin, and realizes that living a committed life requires one to say Teiku, then such challenges really are of little import to one’s Avodas HaShem inasmuch as someone who demands such answers can be fairly considered a Baal Gaavah in the worst sense of that misused term because he or she thinks mistakenly that because of the knowledge and technology at one’s fingertips that one is entitled to the answers to questions that are predicated on “why” in the same manner as to questions that are rooted in “what” and “how.”

  165. Lawrence Kaplan

    Indeed. The question is how, in the view of the Rambam, he deals with that limitation.

  166. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: I agree that in the 19th century challenging the traditional ascription of authorship of the Zohar to Rashbi was connected with discrediting the Kabbalah. But, contra R. Kolatch, that certainly is no longer true. See,for example, the books of Danny Matt, Art Green, Mellilah Heller-Eshned, among others.

  167. Steve b. “Take a Look at R Y Kolatch;s Masters of the Word, Vol. 1, Pages 233-235 for a good overview of the authorship issue.”

    Sorry arts scroll type hagiography does count as academic scholarship ( it may be for the chareidi world). doubtful the treatment can be as honest without major issues ( since the book is geared to the yeshiva and ultra orthodox world) of the Zohar – but I am no scholar either and he wrote a decent book on a relative basis according to the reviews I read.

  168. Take a Look at R Y Kolatch;s Masters of the Word, Vol. 1, Pages 233-235 for a good overview of the authorship issue.

    Please re-check this reference, those pages in the Google Books preview are about Midrash Lekach Tov.

    As R Kolatch notes in Footnote 43, focusing on the authorship of the Zohar is a way of discrediting Kabalah altogether.

    Without prejudice to seeing what he wrote myself, this is ignorant.

  169. His footnotes appear to be quite short. Please type in the footnote 43 you reference as it appears to not be in the preview on Google Books (somewhere between pp. 239 and 242).

  170. Lawrence Kaplan

    Alas, we academically inclined types would prefer to read Prof. Ronit Meroz’s–a woman, no less!– discussion of the authorship of the Zohar to that of R. Kolatch.

  171. And no less than Hirhurim’s own R. Enkin wrote:

    [4] The authorship of the Zohar is the subject of some controversy. Some scholars attribute the Zohar entirely to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai while others argue that it was Rabbi Moses de Leon who wrote it. Yet others suggest that it was started by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai or that it contains the thoughts and teachings of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, but was compiled and completed by de Leon. It is simply not possible to accredit Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai with the complete authorship of the Zohar as the Zohar discusses rabbis who were born after Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai had died. It also discusses certain ritual matters which were only instituted after Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai had died.

    https://www.torahmusings.com/2011/05/lag-baomer-rabbi-shimon-bar-yochai/

  172. Steve b. – “focusing on the authorship of the Zohar is a way of discrediting Kabalah altogether. ‘. Same argument you could have used on biblical criticism in the early days ( and probably true = higher anti- semitism) it just doesn’t work anymore with folks that have a modicum of intelligence and access to real books. Authorship of the Zohar is a topic for scholarship. If you don’t like the answer discredit the subject is a worthy objective. Big jump to hareidi bashing, no? So, if I understand you correctly scholarship of the authorship of the Zohar = hareidi bashing ( or leads to it). Wow.

    “IMO, such arguments in our time are all too often found together with such species of Charedi bashing as debates on the MB-AS, etc.”
    Are you a conspiracy theorist as well?

  173. So on the one hand, Steve, when it comes to attacked R’ Epstein (he has a name, you know), it’s all about the seal of Hashem being truth. When it comes to the Zohar, well, you don’t lose sleep, because all those pesky “academics” are just about finding the actual historical truth of a question. I see.

  174. IH, I know the conversation has turned to Rayna Batya, but I would like your response to my comments (January 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm) regarding what I believe to be the extremely poor rulings of Rabbis Lopatin and Kanefsky – which you laud.

  175. R. Frimer — Lauded is a strange description of what I wrote:

    The issue is one of sensitivity, not of equality. While some may be fine saying it, using whatever rationalization they wish; there are others – both male and female – who find it inappropriate. […] Rabbi Lopatin’s suggestion of replacing “She’lo Asani Isha” with “She’asani Yisrael/Yisraelit” seems an obvious solution for those who feel they can’t say the currently normative formulation. Indeed, it precisely follows the precedent of the Italiani – which bypassed “She’lo Asani Goy” in that exact manner.

    Do you disagree with my last sentence, given the evidence of Shadal’s Machzor (http://tinyurl.com/89286o7)?

    Do you disagree the legitimacy of some feeling hurt (e.g. Rayna Batya/Torah Temima) by this blessing?

    Do you disagree we have a mesorah in which there is precedent for an individual not saying a prayer in its standard formulation because they felt an empirical fact contradicted God’s greatness and awesomeness (Yoma 69b)?

    Why do you insist on de-legitimizing, rather than the more modulated view that Gil expressed in his July 2007 post Nachem Nowadays II:

    For this reason, I can understand and respect — even if I disagree with them — those who feel uncomfortable reciting in a prayer that the city of Jerusalem is destroyed when based on what they see, it has been rebuilt. .

    or more directly, from Gil’s August 2011 Women’s Changing Status and Liturgical Reform post:

    I am generally uncomfortable with the changing of texts for grammatical or historical reasons. Historically, those who have tried to “improve” the liturgy have often inadvertently caused more harm. I don’t like it and I won’t be a part of it, but I won’t overly object to it either.

    Shabbat Shalom

  176. Ruvie asked in response:

    “IMO, such arguments in our time are all too often found together with such species of Charedi bashing as debates on the MB-AS, etc.”
    Are you a conspiracy theorist as well”

    No-but one can definitely predict the lineup of posters here on certain issues with a reasonable degree of certainty.

  177. Ruvie wrote:

    “Sorry arts scroll type hagiography does count as academic scholarship ( it may be for the chareidi world). doubtful the treatment can be as honest without major issues ( since the book is geared to the yeshiva and ultra orthodox world) of the Zohar – but I am no scholar either and he wrote a decent book on a relative basis according to the reviews I read”

    First of all, the book was published by Ktav, which hardly publishes “arts scroll type hagiography”. Before you read, as opposed to Googling it and seeing the portions available on line , instead of commenting on it without doing so, see the acknowledgements, and then read the book. IMO, the book is an excellent example of a book that is too frum for those who take their marching orders from the academicians, and far too academic for those who view ArtScroll’s presentations on such issues as Daas Torah. Believe it or not, IMO, there is an audience for such a book, and I take issue with your overly dismissive view of the same. In any event, discussing the authorship of the Zohar strikes me IMO as irrelevant to the discussion,namely whether anyone can seriously rely on the account rendered by R Epstein in Makor Baruch.

  178. steve b. – no doubt there is an audience for this book – but i am not sure its the level of scholarship that many of us expect (can’t say it makes the bar or the floor ) today. that being said i am not as nice as prof. kaplan and apologize if overly dis missive. my assumption from what i read and reviewed that it has to be frum- and not take issues as seriously – for it to be accepted in its world and hence flawed. so to bring this in to the conversation becomes hard to take your arguments seriously. – you should stick to the arguments. i rather take r’ kasher’s attempt to refute scholem’s arguments on the authorship as scholarship and evaluate it for what it says than a book geared and circumscribe for frumness. but thats just me – i rather read shaye cohen for history (maccabees to mishnah)than toldot ha’am for whatever to think it should be based on chazal and no use of non-frum sources(its just history as we are accustomed to).

  179. steve b. -“namely whether anyone can seriously rely on the account rendered by R Epstein in Makor Baruch.”

    as pointed out by almost everyone here it doesn’t make a difference if the story is true or false – it simply shows if false then r’ epstein – no feminist or left winger -felt (personally) its insulting to women. why do you fail to acknowledge the importance of that. unless you degrade r’ epstein to a maskil, apikorus or a dolt then it is significant (even more if he made up since he needed to find a way to say it).

  180. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: I just read R. Kolatch’s overview of the debate over the authorship of the Zohar. WADR, it is outdated and simplistic. Also R. Kolatch says that SOME scholars have focussed on the authorship issue as a means to discredit Kabbalah and he refers to Graetz. As I indicated, this is certainly no longer the case. I also find it difficult to understand why he does not refer to Matt’s major new English translation. There are many other problems with his discussion. There is a good review of Kolatch by Rabbi Eric Levy avlailable on-line.

  181. steve -the book review- one of them – that i referred to can be seen here (also mentioned by lawrence kaplan)

    http://www.lookstein.org/bookjed/read.php?27,203

    also interesting is:
    http://www.bookreviews.org/pdf/5583_5879.pdf

    shabbat shalom and refuah sheleimah

  182. IH, No I cannot accept R. Lopatin’s position because it is a conscious corruption of Halakha. As a I wrote in the comments above January 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm. You can also read my coments on the Morthodoxy website against Lopatin and Kanefsky. Kindly read my Hakira article available online at http://www.hakirah.org/Vol%2012%20FrimerA.pdf If you can’t say the berakha SAI then don’t, but don’t corrupt other perfectly good berakhot. The Shadal text, Like the Talmud Bavli and Rosh are all corruptions by the censor. ALL ancient manuscripts have SAG. Read Prof. Tabori on this issue – he is very clear.

  183. The Shadal text, Like the Talmud Bavli and Rosh are all corruptions by the censor.

    If this is a matter of belief for you, nu. If you are stating this as fact, please provide evidence the Livorno 5616 (1855/6) Shadal text that replaces “She’lo Asani Goy” with “She’asani Yisrael” was due to contemporaneous censorship.

    If you mean that it might be the legacy of much older self-censorship, so what. We have other examples of such changes that remain on the books, not least of which is the continued outright omission — or parenthetical treatment — of “She’hem Mishtachavim” as we discussed in the previous thread (e.g. Koren OU Siddur and the Artscroll RCA Siddur).

  184. 6:01pm was IH.

  185. IH, All ancient manuscripts have she-lo asani goy (or Nochri). Even Farissol’s two siddurim have she-lo Asitani Nochrit. Read Prof. Tabori! R. Lopatin and Kanefsky know it’s a lie and adopt it willingly because it “gets ya where ya wanna go?” Is that your idea of intellectual honesty? But assuming you accept the dubious validity of she-asani Yisrael, these readings all also have she-lo Asani Isha. IMHO, this doesn’t pass halakhic muster – even bi-she’at ha-dehak!.

  186. R. Frimer — You are agruing in circles. You have seen with your own eyes that the Livorno 5616 (1855/6) Shadal text replaces “She’lo Asani Goy” with “She’asani Yisrael”.

    Why do you keep resorting to ad hominem arguments?

  187. 7:40am was IH.

  188. Re R B HaLevi Epstein, ZL, I merely echoed the views of R D M Shapiro and R D Rabinowitz which set forth what had been common knowledge and the subject of a sustained critique by R M M Kasher ZL-that while the author of the TT was a great Talmid Chacham, his analysis of sources and well documented plagiarism are issues which cannot be ignored and that the story involving Rebbitzebn Rayna Batya was a figment of the author’s imagination. Reliance upon the same by those posters who invariably choose verification by the academic world over Mesorah strikes me IMO as an example of intellectual dishonesty because the same is relied by feminists and supporters despite the absence of a shread of evidence documenting the same.

    As far as R Kolatch’s books, I consider the same as entire appropriate for those persons who reject the dogmas voiced by and who do not react in a Pavlovian manner to the the academic world and ArtScroll.

  189. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: People on this blog are citing this story NOT to determine Rayna Batya’s attitude, in which story’s unreliability would be relevant, but to determine R. BH Epstein’s attittude, in which case the unreliability of the story only strengthens the argument that it serves as a window onto R. Epstein’s feelings. But others have already made this point, and I don’t expect I will have more success than they in convincing you.

    As for R. Kolatch’s books: The issue here, which YOU raised, is not the value of his books as a whole, but his discussion of the authorship of the Zohar. I read that discussion carefully, and, based on my fairly wide reading about this subject (though I am not an expert in the field), my considered judgement is that that discussion is outdated and simplisitc. This has nothing to do with any Pavlovian reaction. Remember, Kol ha-posel…

  190. Larry Kaplan-why are the feelings of a Talmid Chacham whose writings exhibit a lack of reliability of fidelity to primary sources and, who worse, can be described as a plagiarizer, relevant on the issue?

  191. Steve – the Torah Temimah is not the first plagiarizer among acharonim. Plenty of recent acharonim recognize the plagiarism but still refer to the TTemimah because it is still a valuable work. Rabbi Kasher, who has a very harsh criticism of TT doesn’t completely pasul the work.

  192. 1. Who says he’s a plagiarizer? I’ve seen claims here that he’s unreliable in quoting sources (even the Rambam has this problem) and made up mayselach (pretty much everyone did). Whence the plagiarism?

    2. Cite to me a halakha that plagiarism is assur.

  193. IH writes “Why do you keep resorting to ad hominem arguments?” I deny having used ad hominem arguments. But why do you repeatedly charge me with using ad hominem arguments, whenever I ask you a tough question. Enough. Neither of us is making any progress.

  194. Anonymous and Nachum-see R D M Shapiro’s article re plagiarism and R B HaLevi Epstein ZL. As far as R Kasher ZL, WADR, the footnote in R D Rabinowitz’s article contains some rather harsh criticism by R Kasher ZL of the methodology of the TT and the sources cited therein, and advised checking the veracity of every page therein.

    Nachum-IIRC, one canot fulfil Krias HaTorah from a Pasul Sefer Torah. Would you consult an unedited text of a Rishon or Acharon than the old edition? I would argue that citing such a source is problematic from the source of learning from a Sefer Sheino Mugah. I see the same issue arsing with a sefer that has been poorly edited, which is the case in the TT, or from a maaseh rav that is a complete fabrication of the author’s imagination. WADR, why we are some of easy so willing to discard the notion that Chasumo Shel HaKadosh Baruch Hu Emes?

  195. Who’s discarding? Like R’ Meir, I take the fruit and throw away the peel (or pit). I read books by Christians and apikorsim all the time, not that R’ Epstein comes close to one.

    But if you’re going to insist on Emet, repeat after me: The Zohar is a medieval forgery falsely attributed to a Tanna who did not write it. Not so hard, eh?

  196. Nachum-The issue of the authenticity of the Zohar is IMO a complete red herring to the within discussion, which deals with the problematic method of writing of one sefer by one author, as opposed to the issue of dating of when a sefer was written, which IIRC, other posters raised in a similar vein as to when R Elazar HaKalir lived. Regardless of how the academic world views the the authorship of the Zohar, one cannot deny the influence of the Zohar and Kabalah, both prior to and after the disssemination of the Zohar on Jewish thought and practice.

    AFAIK, while R Meir was able to discipher the fruit and throw away the peels and pits from the teachings of his rebbe, who may have repented, when we are dealing with the dissemination of Torah, I question whether such an approach is acceptible to the reliance upon a nonexistent source created by an author whose works are known for their plagiarism and poor attention to authentication of primary sources.

    Reading books by Christians and Apikorsim is IMO not comparable to the printing and reprinting of clearly inaccurate works of a Torah nature, which answer to the highest standard-Amitah Shel Torah.

  197. My advice to commenters: Given that Steve’s thought process is highly idiosyncratic and not overly given to nuance – and since he clearly is not going to be convinced on this point – let’s all just take this as a musar haskel that you can’t convince every single person (even if the point at hand is obvious and non-controversial).

  198. “one cannot deny the influence of the Zohar and Kabalah, both prior to and after the disssemination of the Zohar on Jewish thought and practice.”

    Steve, you seem not to realize how influential the Torah Temima is. It is a very popular, very widely studied sefer.

    By the way, I think I’ve written this before: There’s a word for the kind of logical fallacy you engage in on a regular basis, but I forget it. I did *not* mention kabbalah. *You* brought it up and attached it to the Zohar to make your argument more believable. Reverse straw man? I don’t know.

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