Guest post by R. Dr. Barry Freundel
Rabbi Barry Freundel is the rabbi of Kesher Israel congregation in Washington, DC, Associate Professor of Rabbinics and Liturgy at Towson University, Vice President of the Vaad of Washington and head of the conversion committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His books include Why We Pray What We Pray: The Remarkable History of a Jewish Prayer and Contemporary Orthodox Judaism’s Response To Modernity.
I am here responding to two long posts, written in very different ways on Moreorthodoxy; one from Chaim Trachtman and R. Zev Farber’s post responding to my response to him (original paper here: link). This will probably be my last comment on this issue unless something dramatic happens; first because I need to get back to my day job and second because this dialogue has revealed the critical elements in this debate that make this not a difference of opinion about halakha but a contact point in a disagreement that is and has always been schismatic when it appears in Jewish history. My answer here is long and detailed as there is much to be said in answer to what these two gentlemen have posted. For those who don’t want to get that far into the weeds, I urge you to read the sections in bold that appear towards the middle and end of this post that indicate why this is a much more serious issue than others would have us believe.
I begin with Dr. Trachtman and say again: I have read what is out there on the subject of partnership minyanim and nothing rises to the level of a thorough halakhic analysis, using an Orthodox epistemology, of this practice. I have explained why in my last post when I quickly reviewed what exists and that remains true. I will say more below. I am sorry if that offends anyone but the claim is accurate.
Dr. Trachtman states that R. Mendel Shapiro, in his article on women receiving aliyot, allows women to lead certain parts of the service that are not Devarim She-bi-kedushah. But in the Edah Journal article in question (which is online here: link ), R Shapiro writes: “From the Orthodox point of view, it is clear that halakhah cannot endure the sort of egalitarian service that is now commonplace in the Conservative and Reform movements. By all Orthodox accounts, Halakhah prohibits the inclusion of women in the requisite minyan of ten as well as the mingling of the sexes during the synagogue service. But while these prohibitions appear both formally and ideologically to be insurmountable, there is one portion of the synagogue service—qeri’at ha-Torah (the public Torah reading)—where to bar women’s participation may not be absolute.“ I have heard that he now supports Partnership Minyanim (if that is not true, my apologies), but it is not in writing in the article Dr. Trachtman cites.
In that article R. Shapiro, in fact, takes up Devarim She-bi-kedushah twice; in footnote 90 and in footnote 107 and in neither place does he take up the issue of women leading services. Unfortunately, as we shall see, this is not the only place where Dr. Trachtman does not quote accurately. What Dr. Trachtman does do is compound the problem by referring to this claim of women leading parts of the services that are not Devarim She-bi-kedushah as R. Shapiro’s interpretation even though R. Shapiro doesn’t say it in this piece.
On the other hand R. Shapiro does use the Meiri as a basis for his conclusions about women and aliyot. I have mentioned this Meiri several times and no one on the other side has responded though the text presents a very significant problem for proponents of partnership minyanim and for anyone who wants to see in the articles on women and aliyot a justification for women leading services. Again, Meiri allows male children to get aliyot (he does not discuss women), and then explicitly says that this same rationale cannot be used to justify male children leading services which is not permissible (for the record R. Shapiro does not quote this last part of Meiri’s teaching). Dr. Trachtman, as everyone else on the other side, does not deal with this issue at all.
Dr. Trachtman then reminds us that prayer is not homogenous because prohibitions about allowable conversation and interruption differ at different parts of the services. That is certainly true, but does anyone in halakhic literature relate this to women serving as Chazzan? Does this have anything at all to do with chiyyuv and tefillah be-tsibbur, which Dr. Trachtman himself recognizes as the critical halakhic concerns in this discussion, in a way that relates to our issue. Dr. Trachtman provides no posek or classic commentator who suggests such a connection.
It is precisely the prevalence of these newly created halakhic parallels, that have no antecedents in our literature, used to defend Partnership Minyanim that supports my contention that we are not operating in an Orthodox halakhic universe. I would go further and say that if there were no Partnership Minyanim to defend no one would have ever drawn this parallel between when one can or cannot respond to Kedushah (for example), and whether women can lead parts of the service. Again it is the use of this type of “conclusion first, evidence second” approach that makes me challenge these attempted justifications in the way that I do.
Dr. Trachtman then cites the practice of underage boys leading parts of the service in some synagogues. He also correctly says that I indicated a dislike for the practice. All true. But if this were all I said I would be guilty of precisely what I am challenging defenders of Partnership Minyanim of doing in their approach. Dr. Trachtman neglects to cite the rest of what I say about this subject. I did a search of the literature and found only one teshuvah on point from Rav Uziel. Rav Uziel also expresses concern about the practice and then defends it as chinukh. But chinukh is not applicable to a post-Bar Mitzvah age woman. All of this is in the article and again indicates that there is no support for Partnership Minyanim in the literature while again reflecting Dr. Trachtman’s unfortunate tendency to misquote in ways that serve his purposes.
Dr. Trachtman concludes this part of his post by saying: “This variability in the sanctity of the tefilla provides a halakhic basis for decisors to justify the inclusion of women in select portions of the prayer service.” Even assuming that the ability to interrupt or not interrupt as well as the presence of children as chazzanim indicates a difference in sanctity (which Dr. Trachtman does not support from sources), how does that relate to the issues of tsibbur and chiyyuv that are the crux of the issue? Again Dr. Trachtman shows no such connection from sources.
Dr Trachtman then asks: If ten people on a flight to Israel decided to say tefillat ha-derech together does that imply that that he (meaning I) would prohibit a woman from leading the recitation? The entire thrust of my article, citing multiple sources, indicates that the answer to that question is unequivocally “yes”. I am sorry if that troubles him, but that is the unanimous conclusion of the sources.
So, too, he is correct that women cannot lead Tehillim at communal recitations of Psalms. Again that is what the sources say. He then cites me as seeing Tefillat Rabim as a form of Tefillah be-tsibbur which he recognizes would in fact preclude women from leading. But here again we have inaccurate citation. R. Freundel didn’t say this. R. Freundel cited Rav Kook as saying this–and he undoubtedly does. Now Rav Kook is an icon (deservedly so) in Modern Orthodox circles. Does Dr. Trachtman challenge his authority on this issue without even producing someone who disagrees?
There follows a truly remarkable sentence. It reads: “The fact that women regularly participate in and lead services like this in many Modern Orthodox settings suggests that the community has a broader conception of tefilla be-tsibbur than Rabbi Freundel does.”
I am not at all sure I understand the import of this sentence. Is there a responsa or posek who has validated this practice? Is Dr. Trachtman unaware of the frequently encountered phenomenon in halakhic literature wherein a practice begins to spread in the Jewish community and is then subject to Rabbinic review which may in fact yield negative conclusions, sometimes even hundreds of years after the practice begins? Is any practice engaged in by some subset of the community, in this case for likely no more than a couple of decades at most, suddenly halakhically consequential to the point where it can be used to challenge multiple halakhic sources? Finally, considering that those who are defending Partnership Minyanim challenge my assertion that the unanimous, hundreds of years old recitation of Kabbalat Shabbat in Ashkenazi circles is consequential, finding someone who cites this recent change in practice in some circles as being dispositive is remarkable, to say the least. Again, I do not see this comment as adhering to an Orthodox epistemology of Halakhah.
Dr. Trachtman then goes on to state that “rabbinic classifications change”. I first heard this claim from some Conservative Rabbis at the point in time when they began to include women in a minyan, and in fact I’d be curious to know why Dr. Trachtman doesn’t carry his logic on this point to that obvious conclusion. He cites the example of the deaf-mute (not the deaf as Dr Trachtman states) being permitted into halakhic realities formally precluded by halakhah. He then even goes half–way to explaining why this is happening but fails to follow through to recognize that this says nothing about the process of changing the status of women.
Backing up for a second, this claimed change in the status of the deaf-mute is far from universally accepted. Second, those who suggest such a change do so based precisely on the equation of the deaf-mute with the child and the mentally deficient in halakhic sources. Before the advent of things like sign language and cochlear implants the deaf-mute, like the child and the shoteh, was functionally non compos mentis. Without developing the ability to communicate someone born this way did not have the communication capacity for normal development of the brain. Even if the condition developed later in life, since many people could not read and even more could not write, the cone of silence that tragically descended on such an individual made them functionally mentally incompetent. With the development of hearing aids and sign language as well as other technologies the silence has been breached and the incompetence has gone away for many such individuals. The argument for inclusion of the deaf-mute is that this is a change precisely supported by the inclusion of the deaf-mute with the child and the mentally deficient in halakhic literature because just as a child grows out of this state and the mentally deficient can be healed of his mental illness so too the problem of the deaf-mute’s mental incompetence is subject to alteration.
Now, how does this apply to women? The lack of chiyyuv and the fact that women do not count in a minyan are well established in halakhah. This is not an affliction that can be healed or out of which one can grow–so how is this parallel in any way to the deaf-mute? Certainly the non-Orthodox schools have changed their way of operating when it comes to women, but no recognized authority or source from the Orthodox universe accepts that change and it, as is well known, is one of the clear demarcating lines that take one out of the Orthodox community. Here is not the place to discuss why this is so–but it undoubtedly is. And if it isn’t then Partnership Minyanim should all become egalitarian services immediately.
I will discuss Dr. Trachtman’s claims about the Rabbis and social-inclusion again towards the end of this post, but his claim of new categories for women that emerge from some putative rabbinic concern for “social inclusion” that does not appear in any classic halakhic source takes us further and further down the same road. This is not Orthodox halakhic methodology by any stretch of the imagination. This is not objectively searching the sources to find as objective a conclusion as one can achieve. This is imposing non-halakhic categories on halakhah and looking for support anywhere one can find it or create it whole cloth for a question that one has already decided.
Dr. Trachtman’s own words “a new class of women should be created”, are indistinguishable from statements made by Conservative Rabbis on this subject and tell us how far we have moved from anything that can remotely be called Orthodox. I think it is very important to the conversation that Dr. Trachtman has been direct enough and honest enough to tell us explicitly that this is the case. His concluding sentence in this paragraph, “Partnership Minyanim reflect an acceptance of this position by a group of men and women in Israel and around the world”, really says it all. Some people have accepted this development. But the sources do not support it and as such those men and women are not operating in an Orthodox universe.
Dr Trachtman’s next paragraph is rife with errors. He says: “Chazal did not generally require hard statistical evidence to justify changes in practice.” In fact that is false. The Talmud (and the Rambam codifies this) tells us that before a gezeirah was promulgated the Rabbis needed to make sure that more than 50% of the populace would accept it because if that did not occur the decree would be null and void. Also Dr. Trachtman cites this entire discussion out of context. I wasn’t talking about general considerations. What I said was that if one argues that things should change because of Kevod Ha-briyot one needs to know how widespread the feeling is that one’s kavod has been violated. Is Dr Trachtman suggesting that even one such complaint is enough to change halakhah? Is he suggesting that it needs to be 100% of people complaining? If neither of those two are the standard then what is it and how do you measure it?
The next claim is: “the standard phrase used by the Rabbis is ‘go out and look.’” This is a remarkable claim since this “standard phrase” appears only 5 times in all of talmudic literature and in later literature is used to confirm the accepted majority practice, not to support a new way of doing things. It is also not used to challenge a halakhic analysis, only to decide between equivalent options that have roughly equal halakhic support. Hardly the case here.
As we approach the end of his post Dr .Trachtman again does not report what I say accurately. He says: “If we give such credence to current practice, that undermines one of the key criticisms of Partnership Minyanim, namely that the fact that it was not done in the past is the strongest halakhic proof that is it impermissible.”
I don’t know who raises that criticism but it certainly isn’t me. My chief criticisms are that the sources unanimously and in many different ways preclude the things that are done at Partnership Minyanim and that the defenders of this practice are not following Orthodox halakhic epistemology in their defense of it. To challenge my position by inventing a claim that I do not make is simply unacceptable.
Turning now to R. Farbers much more appropriate post, he cites three sources that do not accomplish what he claims. R Broyde’s comments are labeled by the author as “musings”, not as a final decision. He certainly does not do a thorough analysis of the sources.
R. Dov Lior, a remarkably controversial figure because of a number of his halakhic decisions that I doubt R. Farber is comfortable with, says, without citing any sources, that a chazzan for Kabbalat Shabbat does not fulfill the prayer obligation for anyone in the kahal. I don’t disagree. His conclusion that therefore a child can lead (only occasionally) is one I disagree with, but he may simply be following Rav Uziel discussed in my article. Nonetheless his limitation to only having this done occasionally suggests that he, as I, does not see this as optimum. That is a challenge to Partnership Minyanim not a support for it. In any case his teshuvah does not say that the chazzan here is simply setting the pace and choosing the tunes. In fact he says very little. And if he is following Rav Uziel then he is using a completely different rationale for why a child as chazzan is allowed.
The third teshuvah in part supports me. It says that in Ashkenazi practice there must be a halakhically acceptable chazzan for every part of the davening. This would include Pesukei De-zimrah and the end of the services which would severely limit the activities of Partnership Minyanim. In this part of the teshuvah he cites R. Moshe Feinstein.
He then says that Kabbalat Shabbat is not part of tefillah and so a child (again not a woman) may lead, but as with the last teshuvah, he cites no sources. These three texts simply reinforce the claim that I have made again and again. Contemporary discussions of the issues surrounding Partnership Minyanim cited by its defenders do not rise to the level of a thorough halakhic analysis of the question.
R. Farber calls my position regarding a prayer recited in shul on a regular basis becoming a tefillah be-tsibbur or tefillat rabim a chidush. Now I may have been the first to bring this to a discussion of Kabbalat Shabbat but what I say is precisely what R. David b. Barukh Kalonymus Sperber says in his responsa cited in my article, and it follows the precedent of Magen Avot that the Talmud itself cites. I did not create this claim out of nothing as R. Farber suggests and there is no classic source that offers anything different. So, at most we have a few contemporary writers who cite no texts and do not do a thorough analysis who then argue with a point that I make but still do not accept Partnership Minyanim.
R. Farber accurately mentions my discussion of the different customs of whether or not to have a chazzan for Kabbalat Shabbat and Pesukei De-zimrah, but fails to mention that in Ashkenazi circles where Partnership Minyanim originate and I believe universally exist, there is always a chazzan for Kabbalat Shabbat and almost always for Pesukei De-zimrah. Since, as I say in my piece, these sections of the davening are at most a kiyum of tefillah betsibbur or tefillat rabim, one might well be allowed to decide that on a particular week or in a particular community they will forego that opportunity and so will do without a chazzan when they recite these parts of the prayer (this is more difficult in Ashkenazi circles as just discussed). This does not allow for using an unacceptable chazzan if the decision is made to make this a tefillah be-tsibbur. (All this appears in the article). Also I cite Sefer Ha-Ittim who says that when one opts to recite an optional prayer one must then follow all the rules as if it is a required prayer. That would again preclude a woman as chazzan.
R. Farber then claims, without a source in support, that: “One may then ask: Why is the prevalent custom for these services to have a shaliaḥ tzibbur? I think the simple answer is that we are accustomed to praying in this fashion, and it makes the experience feel more “community-like” if someone sets the pace and chooses the tune for everyone. I called this (non-halakhic but prevalent) practice shaliaḥ tzibbur type II.” But this not explain the presence of the tallit on the chazzan after sunset which can only be done in tefillah be-tsibbur, nor the name shaliach tzibbur which implies communal prayer nor the Tosefta passage that excludes women from any chazzan role.
I join R. Farber as a Star Trek fan but I disagree as to his rabbinic answer concerning Kabbalat Shabbat as led by a hologram. My answer would be: You have fulfilled the obligation to recite Kabbalat Shabbat but you have not accomplished its recitation as tefillah be-tsibbur because you did not have a proper chazzan. Your prayer was therefore of a lower quality than you thought it was. That is a very different answer than he suggests, but one that is in keeping with the sources.
VII. Kevod Ha-Tsibbur
R. Farber then takes us through a discussion of Kevod Hatsibbur, which I specifically rejected as a concern when it comes to prayer, as no source mentions it in a prayer context. Again, as with Dr. Trachtman, a paper tiger which I did not create is set up to be knocked down, but it has nothing to do with me. (In fact R. Aryeh Frimer does use this concept to challenge Partnership Minyanim and he formulates it very differently than R. Farber does–but that is for R. Farber and R. Frimer to debate).
R. Farber then takes us back to R. Shapiro and tries to bootstrap him into our discussion again in response to the issue that I not only didn’t raise but that I explicitly rejected (i.e. Kevod Hatsibbur). R. Mendel Shapiro’s article simply has no place here unless you misquote him (see above), or misquote me.
What follows next is a remarkable statement. R. Farber says correctly that I question the defenders of Partnership Minyanim because they do not follow “legitimate Orthodox halakhic epistemology.” He then claims “this is an exceedingly subjective claim”. Since when is the methodology of halakhah “subjective”? Such a claim negates the very essence of the Orthodox enterprise and removes any shared language or decision making capacity from the halakhic process while substituting a post-modernist rubric that undermines the integrity of our sources and decisors. If the method is subjective then no conclusion is better than any other. If that is what Partnership Minyanim are all about then we certainly are in an unrecognizable place for anyone who sees tradition as halakhically binding. As with Dr. Trachtman I think we have here another statement that sadly reveals what this discussion is really all about.
Further I have been explicit and provided example after example (there is one more to come), of claims, arguments, positions and methodologies that do not conform to Orthodox halakhic methodology, Ranging from committing the genitive fallacy to creating halakhic categories whole cloth to drawing parallels that are not source based and so on. The halakhic system has rules and unfortunately the defenders of Partnership Minyanim are, I am truly sorry to say, violating them with impunity. And this discussion has only made that even more explicit than it was before.
Finally R. Farber asks why I don’t provide people to the left of me on this issue the courtesy of seeing their position as Orthodox. (He again misquotes me by saying I don’t see them as Orthodox–I make no such statement but I will modify his question to what I do say).
There are two answers to this question. If on analysis of a halakhic question I believe, and believe I have demonstrated repeatedly, that what others are saying is not simply a disagreement about the reading of a text or a reflection of earlier debates found in halakhic literature but rather a dramatic departure from accepted methodology that has already blurred the lines that demarcate the Orthodox community and preserve its meaning and message, there is simply no room for courteous acceptance of the other opinion. Even if I were to accept the idea that Partnership Minyanim are only a small change (which is not true given its unprecedented inclusion of women as prayer leaders), the dynamic this methodology creates carries us to other places that are outside the bounds of Orthodoxy.
Again my article cites Elliot Dorf’s use of Prof. Sperber’s writings on women’s aliyot to justify his approach to homosexuality and the acceptance of gay commitment ceremonies. That is a natural consequence of stepping beyond the methodology of halakhah. The newly established precedents will simply lead to undermining other halakhic realities because halakhah has organic connections that make a conclusion in one place impact dramatically elsewhere. It isn’t that it impacted the discussion on homosexuality, it could be other things. It is the fact that the precedent leads to other legal consequences that are unacceptable. Sorry, there is just no room here for the courtesy that R. Farber requests.
Second there is a very significant–perhaps critical–epistemological difference here that must be stated and here is the place to do so. I thank my friend Mattew Hoffman (Dr. Trachtman’s neighbor in New Rochelle) for this formulation. It has to do with the relationship between emotions and halakhah. For me, I begin with halakhah and once I gain an understanding of what halakhah says, I will then ask whether and how that halakhic structure can accommodate the feelings, emotions, desires or needs that the issue I am investigating engenders.
What I hear and read in these two posts and in so many others who have approached me on this topic is precisely the opposite. Emotions come first and halakhah comes second. For me halakhah is the queen and emotion the supplicant. For others emotion is the mistress and halakhah the maidservant.
This difference is critical. When people start the conversation with “women feel disenfranchised what can halakhah do for them?”, the dynamic becomes one of trying everything and anything to find “solutions”. That has been on display here repeatedly. On the other hand the initial approach should be “let us study halakhah and see objectively what it says without a pre-conceived agenda” and once that’s done we can ask is there room for women’s tefillah, a woman shul President, Partnership Minyanim, etc.? If we do business this way the answers will be far more authentic to the system and will preserve its value and integrity. No they don’t have to be the same as my answers, but whatever the answer they will be based on a common language and methodology of halakhic analysis and not on artificially constructed hermeneutical theoretical structures that show the colors of the rainbow but, like so many soap bubbles burst on contact with our texts that do not support them.
The excitement of women at partnership Minyanim is real, the pain of disenfranchisement for some women is unquestionable, the sociological realities are the sociological realities and the categories that many moderns use to make sense of the world pervade our schools and our media. Modern Orthodox Jews are meant to struggle with these things and bring them into balance with a complete commitment to authentic halakhah. That will result in an engagement with modernity that will be very fruitful in which our answers to what modernity brings will sometimes be yes, sometimes no and sometimes yes with modification. But turning halakhah into a custom tailor who can shorten and lengthen, take out or let in the seams in response to everyone’s feelings and society’s contemporary mores will make halakhah into an infinitely flexible window dressing that threatens to make what is and should be its unique guidance into a mirror of contemporary ethics and morality and nothing else.
That is already happening in some quarters with Partnership Minyanim because of how they are defended have fueled that dynamic. Sadly that has been on display in this discussion and people need to realize this fact. I would also claim that R. Farber, to a somewhat lesser extent, and Dr. Trachtman have really said so explicitly.
So R. Farber I appreciate the respectful tone, but your arguments and those of others do not respond sufficiently to what I have written and do not follow Orthodox methodology.
“Dr Trachtman then asks: If ten people on a flight to Israel decided to say tefillat ha-derech together does that imply that that he (meaning I) would prohibit a woman from leading the recitation? The entire thrust of my article, citing multiple sources, indicates that the answer to that question is unequivocally “yes”. I am sorry if that troubles him, but that is the unanimous conclusion of the sources.”
how is tefilat haderech different than kiddush? Because in the halachic discussions of women making kiddush, there’s no mention of any of the problems you list, only other issues, and no distinction between the number of peopleshe makes kiddush for (only relation to them)
“So, too, he is correct that women cannot lead Tehillim at communal recitations of Psalms. Again that is what the sources say.”
What sources, and what concerns do they have?
When a tzibur recites prayers requiring a chazzan, not only is the chazzan obligatory, a parallel group of ten who are not obligated, such as women, may not appoint a chazzan for the same purposes. Ten men davening shacharit must have a chazzan say chazarat hashatz. Ten women can perhaps appoint a chazzanit to mark the place, but she cannot say chazarat hashatz, as that would be a bracha levatala, and etc.
Ten men saying tehillim are not required to appoint a chazzan, and if they do, what is the chazzan doing other than marking the place and choosing tunes? What formal role has this “chazzan”/leader? Ten children can also appoint a chazzan to lead tehillim as can ten women get together to say tehillim and appoint a woman to lead them. There are no halachic requirements to such a role.
You are positing that a leader of tehilim for a group of men is doing something different than a leader of a group of women who are saying tehillim – what source is there for this idea, given that men and women do not differ in their obligation or lack thereof to say tehillim?
If your objection is tzniut or kavod hatzibur, or something else, that is something else, but in this article and in your previous post on the blog, you posit that a group saying tehilim (not in the context of kabbalat shabat, but in general) who appoints a leader is conducting tefila betzibur, and yet none of the usual consequences of this designation follow (unless you wish to say that women can’t say tehillim in a large group with a leader, children can’t etc.)
“He then cites me as seeing Tefillat Rabim as a form of Tefillah be-tsibbur which he recognizes would in fact preclude women from leading. But here again we have inaccurate citation. R. Freundel didn’t say this. R. Freundel cited Rav Kook as saying this–and he undoubtedly does. Now Rav Kook is an icon (deservedly so) in Modern Orthodox circles. Does Dr. Trachtman challenge his authority on this issue without even producing someone who disagrees?”
What does Rav Kook say and where does he say it?
“Also I cite Sefer Ha-Ittim who says that when one opts to recite an optional prayer one must then follow all the rules as if it is a required prayer. That would again preclude a woman as chazzan.”
where are all these citations?
…and what sort of tefilot is the sefer ha-ittim talking about?
what about the techina before candle lighting, harachaman’s in bentching, etc etc.
There is surely nothing for me to add on the halacha of partnership minyanim. However, if I may be permitted a couple of social and historical observations. R. Freundel is certainly right that there are many cases of practices that develop without rabbinic approval that rabbis oppose a century later. But there are other practices that develop over rabbinic objection that later gain rabbinic approval and justification. Chassidut, the prohibition of kitniyot and the preference for halitza over yibum come readily to mind.
Second, I’d like to observe that much of the feeling of disenfranchisement felt by women in the orthodox community has little or nothing to do with t’filah b’tzibbur. There is the difference between the father-son textual learning session and parallel mother-daughter learning session that is primarily arts and crafts. There is the Rav Hamachshir of the mikveh who won’t speak directly to a woman who is complaining that the mikveh lady left her waiting naked for half an hour while she was on the phone. There are the shules with spacious well-lit man’s sections and small dark women’s sections. There are the men who will complain to a woman that she must change her mode of dress “because I find you too attractive,” and the dozens of other ways in which women are made to feel less than full members of society. Perhaps if we were more attentive to correcting these things it might reduce the pressure of other innovations.
“Is there a responsa or posek who has validated this practice?”
This is the real issue.
Since when is the methodology of halakhah “subjective”? . . . If the method is subjective then no conclusion is better than any other.”
This is just not true. Many disciplines are “subjective” but they are disciplines nonetheless. Their “methodlogies” are not mechanical, however, nor easily reduced to a simple set of “objective” postulates. Nevertheless in secular law, in psychology, in economics, it is not true that because the methodology is not “objective” that therefore “no conclusion is better than any other.”
Instead, in those disciplines, people learn the discipline through, essentially, shimush, which is precisely how one has to learn halacha. Which is why “where is the posek who allows this?” is the real question, not any of this other stuff… (And as for the cries of “Rabbi Sperber!,” well, time will tell, but I think it is at least reasonable to think that while he is a talmid chacham, he is not a posek “big” enough for this question…)
Rabbi Freundel’s own examples are illustrative. He disapproves of “creating halakhic categories whole cloth to drawing parallels that are not source based and so on.” I am not enough of a scholar to prove this exhaustively, but I believe it is highly implausible to claim that no “new categories” have ever been introduced into halacha. In fact one of the primary ways that later decisors rule on new cases is by doing just that. For example, the category of “kli shlishi” appears in rabbinic literature at some point, essentially out of nowhere. (I believe the aruch hashulchan says, essentially, “who ever heard of a kli shlishi? (man d’char shmeiah?)”) Of course it’s not totally out of “nowhere” according to its proponents, who have what they consider convincing parallels in sources. That’s not a “post modern” subversion, but rather the way that non-objective disciplines work.
“For me, I begin with halakhah and once I gain an understanding of what halakhah says, I will then ask whether and how that halakhic structure can accommodate the feelings, emotions, desires or needs that the issue I am investigating engenders.”
It might be helpful to the readers of this blog to read Rabbi Dr. Freundel’s tshuva regarding his shul’s program:
“Alper Memorial Women’s Rosh Chodesh Tfillah/Study Group:
Our mincha service includes tfilah, a short dvar Torah and the layning of the Shabbat mincha portion.”
I think by posting this tshuva, we could begin to understand how Rabbi Dr. Freundel distinguishes between women’s aliyos and kabbalas Shabbos. Rabbi Dr. Freundel’s formal tshuva on women’s tefillah groups and aliyos could give everyone a sense of how proper halachic methodology can be used to yield both liberal and conservative results.
“where are all these citations?”
presumably in the full-length version of his article? (i tries to post this with a link a few times and got errors. apologies if this ends up as a duplicate)
“For me, I begin with halakhah and once I gain an understanding of what halakhah says, I will then ask whether and how that halakhic structure can accommodate the feelings, emotions, desires or needs that the issue I am investigating engenders.”
See R’YBS in C-C-C “I have always been guided by a dim intuitive feeling”
Despite my own previously expressed reservations for the practice that R Freundel allows in his own shul, R Freundel deserves a strong Yasher Koach for demonstrating once again how the proponents of abolishing gender based differences in Halacha invariably allow feminist based considerations to dictate the halachic conclusion that is most accepable to their POV.
“presumably in the full-length version of his article? (i tries to post this with a link a few times and got errors. apologies if this ends up as a duplicate)”
dr r freundel link to this article? If so, I didn’t see the link
“It might be helpful to the readers of this blog to read Rabbi Dr. Freundel’s tshuva regarding his shul’s program:”
is it just me today, or what…i don’t see any teshuva at the link
“dr r freundel link to this article? If so, I didn’t see the link”
for some reasons i can’t post a comment with the link, but you can find it in the first of this series of posts, in the intro paragraph. (I tried linking to that post and that also got eaten. not sure why. Perhaps r gil could add a “prior posts: I, II” at the top as he often does…))
“is it just me today, or what…i don’t see any teshuva at the link”
I think that comment was a request that rabbu freundel post any such teshuvah, not a statement that he has, though i agree it was confusingly worded.
after the url to this blog paste: /wp-content/uploads/2013/01/partnership-minyanim.pdf
thank you emma
Unfortunately, Rav Freundel is missing the most important reason to embrace change here, which is that global conditions have changed. Women are heads of state, supreme court justices and leaders in all manner of public life (these include Jewish women). Halacha cannot be made to act as if it was 50 years ago. It is simply not the same world. Therefore since it is crystal clear that this is NOT black letter, all efforts should be made to update the status of women in our Mesorah. ALL EFFORTS. A rear guard action to preserve the status quo is dead on arrival for all groups that claim to be modern. The only way of un-ringing the bell is to hermetically seal ourselves in Ghettos. If that is the case, give up Modern Orthodoxy Rabbi Freundel and join the Haredim.
Sorry for weighing in on the fundamental issue of this discussion so late, but there was something in the back of my mind that just surfaced. R. Freundel’s main claim is that “It is not the content of the prayer, but the fact that there are ten men praying that makes the service into tefillah be-tzibbur.” This, in his view, would encompass not only kabbalat Shabbat and pesukei de-zimra, but even extend to ten men reciting together tefillat ha-derekh or tehillim. He asks his critics to cite a recognized posek who disagrees wih his analysis. Well yes, R. Freundel, there is such a posek: RAV SOLOVEITCHIK. I refer you and the readers to his essay “Be-Inyan Pesukei de-Zimra,” in Shiurim le-Zekher Abba Mari, Z’L Vol. 2, p. 23. There the Rav states that it is only by reciting a text that requires a tzibbur, namely ten men, for its recitaiton that a group of yehidim are transformed into a tzibbur. This is why, the Rav explains, kaddish is recited after pesukei de-zimra. So, for the Rav, the fact that, say, 200 men are gathered together in shul and are reciting pesukei de-zimaa together does NOT make them into a tzibbur. They are a group of yehidim until the Hazan recites the Kaddish. This would also explain how selichot can be a tefilah be-tzibbur, even though there is no recitation of the Amidah. The reason is NOT, contra R. Freundel, because ten men are praying together; it is the recitation of the kaddish toward the beginning of the selichot wihch transforms the selichot into tefillah be-tzibbur. (Rav Hutner has a well known discussion regarding the special nature of selichot and its being modeled on the standard prayer service, but to enter into it would take us too far afield.) Given this, the Meiri’s restriction regarding women leading teffilah be-tzibbur would not apply to kabbalat Shabbat or pesukei de-zimra, since they are NOT tefillah be-tzibbur.
Thus while R. Freundel correctly realizes that it is not necesary that an amidah be recited for a service to be tefillah be-tzibur, witness the selichot, he goes wrong when he tacitly assumes that the only other alternative for constituting tefillah be-tzibbur is the very minimal requirement of ten men praying together. The Rav’s cogent analysis shows that this binary assumption is incorrect.
Since I have directly responded to R. Freundel’s challenge to find a recognized posek who diasagrees with his analysis, I look forward to his response.
I note that R. Freundel in his post states that “this will probably be my last comment on the issue unless something dramatic happens.” I would like to think that my pointing to Rav Soloveitchik’s essay as fundamentally undecutting R.Freundel’s analysis is “dramatic” enough and sufficienntly within the bounds of the “Orthodox epistemology of halakhah” to warrant a response.
David S-Your last post is illustrative of the non-halachic thinking that R Freundel was commenting about that unfortunately is a cornerstone of LW MO and so-called “post denominationalist” thinkers.
MO has a message-that one can be committed to Halacha and Mesorah and be an active participant in the contemporary society providing that one takes the necessary halachic and hashkafic safeguards. Jettisoning all gender based differences, many of which are rooted in the Mishnah and the Talmud, and which it can be argued have their origins in terms of hashkafa as far back as the role diffentiations described with respect to the Avos, Imahos, Moshe Rabbeinu and Miriam HaNeviah, simply because women are more involved in the world makes as much sense as R”L, the outright jettisoning of Bris Milah because of the violation of the “human rights” of the infant, Shabbos Kodesh because of the global economy and interrelated technologically enhanced world or abolishing Hilcos Nidah because of the impact of the so-called “sexual revolution.”
Maybe MO needs more of a hermetically sealed atmosphere to project a message that shows self confidence in its message, as opposed to a message that all too often reeks of apologetics in response to cultural , political and economic fads, that all too often in the eyes of LW MO and “post denominationalist” thinkers, dictate a halachic conclusion that never satisfies such fads and reduces halachic observance to a lowest common denominator.
Perhaps the answer is that modernity never trumps either Halacha or Hashkafa-except in determining whether technology warrants reconsideration of a Psak from a prior generation, the careful use of a Ksav Yad in understanding a difficult text or the implementation of a Horaas Shah, Takanos or Gezeros or Rabbinic mitzos that have sources in the Torah and Chazal, as opposed to the R”L wholesale abrogation of Halacha, whether on a Torah basis or Rabbinic level, and halachic norms and hashkafic values such as gender separation and function.
Steve B: I am curious about your response to my lengthy strictly halakhic critique of R.Freundle’s view.
Steve B. I never said that one should jettison all gender based differences. But of course all you have is the Slippery Slope argument.
That said, one cannot be a participant in contemporary society without recognizing that contemporary society has spoken decisively on this issue. Its not open to debate; whether you want to call them feminists or whatever, they won. Now its time to see what Judaism has to say about that victory. The only halachic safeguards that will stem the tide is to drop out of contemporary society.
So for that reason, what I argue is that it is high time for Orthodoxy to avial itself of all means within Halachik boundaries to embrace more female participation. This is especially true, since there is no black letter pshat on the issue.
Larry Kaplan-in one of the verbatim shiurim in one of the volumes of Noraos HaRav as well as possibly as recorded in Harerei Kedem, RYBS explained why Slichos are a Tefilah with elements of Shevach, Bakasha and Hodaah which are introduced by Ashrei and Chatzi Kaddish and followed by Kaddish Shalem
Larry Kaplan-I should also note that in the Machzor Mesoras HaRav, RYBS noted that we stand for the piyutim when the Aron is answered because the opening of the Aron is related to the fact that the Piyut is recited responsively as a Davar ShebeKedusha as is Kel Adon.
David S-My argument was far more than a slippery slope rooted contention. There comes a time when one has to decide whether “contemporary society” dictates one’s approach to Avodas HaShem or is one of many factors that is considered in light of Halacha.
Larry Kaplan-Re Psuzeki DZimra and Kabalas Shabbos- I think that R Freundel made the point that Klal Yisrael, in the same manner as in the acceptance of Tefilas Maariv as obligatory, views Psuzekei DZimra and Kabalas Shabbos as obligatory parts of Tefilas Shacharis, and as a similarly obligatory prelude to Maariv on Leil Shabbos.
David S responded in part:
“That said, one cannot be a participant in contemporary society without recognizing that contemporary society has spoken decisively on this issue. Its not open to debate; whether you want to call them feminists or whatever, they won. Now its time to see what Judaism has to say about that victory. The only halachic safeguards that will stem the tide is to drop out of contemporary society”
Who says that participatig in such a society’s values are proper or praiseworthy? Who says that one has to walk into a collapsing building or a building on fire?
David S wrote:
“So for that reason, what I argue is that it is high time for Orthodoxy to avial itself of all means within Halachik boundaries to embrace more female participation. This is especially true, since there is no black letter pshat on the issue”
There is nothing more “black letter pshat” than the simple fact that nine men and one woman in the same room has zero halachic significance.
It is clear that 200 men reciting pesukei d’zimra is no different from 3 men. I think the point R’ Freundel was making is that the appointment of the chazzan has halachik significance in that context. 200 men with a chazzan is different than 200 men without a chazzan.
The key question is not about tefilla b’tzibbur, but rather about the nature of the role of the chazzan in situations where there is no chiyyuv for the tzibbur. R’ Freundel’s chiddush is that there must be a separate status that still has halachik significance. The source brought from RYBS does not directly challenge this thesis and instead just explains how pesukei d’zimra is separated from tefilla b’tzibbur, but does not define if there are situations where a group of yechidim is effected by halachos of a tzibbur. R’ Freundel brought several proofs indicating that while it is not tefilla b’tzibbur, there are certain halachik ramifications to that group of yechidim appointing a chazzan. One of those ramifications is that the chazzan should wear a tallis even at night and one of the ramifications is that the chazzan must be legally capable of acting as a chazzan for a tzibbur.
Lawrence Kaplan: As someone who knows Rabbi Freundel well, I would suggest that if you want a response from him regarding the Rabbi Soloveitchik source you quote above, you email him. While I don’t know this for certain, I can only assume he’s not reading most of these comments. He is very accessible though and can be reached via the Kesher website.
“There comes a time when one has to decide whether “contemporary society” dictates one’s approach to Avodas HaShem or is one of many factors that is considered in light of Halacha.”
Well clearly you think this is one of those times. I clearly do not and think that your way of addressing this is selfish and retrograde.
“Who says that participatig in such a society’s values are proper or praiseworthy? Who says that one has to walk into a collapsing building or a building on fire?”
Nobody. Just don’t claim to be Modern Orthodox. You are a Haredi.
David S-I have always advocated implementing the best elements of the Charedi and MO worlds in my own Avodas HaShem, while rejecting the extremes such as those who would abolish gender differences, those who view the covenantal relationship as non-binding in nature today, as well as book bans , the lack of appreciation of any halachic or halachic significance to the State of Israel and messianist elements in Chabad, while admiring the single minded devotion to Torah , Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim in many aspects of the Charedi world-even those portions that I would not feel comfortable with in many ways. I reject your claim that such a POV is Charedi.
I am traveling and unable to keep up with R. Freundel. Scanning the latest post and comments, I observe that with enough diligence one can find a way to assur just about anything, The question that remains outstanding is why R. Freundel has chosen this (already lost) battle? Something does not add up.
Elanit: Thank you for your suggestion. I will take you up on it.
Sreve B: Of course there is a hiyyuv to daven pesukei de-zimra and there may be a hiyyuv to daven kabbalat Shabbat. The issue, however, is whether a group of men reciting these prayers together and fulfiling their hiyyuv constitute a tzibbur.
Former YU: It is clear from the Rav’s analysis that the only way the 200 yehidim reciting the pesukei de-zimra can be constituted as a tzibiur is by the Hazzan reciting the kaddish. It follows that for the Rav a hazzan leading the mispallelim in pesukei de-zimra has no halakhic significance and does not make them into a tzibbur.
I should add that even if you disagree with me, we are now in the realm of halakhic debate and both sides have al mah lismokh.
While I don’t believe R. Fruendel’s assertion that kabbalat shabbat becomes a tefilla b’tzibbur, I think its time that the truth be told: Mendel Shapiro’s article was long, but not at all complelling. I do not see how the Partnership Minyanim justify Kol Isha during kaballat shabbat, nor do I see any real compelling proof for allowing women to have aliyot la-Torah. True, some of the responses to Shapiro weren’t so great either.. but anyone who takes a good look at this sees there is very little halachic backing- and it really does look like what Conservative judaism had hoped to look like many years ago.
It is disturbing to see the constant justifications for various practices based on what “society” has decided. If Avraham Avinu bowed to the wishes of society, he would have been an idol worshipper. Satre noted that one of the reasons for anti-Semitism is that Jews try to be more German than the Germans, more French than the French, etc. One of our responsibilities, as Jews, is to stand as examples to “society” of how to behave. And, as Rabbi Freundel puts it, the standard for our behavior is halacha.
problem: The issue here is the cogency of R.Freundel’s contention that a group of men reciting kabalat Shabbat together constitutes a tzibbur. I have argued, based on Rav Soloveitchik’s essay, that R.Freundels’ contention is flawed. I presented no opoinion of my own regarding women receiving aliyyot or kol isha.
halacha: My lengthy comment was not based on “wht ‘society has decided,” but on Rav Soloveitchik’s briliant shiur and was a strictly halakhic analysis.
Elanit: I have e-mailed R. Freundel. Again, thnk you for the suggestion.
I agree with your critique on RF- it is so clearly flawed that the R. Soloveitchik quote isn’t even necessary.
IH- I’m not sure why you think traditional orthodoxy has already lost the battle against these radical unhalachic innovations. Once upon a time Orthodox shuls came very close to pulling mechitzas out of their shuls, but the tide eventually turned and now every Orthodox shul has a mechitza and their is no thought to the contrary.
There is an ebb and a flow to these things and it would be an incredibly dereliction of duty for any rabbi to roll over and not inform people of a practice he thinks is beyond the halachic pale. Rabbi Freundel is doing his job as a rabbi (and his moral duty as a learned individual) to inform people of what the halacha says. The alternative would be to sit on his hands and allow people to sin.
The Reform and Conservative movements spun off and formed their own movements. Maybe you want to say that, that battle was lost also. But I think there are a growing number of people who would see it as a happy compromise if “Open Orthodoxy” were to also spin off and form its own distinct movement. I don’t see that possibility as the least bit foreclosed. Maybe we can call that a draw where everyone goes home happy.
I suspect that r’ih well understands that only in retrospect will we know whether these minyanim will be part of orthodoxy or not, I suspect that to the extent one could paint htem as a fait accompli, they will be more likely to be accepted. I suspect that R’ Freundel is trying to ensure that they are not a fait accompli. As ususal the RBS”O will get the final vote after all the hishtadlut is done.
History -excellent post-especially with respect to the issue of the mechitza, and R Freundel’s duty as a rav-There is a well known statement in the name of R Yisrael Salanter, which has far earlier sources, that a rav who does not give Tochacha for lack of proper observance, simply isn’t doing his job-even if he appears at time to be giving Tochacha to himself because noone else is listening ( which I think RYBS used to say was the view of the Beis HaLevi and RCS on such matters).
History: I would modify your comment to read “Rabbi Freundel is doing his job as a rabbi.. to inform people of what HE BELIEVES the halakhah says.” As I have argued, a strong HALAKHIC case can be made that the halakhah says no such thing.
Mr. Kaplan, I stick by my original statement as I do not find your argument compelling.
You do not discuss RDBF discussion of tephlia b’ Rabim at all, you also do not discuss his numerous proof regarding Kablat Shabbos in fact being Tephlia B’Tzibur (there are many in the original article such as being allowed to wear a talit at night.) You draw on one source which, even in the best possible light, does not prove your argument, and in fact barely supports it.
I’ll keep my original formulation until you do something to convince my otherwise.
History: Fair enough. I will only point out that for the Rav there is no such category of tefillat rabim. I fail to see why the Rav’s essay does not prove and barely supports my point. As for its being only one source: Well R. Freundel asked for one source, and I provided one. And not from some obscure out of the way unrecognized halakhic figure.
I do not see how the source you cited either demonstrates that the Rav did not think there was such a thing as tefillat rabim or how it shows what he thought about Kabalat shabbos specifically. Maybe you want to point more specifically to how you think this text support your argument, but when I read it I don’t see it at all.
History: I’m busy with my “day job” now. I’ll get back to you later. For the meanwhile, read the essay. Great essay.
I think teh point being made is that the artcile you quote from RYBS distinguishes between tefilla b’tzibbur and pesukei d’zimra, which no one denies. The question for halachik analysis is that there are several halachik nafka mina’s that are widely accepted for pesukei d’zimra and kabbalas shabbos to name a few. R’ Freundel presented an approach on how to classify pesukei d’zimra and kabbalos shabbos in light of the fact that though they are not tefilla b’tzibbur, halachik status is given to the fact that they are recited with a minyan and a chazzan.
Any approach that argues needs to answer the question. Just saying pesukei d’zimra is not tefilla b’tzibbur does not answer the question presented.
One approach would be to say that there is no halachik significance to the saying of pesukei d’zimra or kabbalas shabbos in shul with a chazzan and a minyan. Based on your quote from RYBS that would have to be your position. The question then is what to make of the various halachik nafka mina’s attributed to these tefillos with a chazzan.
I do not have any proof or back-up, but knowing the approach taken to these tefillos in the Litvish yeshiva world (i.e. shacharis minyanim start at borchu and many individuals skip kabbalas shabbos in shul altogether) so perhaps that makes sense that RYBS viewed them that way, but we do no ascribe halachik significance to the chazzan, in which case it must be explained halachically.
“For those who don’t want to get that far into the weeds, I urge you to read the sections in bold that appear towards the middle and end of this post that indicate why this is a much more serious issue than others would have us believe.”
I don’t see any bolded-format text in the post. R’ Gil?
rabbi freundel may be doing a job, but not his job as rabbi, i.e. teacher of torah. THe article is full of misreadings of sources, some quite egregious; many of the sources properly read are irrelevant or make the point opposite to the one R FReundel wishes them them to make; there are some real leaps of logic and etc.
There are many examples of the sort of thing I’m talking about. Here’s one:
“Second, we return to a quote from Mishnah Berurah76 that also appears in Haye Adam77
and is cited By R. Moshe in his discussion of the definition of tefillah betsibur:78
עיקר התפלה בצבור הוא תפלת י”ח דהיינו ש יתפללו עשרה אנשים שה ם גד ולים בי חד
The essential part of communal prayer is the eighteen (Shmoneh Esrei)
which means that ten adult males shall pray together.
The fact that Shmoneh Esrei is the essential aspect (ikar) of communal prayer means that
it is not the totality of communal prayer. This implies that there is a non-essential aspect
to tefillah betsibbur as well.:
To put this another way: the basic hiyuv of tefillah betsibbur is to recite the Amidah in a
communal setting. But there can be a kiyum of tefillah betsibbur that is something other
than this basic requirement. In the same way that the hiyuv to accept the yoke of heavan
is fulfilled by twice daily recitation of Keriyat Shema,79 but one can be mekayem that
commandment with every breath and every action beyond Keriyat Shema, so too the
hiyuv of tefilah betsibur is fulfilled with the Amidah, but there can be a kiyum of tefilah
betsibur with any other prayer that is recited in a community of ten men….”
Well, NO. The meaning of the quote is that is that the ikar of tefilah betzibur is the silent prayer of all ten ****as opposed to chazarat hashatz***** There is no hint of any “non-essential aspect of tefilah betzbiur”
Everything that follows in the quote from R FReundel’s article above is an elaboration of this misreading and his extrapolation from it, but it’s all moot as its based on an incorrect reading of a simple text. (Actually, the point to take home from the correct reading of this source is that the presence of the chazzan doesn’t have the import he attributes to it.)
There are quite a number of such examples in this article. It’s shocking.
If I have time later, I will detail more. THere’s almost no substantive point in the article based on sources that does not contain errors of one sort or another.
I want to stress that I am adamantly opposed to partnership minynaim and my comments here are not due to “hashkafic” quarrel with R FReundel.
Former YU – ” halachik status is given to the fact that they are recited with a minyan and a chazzan.”
can you be specific? did you find his arguments convincing for tefllat rabim and its a sub section of tefilah b’tzibur? i found the zimun argument problematic.
the discussion of “Tefilat rabim” begins
“We find the definition of this type of prayer in R. David b. Barukh Kalonymus Sperber’s
responsa. He tells us that three people praying together constitute tefillat rabim.87”
All this teshuva says is that three individuals are better off davening together even if there is no minyan and no tefila betzibur because of *berov am hadrat melech* and it is always better to do a mitzva in a group. This applies to women no less than men as it’s unrelated (explicitly so) to tefila btzibur. Many of the sources in that paragraph probably also apply to women, as women also benefit from the maala of the rabim (the benefit of tefila betzibur, that tefilot are more readily accepted, also apply to women as much as to men, and benefit is distinct from obligation).
The source above is in no way a basis for positing that there is something called “Tefilat rabim” that is a subset of tefila betzibur/ Is every mitzva done preferably berov am a “mitzvat rabim”? Berov am is not a concept specific to tefila.
I think the point a number of us are making in different ways is that while R. Freundel suceeds in making a suggestive and learned case for his view, it is by no means, speaking strictly halakhically, as obvious, air-tight, and above all, uncontroverted as he believes to be the case.
You lost me-R Sperber’s conclusion is premised on the many sources that praise davening in a shul, even if one is davening alone. Yet, three people davening together cannot and donot constitute a Tzibur.
R. Freundel kindly and speedily replied privately to my private e-mail to him, saying that he plans to publicly respond to me as soon as he has the time. I am sure we all look forward to reading his response when it appears.
Lawrence Kaplan, Ruvie and You Lost Me,
R’ freundel’s argument certainly is not air tight and it is a chiddush. The basic understanding I had before this discussion was that the chazzan merely serves to mark the place.
However, R’ Freundel raises good questions and no one has suggested an alternative the seems to account for the sources. R’ Freundel is looking for an answer to his questions. In contrast, his critics are just saying he is wrong without addressing the fundamental halachik query.
The basic halachik question is that certain tefillos of the individual seem to be granted different status when said as a group with halachik nafka mina’s. No one other than R’ Freundel has made a suggestion to account for this apparent change in halachik status. I agree that the closer you get to saying that tefilla b’rabim is a subcategory of tefilla b’tzibbir the bigger the chiddush.
One possible approach that is not mechadesh a new halachik parameter called “tefill b’rabim” which is a chiddush would bekovod hatzibbur. In the context of a group of Jews containing 10 men, certain aspects of kovod hatzibbur apply and relate to the prayer leader attaining some status.
As opposed to a requirement of tefilla b’rabim, under this formulation the ability to wear a tallis would be an expression of kovod hatzibbur, similar to the chazzan at maariv wearing a tallis. It thus would be a question of violating kovod hatzibbur to allow a disqualified chazzan to lead . I will leave to others to debate how “kavod hatzibbur” considerations should or should not affect a woman’s ability to lead kabbolas shabbos.
“”R. Freundel suceeds in making a suggestive and learned case for his view”
ah yes. For example:
“In addition a number of sources indicate that it is not the particular liturgy but the presence of ten men at prayer that defines turning to God as tefillah betsibbur.
R. Moses Feinstein in a series of responsa…
To quote one instance among several:
הנה בדבר מעלת תפלה בצב ור ששמע שאמרתי שהוא דוקא כשכל העשרה מתפללין ולא
סגי ברוב המנ ין הוא ה אמת. ומה שהוזכר שסגי ברוב מנין הוא רק לענין לומר ד בר
Regarding the superiority of communal prayer, where he heard that I said
that this is only when all of the ten pray and that it does not apply when itis the majority of a minyan, that is true… and what is recorded that it is sufficient with the majority of a minyan, that is only to permit the recitation of davar shebikdusha.’
It is not the content of the prayer, but the presence of ten men praying that makes a
service into a tefillah betsibbur”
R Freundel has misconstrued R Moshe’smeaning. R Moshe is saying that ten men praying is a necessary condition for tefilah betizbur. R Moshe is not saying that ten men praying is tefilah betzibur. The ten are a necessary, but insufficient, condition. R Freundel’s conclusion that kabbalat shabbat is tefilah betzibur because there are ten men praying is a non-sequitor.
I’m not clear on what questions you think R Freundel is addressing other than to my mind the rather weak point of the chazzan wearing a talit for kabbalat shabbat (if that was his sole argument, I’d not be writing this way, but IMO that is the only point he makes that holds up long enough to be worthy of debate). But regarding your proposal – kovod hatzibur argument may or may not be relevant but Rabbi Freundel argues that it’s not relevant. Is the topic at hand whether women should lead kabbalat shabbat or whether R FRuendel makes the case that they can’t? I thought it was the latter.
In line with my proposal, the meaning of the meiri cited by Rabbi Fruendel woould establish varying levels of kovod hatzibbur depending on the situation. In context that is the most logical explanation of the meiri. The Meiri is distinguishing between the kovod hatzibbur for krias hatorah and that for acting as a chazzan.
I have reread R. Freundel’s first post with some care. I agree with “you lost me” that R. Freundel misread Rav Moshe’s teshuvah. In general, I do not feel he proved his case that kabbalat Shabbat is tefillah be-tzibbur. The Rav’s argument as to how a tzibbur is constituted is much stronger than R. Freundel’s, and, as well, serves ot explain Selichot being tefillah be-tzibbur (as opposed to Kabbalat Shabbat) very well. As for wearing a tallit proving it is tefillah be-tzibbur, come on! Re tefillat rabbim, I again agree with “you lost me” that all that most of the sources prove is that that tefilat rabbim, as R. Freundel himself seems to realize is just an enhanced form of tefillat yahid, i.e., it is a tefillat yahid where the yahid receives more merit because he davens with the rabbim. The only source apparently supporting the view that tefillat rabbim, to cite R. Freudel, may be a diminished form of tefiltlah be-tzibur is the responsum of Rav Kook. But Rav Kook does not, so it seems, make this point explicitly, and it appears to be a “diyyuk” of R. Freundel. I cannot judge the diyyuk’s validity until I see the text of the teshuvah, which, alas, R. Freundel did not cite verbatim.
Nice work everyone. It seems as if you proved my simple point, which is that whatever this argument is, it is not black letter. We are now in the realm of judgement and we are “required” to judge for our own times, not for the times of another. If we allow the allowable here, we do not shun communities that disagree. Rather we create more opportunities to include people and create a Kiddush Hashem. Allowing the allowable IS Orthodox Judaism.
So Rabbi Dr. Freundel misread R. Moshe (mistaking sufficient for necessary conditions), misread the Mishneh Berurah (mistaking a contrast with other parts of davening for a contrast with charazas ha-shatz and kedushah), gathered many passing references in the responsa literature that don’t really address his question directly and attempts to draw inferences from the precise choice of descriptions of tefillah used, confuses the “advantage” of davening with a plurality of people (“b’rov am”) with the technical definition of tefillah b’tzibur (in the tshuva of R. Sperber and many others), draws an weak inference from a very tentative tshuva of R. Kook (where the simple reading is that it is because the person still needs to daven that he is counted, not because of any special new halachic category), etc. etc. And he expects us to accept this sort of scattershot collection of Bar Ilan sources as a true halachic methodology? It was difficult to accept this before, but now that Professor Kaplan has offered up a convincing and simple definition of tefillah b’tzibur from R. Soloveitchik which proposes to present the Rambam’s view, now it is utterly impossible to accept R. Freundel’s writing as in any way dispositive.
R. Freundel’s other arguments, from a perspective of public policy, whether encouraging women to embrace a “non-mitzvah” is really a good approach, etc, are all worthy of discussion. But his chiddush of tefilas rabim significantly detracts from his point of view, and serves to twist halacha in the interest of public policy.
I suspect that R’ Freundel is trying to ensure that they are not a fait accompli.
But, that begs the question of why this particular issue is so vexing to R. Freundel. Has he expended as much energy on Messichist Chabad?
Contrary to Gil’s assertion, pessimists worry about slippery slopes; optimists tolerate experimentation with the belief that traditional Halachic Judaism has benefited and synthesised from sociological change in the past, e.g.: Zionism, Chassidism, Kabbalism and Aristotelian Rationalism.
The very focus of R. Freundel, Kabbalat Shabbat, is in fact one such experiment. And it has withstood shocks to the system precisely because the amcha is smart enough to separate an innovation from the ideology that created it. My belief that many of the practices of Partnership Minyanim will become normative in establishment Modern Orthodox in the next decade or two are borne of that optimism. Those who have not experienced it themselves, should experience it firsthand before running to condemn it. Like Kabbalat Shabbat, itself, you may find it a positive experience (or at least, not feel threatened by it).
I view the proponents of and participants in “partnership minyanim” as well-intentioned and misguided. I was intrigued by the discussion of the “partnership minyan” phenomenon and looked on google to see if there were many out there (there are several that have websites) and what they have to say about themselves.
I found it interesting that at least one of them says the following:
“We do not begin Shacharit services until we have a quorum of ten men and ten women.”
They have apparently invented a new requirement that 10 women be present for communal prayer! I’d be curious to know what happens when that policy comes up against sof zman kriat shema, sof zman tefila, or tefila b’tzibur in general (that is, if they have 10 men and 9 women and waiting for a 10th woman will cause the prayers to be delayed in contravention of people’s obligations to say kriat shema or tefila within the required timeframe, or if waiting for a 10th woman will cause tefila b’tzibur to be lost altogether because the 10th woman never shows).
I note that “it’s not an issue, we always easily get 10 men and 10 women” isn’t an answer. What do these people really think?
Shumel I think you are right that many are well intentioned. But as you can also see more than a few (see many posters here) are willing to engage in a great deal if distortion and sophistry to justify what they’re smart enough to know is non halachic and politically motivated behavior.
IH’ your suggestion that those of us who consider your innovation to be violative of halacha is bewildering. Do you suggested that we do the same for Reform services? That was a Jewish innovation that won over a great deal many converts. How about Catholic mass? That too was started by Jews.
I take my relationship with my creator too seriously too engage in your political experiment. But I don’t think we have to be hostile. Go ahead and be normative in your own movement. If you’re not comfortable with being called Conservative or Reform make up something new (you’re really good at that.) But if you try and oppose your radical beliefs in an attempt to make them normative in the next decade or two you are going to meet strident resistance every step of the way.
At best you will end up tearing the Jewish community in half and end up acrimoniously creating a new faction, which you could do amicably today.
Do you suggested that we do the same for Reform services?
History — I guess you missed this example from round 2:
IH on January 30, 2013 at 6:21 pm
all the yetomim gather together at the front of the shul, so it looks like some “leading” is going on, even if it’s a group of leaders.
Shhh. Don’t tell anyone it’s a German Reform minhag that was accepted by R. Zvi Hirsch Chajes:
״ומה שספרו לי כי באתה מקומות הנהיגו כי אין האבלים אומרים קדיש יתום כל אחד בפני עצמו, רק הש״ץ עומד על הבימה ואומר קדיש והאבלים עומדים סביב לו ואומרים אחריו מלה במלה, בין שאינם יודעים בין אותן שיודעים, ולדעתי היה תקנה טובה שלא לבייש את מי שאינו יודע״
every time I glance at the article, I discover another piece of butchery:
“Similarly when communities gather to recite Psalms61 for someone who is ill or for a perceived threat to the State of Israel or for other similar reasons,62 is this not communal prayer?63 And if it isn’t what is it? What halakhic category would it fall into? I can find
no answers to these questions from the supporters of Partnership Minyanim.64”
and footnote 62 (discussing davening for someone who is ill or perceived threats):
“R. Meir b. Yekutiel ha-Kohen of Rothenburg (c.1260 – 1298), Hagahot Maimaniyot, Hilkhot Tefillah,
8:4, specifically endorses such prayers:
שרבים נוהגים להתפלל בשביל יחיד וראיה מאבל וחתן
That the many are accustomed to pray for the individual and the proof is from the mourner and the bridegroom.
We discuss tefillat rabim in the next section but I do not think this source is talking about that halakhic
reality. Rather I believe it is using rabim as a synonym for minyan and tsibbur because this comment appears in relation to the paragraph in which Rambam defines tefillah betsibbur.”
the hagahot maimaniyot is not discussing davening for an individual who is ill or in response to a perceived threat! Yes, he is using rabim as synonym for minyan, and he’s discussing the minhag of the tzibur/minyan going to an individual’s house to form a minyan – just as they go to a chassan’s house or an avel’s house to form the minyan “for them” = rather than forming the minyan in shul. That’s all he is discussing and nothing more.
In what halachic category is saying tehilim for an ill person supposed to fall?? One person says tehillim as a yachid, two, three, ten, twelve, all that changes is the element of berov am. If I say that I hope the rbs”o grants everyone who reads this comment long life and good health and happiness and prosperity, this is my personal tefila. If I get ten people to say this in unison, we are a group of people saying personal tefilot, and this is so even if one of us says the tefilla and everyone says amen and even if the one saying the tefila is wearing a tallit! The article and the posts are replete with references to what those who write on partnership minyanim haven’t addressed, but these are references to issues about which there is nothing to address. R Freundel has not brought a SINGLE source that says that ten people who recite any sort of prayer together are engaging in tefila betzibur. One can’t fantasize sources saying what they don’t say and then complain that no one writes articles dealing with figments of ones imagination. I havent read what everyone writes about partnership minyanim and am not claiming expertise in this literature, but it’s painfully obvious that the repeated complaints that no one has dealt with the halachic issues involved is a result of complaining that no one misreads sources in R Freundel’s unique manner and then addresses what the sources don’t say or imply, before moving on to sources that aren’t relevant and making any manner of logical leaps. Umeyinyan linyan boso inyan, to return to this post:
“Dr Trachtman then asks: If ten people on a flight to Israel decided to say tefillat ha-derech together does that imply that that he (meaning I) would prohibit a woman from leading the recitation? The entire thrust of my article, citing multiple sources, indicates that the answer to that question is unequivocally “yes”. I am sorry if that troubles him, but that is the unanimous conclusion of the sources.
So, too, he is correct that women cannot lead Tehillim at communal recitations of Psalms. Again that is what the sources say.”
The sources say no such thing, but let’s focus on the “unanimous conclusion” that a woman can’t say tefilat haderech for a group of ten. Not only did R Freundel not give a single source that says that a group of ten praying is automatically davening betzibbur (and btw are the sources he brings suppposed to be exhaustive so that even if they speak in one voice they could be he unanimous conclusion of “the sources”? they strike me as a rather random collection). R Freundel goes to great lengths in the article to try to prove that women are not obligated in kabbalat shabat, asserts that men are obligated – and here he utterly conflates the assertion that there’s a communal obligation to say kabbalat shabbat, which he never proves either, with an issue he NEVER addresses, namely whether individual men are obligated to say kabbalat shabat, and maybe I’ll write more on this further – and all this to prove that women can’t lead services for kabbalat shabbat. But women are obligated in tefilat haderech. If women might count in a tzibur for mitzvot in which they are equally obligated to men, such as kiddush hashem, then even if we accept every one of R Freundel’s assumptions, such that ten individuals saying a tefilat yachid are transformed into a group that is davening tefila betzibur, we woudl still have to discuss why women can’t lead this tzibur saying tefilat haderech. But when it comes to tefilat haderech and for that matter tehillim, R Freundel reverts to the notion that women are by definition excluded from *any* obligation in tefilah betzibur, even though he’s invented categories of tefilah betzibur for which they ought at least theoretically to be eligible the same as men. This train wreck is supposedly the “unanimous conclusion of the sources”???
The sociological “tearing apart” argument can just as easily be applied to Yeshivish influence on MO, so that is not a tenable argument.
IH you are demonstrating exactly why this is not an Orthodox mode of thought. For all of your snark what you did was reach back to an opinion that was never adopted to by Klak Yisroel and hasn’t been practiced in centuries. You then used that practice to justify a major innovation in the name of return to a prior practice. That is the type of epistemology that might work for the Historical School of the Conservative movement but it is in no way Orthodox.
Also note that I in no way want to denigrate the Historical School of the Conservative movement. They did serious scholarly and academic research and I don’t call into question their scholarly credentials. Just as many of the people in your new faction are academics and ivy league grads and can perform historical research with academic rigor. With all of that said, it doesn’t mean that they were practicing an Orthodox epistemology, and it doesn’t mean that you are doing so either.
No matter how smart you are, if you apply that intelligence outside of an Orthodox framework the result can never be Orthodox.
History: I agree. The argument generally boils down to this: Something was once changed therefore any change is allowed.
“The argument generally boils down to this: Something was once changed therefore any change is allowed.”
Yes and no. If you believe that Halacha is a living thing that must respond to the specific conditions of the time in which it must be applied and be sensitive to what is actually happening in the world then you MAY legitimately be open to innovation based upon actual changes in the status of women.
If on the other hand you believe that everything new in Halacha is now assur you don’t. However, that this would place you OUTSIDE of modern orthodoxy and squarely within the Haredi world.
So what really is happening here is that some folks believe that the status of women has changed so dramatically that it begs for an open minded reassessment of what has been traditional but assuredly NOT black letter law. There is plenty of precedent for this starting with Moshe Rabbenu and the Daughters of Zelophehad (which I suggest that some of you read since it gives Hashem’s brief on justice).
Other folks believe that the whole edifice is so weak that any change that gives women more of a voice will destroy the whole religion.
No. The proper argument is that sometimes change happens. The fact that a specific change once happened does not shed any significant light on a current proposed change.
I agree. Some folks have taken halakhah into their own hands. The example from Bamidbar that I would cite is not the daughters of Tzelophchad (which, by the way, R. Navon discusses and points out–in my framing–that their approach was to raise their concerns to the leading authority and defer to his decision). If you can’t guess which case from Bamidbar, I’m sure Steve Brizel is happy to quote Rav Soloveitchik’s famous speech on the subject.
David S (there’s really no need to yell.)
You set up an entirely false dichotomy here. The only two choices are not counter halahic and charedi as you lay out.
First you cite a position which lays waste to halacha. I am gratified that you ascribe this position to yourself. Anyone reading these posts understands that you’re putting your political proclivities before halacha but it is gratifying to see you admit it openly.
“If you believe that Halacha is a living thing that must respond to the specific conditions of the time in which it must be applied and be sensitive to what is actually happening in the world then you MAY legitimately be open to innovation based upon actual changes in the status of women.”
Next you cite a charedi opinion.
“If on the other hand you believe that everything new in Halacha is now assur you don’t. However, that this would place you OUTSIDE of modern orthodoxy and squarely within the Haredi world.”
There is of course a third option that there are some thing which are amenable to change and somethings which are not. The question then becomes one of how we determine what is open to change and what is not.
Modern Orthodoxy is about tension. Its about looking deeply into our religion and tradition becuase there aren’t any easy answers to the pulls that we face. You seem to want to ignore that tension and start by assuming that everything is open to change.
Call that what you will. Call it sensitive, humane, big hearted, and whatever other superlatives you want to apply to yourself. But you’re not fooling anyone by calling it Orthodox.
In case anyone is curious the other example from Bamidbar is Korach. (I think)
Reflections of the Rav, ch. 13 http://books.google.com/books?id=75WlJgOlHfgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=reflections+of+the+rav&hl=en&sa=X&ei=HWYRUfnrK7Ku0AGpuYGQCQ&ved=0CDwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=common%20sense&f=false
“that their approach was to raise their concerns to the leading authority and defer to his decision”
Yes, but some elaboration is in order. First, they did not raise the point with the leading authority and defer. Rather there are several opinions. One suggests that they raised the point first to the assembly and only later on to Moshe. Another opinion is that they raised the point with Moshe The Priests and the whole assembly as one. This is hardly requesting the decision of the leading authority. Second, Moshe did not decide. He spoke to Hashem and Hashem decided that their claim was just. This is important.
The main point, however, is the decision itself, which indicates (at least in this case) that Hashem thought the traditional system then current was unjust. Why was it unjust? We cannot know Hashem’s will but it seems that the case that they made (which one could easily argue was motivated by self interest instead of a desire to serve Hashem) was that their name would be lost to Israel and that this would be unfair to them just because they were women. AND HASHEM RELENTED. Surely a precedent that deserves study.
Do you talk to Hashem? Did he tell you Partnership Minyanim are ok?Just curious. if not the precedent its pretty hard to follow.
If Hashem does talk to you please let me know what stocks you buy. I won’t even complain about your random yelling if we run the ultimate insider trading deal.
“You seem to want to ignore that tension and start by assuming that everything is open to change.”
Nope, wrong. Not everything is open to change. I don’t believe that and you should not ascribe that opinion to me. I do not lay waste to anything except the fallacy that changing the status of women within Orthodox Judaism is not Halachically possible.
“Do you talk to Hashem? Did he tell you Partnership Minyanim are ok?Just curious. if not the precedent its pretty hard to follow.”
Really? It seems rather obvious to me. The women thought that a traditional precedent that gave them an unequal outcome was wrong. They petitioned through Moshe to God. They won. Perhaps that precedent can be part of the discussion. Not with you of course…your mind is closed.
Your words speak for themselves.
“If you believe that Halacha is a living thing that must respond to the specific conditions of the time in which it must be applied and be sensitive to what is actually happening in the world then you MAY legitimately be open to innovation based upon actual changes in the status of women.”
Maybe you were inapt. But if Halcha “must respond to the specific conditions of the time” you really said a lot more than you now claim to be saying.
You can retract that post, but if you stand by that post one of your statements is clearly false.
David, I am more than happy to have your precedent play a roll. Once God tells you that Partnership Minyanim are ok I’ll be happy to admit you’re right. (Assuming the men with the butterfly nets don’t come first.)
“Maybe you were inapt. But if Halcha “must respond to the specific conditions of the time” you really said a lot more than you now claim to be saying.”
How about this formulation. Halachic decisors must respond to the case in front of them. Better? You have to admit however that conditions of the time are part of any legal case, however. I’m not saying zeiteist mind you. Actual conditions.
“Once God tells you that Partnership Minyanim are ok I’ll be happy to admit you’re right. ”
Ha ha ha. Seinfeld is on the jewish blogs again. Don’t quit your day job bud.
David, sure that is much better. But now you’re just begging the question as to who that decisor makes that decision. You took out your controversial statement and replaced it with nothing. It doesn’t tells us what positions are available to that decisior. Can he to anything he wants? What restrains are on him? At least your original formulation said something.
As for your lack of a sense of humor, there’s nothing I can do to help you with that.
I meant to say “how that decisior makes that decision.”
“Also I cite Sefer Ha-Ittim who says that when one opts to recite an optional prayer one must then follow all the rules as if it is a required prayer. That would again preclude a woman as chazzan.” – from this post
“footnote 124 Sefer ha-Itim, loc. cit, takes an interesting position on this question. He says that Maariv is optional if one does not recite it, However once one begins to recite the liturgy it becomes compulsory and all the rules of compulsory prayer attach to it. If this model is correct and can be applied to Kabbalat Shabbat thattoo would make women ineligible to lead. See also R. Abraham b. Nathan (c. 1155- 1215) Sefer ha- Manhig Shabbat 139” – from R Freundel’s article
The sefer haittim and the sefer hamanhig say the same thing, and it bears little relation to the “model” R Freundel assigns to them. The Sefer haittim is puzzled by the requirement to repeat maariv on shabbos if one forgot to mention shabbos in shmone esray. He asks, if tefilas arvis reshus, what requirement can there be to repeat the tefila? He answers that the machlokes whether tefilas arvis is reshus or chova is a machlokes about whether atrichinen lei to daven maariv in the first place – must one trouble to start davening maariv. However, once one has troubled, it is now chova, and one must daven properly. The machlokes is then limited to whether one must trouble oneself to daven maariv in the first place or not, but even the m’an d’amar that tefilas arvis reshus agrees that once one started the tefila, it’s chova. It’s a turnstile model: once you are “in” and davening, you can’t get “out” by saying it was reshus all along. This is not a “model”; it’s an explanation of what is being discussed in the specific machlokes of whether tefilas arvis is reshus or chova and the explanation is limited to that topic and can’t be extended to kabbalat shabbat or adon olam or any other prayer. There is no implication that any time one begins any optional prayer, it transmutes into an obligatory one.
This article is a disgrace.
“You took out your controversial statement and replaced it with nothing. It doesn’t tells us what positions are available to that decisior. Can he to anything he wants? What restrains are on him? At least your original formulation said something.”
What restrains him is the rules of Halacha; which incidentally allow for him to use his own brain. What is the point otherwise of having a decisor.
Ye’yasher kochakhem R. Freundel and respondents, all of whom have advanced excellent points.
Regarding the tangential question of whether any contemporary prophet can adjudicate the validity of Partnership Minyanim, the answer appears to be that no prophet after Mosheh Rabbeinu can adjudicate a halakhic question (either to the side of stringency or to the side of leniency) on the basis of a new revelation, as per the gemara in Temurah 16a. This is why R. Moshe Feinstein insists that no prophet after Mosheh Rabbeinu could intentionally change the test of the Sefer Torah, as he writes in Iggerot Mosheh, Yoreh Dea’h 3:114. [As R. Feinstein continues there, the doubts we have regarding chaseirot ve-yeterot bespoken by Kiddushin 30a are the result of natural errors in scribal transmission; not the intentional tampering by a post-Mosaic prophet. Even the episode with Ezra finding three scrolls (-curiously overlooked by R. Feinstein’s responsum, as noted by Dr. Marc Shapiro) simply reflects an effort to follow the rov, not an intentional tampering with the text of the Sefer Torah by Ezra. And see http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_text.html ]
As for the essential substance of the issue at hand (viz. whether gentlemen may listen to a lady musically lead Kabbalat Shabbat), I agree (ke-talmid ha-yoshev ba-karka ve-dan lifnei Rabbo) with Mori ve-Rabbi R. Kaplan (not that he requires my endorsement) that “tafasta merubah lo tafasta”, as per the gemara in Sukkah 5a. Namely, R. Freundel’s thesis, while intriguing and deserving of commendation, may represent too great a novelty to be absolutely binding on all Jewry, particularly since R. Joseph Ber Soloveitchik contradicts it.
Yet, R. Freundel could simply reach the same putative conclusion (i.e. to disallow gentlemen from listening to a lady musically lead Kabbalat Shabbat) through the continuation of the gemara in Sukkah 5a that “tafasta mu’at tafasta”. Namely, there is an established precedent to prohibit a gentleman from actively listening to a lady singing. This is the ruling of both R. J. David Bleich and R. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, as cited in my comments on Dec. 20 and Dec. 24 at
R. Bleich and R. Weinreb did not invent this stringency; they are simply following Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chaim 560, se’if katan 13) and Arukh ha-Shulchan (Orach Chaim 560, se’if katan 8).
Shu”t Seridei Esh 2:8 did not discuss the question under discussion, as noted by R. Hanan Balk at http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/723928/Rabbi_Hanan_Balk/Shir_Hashirim_Lesson_X:__Kol_B'isha_Ervah
Thus, the consensus appears to be one of stringency in the context of listening to a lady musically sing. Sure, if Kabbalat Shabbat is declarationally read, gentlemen may listen to a lady recite Kabbalat Shabbat, but in our post-Carlbach era, Kabbalat Shabbat is almost always sung, not simply declarationally read.
That said, I am entirely in favor of a lady leading Kabbalat Shabbat for an exclusively lady audience, viz. a Women’s Prayer Group, just as Miriam led the ladies in Shirat ha-Yam.
addendum to my last comment. from the article, page 33:
“Today we consider Maariv to be mandatory. The first movement in this direction was the newly ordained presence of a Hazan for Magen Avot on Friday night just discussed. That presence indicated that this section was mandatory.129
footnote 129: A further step in that process may be represented by Sefer ha-Manhig loc. cit. who says, citing Geonic responsa, that if one forgot to recite Atah Kidashta (the central paragraph of the Shabbat Maariv Amidah) he must repeat, which would seem to indicate a sense that Maariv was now a requirement”
This is the same sefer hamanhig referenced above. As I already pointed out, in footnote 124, on page 32 of the article, R Freundel misconstrues the point of (the sefer haitim and) sefer hamanhig, arguing mistakenly that they are positing the existence of a general “model” or rule in which once one begins an optional prayer, it acquires the status and has the requirements of mandatory prayer, when in reality they are making a limited point about the m’an d’amar that holds tefilas arvis reshus.
Now it’s the very top of page 33, not one complete page later, and we are directed to footnote 129, five whole footnotes later, and R Freundel has replaced his first mistaken understanding of the sefer hamanhig with an entirely new misunderstanding of the sefer manhig. Now R Freundel is claiming that the sefer hamanhig may be positing that maariv is obligatory or has a “sense” that maariv had become a requirement. If this were true, there’d be no room for the argument in footnote 124, and if footnote 124 were correct, there’d be no basis for this new hypothesis, but naturally neither is correct and there’s no basis for either reading….
I don’t have the articles in front of me, but IIRC, the articles written in support of partnership minyanim discuss the Kol Isha issue. They reason that the gemara discusses the fact that, technically speaking, a woman can read the megilla for men (and also be olah l’minyan shiv’ah for Torah reading — where, presumably, she would chant her own aliyah), and it was only due to kavod ha-tzibur issues that ultimately caused them to discourage the idea. Had they been concerned with Kol Isha, they would have raised that as the issue, not kavod ha-tzibur. Hence, they argue for a distinction between a woman’s singing and a woman chanting the Torah or megilla reading.
Practically speaking, I would also imagine that those who are comfortable with the halachic position papers in favor of Partnership Minyanim would also be just as comfortable with the articles that have argued for lenient positions on Kol Isha bizman hazeh. (see Saul Berman, David Bigman, and the posts on jewishideas.org)
Thank you, R’ cb3, for your response. It is true that Shulchan Arukh Orach Chaim 689:1-2 allows a lady to read Megillat Esther for gentlemen (at least for a Sefardic congregation). But apparently, Mishnah Berurah and Arukh ha-Shulchan understand that reading is not the same as singing. One can fulfill the mitzvah of Mikra Megillah even in a monotone. The same is true for Keri’at ha-Torah.
There may be a debate between R. Henkin and Chazon Ish how to pasken when there is a contradiction between Mishnah Berurah and Arukh ha-Shulchan (viz. R. Henkin holds that the Arukh ha-Shulchan is superior and Chazon Ish claims that Mishnah Berurah is like the Lishkat ha-Gazit [sic!]), but here there can presumably be no debate since both Mishnah Berurah and Arukh ha-Shulchan agree.
Moreinu R. Berman, shlit”a’s article is consistent with Mishnah Berurah and Arukh ha-Shulchan, in my opinion. As cited in my comment on Dec. 20, the purpose of his article is to uphold the Seridei Esh (viz. to allow ladies and gentlemen to sing zemirot together at the Shabbat table), not to argue for a leniency beyond that.
That said, ye’yasher kochakha and todah rabbah, R’ cb3, for invoking the article from http://www.jewishideas.org/articles/new-hearing-kol-ishah . Clearly, I have not done justice to all the proofs marshalled by the article, and it behooves me to do so. Specifically, the Divrei Chefetz quoted by Sdei Chemed (ma’arekhet ha-kuf, klal 42) writes
“It has ascended in our hands that that which we say kol be-ishah ervah is when she murmurs and sings love songs, and he [the listener] intends to derive benefit from her. Or likewise when ladies sing and gentlemen respond [-an invocation of the gemara in Sotah 48a] that he [the gentleman] turns his ear to hear her voice and everything that emerges from her mouth. But if she is singing to herself songs and praises and thanksgiving to His Great Name for a miracle that occurred to her, or if she is crooning to a child in order to put him to sleep, or if she is lamenting over a corpse, when there is not in them [in these cases] a fear for thoughts of transgression, we do not care about this.”
In my opinion, what emerges from the Divrei Chefetz is that he rules like the gemara in Sotah 48a, exactly like Mishnah Berurah. And when Divrei Chefetz permits a lady to sing religious songs, it is a religious song to herself when she has an occasion to praise Ha-Kadosh Barukh Hu for a miracle. But gentlemen would not be allowed to actively listen to that song.
The article continues by quoting R. Marc Angel, shlit”a, to the effect that he was together with R. Solomon Ga’on when the following event occurred.
“Both of us participated in a program of Sephardic culture sponsored by the Hebrew College of Boston. A female soloist sang a selection of romances, after which Haham Gaon not only applauded loudly but rose to speak in praise of the singer for her beautiful rendition of the songs.”
In response, I note that R. Ga’on applauded the lady after the fact. After the fact, R. Ga’on did his best to honor the righteous ladies of Israel, as they indeed deserve to be honored. After the fact, human dignity overrides a rabbinic commandment, as per the gemara in Berakhot 19b. That R. Ga’on praised the female vocalist for her musical rendition may simply mean that R. Ga’on complimented her on being worthy to sing before the Jewish ladies at future events, hoping that she would follow in the footsteps of Miriam the Prophetess who led the Jewish ladies in song in Exodus 15:20-21. R. Ga’on may have been responding to a post facto situation.
Moreover, R. Ga’on may have simply declined to pay attention to the female vocalist, and so no transgression was committed altogether, as emerges from the gemara in Pesachim 25b-26b regarding prohibited benefit that comes to a person against his will (hana’ah ha-ba’ah lo le-adam be‘al korcho). [Again, that R. Ga’on praised the female vocalist for her musical rendition may simply mean that R. Ga’on complimented her on being worthy to sing before the Jewish ladies at future events, hoping that she would follow in the footsteps of Miriam the Prophetess who led the Jewish ladies in song in Exodus 15:20-21. It does not necessarily imply that R. Ga’on listened to the vocalist while she was singing.] A lady may sing all she wants; it is the gentleman who must not consciously listen. Such a solution will presumably not work for Kabbalat Shabbat services, where – by definition – all members of the synagogue congregation (including the gentlemen) must listen to the cantor in order to understand the cue when and how the congregation should commence singing.
I am happy that my former student R. Spira, whose rabbinic and halakhic learning is much greater and more extensive than mine (though I often take issue with his judgment calls) and who clearly cannot be accused of favoring partnership minyanim, is in agreement with me and others that R. Freundel has not proved his case that Kabkbalat Shabbat constitutes tefllah be-tzibbur, particulary when Rav Soloveitchik offers a different and much more halakhically compelling view as to how a tzibbur is constituted.
As for Kol Ishah, the reality is (alas ,not one of R. Spirs’a strong points) that for obvious reasons no modern Orthodox posek will rule a partnership minyan out of bounds on grounds of Kol Ishah.
I agree with the following comment of R Gil:
“History: I agree. The argument generally boils down to this: Something was once changed therefore any change is allowed”
R Gil also wrote:
“I agree. Some folks have taken halakhah into their own hands. The example from Bamidbar that I would cite is not the daughters of Tzelophchad (which, by the way, R. Navon discusses and points out–in my framing–that their approach was to raise their concerns to the leading authority and defer to his decision). If you can’t guess which case from Bamidbar, I’m sure Steve Brizel is happy to quote Rav Soloveitchik’s famous speech on the subject”
Those interested IIRC, can download RYBS’s shiurim on Korach and Gerus, and his views on Mesorah at Yu Torah and the Bergen County Beis Medrash. It is unfortunate but many of the comments on this thread are illustrative of a “common sense” approach to Halacha that is utterly ignorant of the difference between a permissible Chiddush and a completely unacceptable Shinui. Like it or not, one cannot seriously maintain that the Shechinah is present at a so-called “partnership minyan.”
Steve B.: I am struck, but, alas, not surprised by how you manage to ignore the serious halakhic critiques directed at R. Freundel’s halhic argumentation by myself, “you lost me,” skeptic, and R. Spira, most of whom oppose partnership minyanim on other grounds. Who is it that is approaching here the halakhic issues raised by R. Freundel with preconceived notions?
“Like it or not, one cannot seriously maintain that the Shechinah is present at a so-called “partnership minyan.”
Like it or not Steve B. You cannot possibly know how the Shechinah interacts in this world. It is blasphemous to suggest otherwise.
“but man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.
Anonymous, in light of the increasingly bitter tone that these comments are taking I plead with you to avoid this unnecessary war. Lets just make this an iriendly split. Call yourselves anything in the world other than Orthodox. We can all walk away from this without having an extremely acrimonious split that has the potential to lead to generations of sinat chinam.
Orthodoxy has no choice but to defend itself from a group that seems to be aiming to plunder its institutions for its own benefit and to trade on our brand name to get its own start. If you leave us alone we will most certainly leave you alone. We have no interest in interdenominational strife. But if you don’t recognize that you are a new denomination you are going to create that strife whether we like it or not.
If you’re goal is sincerely to offer some sort of more inclusive warm hearted alternative to Orthodoxy, do just that but don’t try to usurp what we already have.
You guys tend to be well educated people, it shouldn’t be that hard to see that your current actions are a trainwreck in the making. That is unless your ideological blinders are so powerful that you really think that we’re all going to lay down and accept your egalitarian innovations. It is never going to happen.
This doesn’t have to be a battle for territory. If you really love peace and harmony there is no absolutely no reason for you to provoke a war.
You really got to love anonymous 2. He claims that there is war in the making and suggests an easy and peaceful way to resolve it. Why don’t the advocates of partnership minyanim simpy aurrender, admit defeat, and concede that they are not Orthodox? And he says the other side has ideological blinders!
Lawrence, you’re side admits that you aren’t Orthodox in dozens of posts. Every time you discuss your epistemology of halacha. The only way that you’re going to take the title is if you can change the definition of Orthodoxy by force. The question is whether you’re going to make a play to seize the institutions of Orthodoxy and whether your going to use the title to dilute its meaning and to try and trick people into joining your new sect (which is already a new sect in everything but name.)
You have no interest in engaging in actual Orthodox thought, you only want to tear down and destroy whats already there.
Gil, your accusation that not only practices, but people, and specificlly the Dr. Kaplna, are not orthodox is gross.
To start with, I don’t think Dr. Kaplan has either advocated partnership minyanim or engaged in non-orthodox epistemology in this discussion. But he’s still on the wrong “side” because he dared to criticize?
Emma: It was history that made the comment, not Gil.
Hsiotry: Had you been following the posts you would notice that I expressed NO OPINION whatsoever, not even in my most recent post, re the accaptability of Partnership Minyanim. In all my posts, except my most recent, I engaged in a strictly halakhic critique of R. Freudel’s arguments. People such as “you lost me,” Skeptic, and R. Spira, ALL CRITICS of Partnership Minyanim, all agreed, each for his own reasons, that R. Freudel’s arguments were seriously flawed from a strictly halakhic point of view. In light of my several posts advancing purely textual and halakhic arguments, for you to say “You have no interest in engaging in actual Orthodox thought” is laughable and absurd.
oh dear. I confused two “Hi…” handles. Serious apologies to Gil.
Frankly, my criticism was sharply worded because I was surprised that you would write that way.
The comment should be directed to “history,” though since he seems to be shooting from the hip I might have left it to stand for itself had i realized that it was not the blog owner writing… Apologies again.
Anonymous 2: Interesting, you regret the “bitter tone that these comments are taking” yet you use the words “plunder,” “usurp,” and “blinders,” and, of course, blame all the strife on the other side. And if you want to see bitter tone, just read History’s response tpo my brother.
I thank Mori ve-Rabbi R. Kaplan for his very kind words and accolades. Inspired by these words, I hope to live up to a mashehu she-be-mashehu of that description.
I do admit that some well-meaning talmidei chakhamim have exaggerated the mitzvah de-rabbanan of kol be-ishah beyond its actual parameters. An example of this is R. Simchah Rabinowitz’ Piskei Teshuvot commentary on Mishnah Berurah. In Vol. 1, on p. 608, footnote 124, he reports that Mishnah Berurah (Sha’ar ha-Tziyun no. 25 to OC 560) forbids a lady from singing to a baby if there are gentlemen in the vicinity. Yet, an actual examination of Sha’ar ha-Tziyun reveals that he says to be careful (without indicating *who* must be careful); this could be plausibly interpreted as a restriction on the gentlemen (i.e. they should leave the environment and/or listen to another source of music), not a restriction on the lady singing. Again, the story of R. Ga’on cited by R. Angel (as I would interpret it) is crucial in formulating this distinction: kol be-ishah is not meant to circumscribe the singing of ladies, but rather to circumscribe the listening of the gentlemen (so that they enjoy the sparkling beauty of the Shekhinah, as per the gemara in Bava Batra 58a. Thank you, R’ Steve Brizel, for alluding to this source.) I would argue that is analogous to shofar on Rosh ha-Shanah, where the mitzvah focus is the listening (“lishmo’a kol shofar”), not the production of music. [To render the analogy between shofar and kol be-shah more parallel, I refer to the second day of Rosh ha-Shanah, where the mitzvah is de-rabbanan.]
It seems to me that the same point emerges from the following episode related in R. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff’s book “The Rav: The World of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik”, vol. 1, pp. 178-179:
“The Rav spoke about his great-grandfather, R. Yosef Baer Soloveitchik, the author of the Bet ha-Levi. When in Warsaw, he decided to visit R. Yaakov Gesundheit (1815-1878], (sic) the community’s rabbi. They were seated in the living room and suddenly they heard the Jewish maid in the kitchen start to sing. Reb Yankele immediately stood up and angrily walked in the direction of the kitchen to stop the maid’s singing. Reb Yosef Baer also rose and pulled his host aside. The rabbi of Warsaw asked the Bet ha-Levi why he had stopped him.
“I will explain my actions,” said Reb Yosef Baer. “Your maid works hard. The only enjoyment and pleasure she has is singing. It is true that we are enjoined from listening to her singing, but we can step outside or go into a different room. However, you want her to stop singing. That is not fair. It is her only enjoyment!””
[End of Quotation]
Thus, applying R. Soloveitchik’s story to Kabbalat Shabbat services, I infer that gentlemen are enjoined from hearing a lady sing Kabbalat Shabbat, and therefore gentlemen should step outside and let the ladies sing among themselves as a women’s-only prayer service.
It should be noted that the comments of the Rav in Shiurim leZekher Aba Mori which you cited are le-shitat haRambam, as the Rov reiterates several times. According to the Rambam, the tsibbur says pesukei de-zimra together without a Hazan and the Hazan Rises at Yishtabah to say kaddish. However, the 9th century R. Amram Gaon (Seder R. Amram Gaon, opening of Seder Pesukei deZimra) and the 10th century R. Saadya Gaon (Siddur R. Saadya Gaon, opening of Tefillat Shahar leTsibbur) both hold that the role of the shali’ah tsibbur begins before pesukei de-zimra, and that is our minhag to this day. Hence, the Rav’s comments are no upshlog to R. Feundel’s thesis.
Can someone please explain the authority of Mendel Shapiro to me? He came out of nowhere to write an article which supported the views of some people, sort of the way that Administration lawyers tend to file briefs that support the policies that the President wants anyway. In the decade since, he has not contributed much more. I know that people lament the loss of true Gedolim, but this is an awfully low bar for elevating someone to posek ha-dor status.
Rabbi Frimer – I don’t know if that minhag is universal. The MB (I forget the citation), I recall correctly, mentions that during the week there is no shaliach tzibbur for pesukei d’zimra but for Shabbos there is. I have seen places where nobody goes up to the amud until Yishtabach. According to this, there is a difference between yemei chol and Shabbos/YT.
Just to add one small thought (actually two) to R. Frimer’s comment, I vaguely recall that the Rambam says one should sit for Ashrei, and that R. Soloveichik explained that to mean that the sitting creates a kevius which forms the tsibbur. I don’t have sefarim in front of me now, but I did find this statement on a website which corroborates my memory:
Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik (quoted in Nefesh Harav page 151-2) was careful to sit during Ashrei of Mincha based on the language of the Rambam Tefilla 9:8. He felt this was not just a permission to sit but a requirement in order to establish (לקבוע) a Tzibbur
So that would seem to negate the idea that there is no official tsibbur until kaddish, even acc. to R. Soloveichik acc. to the Rambam.
This segues to another point. R. Freundel asked for a poseik, but Professor Kaplan cited Shiurim Le Zecher Abba Mori. That work is quoting R. Soloveichik’s public yahrtzeit shiurim, which were more akin to a Rosh Yeshiva’ shiur than a published psak. They are wonderful shiurim, but I don’t think they were meant as, or should be taken as, psak halacha.
Hence, the Rav’s comments are no upshlog to R. Feundel’s thesis.
First time I have seen upshlog in English-speaking media. If it catches on, you heard it here first. (I just wanted to bavorn anyone claiming first rights.)
“Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik Zt”l explains that Maimonides’ ruling regarding the mechanics of the prayer services. The identity of tzibur does not emerge simply through existing in a shared place. The participants must sit together in the shared place. In other words, a group of people walking around in a room does not constitute and tzibur. The participants must “settle into” the space through sitting down together. Therefore, each service begins with the participants sitting together. In this manner they form a tzibur. Once the individuals are assembled and merge into a tzibur, then the tzibur arises in unison to silently recite the Amidah. Because they have first sat together and merged into a tzibur, when they arise in unison to recite the Amidah, they recite it as a tzibur and not as individual., The tzibur is not required to sit together because of the character of the prayers recited. They are required to sit together in order to merge into a tzibur. Nefesh Harav
It seems to me that if you follow the line of reasoning, he is only talking about the assembly of a tzibur prior to the recitation of the Amida. As an ancillary point, the rule goes for Minchah. In the second Ashrei in Shacharis, Rambam says תהלה וכו’. הוא עומד והם יושבים והם קוראים עמו The community sit and the Chazzan stands.For Shacharis it is for the second Asherei, which implies that the mere act of sitting does not constitute a tzibur.
Rambam – Hilchot tefilah chapter 9: א. סדר תפלות הציבור כך הוא:
בשחר כל העם יושבים ושליח ציבור יורד לפני התיבה ועומד באמצע העם ומתחיל ואומר קדיש וכל העם עונים אמן
ואומר והוא רחום וכו’ תהלה וכו’ הוא עומד והם יושבים והם קוראים עמו ואח”כ אומר ובא לציון גואל וכו’ ואני זאת
וכו’ ואתה קדוש וקרא זה אל זה ואמר קדוש וגומר הקדושה והם עונין קדוש קדוש שלש פעמים
במנחה אומר שליח ציבור אשרי יושבי ביתך וכו’ תהלה לדוד וכו’ קורא הוא והעם מיושב ועומד שליח ציבור ואומר קדיש והם עומדים אחריו ועונין כדרכן
בערב כל העם יושבין והוא עומד ואומר והוא רחום כו’ ברכן את יי’ המבורך וכו’ והם עונין ברוך יי’ המבורך לעולם
ועד ומתחיל לפרוס על שמע ואומר קדיש ואחר כך הכל עומדים ומתפללין בלחש
before davening in a tzibbur for all three they must sit together first. nothing more or less.
“Like it or not Steve B. You cannot possibly know how the Shechinah interacts in this world”
Why is a Davar ShebiKeushah defined as such-because the presence of a minimum prayer for communal prayer ( 10 men, not nine men and 100 women) and the prayers offered therein always stand a far greater chance of being accepted than if one davens alone.
Rabbi Frimer: A dank for your heora which is zeyr oysgehalten. Or for Tal’s benefit: Thank you for your observation which is very well taken. I have reread the Rav’s essay and while you are right that his point of departure is the Rambam, he also cited the Tosafot and his point about how a tzibbur is formed seems to be a general point made in his own name. Even if your contenntion that the Rav is simply explaining the Rambam is correct, I do not beleive it affects my basic point. I did not want to prove that R. Freuendel’s definition of a tzibbur is is wrong. My goal was to challenge his binary assumption that if the definition of a tzibbur is not content based (and on this I tend to agree witih him) then the only other alternative is to asuume that when ten men recite together any prayer, even tefillat ha-derekh, that constitutes tefillah be-tzibbur. It suffices for my undermining this claim to point to the alternative definition of the Rav, even if it only according to the Rambam.
As for Tal’s point that the Rav’s hiddush was set forth in a shiur and not in a pesak halakhah, I am not sure why R. Freundel has right to ask for a pesak. He did not bring any posek who clearly stated as a matter of pesak halakhah that his definition of a tsibbur is the corrcect one. It was his own diyyuk, inference, from the sources. Once we are in the realm of halakhic analysis I much prefer that of the Rav.
I apologize for not getting back to this thread and for not doing a point by point analysis to demonstrate this. But R Freundel’s article is acceptable only as purim torah. If I mistook its genre, my apologies and yeyasher koach to r freundel for the terrific parody. Otherwise, R Freundel advances a series of halachic arguments, with all sorts of sources that he misconstrues and held together with non-sequitors – I don’t know about Orthodox (capital ‘0’), but he is not using any sort of orthodox (small ‘o’) methodology or epistemology with which I am familiar.
I will have to be melamed zchus on R Gil and assume that he didn’t read this article too carefully and similarly assume that commenters taking it even semi seriously didn’t read it carefully either.
With apologies for not being more thorough, I will just focus on one particularly egregious example in what is an admittedly target-rich envrionment. Hopefully this limited point will give those who haven’t grasped the perversity of R Freundel’s scholarship a sense of what is going on here.
Rav Freundel writes (on page 26 of the article:
“Eiger says that Nahmanides takes this position in section 89 of a work called Responsa Besamim Rosh. At one time this book was attributed to a variety of important scholars including Ramban, but now it is known to have been written by Isaac Molina in the 16th century. It is also a work of questionable halakhic authority because of many of the stances that it takes on a variety of issues. It certainly would not have the standing to successfully debate positions taken by Rashi or Maimonides, who we are about to cite.If one looks in section 89 of Besamim Rosh, Molina says, that women “in our area” are required to pray twice a day because “they have accepted this practice upon themselves”.”
Virtually every word in this paragraph is wrong, much of it almost grotesquely so. To begin, the idea that R Akiva Eiger is quoting the Ramban from Teshuvos Besomim Rosh is completely false. The word “v’haramban” that appears in Rabbi Eiger’s haga’ha is part of the header (“dibbur hamaschil”) and it is the end of a quote from Magen Avraham and has a period punctuation after it. The words “b’tshuvos Besomim Rosh” that follow are the beginning of a new sentence. This must surely rank as one of the great moments in the annals of torah u’maddah! Rav Freundel brings his “historical expertise” to bear on what he imagines is to be found in r akiva eiger’s haga’ha and finds it wanting. According to R Freundel, RAE was mislead by the mistaken notion that Ramban authored Besomim Rosh. Nobody in the history of the controversy over the forgery of the besomim rosh, much less Reb Akiva Eiger, ever entertained the notion of Ramban as author of Besomim Rosh. Reb Akiva Eiger is citing besomim rosh on the issue of women’s obligation in mussaf, and not regarding his position on women’s obligation in two prayers a day. We know this to be so because Besomim Rosh has no such position. All Besomim Rosh says is “aval kvar nohagu l’hispallel kol davar, v’chiyvu atzman b’chol hamitzvot” translation: “They have already adopted the practice of saying every prayer and obligated themselves in all commandments.” Despite the quotation marks Rav Freundel places around “in our area,” the phrase is a figment of his imagination, not to be found in the besomim rosh. Nor does BR say anything about women being required to pray twice a day. It is difficult to know what to make of this degree of halachic and scholarly malpractice…to paraphrase R S Lieberman Is this “A Tragedy or a Comedy”?
I want to continue as this paragraph is embedded in a long analysis of women’s obligation in tefila, and this analysis is replete with errors and misinformation, on a topic = what are women obligated to daven = that a shul rabbi ought to have down pat, much less a rabbi responsible for enfranchising women to become shul presidents (who don’t have to daven as he dismisses both the aruch hashulchan and the mishna brura as irrelevant?)
But I want to wish you all a good shabbos and leave you with a question
Which is worse
Rabbi Sara hurwitz or
That R FReundel is a dayan on a beis din for geirus.
“you lost me”: You could and should have let your critique speak for itself. The nasty personal sarcasm was uncalled for.
Has the question of whether or not a bas kol is legally classified as kol ishah been addressed anywhere.
For those that understand kol isha as not relevant for “devorim shebkdusha” in a religious context (bas kol/bruriah/devorah issued halachic rulings opinions. I’m pretty sure it was not sung in a sing song fashion this suggests that kol isha does not apply to speaking in halacha/re torah in a religious venue or prophecies from heaven….) does this understanding distinguish between devorim of kedusha that are said/ recited/ spoken versus whined/crooned/yodeled/sung. I may have missed the legal arguments for cantor singing.
If Kriat hatorah/aliyott do not involve singing/whining/yodeling or crooning why would it be an issue of kol isha, if kol isha only applies to singing devorim shbkdusha.
This would suggest that the maariv prayer when not sung/yodeled/crooned etc could be led by women that have obligated themselves to the commandment of minyan. (I love the concept of minyan and intend on researching the obligation requirements).
If kabbalat shabbat is just a hippie based psalm singing and sephardic love song poetry friday nite initiative instituted by mystical 16th century kabbalists that loved to sing in rhyme and runaway metaphor, why would partnership minyanim be of concern for those that are not hasidic or sephardic. I would suggest the proverbial shtiebel minyan and partnership minyanim get to know each other a little better. Perhaps they can can host intrafaith shabbatons with all sorts of innovative lay lead independant innovations in that uber intellectual but laid back heimish lovable way. Perhaps they can sublet permanent spaces from each other. I would recommend sermons by female dayanim, oral argument hour led by lay women (on halacha topics instead of kiddush) women led musical kabbalistic yoga/kushka cooked by men/a tisch based fabrengen and sustainable green gemara siyumot led by female daf yomi lovers for seudat shlishit (optional orange platters in rememberance of the korban pesah when women helped their husbands and were not leaders).
On a different note in what way does singing and hazzanut (male or female) enhance the prayer focus/experience with god in the obligatory minyan context, as opposed to singing for personal joy or hippie based happiness.
I do wish the organ and musical instruments were halachically allowed on shabbat during services according to the gra.
“Minyan Lover” I think it is pretty likely that Mariv is the next terroritoy that the egalitarians are going to try and take. It is a reason why I think a line in the stand has to be drawn here. I’ve heard some speculation that they’re going to bypass a step by step approach and go straight for the goal of total egalitarianism but I think its more likely that incrementalism is going to appeal to these folks.
As for your idea reagarding interfaith sessions between the academic innovators and the “hippie” innovators . . . I cannot think of very many places in the world I would be less comfortable.
I was rethinking the three threads on the above issue, and I think that the following warrants consideration, especially in light of Minyan lover’s comments as to the origins and basis of what we call Kabalas Shabbos.
There is a Halacha of Tosefes Shabbos, which according to many Rishonim , is Min HaTorah, or at least a Hechsher Mitzvah SheKasuv BaTorah ( see R Y Sacks Chemdas Yamim at Pages 190-196 for a discussion of this concept)of no small importance, why Mitzvah Bo Yoser MeBSlucho defines how and who should perform such a Hechsher Mitzvah, as opposed to a Hechseh MItzvah SheloKasuv BaTorah .
( There is a Machlokes as to whether Tosefes Shabbos is Min HaTorah except for YK, but that is unrelated to this discussion).
Many Rishonim, Acharonim and Poskim debate and discuss how , when and by what means Tosefes Shabbos is actualized-via actions , speech or both.
The Talmud in Shabbos 35b records a Minhag of blowing six Tekios to remind the people to cease Melacha and in Shabbos 119a of “greeting Shabbos” as one welcomes a king by means of taking a shower, changing into “Shabbosdik” attire, setting the table beforehand and sitting in a serious mood , all of which are actions that demonstrate a longing for the Kedusha of Shabbos .
We know that the Talmidei HaAri expanded on the Midas Chasidus of two Tanaim recorded in Shabbos 119a, and that the recitation of Kabalas Shabbos developed from its kabbalistic beginning to a Minhag accepted throughout Klal Yisrael.
Yet, the Gra is quoted in Ishei Yisrael, a sefer on Hilcos Tefilah by one of RSZA’s talmidim that the six chapters of Tehilim in Kabalas Shabbos are recited in place of the six Tekios, which Rambam quotes in Hilcos Shabbos 5:18 as being practiced in every Jewish community, and which is recorded in SA:OC 256. If one learns the MB, one can see that the MB assumes therein as well as in OC 261 and 263, that the recitation of the six chapters of Tehilim of Kabalas Shabbos in shul serves the identical function for the Tzibur and minyan therein as the blowing of the six tekios, with Melacha being prohibited immediately after Kabalas Shabbos by the recitation of Barchu, aside from the well known reason that these particular chapters culminate with Tehilim 92, which is understood to be describing Olam HaBaah , and/or Ymos Moshiach, which Shabbos is understood to be a microcosym of as well, with the recitation of Kabalas Shabbos and Maariv occuring so as to allow the Tzibur then and there present a Kiyum in some fashion of Tosefes Shabbos.
If one learns the MB on OC: 261 and 263, Kabalas Shabbos in shul functions as the community’s Kabalas Shabbos as a Tosefes Shabbos Al Pi Dibur for the Tzibur in shul which is completed with the recitation of Barchu, while Hadlakas Neros serves the same function for those in their homes, who light candles .
Since women cannot be considered part of the halahic definition and elements of a Tzibur, the notion that women can lead a part of the service that serves as the community’s acceptance of Shabbos makes no sense whatsoever.
The issue of whether a single man should light candles obviously is beyond this discussion, but the Talmud and many Poskim all state that a husband should certainly assist in some aspect of the preparations for Shabbos-which conceivably range from buying challos,setting Shabbos clocks properly, setting the table , to cooking if he has any expertise and ability to do so.
Steve: You must be really desperate, trying to find any halakhic issur you can dig up as a stick with which to beat Partnership Minyanim. One can indeed raise serious halakhic issues re women’s aliyot and keriat ha-torah and may also strongly oppose such minyanim on policy grounds, breaking with minhag Yisrael, etc, but your kvetch about a communal Tosefet Shabbat, come on give me a break!
In order to avoid missing the forest for the trees, we ought to consider the remarks of one critic of deconstructionism, who remarked that a deconstructionist sees a television set, and in his desire to define the television set, picks up an axe and smashes it to bits, all so that he might better understand its components and construction.
I think the greatest problem here is using what we might call hyper-halakhic reasoning. Rav Soloveitchik once lamented that he feared most of his students would either be too stringent or two lenient. When attempting to anachronistically apply rigid halakhic categories in attempts to define actions that never required definitions, we often create imaginary and harmful chumras that we are all too familiar with. The same is true, however, on the opposite side of the coin. We can create an endless wave of leniences which permit formerly taboo practices by engaging in sophistic endeavors to define the all too easily definable. What makes it easy is the lack of a prior definition for a practice that was understood as obviously falling within a certain category of behavior.
If we want to be honest with ourselves, there is no way to define Kabbalath Shabbath as anything other than tefillah betzibbur, in the same sense that any other public service is tefillah betzibbur. Every trapping of a formal, organized, public prayer ritual created for the communal synagogue in the absence of the Temple, is present in this service. We even call it a service. The only thing missing is an actual Amidah, because Amidah would be irrelevant to the purpose of the service – a joyful public welcoming of the Sabbath involving praise and prayer. There is no postmodern egalitarian movement to promote the recitation of tefillath haderech by women leadership, because everyone knows it is not tefillah betzibbur. Everyone also knows that Kabbalath Shabbath IS, and so long as people realize this, it will continue to be a battleground between supporters of traditional religious and ideologues who are tempted by what Henry Adams termed the acids of modernity.
One of the most problematic assumptions that many proponents of partnership minyanim have is that as long as something cannot be proven to be halakhically prohibited, it must be permitted. This would allow us to permit a long litany of practices that I think we would find to be unacceptable. Rabbi Herschel Schachter spoke at the RCA convention several years ago about the issue of women rabbis, citing Rav Soloveitchik’s comment that protecting the mesorah is a moral obligation that is “yeharayg v’al ya’avor”. Man’s role as the exclusive leader of ritual sacrifice in Judaism is is something that fundamentally distinguished Judaism from surrounding Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Greco-Roman cults. Hebrew literature understood women as elevated agents of God, as opposed to earthly possessions of men. There are many examples of this, beginning with the Sarah narratives (compare to Helen of Troy for one example). Men sacrifice for women. Women are not manipulated for the benefit of men. This is part and parcel of the fundamentally different outlook that Jews had towards sacrifice when compared to their pagan neighbors. Today, the movement to conflate roles in public ritual is driven by a truly perverse ideological egalitarianism that unwittingly serves to undermine woman’s elevated Godly position. Yet its ignorance will not ameliorate its destructive effects.
I don’t know who ishei yisroel thinks he is quoting but with regards to gra’s purported opinion on the matter please see pg 61 of Rabbi Dr Lawrence A Hoffman’s “My People’s Prayer Book Volume 8 Kabbalat Shabbat” – Gra prohibits reciting kabbalat shabbat as a community, (b’tsibbur)– in a minyan, and refers to Siddur Eizor Eliyahu Al Pi Nusach Hagra, based on the classic Ma’asah Rav,the account of Gra’s religious practices , #116. He understands Gra to have prohibited saying any psalms b’tzibbur unless they are preceded by a proper blessing. He asserts that reciting psalms in a minyan is a fulfillment of the torah directive in Deuteronomy 10:21 , and that this act requires a blesssing. Kabbalat Shabbat has no blessing. If I understood correctly,the fact that its just a collection of psalms and a poem with no halakhically required blessing – is what led the gra to prohibit its communal recitation. Please see pg 61 of R D Hoffmans book for a precise explanation of his understanding in case I misunderstood something.
Minyan Lover taking all of that as true it is a strong argument against allowing a woman to leave Kabbalat Shabbat. If he prohibited the communal recitation of KS I find it impossible to imagine that what really meant to say was that he prohibits it if led by a man but fully endorses it being said in public if its led by a woman. If Partnership Minyanim want to give up KS altogther they may be faithful to that opinion.
It also creates another question. How is it egalitarian to restrict women to saying a part of davening that is prohibited from being said communally? That strikes me as downright insulting.
Basically you have to argue that women are so different than men that by their very nature they cannot cause KS to become b’tzibbur. Not that they aren’t allowed to do it, not that they cannot do it becuase they canot by yotzei others who have an obligation, but that by their very anture its impossible for them to transform an individual act into a communal one. To me that seems even more restrictive than the argument the Egalites are fighting against.
So the real argument there is that not one for egalitarianism its one that actually puts men and women in different places all the more so than RDBF or any traditional argument
“Women are not manipulated for the benefit of men”
“Hebrew literature understood women as elevated agents of God, as opposed to earthly possessions of men.”
: פֶּה לָהֶם וְלֹא יְדַבֵּרוּ. עֵינַיִם לָהֶם וְלֹא יִרְאוּ: אָזְנַיִם לָהֶם וְלֹא יִשְׁמָעוּ.
Do you have eyes but can’t read? Are you blind and can’t see?
One quick clarification,the My People’s prayer vol 8 kabbalat shabbat book,referred to above was edited by R D Hoffman, but is a joint effort,the gra halacha snippet I summarized from pg 61 appears to have been written by R D Landes. Thank you both for including this in your book and thank you Steve Brizel for providing the reference I didn’t understand. Learning a new gra halacha always makes me happy.
“History”, you misunderstood my points.And thanks to R Landes and R Hoffman I now know what I thought would be gra’s opinion re communal singing poetry recitals in a religious serious context(I always knew that communal poetry recitals and singing concerts r distractions in a serious setting and they r intended as extra curricular activities after a stressful work day etc). Others believe that communal singing /psalm reciting / yodeling/whining/crooning/drawn out word chanting singing are apparently not a distraction and can be part of a serious prayer service. Intellectually, I only care about how the gra understood a halachic concept. I also love serious formal traditional synagogue environments, sanctuary architecture/intellectual synagogue history and especially old sermons/teachings etc. Lastly I typed intrafaith not interfaith.
I love how the opponents of Partnership Minyanim are always so concerned they are insulting to women. Touching really.
Lawrence, I’m concerned that they are leading men and women away from God and Halhcik Judaism. What I love is the irony.
Its ironic that Partnership Minyanim are insulting to women. If a movement is willing to break off of Orthodoxy in the name of their egalitarian ideology then at the very least they ought to be actually furthering that ideology. If they’re turning their back on the traditions of their parents and are in not even achieving their political goal it is quite ironic.
dr kaplan – It’s not me who is certain that my emotions are always secondary – that’s R Freundel. I make mistakes. It seemed to me on Friday that what I wrote was called for, and rightly or not, I still think so. The focus of any attack (as opposed to critique of the article itself) was the kahal and audience for the article and to address issues in our communities in general. I am going to elaborate on my original point and then hopefully get back to any issue of personal attack. This is a long, not well-organized comment, and I beg your indulgence.
How women’s obligation in shemone esray comes up is instructive. So is the fact that R Freundel on the one hand raises the issue only to drop it and move on to the (in his mind already established) case that women are not obligated specifically in kabalas shabbos (and men are and it’s a tefilas rabim etc), making the whole analysis of their obligation in shemone esray irrelevant. On the other hand, he writes that the issue is “obviously” relevant, and apparently draws far-reaching conclusions from it, as his contention that women can’t be motzi men in tefilas haderech is derived from his case on shemone esray and women’s obligation in tefilas yachid generally. There are more absurd implications of this article than just that women can’t be motzi men in tefilat hadrech or tehillim and other such matters that have already been discussed. (The article actually assumes that the particular practice in communities at a particular time and place is de facto our ruling lehalacha, a stira minei ubei, as I contend that all manner of practices that are not only commonly assumed to be permissible but routinely done in all our communities from MO to haredi are being called into question by implication in this article.) I won’t point out everything, but one issue is that a person from a community with no minhag to say a given prayer (or possibly an individual with no minhag to say a given prayer, as no distinction is made between communal and personal minhagim in the article) is assumed to be not allowed to be “motzi” a group (possibly not even another individual) with the minhag to say the prayer, as R Freundel assumes that the concept that someone who isn’t obligated in something can’t be motzi another applies to minhagim. Can someone without a minhag to say yotzros not be a chazzan in a community that does say them?! Without a minhag to say a yehi ratzon, or ma’oz tzur (lecha na’eh leshabeyach etc is surely a prayer) be “motzi” a kahal or individual who does say them? Is R Freundel also assering women from being motzi even individual men in any prayer? It seems to follow from his analysis that they may not be motzi individual men either, which would be quite a novel psak. For groups (as opposed to individual men), he definitely doesn’t allow women to be motzi a mixed group or group of men in obligatory prayers. For voluntary prayers, when he writes that women can’t be motzi men in tehillim, is that due to the chazzan and tallis arguments and only on the assumption that tehillim is led by a chazzan with a tallis, or not? If not, and the issue with tehillim is simply the tefilas rabim argument, then he’s assering women from being “motzi” men in all voluntary prayers. Zemiros is then a problem if a woman (let’s say the woman is among a group of close relatives to avoid kol isha issues) sings the main parts and men join the refrain. So should be a woman saying yehi ratzon and men simply saying amen, so should be a woman giving men any bracha such as saying kesiva vechasima tova (we call this a bracha, but is it not a prayer that god grant a kesiva vechasima tova) and a man saying amen, or bruchim tihiyu in response to mazel tov ..why may a man say “amen” is he not including himself in a voluntary prayer said by a woman? It’s not me that raises these absurdities, but the article and the series of blog posts.
Going back to the quote I cited Friday, and points that R Freundel is certainly trying to make….the quote I provided is from the section on women’s obligation to say shemone esray, and there are many mistakes in this section (not only in the quote that I provided).. There are sentences that are problematic for multiple reasons and which require lengthy responses (and who wants to write lengthy responses to nonsense? I admit to feeling frustrated.) Anyone who has read this section and is acquainted with the general topic will know that R Freundel is hopelessly confused. He assumes that the Aruch Hashulchan follows Rashi to obligate women in 3 tefilos per day, and the mishna berura follows ramban and obligates women in 2 tefilos a day. Actually, both follow the majority opinion in rishonim that tefila is drabbanan, the position of rashi, ramban, tosfos, and are reaching their own conclusions on the question of whether women are obligated in maariv, a question that is not discussed in the rishonim. There is this footnote:
“102 106:4. Mishnah Berurah calls this the main (Ikar) opinion. There is confusion here between the question of whether the requirement to pray is biblical or rabbinic and the question of how many times a day a woman must pray. Those two issues are not the same, but they appear to have gotten conflated somehow”
The confusion is R Freundel’s and they got conflated somehow by him. I suppose that i needn’t point out that R Freundel didn’t read the aruch hashulchan through or he’d not be confused as the Aruch Hashulchan discusses the various shitos kedarko bakodesh.
Anyway, R Freundel finds a way to dismiss the aruch hashulchan (and presumably rashi). Here’s the quote: “Arukh ha-Shulkhan sees in Rashi the opinion that women must pray all three prayers every day.99 He goes so far as to say that it is difficult to understand why women are generally not careful to pray all three tefillot each day in accord with this opinion. The fact that this is true—i.e. that the vast majority of observant women do not daven Maariv—means that de facto this position is not the accepted Halakhah.100”
There are a number of problems here. Where do we begin?
The practice of women in a given time and place is hardly dispositive in determining the halacha (isn’t this amazingly disrespectful to the aruch hashulchan – why doesn’t the aruch hashulchan know that his own opinion is wrong?!). This bizarre methodology – determining the practice at a given time and using it to determine the halacha dispositively – is actually central to the article as this is the sole method used to determine that women needn’t daven kabbalat shabbat. The twin assumptions that women needn’t daven kabbalat shabbat and men must daven kabbalat shabbat are central to the thesis of the article, because they are integral to two separate halachic analyses in the article (the first analysis is that kabbalat shabbat is a binding communal minhag, that women aren’t obligated as individuals etc and can’t be motzi men in the minhag, and the second argument is that kabbalat shabbat is tefilas rabim,and women aren’t obligated in it as individuals and men are etc.) This unorthodox methodology is therefore not a small issue in analyzing this article.
But to return to tefilas yachid, re the aruch hashulchan, and the fact that the aruch hashulchan writes that it’s hard to understand why women aren’t careful with all three tefilot.
As a technical matter, it’s not at all clear to which women the Aruch Hashulchan is referring when he says that they aren’t careful to daven 3 tefilos. This section of the article also discusses women’s obligation in psukei d’zimra. There are chilukei deyos re women’s obligation in psukei dzimra, but R Freundel only cites the Aruch Hashulchan on this topic. The AH discusses women’s obligation in psukei dizimra in two locations, and says different things in each spot. R Freundel writes that the AH argues that women are exempt from psukei dzimrei (siman 70) and it is true that the AH says this in siman 70. However elsewhere (siman 47), the AH writes that “kivan shechayvos betefila, vekavu aleyhen lechova gam krias shema upsukei dizmra veshiras hayam” meaning at minimum that women have accepted and are now obligated in psukei dzimra.
One must ask – women have accepted on themselves psukei dzimra, but they aren’t saying shemone esray? Is this possible? What does the AH mean? I suppose there are a number of ways to resolve this apparent contradiction, such as by positing that the AH is famiilar with women who daven all of shacharis, including psukei dzimra and krias shema and shemone esray, but don’t daven the other two tefilos of shemone esray at mincha and maariv. Alternatively, and to my mind much more likely, the AH is familiar with women who daven shemone esray 3x/day, but is aware that not all women in all communities at all times did so, and when he discusses how one can be “meyashev” with difficulty the fact that women aren’t careful with davening shemone esray, he is referring to women in other places or times, e.g. to the magen avraham’s report that women in the MA’s time weren’t careful to daven shemone esray (I will discuss the MA in the next paragraph). It’s also possible that women’s practice in the AH’s community was not uniform. The Kaf Hachaim reports that women who know how to learn (however he is defining this phrase) do daven all of the tefilos, including shemone esray 3x/day (see below for more on the kaf hachaim). This implies that women who were more educated davened, and the more ignorant did not, and it’s possible that the situation in the AH’s time and place was similar, with some women davening all of tefila and 3x/day and others not davening.
In any case, R Freundel dismisses the AH as not reflecting the accepted halacha. The second opinion he cites is that of the mishna berura who (contra R Freundel, based not on the ramban per se but on the majority opinion in rishonim) assumes women are obligated in tefila, but never accepted maariv and are exempt from maariv only. The third opinion he cites is apparently supposed to be the magen avraham (it would seem that R Freundel never read the magen avraham as otherwise why does he not recognize the quote from MA in R Akiva Eiger, see my comment on Friday). The magen avraham says that perhaps a limud zchus for the women in his time who don’t daven is that they can be justified based on the minority opinion of the Rambam that there is an obligation midoreisa to a say a general tefila (not “whatever one wants” as R Freundel would have it, but a tefila that includes shevach, bakasha and hoda’ah), but that the obligation and nusach of shemone esray at particular times is midrabbanan and perhaps women were never obligated in it midrabbanan. There are problems with this limud zchus (that might explain why the MA offers this analysis only as a limud zchus!). The limud zchus is based on the minority opinion, when we follow the majority opinion in rishonim lehalacha. The magen avraham’s own opinion seems to be that women are obligated in shemone esray as he elsewhere seems to indicate that they are obligated, meaning that he doesn’t appear to accept this limud zchus lehalacha. One must also question whether the limud zchus accurately reflects the rambam’s opinion, as in pirush hamishne (and there might even exist a proof from elsewhere in yad) the rambam does seem to obligate women in shemone esray, making the rambam’s own opinion at minimum unclear.
I hope that it’s not necessary to point out that the fact that the magen avraham reports that women in his time and place didn’t daven and provides a limud zchus for them does not mean that the de facto halacha is that they needn’t say shemone esray. In our school systems today, women are typically taught to daven shemone esray twice/day. (The girls are also not in school for maariv, the schools in the past were faced with girls who did not necessarily have mothers or grandmothers who davened shemone esray, and they are simply relying on the mishna berura as a weighty authority – even the “posek acharon” in some circles – but contemporary practice in US communities does not prove that the aruch hashulchan is “wrong” or that the kaf hachaim – who has the ancillary position that women daven 3x/day shemone esray, but in past generations they didn’t accept maariv on motzai shabbos only, while in his time they daven maariv on motzei shabbos too – is “Wrong. In future, should the majority of women daven maariv, it won’t prove the mishna berura was “wrong” in what he wrote.)
The mishna berura is an issue for R Freundel. He is working on the assumption that halacha is decided based on general practice, and he knows that the majority of women may daven twice/day and are certainly taught to daven twice/day. For kabbalat shabbat he writes not only that he thinks that women in the US don’t daven kabbalat shabbat at home (his impression only, not survey data), he writes that his sense is that even those who do, don’t consider themselves obligated – making what women consider themselves obligated in, a determining factor. (This aside will take us far afield. Is he not being tendentious on the first point, when he writes that in the USA, the majority of women don’t attend shul for kabbalat shabbat? In Israel, more women do go to shul on Friday night. Does this make kabbalat shabbat obligatory for them? I seem to recall noticing that more women might show up in Israeli shuls Friday night than Shabbat morning. If that observation is correct, does this make them more obligated in kabbalat shabbat than in Shabbat morning davening? Or must we now move to discussion of whether the women think that they are obligated to daven kabbalat shabbat. And not to change the topic or anything, but if it matters what women think they are obligated in wrt kabblas shabbos, then why has it not occured to R Freundel to analyze whether men as individuals think they are obligated in kabbalas shabbos? R Freundel fails to examine the possibility that no individuals, male or female, ever accepted kabblas shabbos as mandatory and not just as a nice practice. Back to the original topic…)
It’s hard to think women taught to daven twice/daily don’t think they are obligated. (Women are also taught various limudei zechus for not davening in school, but given the problems with the MA’s limud zechus, they are often taught that the MA is problematic, but that there may be other forms of limud zchus/ exemptions that apply to women only at particular times in their life, such as to women taking care of young children. Such limudei zechus apply equally to men taking care of children.) This means that the de facto halacha should be for R Freundel like the mishna berura. Fortunately for his argument, he decides that the issue has been “impacted by a remarkable historical error.” As is evident from my comment and the quote that I provided on Friday, R Freundel argues that the ramban doesn’t say what the mishna berura attributes to him, that the mishna berura saw the ramban in r akiva eiger’s hagahos, and r akiva eiger didn’t see the ramban, only the besomim rosh, and attributed the besomim rosh to the ramban ….All this is based on the fact that at the very end of the mishna berura’s discussion of women’s obligation in shemone esray, he writes a short line on their obligations in musaf, and RAE also quotes the besamim rosh on women’s obligation to daven musaf, and someplace in RAE’s hagaha, in what is actually a direct quote from the MA, there appears the word “Veharamban”
Now the Aruch hashulchan has been dismissed and the mishna berura has been dismissed and R Freundel has discovered that the only remaining opinion is the magen avraham’s on rambam and that limud zchus must be the halacha.
And now we get to the point, or for Tal’s benefit, duh ligt der hunt bagrubben, this is the heart of the matter.
R Freundel tries to locate what he mistakenly assumes the mishna berura claims is the ramban’s opinion, namely that women must daven 2/day. Since the ramban only says that tefila is midrabbanan and doesn’t discuss women, he can’t find it, and comes up with the besomim rosh as the source (not that the besomim rosh discusses 2/day or shemone esray, but whatever).
Why does he not try to locate the rambam’s opinion that women needn’t daven shemone esray that he decides is the only valid remaining opinion in halacha?
Where is this opinion?
He cites hilchos tefila, where the rambam discusses whether tefila is doreisa or drabbanan, nothing related to women directly.
If he looked into the question of the rambam’s own opinion on women’s obligation to daven shemone esray, he might find the rambam elsewhere seems to obligate women, and realized that the rambam’s opinion on what women are obligated to daven is in doubt.
The explanation for what has happened is self-evident.
R Freundel has already written, “Obviously the closer to a man’s hiyuv one believes a woman’s obligation to be, the better for supporter’s of Partnership Minyanim.””
and this drives his analysis of an issue of halacha lemaase that affects half the members of our community on a daily basis. He feels a need to make a strong argument that women have lesser obligation in tefilas yachid than men, and it *suits his purposes* to launch an argument that the limud zchus of the magen avraham is the main opinion in halacha.
I grant that this is odd, because he could make the argument that women have lesser obligation in tefilas yachid anyway and apply it to his concept of tefilas rabim (he could do this from other parts of tefila, such as birkos krias shema for example, or even from any doubts regarding shemone esray), but he has already said that the closer to a man’s hiyuv one believes the woman’s obligation to be, the stronger the case and therefore perceives a need to minimize women’s obligation. This is unacceptable. To distort halacha lemaase, even on an issue as relevant to daily life as women’s obligation to daven, just to asser partnership minyanim?!! Is everything ok in the service of the great cause of combatting parternship minyanim?
If it will help in the battle against partnership minyanim, is it OK to eat treif?? Why is it ok to distort halacha lemaase in the service of the great cause??
When it comes to the author and his intentions, it can be hard to judge what is deliberate and what is just poor scholarship, as and what is something imbetween or a mixture of both, and the author’s scholarly skills and reading skills are obviously a serious issue. But the arguments are tendentious and the sources are distorted in one direction only. R Freundel writes that he evaluates halachic sources on the merits and then comes to conclusions, that “halacha is the queen, and emotion the supplicant,” but this is patently not the case. Are we to assume that R Freundel has no agency here, no responsibility?
I chose to analyze a single quote from the article on Friday because it is egregious, but also – and i didn’t state this directly, though i was hoping that those who read the article might realize the import – because it tells us a great deal about the approach the article takes to halacha lemaase. As I’ve just argued, I believe that his analysis of women’s obligation in shemone esray and his attempt to make the magen avraham’s limud zechus the main opinion lehalacha tells us much of what we need to know about the author’s motivations. I commented earlier in this thread to the effect that I find R Freundel’s claim that he and his community “empower” women to become shul presidents strange. By his own lights, he is merely reading the sources and it is the Master Of the Universe and his halacha that either empowers or disempowers women, not human beings, who merely follow the rules of halacha. I now question whether R Freundel does feel that it’s up to man to empower and disempower, as he is reading sources regarding women’s obligation to daven shemone esray in tendentious fashion so as to minimize them to suit his own purposes.
As stated, my main concern is not R Freundel.
I believe that at minimum, the article he wrote is damaging to its own cause. That is, a person who reads it might well conclude that if these are the arguments to be made against Partnership Minyanim, the arguments have no merit.
More importantly, this article, if one accepts it and treats its arguments seriously, is damaging to all our cause. The torah is larger than any specific issue such as partnership minyanim, and whether one opposes partnership minyanim or not, one must dissent from articles that reduce torah and halacha to a mockery.
R Freundel argued at great length in this post that distorting the sources toward a preconceived conclusion is not acceptable. I fully agree. Here’s a long quote, so that everyone can reread R Freundel’s own words:
“R. Farber says correctly that I question the defenders of Partnership Minyanim because they do not follow “legitimate Orthodox halakhic epistemology.” He then claims “this is an exceedingly subjective claim”. Since when is the methodology of halakhah “subjective”? Such a claim negates the very essence of the Orthodox enterprise and removes any shared language or decision making capacity from the halakhic process while substituting a post-modernist rubric that undermines the integrity of our sources and decisors. If the method is subjective then no conclusion is better than any other. If that is what Partnership Minyanim are all about then we certainly are in an unrecognizable place for anyone who sees tradition as halakhically binding…
Further I have been explicit and provided example after example….of claims, arguments, positions and methodologies that do not conform to Orthodox halakhic methodology, Ranging from committing the genitive fallacy to creating halakhic categories whole cloth to drawing parallels that are not source based and so on. The halakhic system has rules….
If on analysis of a halakhic question I believe, and believe I have demonstrated repeatedly, that what others are saying is not simply a disagreement about the reading of a text or a reflection of earlier debates found in halakhic literature but rather a dramatic departure from accepted methodology that has already blurred the lines that demarcate the Orthodox community and preserve its meaning and message, there is simply no room for courteous acceptance of the other opinion…..
Second there is a very significant–perhaps critical–epistemological difference here that must be stated and here is the place to do so. I thank my friend Mattew Hoffman (Dr. Trachtman’s neighbor in New Rochelle) for this formulation. It has to do with the relationship between emotions and halakhah. For me, I begin with halakhah and once I gain an understanding of what halakhah says, I will then ask whether and how that halakhic structure can accommodate the feelings, emotions, desires or needs that the issue I am investigating engenders.
What I hear and read in these two posts and in so many others who have approached me on this topic is precisely the opposite. Emotions come first and halakhah comes second. For me halakhah is the queen and emotion the supplicant. For others emotion is the mistress and halakhah the maidservant.
This difference is critical. When people start the conversation with “women feel disenfranchised what can halakhah do for them?”, the dynamic becomes one of trying everything and anything to find “solutions”. That has been on display here repeatedly. On the other hand the initial approach should be “let us study halakhah and see objectively what it says without a pre-conceived agenda” and once that’s done we can ask is there room for women’s tefillah, a woman shul President, Partnership Minyanim, etc.? If we do business this way the answers will be far more authentic to the system and will preserve its value and integrity. No they don’t have to be the same as my answers, but whatever the answer they will be based on a common language and methodology of halakhic analysis and not on artificially constructed hermeneutical theoretical structures that show the colors of the rainbow but, like so many soap bubbles burst on contact with our texts that do not support them.”
Almost every word applies as a critique of R Freundel’s own analyis and article! Inventing halahic categories, theoretical structures that burst like soap bubbles on contact with the texts, all of it. Dr Kaplan, please note what R Freundel writes about “courteous acceptance of the other opinion!
I’m not in the business of heresy hunting and I don’t mean to say, chalila, that R Freundel has written anything heretical in this article. But the approach he adopts is not really only not orthodox, small ‘o’. It’s not Orthodox, capital O, unless it is acceptable to approach our sources and read them in distorted fashion to say what one wishes them to say in order to argue whatever one feels like arguing. The primary methodolgy in thsi article is projection (of ones wishes onto the sources and then of ones own methodology onto ones interlocuters).
No matter how wrong and damaging anyone (e.g. R Gil, various commenters on this thread) think Partnership minyanim may be to Orthodoxy, there is no right to distort and twist torah texts and disrespect them, or to judge various issues halacha lemaase incorrectly just to make a case against Partnership Minyanim.
IIRC, someone wrote in this thread that the people involved in partnership minyanim feel they can do “whatever they want.” And in response to them, may we say and write and distort the torah any way we want???
Re R Freundel himself: I’ve never read anything else he’s written. I’ve now written twice that the article reads like Purim torah (among other statements that may be classified as sacrcasm and personal attacks). In all seriousness, I don’t know if this article was written under stress of any sort, physical or otherwise. I don’t know anything about R Freundel’s physical or mental condition. Normally, one gets some type of feeling for who the author of a lengthy article is and what his qualifications are. R Freundel writes both in his article and in the series of blog posts with great confidence, and he possesses both semicha and a doctorate, and yet there is little question that one source after another in this article is misconstrued and some have not even been read through. Issues that involve scholarship are also dealt with somewhat oddly. If the level of scholarship in this article is typical for the author, it’s hard to see how he would remain unaware of a poor general level of scholarship and wherefore his confidence in his approach? I do indeed wonder if there is some physical or other issue impacting R Freundel and that has caused a deterioration in scholarship. I can’t judge that as this is the only article of R Freundel’s that I have ever read. The author of this article, in the phyiscal or mental state in which the article was written, should not be sitting on a beis din, and that is true whether or not that statement is taken personally by anyone.
You may all recall that some time ago, there was discussion about E”Y and the issue of accepting our batei din for geirus. To my horror, I thought as I read this article that they may, after all, have a point (yes, I imagine there may be issues with rabbis’ qualifications in e”y too. nonetheless). The issues with the author of this article go beyond ignorance or poor knowledge base, which I would describe for Tal’s benefit as “a halbe tzora.” Misreading sources tendentiously and fantasizing and free associating to sources is something else entirely. I can’t recall ever reading an article of such poor calibre from a person in a position of authority for our people. This issue needs to be brought to someone’s attention, possibly it is sufficient to be brought to R Freundel’s own attention. When something is done about the matter, then by all means, it is best if Gil deletes my “personal attack.” But as it stands, a person’s qualifications for serving as dayan – and whatever this particular case may tell us about how dayanim in the US are chosen – is an important communal matter.
I love how supporters of partnership minyanim are always so concerned with what they want to accomplish, without showing any understanding of why Orthodox Judaism prohibits their goals.
On the one hand, traditionalists do not understand the meaning behind sacrifice and prayer in an original and contextual way, yet they feel instinctively that women’s leadership of ritual synagogue liturgy is somehow wrong – that there is a reason it has never been done, though they do not know why. For them, it is difficult to distinguish between women’s study and women’s public prayer.
Then there are our supposedly scholarly supporters of partnership minyanim, people who should know better yet who are utterly ignorant of the history of sacrificial ritual and its meaning. It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant the professors and students in our Jewish Studies departments are of basic distinctions between Judaism and pagan cults. How many partnership minyanim supporters have actually bothered to consider why Judaism is a unique religion in its unique total ban on female leadership in ritual sacrifice? In the entire ANE and Meditteranean world, women played important roles in public ritual sacrifice, EXCEPT in Judaism. Not until Christianity did women have ritual leadership roles introduced in a Jewish setting. The reasons why are not difficult to figure out when looking at comparative religious narratives and understandings of sacrifice, but that would require not remaining utterly ignorant of the foundations of the ideas we are discussing. No, it is far easier to anachronistically understand public prayer in a 21st century manner, assume it is like anything else in history involving women taking on new roles, and remain in a blissful state of ignorance.
The phenomenon of insisting that only men humble themselves in sacrificial ritual is perhaps the second most ancient and uniquely Hebrew religious practice we know of – next to the unique Hebrew understanding of the concept of covenant. All of these halakhic discussions are frankly beside the point. Halakhic arguments against partnership minyanim are tenuous, because no Jewish authority would ever have considered them acceptable, and they never arose in the context of organic traditive development for a reason. Halakhic arguments in favor of them are merely taking advantage of the fact that male ritual leadership was taken for granted throughout Jewish history ever since its ancient inception.
The reasons for the male role should be obvious to anyone who has studied comparative ancient religion. Advocates for partnership minyanim should admit that they are incorporating pagan elements into their ritual plans, and simply call themselves something other than Orthodox.
Immigrants from the USSR still joke about International Women’s Day, which was established by Lenin. It was a day of propaganda aimed at convincing women to leave their homes and children and work away from them. It takes an ideology as dangerous as socialism to argue that people honor themselves by degrading themselves to the point that they fail to appreciate what is most important in their lives – their dignity. Judaism was the first religion to recognize women as worthy of being fought for by God Himself – as elevated and exempt from the humbling and even humiliating aspects of ritual sacrifice. By seeking to overturn this critical development, partnership minyanim supporters use their ideology to destroy this fundamental Jewish concept – and in doing so, they destroy their Orthodoxy. They should admit as much, and have the decency to avoid the newspeak that they have used in their attempts to justify their neo-pagan practices.
Your slanderous and unhinged rant is unworthy of comment, other than to note that if your ability to read Hebrew is commensurate with your ability to write in English, you face a serious disadvantage in this discussion.
Forest seeker: ” you lost me ” did his cause no good by his rambling rant. But the substantive criticisms he raised deserve consideraition.
Let me give, for the benfit of Forest Seeker and others, a brief and hopefullly clear example of R. Freundel’s misuse of sources. In the section on Tefilah be-Tzibbur he writes: “Similarly, when communities get together to recite tehillim for the ill.. is this not communal prayer?” The footnote refers us to a teshuvah of R. Bezalel Stern who writes “Tehillim in the form of prayer and supplication in a time of trouble is a Tzorekh rabbim.” Now come one. It’s a long way from “Tzorekh rabbim” to “tefillah be-tzibbur.”
Lawrence, I don’t have this source in front of me, but you called it a form of prayer earlier in your own translation. “Tehillim in the form of prayer.” It doesn’t say its the form of group singing or mass poetry reading or whatever. How would you describe a prayer leader, leading the community in prayer, while praying for communal needs at a central location?
Dr. Kaplan: First, R. Freundel is extremely honest in his use of sources in that example. In the footnote, he not only gives the reference but quotes the relevant text in its original. And I believe the key phrase is “be-derekh tefillah”.
“Now come one. It’s a long way from “Tzorekh rabbim” to “tefillah be-tzibbur.”
If one looks up the teshuva from R Stern, one sees that it contains the expression “Tefilas rabim meygina” (protects) and it probably showed up in a search for the term “tefilas rabim” (The teshuva discusses the permissibility of learning tanach at night, and distinguishes between learning and davening tehillim. It is indeed entirely irrelevant to anything discussed in this article.)
“You Lost me” I’m not how you can say any of that when both Lawrence (inadvertently) and Gill explained exactly why the source is relevant. It acknowledges that a group of people saying tehilim is a form of prayer ie “be-derekh tefillah”.
As I said above, once we acknowledge that this is prayer its pretty hard to say that its not communal. (communal gathering, communal needs, communally appointed prayer leader) However if you go back to RDBF’s first article he does also discuss the specific “communal” issue.
The section in question deals with what is tefilah be-tzibbur, not with what is tefilah in general. In the footnote R.Freundel refers to R. Stern’s comment that tehillim recited be-derekh telfilah is a tzorekh rabbim. Again, This is a very far cry from tefillah be-tzibbur.
History is probably correct to point back to the role of women int he temple as the paradigm. but that raises some bigger issues. (1) temple ritual is precisely where the gemara considers “nachat ruach” to be relevant, (2) women are, in fact, obligated in bringing certain sacrifices, just excluded from the actual cultic conduct, (3) can you explain what you think is “obvious” about the exclusion of women from temple ritual vs. other ANE societies? What sources point to “elevated and exempt from the humbling and even humiliating aspects of ritual sacrifice”? I thought you were going to go int he direction of women priestesses = sexuality in worship = pritzus, which would have at least made sense.
I believe R. Freundel’s point was that this constitutes tefillah. That it is of the rabim is obvious.
several readers have referred to R Freundel’s thesis as a “chiddush.” I have not studied it enough to know whether it is a plausible chiddush or not, but it sure sounds like a “chiddush” to me – what else do you call an extrapolation from sources that is not actually stated in those sources?
R. Freundel’s aside about the besamim rosh was discussed regarding the first article. if you.lost.me. is correct that he is misunderstanding the attribution to the ramban in r. akiva aiger that is even more serious.
In general, the proponents of partnership minyanim should have been the ones doing these piece-by-piece critiques, in addition to the more general methodological disagreements.
“You Lost me” I’m not how you can say any of that when both Lawrence (inadvertently) and Gill explained exactly why the source is relevant. It acknowledges that a group of people saying tehilim is a form of prayer ie “be-derekh tefillah”.
As I said above, once we acknowledge that this is prayer its pretty hard to say that its not communal. (communal gathering, communal needs, communally appointed prayer leader) However if you go back to RDBF’s first article he does also discuss the specific “communal” issue.”
Does anyone dispute that people say tehillim as a form of prayer or that groups say tehillim as a form of prayer? No. R Freundel can find sources that say that people say tehillim as a form of prayer, as opposed to as a form of learning, but this is not what is at issue. What’s at issue is whether a group of men saying tehillim are engaging in tefila betzibur as a halachic category. This is R Freundel’s question, as it appears in the article:
“Similarly when communities gather to recite Psalms61 for someone who is ill or for a perceived threat to the State of Israel or for other similar reasons,62 is this not communal prayer?63 And if it isn’t what is it? What halakhic category would it fall into? I can find
no answers to these questions from the supporters of Partnership Minyanim.64”
He attempsts to answer this question by referring to a teshuva of Rav Moshe’s that he misreads.
BTW the section that follows the question regarding tehillim said by a group, and the citation from R Moshe, begins
“To round out our discussion of tefillah betsibbur as it applies to prayers other than the
Amidah there are 2 points to be made.
First, though the Amidah is certainly the quintessential prayer and is often simply called
“Tefillah”,72 it is certainly not the only prayer so designated in rabbinic literature. Tefillat
Haderekh,73 Tefillah Ketzara74 or even tefillat shav75 (which are inappropriate prayerful
requests) are all seen as a type of tefillah. The latter is particularly intriguing because the
designation Tefillat Shav implies that appropriate requests are fine tefillot even if no
Amidah is involved.”
(The second point is a citation from the MB cited by Rav Moshe, that, as we have already discussed last week, is also misconstrued.)
What is the purpose of that paragraph arguing that the word “Tefila” can refer to something other than shemone esray, such as to tefilas haderech or tefilas shav??
Has anyone ever claimed that outside of shemone esray, there is no prayer? The navi introduces Shiras Chana with the description “Vatispallel chana vatomar, alatz libi bahashem etc.” Shiras chana is shevach of the rbs”o, and the posuk calls her entire shirah a tefilah. We see that shevach is called tefilah. Yet earlier, when Chana is in Shiloh, we read that she is embittered, Vehi maras nefesh vatispallal al hashem uvacho sivkeh Vatidor etc Vehaya ki hirbisa lehispallel. There we see that her cries and bakashos are also called tefila. Here are two types of prayer, shevach and bakasha, that are called tefila in posuk. Nonetheless, when the gemara says kama hilchasa gvirta ika lemishma meha dechana, it is referring to amidah, and not to other types of prayer like kabbalas shabbos! (Surely no one is arguing that one must say kabbalas shabbos belachash.) That’s because there is tefilah and there is tefilah, and they are not all the same.
You can claim he is forcing things into artificially limited categories but within his paradigm, he makes the correct conclusions. The key question he asks is “And if it isn’t what is it?” He has no halakhic category for public prayer that is not tefillah be-tzibur. Since reciting Tehillim is public prayer, it must be tefillah be-tzibur.
In order to refute his point, you have to show either that it is not prayer, it is not public, or it can be public prayer but still not tefillah be-tzibur. So far, you haven’t done any of the above. You’ve just tossed around nasty accusations of scholarly mistakes based on your own failure to read charitably and understand his point.
you.lost.me: What is the purpose of that paragraph arguing that the word “Tefila” can refer to something other than shemone esray, such as to tefilas haderech or tefilas shav??
That is the problem with your endless critique. You don’t seem to understand R. Freundel’s point. Smart people don’t write nonsense and R. Freundel is smart and extremely knowledgeable about both halakhah and tefillah. Give him a little credit and read his paper with an open mind. You might still disagree with his conclusion but you will at least understand his argument.
I believe there is room to disagree with R. Freundel but you haven’t hit it yet.
“In order to refute his point, you have to show either that it is not prayer, it is not public, or it can be public prayer but still not tefillah be-tzibur. So far, you haven’t done any of the above. You’ve just tossed around nasty accusations of scholarly mistakes based on your own failure to read charitably and understand his point.”
Excuse me? He asks if tehillim said by a group of men is halachic tefilah betzibur. He answers yes based on a teshuva of Rav Moshe, who quotes the MB, and he misconstrues, as I have already shown last week.
The answer to his question is that an individual can say tehilim as tefilas yachid. A group of men saying tehillim are a group of yechidim saying tehillim. Any mitzva is preferably done in groups to fulfill berov am, and this applies to tefila too (this is what R Sperber says on the topic of “tefilas rabim”). A group who say tehillim together are a group of yechidim who have the additional zechus of davening berov am. That’s all there is to it. A group of men who sing moaz tzur together are also not engaging in tefila betzibur. They are a group of yechidim singing a piyut that contains a tefila. Ditto for any other example you care to come up with. A group saying yehi ratzon together is also not davening betzibur.
There is no halachic category of tefilas rabim. R Freundel devotes an entire section of the article to the concept of tefilas rabim, which he contends is a minor form of tefilah betzibur. He has great difficulty defining the concept, and this is not surprising, since no source he brings uses the term “tefilas rabim” the way he does. It’s perfectly fair to conclude that in this section on tefilas rabim, he strung together sources that he found when he searched for “tefilas rabim” on a responsa CD, because the sources he cites, including in the footnotes to this section, all use the term differently. One is using the term “Tefilas rabim” to convey berov am (R Sperber). The next is using the term to denote a large group of indeterminate size, in one case (the ikarim) the group is possibly as large as all of klal yisrael. The next one is using rabim to denote the majority of the mispallelim, and rabim means the majority, the rov. Etc. Not a single source he brings is using the term tefilas rabim to denote the halachic category of a minor form of tefila betzibur. The category doesn’t exist and he can’t make it exist by free-associating to the word rabim every time it appears in close proximity to the word tefila.
“You’ve just tossed around nasty accusations of scholarly mistakes based on your own failure to read charitably and understand his point.”
Based on the fact that he misreads source after source after source, as I have already documented. NOTE: I did not say he misread R STern. I said that R Stern’s point was irrelevant to his argument that a group of men saying tehillim are davening betzibur. To make that argument, he misreads Rav Moshe.
Please do explain how I can read R Freundel’s analysis of the mishna berura/ramban/reb akiva eiger/besomim rosh on women’s obligation in tefila charitably.
“That is the problem with your endless critique. You don’t seem to understand R. Freundel’s point. Smart people don’t write nonsense and R. Freundel is smart and extremely knowledgeable about both halakhah and tefillah. Give him a little credit and read his paper with an open mind. You might still disagree with his conclusion but you will at least understand his argument”
Instead of arguing from your general impression of the author of the article, why don’t you read the article, and look up the sources. I challenge you to go through the misreadings I’ve already discussed and show that the mistakes are mine and not R Freundel’s.
“I believe there is room to disagree with R. Freundel but you haven’t hit it yet.”
no, there are only more and more mis-read sources that i haven’t time to document. I also don’t own them all, and have already gone out of my way to track down some that didn’t turn out to say what he said they did, and I’m getting a little tired of proving the obvious.
Just because you write really long comments does not mean that you have proven anything. Let’s take one, for example, although I don’t have time to even respond to the whole thing:
102 106:4. Mishnah Berurah calls this the main (Ikar) opinion. There is confusion here between the question of whether the requirement to pray is biblical or rabbinic and the question of how many times a day a woman must pray. Those two issues are not the same, but they appear to have gotten conflated somehow”
The confusion is R Freundel’s and they got conflated somehow by him. I suppose that i needn’t point out that R Freundel didn’t read the aruch hashulchan through or he’d not be confused as the Aruch Hashulchan discusses the various shitos kedarko bakodesh.
He was referring to the Mishnah Berurah’s conflation of the two issues!
Anyway, R Freundel finds a way to dismiss the aruch hashulchan (and presumably rashi). Here’s the quote: “Arukh ha-Shulkhan sees in Rashi the opinion that women must pray all three prayers every day.99 He goes so far as to say that it is difficult to understand why women are generally not careful to pray all three tefillot each day in accord with this opinion. The fact that this is true—i.e. that the vast majority of observant women do not daven Maariv—means that de facto this position is not the accepted Halakhah.100″
There are a number of problems here. Where do we begin?
The practice of women in a given time and place is hardly dispositive in determining the halacha (isn’t this amazingly disrespectful to the aruch hashulchan – why doesn’t the aruch hashulchan know that his own opinion is wrong?!). This bizarre methodology – determining the practice at a given time and using it to determine the halacha dispositively…
It is not a bizarre methodology. It is actually standard methodology based on the Talmud. When there is a debate, common practice shows which view has been accepted. That is what pok chazi mai ama devar accomplishes. The Aruch HaShulchan does it all the time as do many other poskim.
The AH discusses women’s obligation in psukei dizimra in two locations, and says different things in each spot. R Freundel writes that the AH argues that women are exempt from psukei dzimrei (siman 70) and it is true that the AH says this in siman 70. However elsewhere (siman 47), the AH writes that “kivan shechayvos betefila, vekavu aleyhen lechova gam krias shema upsukei dizmra veshiras hayam” meaning at minimum that women have accepted and are now obligated in psukei dzimra.
This is hardly a question. The resolution is clear and obvious, as you say yourself.
One must ask – women have accepted on themselves psukei dzimra, but they aren’t saying shemone esray? Is this possible? What does the AH mean? I suppose there are a number of ways to resolve this apparent contradiction, such as by positing that the AH is famiilar with women who daven all of shacharis, including psukei dzimra and krias shema and shemone esray, but don’t daven the other two tefilos of shemone esray at mincha and maariv.
Alternatively, and to my mind much more likely, the AH is familiar with women who daven shemone esray 3x/day, but is aware that not all women in all communities at all times did so, and when he discusses how one can be “meyashev” with difficulty the fact that women aren’t careful with davening shemone esray, he is referring to women in other places or times, e.g. to the magen avraham’s report that women in the MA’s time weren’t careful to daven shemone esray (I will discuss the MA in the next paragraph). It’s also possible that women’s practice in the AH’s community was not uniform.
This is purely your own speculation with no textual basis.
In any case, R Freundel dismisses the AH as not reflecting the accepted halacha. The second opinion he cites is that of the mishna berura who (contra R Freundel, based not on the ramban per se but on the majority opinion in rishonim) assumes women are obligated in tefila, but never accepted maariv and are exempt from maariv only.
This requires careful wording. Mishnah Berurah does, indeed, say that this is the Ramban’s view, that it is ikar because most poskim agree. R. Freundel never contradicted this but he also never addressed the other poskim.
The third opinion he cites is apparently supposed to be the magen avraham (it would seem that R Freundel never read the magen avraham as otherwise why does he not recognize the quote from MA in R Akiva Eiger, see my comment on Friday).
I do not see anywhere in the paper where R. Freundel quotes the Magen Avraham. His third opinion is the Rambam. So your two long paragraphs on the Mishnah Berurah are irrelevant.
For kabbalat shabbat he writes not only that he thinks that women in the US don’t daven kabbalat shabbat at home (his impression only, not survey data), he writes that his sense is that even those who do, don’t consider themselves obligated – making what women consider themselves obligated in, a determining factor.
That is a perfectly valid methodology. Do you think any posek has ever taken a survey?
And if women are not consistent, meaning they don’t do it every single week, then it means they have not accepted it on themselves as an obligation.
Is he not being tendentious on the first point, when he writes that in the USA, the majority of women don’t attend shul for kabbalat shabbat? In Israel, more women do go to shul on Friday night. Does this make kabbalat shabbat obligatory for them?
Still, to my knowledge, a minority.
R Freundel fails to examine the possibility that no individuals, male or female, ever accepted kabblas shabbos as mandatory and not just as a nice practice.
You are correct that he ignores this possibility. It would be hard, but not impossible, to make the argument that it is not obligatory. Personally I’m open to that argument.
It’s hard to think women taught to daven twice/daily don’t think they are obligated.
What’s important is what they do, not what they are taught.
“That [asserting based on personal impression that women in general do not view themselves as obligated in kabbalat shabbat] is a perfectly valid methodology. Do you think any posek has ever taken a survey?”
“We would need to know who or what group is entitled to speak for women—all women, all Jewish women, observant women, orthodox women, etc. It is also necessary to have a clear idea of what percentage of women actually feel demeaned, troubled, or unhappy at not being able to lead services, and what percentage is happy or unconcerned with the status quo. To my knowledge no one has made a formal presentation of the data that exists on these questions- if any does exist. Absent an attempt to gather that information scientifically we are dealing with anecdote and hearsay.”
Emma I didn’t write the original post about women and sacrifice, although I do endorse it and agree with its points. I will leave it to its author, who is more knowledgeable in this area than I am to answer most of your questions.
I’m writing this at lunch at work so its just going to be from thought. So take it for what its worth.
I will say that the way that it humiliating and demeaning to women to be involved in sacrifice is becuase the reason the pagan’s used women in sacrifice was as an attempt to harness women’s ability to create life and marry it to death through the sacrifice.
Taking the people who by the nature of their creation are God’s partners in the creation of human life and attempting to use them in a ritual that invokes death is demeaning to their nature. Essentially taking God’s partnership with women in creating new people and turning it on its head for the people’s supposed benefit.
Judaism recognized that ubiquitous usage of women as priests mistook women’s role and diminished their relationship with God.
Emma: That is a good point!
history, i don’t know why i keep confusing your authorship of posts. sorry…
“Emma: That is a good point!”
Thanks 🙂 So in your view, if a survey of how many women feel how demeaned is not the way to determine just how pressing the situation is, do you believe the rabbis should just find facts in this area? what facts?
I think impressionistic opinions based on talking to people are sufficient.
Emma, the point about not all women feeling demeaned is a secondary point.
Even if it were the case that all women felt demeaned it still wouldn’t be enough for forever change the law. Rabbi Freudnel’s point was that first, it only applies in cases of exigency (ie. rabbinic shatnez on the street) and only temporarily (ie. until you get home.) It does not forever push off the law of shatnez. And then as a second point in the case of Shatnez it is universally the case that one is demeaned by having to take off his clothes in the street and that women are not universally demeaned by not be allowed to lead Kabalat Shabbos. (in fact as Seeker points out, they would be demeaned by being allowed to lead it.) But even if one were to demonstrate that every woman on earth considered it demeaning that wouldn’t deal with the first problem.
This is not an ongoing exigent situation and there is seemingly no way to resolve it on a temporary basis. It would require forever abrogating the halacha.
I wonder how many women felt demeaned by not receiving a Jewish education….not learning advanced gemera? Probably a very small group – certainly that was a greater obstacle than this from an halachik viewpoint. Or do I misunderstand?
Ruvie, that isn’t relevant becuase the only reason we are discussing how many people feel demeaned is becuase the egalitarians claims that Kavod Ha Breot requires Jews to go against prior practice and allow women to lead Kabalat Shabbos.
In case of women learning (in my layman’s understanding) the argument wasn’t that we have to let women learn becuase of Kavaod Ha Breot. Rather the argument was that its staam not asur for women to learn.
In this case the egalitarians are looking for a way around the rule, in the learning case there was nothing at all to get around.
history, for some reason rabbi freundel felt the need to criticize the lack of data on the supposed sociological reality to which this whole discussion is a response. I found the contrast between that critique and the far more common practice of rabbis just evaluating reality based on anecdotes, defended by R Gil as apparently practiced by R. Freundel himself, to be particularly noteworthy.
I agree that rabbis making decisions based on “impressionistic opinions based on talking to people” is the traditional way. But rabbis who continue to do that themselves should not then turn around and criticize others for doing the same thing.If there is some “objective” methodology here it needs to apply to both sides, but especially on the side that is criticizing the other for taking a results-driven approach.
Emma, the reason he mentioned the point is to contrast this with the traditional case of Kavod Ha Breot (ie undressing in the street), in which every personal of normal temperament will be demeaned. You don’t need to conduct a survey (although you surely could) to know that. The burden of proof for proving that something meets that standard is very high and it is on those who want to apply the principle. Those opposing the position have no burden of proof (at least not until after the advocates have made a plausible prima facie case) and even then the burden would be a light one. They would just have to prove that the reaction is not universal.
The people who want to utilize the extraordinary tool of Kavod Ha Breot to abrogate halacha have a heavy burden throughout. The burden is not equal on both sides and thats not a problem at all.
“the argument wasn’t that we have to let women learn becuase of Kavaod Ha Breot. Rather the argument was that its staam not asur for women to learn.”
Half right. The argument was not about kavod habreyot but neither was that it is just stam muttar. At least as generally presented, the argument was that women without jewish educations were getting secular educations and becoming non-frum. It wasn’t about their feelings but it _was_ about an observed crisis. in the face of that crisis, it was deemed permissible to change the prior approach to women’s education. It was most certainly about exigency, and exigency that has turned out to be esentially perpetual.
That said, it not being about kavod habrios makes ruvie’s questions somewhat off target.
If it turned out that women were leaving orthodoxy in droves for lack of ritual expression, then we might see rabbis change their tune. (or maybe that would just balance out the “shidduch crisis.”)
“He was referring to the Mishnah Berurah’s conflation of the two issues!”
There is no such conflation in the MB. R Freundel says that AH follows Rashi to conclude that women are obligated in 3 tefilos/day and that MB follows Ramban and concludes that women are obligated in 2 tefilos/day. This is due to his own confusion. Both the AH and the MB follow the majority of rishonim, Rashi, and Ramban and Tosfos. AH follows the majority of rishonim and examines the various shitos in depth. MB writes that he is following Ramban and majority of poskim. Their disagreement is a local disagreement, revolving around tefilas arvis reshus. R Freundel is confused, and assumes that Rashi is the source of the opinion that women must daven 3x/day while Ramban is the source of the opinion that women must daven 2x/day. He tries to find this Ramban and is unable to. He locates the Ramban in the Besomim Rosh (and the BR is in any case discussing Musaf and not shemone esray or praying 2 times per day), and decides that RAEiger is quoting Ramban and that RAE thinks the Ramban wrote the Besamim Rosh. He makes this assumption based on a misreading of the dibur hasmachil in RAE which is a quote from the Magen Avrahram that includes the word “Veharamban” followed by a period. R Freundel then assumes that the mishna berura is simply quoting RAE who thinks Besomim Rosh was written by Ramban.
You have yet to “explain away” his rather remarkable mishna berura/Ramban/RAEiger/Besomim Rosh analysis.
“It is not a bizarre methodology. It is actually standard methodology based on the Talmud. When there is a debate, common practice shows which view has been accepted. That is what pok chazi mai ama devar accomplishes. The Aruch HaShulchan does it all the time as do many other poskim.”
Come on. I’m fully aware that poskim cite the standard practice, but standard practice of the hamon am is not dispositive when one is trying to determine the halacha, or on issues for which there is doubt as to the correctness of the popular practice. The Magen Avraham also cites the standard practice in his time, but he can only come up with a limud zechus. Your argument is also inconsistent: You are about to argue that when the AH describes women who do not daven 3 x/day, he means that they daven once a day, and yet the AH still paskens that women should daven 3x/day. The AH is also the authority you cite who “does this all the time,” yet he doesn’t realize that the halacha is not like his own shita based on the popular practice you insist he describes.
The reason that poskim cite common practices is that when members of an observant community engage in a given practice, that is often an indication that there may be justification for the practice. The more observant and learned the people engaging in a given behavior, the more likely there is justification for it. That is the logical basis for all limudei zechus. But the practice of the hamon am is only an indication or a data point; it’s not a final determination. Particularly when we are discussing practices over which no rabbis may ever have had much control and/or of a group that is not particularly learned, it’s not a given that common practice is correct. Women and tefila is an example of a case where standard women’s practice does not tell us what is correct practice, particularly in communities in which there was no standard schooling for women and an indeterminate rate of illiteracy. Even today, women as a group (lema’et the learned women who write in on this blog) are less learned in halachic sources than men as a group, and the result of that is that one sometimes discovers that some otherwise very observant women do things that may or may not be justified bedieved but not lechatchila. For the most part, via the school system, teachers and rabbeim have been able to set the practice for many women on issues so that it is in line with halacha, but not every “bdieved, maybe it’s OK” issue gets the full treatment, nor do women always change their practice based on what they learn in school. This is the reason that many women don’t wash mayim achronim, that some women who don’t daven regular tefilos still eat before kiddush and so on and so forth.
Occasionally one will hear statements such as “The ‘Women’s minhag’ is not to wash mayim achronim, because they follow the poskim who say that melech sedomis is not an issue bezman hazeh.” This does not mean that women as a group decided to follow this shita, and there is no “women’s minhag,” as some women do wash mayim achronim. It means that the practice of many women not to wash mayim achronim may be justified based on this shita, and the person making the statement thinks there’s no need to make a fuss about it.
“This is hardly a question. The resolution is clear and obvious, as you say yourself.”…”Clearly correct”
Others describing women saying all the tefilos are describing women who did say mincha and maariv. When the MA explains that women aren’t careful to say 3 tefilos, he also doesn’t mean that they aren’t davening all three, but that they aren’t davening at all. I listed this explanation as a logical possibility, but I think it’s relatively unlikely.
“This is purely your own speculation with no textual basis.”
The minimal textual basis is that the AH brings up women not davening 3x/day when discussing the MA’s limud zechus and elsewhere describes women who are saying psukei dizimra etc. There’s no real textual basis in AH for preferring one explanation over the other. Regardless, I believe that what the AH is discussing is unclear, and either way, if R Freundel has studied the AH on tefila thoroughly, why does the R Freundel say that the AH absolves women of saying psukei dizimra without noting AH’s remarks in siman 47 that obligates them?
“This requires careful wording. Mishnah Berurah does, indeed, say that this is the Ramban’s view, that it is ikar because most poskim agree. R. Freundel never contradicted this but he also never addressed the other poskim.”
You know what else requires careful wording? You have to explain why he thinks that AH is following only Rashi when he obligates women in davening 3x/day. AH is following Tosfos and Ramban too. Where is the Tosfos that say women must daven 3x/day? Where is the Ramban that says women must daven 3x/day? What happened, despite the fact that you are so desperate to deny it, is that R Freundel saw a single line in AH, in which he discusses Rashi, and concludes that the AH’s psak of 3x/day is based only on Rashi, and he then turned to MB, and seized on his mention of “Ramban” and either skipped over or didn’t appreciate the significance of the fact that MB says he is following Ramban and rov poskim. This is because he is hopelessly confused and not because the MB is confused.
“I do not see anywhere in the paper where R. Freundel quotes the Magen Avraham. His third opinion is the Rambam. So your two long paragraphs on the Mishnah Berurah are irrelevant.”
His third opinion is not the Rambam. It is what the *MA* speculates is the Rambam’s opinion and is not to be found in the Rambam directly. “That leaves us with Maimonides and the third opinion that women may say whatever they want, but that they are required to do so only once each day.104 Footnote 104 Hilkhot Tefillah 1:2
The Rambam in hilchos tefila does not exempt women from davening shemone esray any more than the Ramban says women must daven twice/day or Rashi says they must daven 3x.day. Just as MB reaches conclusions from Ramban and other poskim, and AH does, the MA opines on what the Rambam’s opinion about women davening is. As I mentioned, the Rambam in pirush hamishne contradicts the MA’s analysis, as is mentioned by many achronim on the spot. This can be found in pirush hasmishne, first perek in kiddishin, on the mishna of kol mitzvas haben al ha’av etc. It appears to be the case that the Rambam does obligate women to say shemone esray.
“That is a perfectly valid methodology. Do you think any posek has ever taken a survey?
And if women are not consistent, meaning they don’t do it every single week, then it means they have not accepted it on themselves as an obligation.”
That’s not the issue. There are widespread minhagim to say all manner of prayers in shul, but this doesn’t mean there is any individual obligation to say them. For example, if a shul has a minhag to say a piyut, the chazzan has to say it, but this doesn’t mean that individuals, even individuals in shul, must say it. For individuals, we say echad hamarbe ve’echad ha’ma’amit u’bilvad sheyichaven libo etc. R Freundel’s reasoning to obligate individual men in kabbalas shabbos is that the minhag was poshta bechol yisrael and is therefore obligatory on individuals. If that is so, then we should determine if women are correct to exempt themselves from it, not that they do. But I agree that it’s not plausible that this is correct, and that even if a communal minhag to say kabbalas shabbos exists, that minhag is not binding on individuals.
“Still, to my knowledge, a minority.”
Not in my experience, and now you begin to see why better method than any given individual’s impression and especially than any given individual’s impression of “What women think” is desirable.
“You are correct that he ignores this possibility. It would be hard, but not impossible, to make the argument that it is not obligatory. Personally I’m open to that argument.”
It’s fairly easy to make the argument for individuals. It’s also relatively easy to make the argument that a new kehilla needn’t adopt the practice. And you know what is REALLY easy? Demonstrating that R Freundel has not begun to make the case that kabbalas shabbos is communally binding, much less individually binding. He cites two sources for this, and neither say what he wishes them to say.
““Still, to my knowledge, a minority.”
Not in my experience, and now you begin to see why better method than any given individual’s impression and especially than any given individual’s impression of “What women think” is desirable. ”
I am reminded of a rabbi i know stating from the pulpit that he believes the practice of “most” women in “our” community is to pray 3x/day. unless he meant the community of rabbis’ wives i have no idea what community he could be talking about where that would be true…
I think that most rabbis have less knowledge of the typcial woman and her practices than they had in the past. A rav like the aruch hashulchan had more daily contact with women. They were constantly bringing chickens for him to look at…
you.lost.me: I agree that the period appears after “ve-ha-Ramban” but that doesn’t necessarily change the meaning that the source of the Ramban is in Besamim Rosh. RA Eiger’s comment would be: “And the Ramban–in Besamim Rosh…” Not that it is much support but I point out that R. Avi Weiss in Women at Prayer p. 30 n. 70 also reads R. Akiva Eiger as quoting Ramban in Besamim Rosh.
There is no such conflation in the MB
Yes there is and that is all R. Freundel indicates. His comment about confusion is solely about the MB, where the MB combines discussion of whether the obligation is biblical/rabbinic with how often one is obligated to pray.
I’m fully aware that poskim cite the standard practice, but standard practice of the hamon am is not dispositive when one is trying to determine the halacha, or on issues for which there is doubt as to the correctness of the popular practice.
You are correct that it isn’t always. But when there is a debate among the poskim, the common practice is frequently used as a barometer for determining whom we pasken like. If a posek feels one view is proven, then he ignores common practice. Otherwise he looks to common practice to see what the people “nahagu”. The Magen Avraham is different. He has to (re)interpret a rishon in a way that no one else has in order to justify common practice. That is one step beyond saying that in a disagreement between the Aruch HaShulchan and the Mishnah Berurah, common practice follows the MB.
I can’t go on. You’re comments are way too long and complex.
“you.lost.me: I agree that the period appears after “ve-ha-Ramban” but that doesn’t necessarily change the meaning that the source of the Ramban is in Besamim Rosh. RA Eiger’s comment would be: “And the Ramban–in Besamim Rosh…” Not that it is much support but I point out that R. Avi Weiss in Women at Prayer p. 30 n. 70 also reads R. Akiva Eiger as quoting Ramban in Besamim Rosh.”
A rachmanus oyf zey beyde (that was for Tal Benscher).
For goodness sake, R Gil. Kemedume hayisi becha she’ata nichva beposhrin, etc. I already wrote about this and made clear that it’s obvious that R Freundel missed the period and is reading this as “Veharamban beteshuvos besomim rosh.” It’s also clear that the word “Veharamban” is part of a quote from the MAvraham and is not connected to the words “betshuvos besomim rosh” and that RAEiger is not trying to say that the Ramban in the teshuvos besomim rosh says anything. It’s further clear that besomim rosh is not discussing shemone esray or women davening 2x/day which is the opinion that R Freundel is claiming that RAEiger (and MB) is citing from the Ramban. There are no two sides to this story!! This is noach mit ziben greyzen, hacheresh haya b’libam.
If you are willing to defend this, there’s nothing else to discuss.
RAE attributed Besamim Rosh to the Rosh.
רבי עקיבא איגר אבן העזר סימן קיז
בתשובת הרא”ש שנקרא בשמים ראש סי’ קס”ח
“But when there is a debate among the poskim, the common practice is frequently used as a barometer for determining whom we pasken like… That is one step beyond saying that in a disagreement between the Aruch HaShulchan and the Mishnah Berurah, common practice follows the MB.”
This would be a good defense if the article said that in the disagreement between AH and MB, common practice follows MB. The article dismisses the AH, and justifies this based on the AH’s empirical observation of women’s practice (whether correctly or incorrectly interpreted). The article also dismisses the MB (due to the “remarkable historical error”). The article then leaves us with the main opinion being the limud zechus of the MA. (The limud zechus of the MA and the common practice of MA’s time is not strong enough for the MA himself to pasken like his limud zechus.)
I’m pretty sure you understood all this the first time. Why blow smoke?
you.lost.me: I already wrote about this and made clear that it’s obvious that R Freundel missed the period and is reading this as “Veharamban beteshuvos besomim rosh.”
I don’t think it is obvious.
It’s also clear that the word “Veharamban” is part of a quote from the MAvraham and is not connected to the words “betshuvos besomim rosh” and that RAEiger is not trying to say that the Ramban in the teshuvos besomim rosh says anything.
Yes, it is clear that the “ve-ha-Ramban” is part of the quote from the Ramban. It is NOT clear the RA Eiger wasn’t continuing the sentence in a glossatorial style.
It’s further clear that besomim rosh is not discussing shemone esray or women davening 2x/day which is the opinion that R Freundel is claiming that RAEiger (and MB) is citing from the Ramban.
It is not at all clear. You are focusing on the beginning of the quote while the end states: אלא דכבר נהגו להתפלל כל דבר וחייבו עצמן בכל המצות
Once again, your strong words is only impressive to people who don’t look up the sources under discussion.
You keep focusing on the Acharonim — AH, MB, MA. R. Freundel explicitly focuses on the Rishonim (“Approaching this in the broadest way possible, there are some who see three positions among Rishonim on this question”). He doesn’t quote the Magen Avraham at all!
He discusses Rashi, Ramban and Rambam. Common practice does not follow Rashi. Ramban is actually pseudo-Ramban, i.e. not a Rishon. That leaves Rambam as the basis of common practice. That’s his whole discussion in a nutshell.
Mark: Good find!
r gil, your continued defense is a very sad commentary on your standards for yourself and this blog. KOL DAVAR would not mean two shemone esrays a day only. Try to remember what you are defending. He is claiming that MB is citing ramban that women must daven 2x/day. he is not claiming AH’s opinion is in ramban, but rather that the MB’s opinion is in ramban. At this point, you are just being tokea atzmecha bedvar halacha and there is really no point to continuing the discussion.
But for the record:
It may not have been obvious. This is why I explained about the period, and how the words after the period are uvetshuvos besomim rosh. After this is explained, it should be obvious.
It’s clear that the RAE is citing the MA, and if one read the MA, one knows that the MA also cites the Ramban. Another way we know this is that we look up the Ramban in sefer hamitzvos and see what he says, we can understand what the MB is saying. There are still other ways to know this. Should I list them all?
“Once again, your strong words is only impressive to people who don’t look up the sources under discussion.”
!!!! I suggest everyone look up MB, RAE and the Besomim Rosh. (Also some of the other sources cited in previous comments such as the Rav Moshe’s teshuvos, R Sperber, etc etc)
“You keep focusing on the Acharonim — AH, MB, MA. R. Freundel explicitly focuses on the Rishonim (“Approaching this in the broadest way possible, there are some who see three positions among Rishonim on this question”). He doesn’t quote the Magen Avraham at all!
He discusses Rashi, Ramban and Rambam. Common practice does not follow Rashi. Ramban is actually pseudo-Ramban, i.e. not a Rishon. That leaves Rambam as the basis of common practice. That’s his whole discussion in a nutshell.”
And in a nutshell, it’s all wrong. There are two positions in the rishonim. AH and MB follow the same rishonim. AH does not follow rashi and MB the ramban. The Ramban is actually the Ramban, not the BR. The besomim rosh is a vast red herring, but for the record, besomim rosh was not attributed to the Ramban by RAE and to the best of my knowledge, anyone else in the history of the controversy over the besomim rosh. Besomim Rosh = Rosh. Not besomim rosh = ramban.
Rambam is profoundly problematic as the basis for common practice for all the reasons already stated, and since you insist the third opinion is the Rambam himself and not the MA’s limud zechus based on the Rambam, maybe you can turn your attention to the fact that the Rambam in pirush hamishne does obligate women in shemone esray.
Again you misrepresent R. Freundel’s article!
And in a nutshell, it’s all wrong. There are two positions in the rishonim. AH and MB follow the same rishonim. AH does not follow rashi and MB the ramban.
This is totally beside the point! R. Freundel quotes the AH’s explanation of Rashi and says that common practice does not follow Rashi. It doesn’t matter what the AH himself held. And he quotes the MB as attributing the pseudo-Ramban’s opinion to the Ramban. He does not quote the MB’s ruling. And he quotes the Rambam, not the MA.
After your ridiculously long and snark-filled megillos, your challenges boil down to: 1) the Ramban elsewhere says that women must pray twice a day so that opinion cannot be dismissed, 2) the Rambam elsewhere says that women must pray the Shemoneh Esreih. If these are, indeed, your true points, please provide more information so we know where these sources are.
the ramban nowhere says that women must pray twice a day. He only says that tefila is derabbanan.
I’ve been perfectly clear. I have to write one lengthy post after another because you are determined to not understand.
The AH is not explaining Rashi per se. 3x/day vs 2x/day is a dispute in the achronim, not in the rishonim. R Freundel’s opinion one (AH and Rashi) and his opinion two (MB and ramban) are not different opinions in rishonim. The rishonim agree, and the dispute is in the achronim and is not related to the words of the rishonim on obligation in tefila being d’oreisa or derabbanan. Opinion one vs two is only a dispute in how to understand a group of rishonim who agree with one another that tefila is drabbanan, given the fact that the achronim know from elsewhere tefilas arvis reshus.
The “pseudo-Ramban” that he attributes to the BR is the MB’s own opinion. He quote the MB’s ruling and attributes every aspect of it (the exemption from maariv) to the Ramban.
The exact quote for the third opinion that R Freundel cites is ““That leaves us with Maimonides and the third opinion that women may say whatever they want, but that they are required to do so only once each day” and the citation in the footnote is for the rambam in hilchos tefila. R Freundel does not technically state that third opinion is the Rambam’s. He says it leaves us with the Rambam and the third opinion that…..leaving it unclear if he means to say that the third opinion is the Rambam’s or MA on the Rambam. I know that his only citation is to hilchos tefila, and you know that I know this, because I already wrote that in previous comments and again in this one. I am merely leaving open the possibility that R Freundel means to refer to the MA because as a factual matter, this is the opinion of the MA on the rambam and the rambam never says explicitly that women must only pray a general tefila of shevach, bakasha and hoda’a (not “whatver they want”) once a day. R Freundel ought not to attribute the limud zechus of the MA to the Rambam himself, and if he does, that would be very strange in the context of his attempt to find a ramban who says women must daven 2x a day and not a ramban who makes a general statement that tefila is derabbanan. I have also pointed out that precision would pay off here, as there is excellent reason to think that the MA’s opinion of the Rambam’s opinion is not actually the Rambam’s opinion.
If you still don’t grasp what I’m getting at, then I suggest you sit down with SA siman 106 and learn the SA and nosei keilim, look at the Aruch hashulchan and whatever else you need to see, and you will see what you’ve been missing here.
When spending time looking up R Freundel’s various sources, at least there is the side benefit of learning what those sources say, if I have not seen them before. There is no benefit to spending time on this discussion, going over and over again what anyone who is not extremely biased already knows. I’m not going to explain this issue any more.
Larry Kaplan wrote:
“Steve: You must be really desperate, trying to find any halakhic issur you can dig up as a stick with which to beat Partnership Minyanim. One can indeed raise serious halakhic issues re women’s aliyot and keriat ha-torah and may also strongly oppose such minyanim on policy grounds, breaking with minhag Yisrael, etc, but your kvetch about a communal Tosefet Shabbat, come on give me a break”
I don’t think that it is a kvetch at all.The practice that I cited from Shabbos 35b is recorded by the Rambam, and SA, and Kabalas Shabbos as a form of verbal means of Tosefes Shabbos should not be dismissed as a kvetch. 10 men at a minimum are the definition of aTzibur. it can be argued very cogently that while single men and women equally are obligated by SA to light candles, that obligation has evolved primarily into an obligation fulfilled by the mother/wife on behalf of the family unit and Kabalas Shabbos serves as a Tosefes Shabbos Al Pi Dibur for the community.
I’m really tired of this. You talk a big game but then walk around in circles, misreading both R. Freundel and the sources.
the ramban nowhere says that women must pray twice a day. He only says that tefila is derabbanan
That is precisely R. Freundel’s point! The MB quotes the Ramban as holding that view. R. Freundel suggests that the MB got it from R. Akiva Eiger’s citation of the Besamim Rosh, apparently as the Ramban. He then shows that this isn’t the Ramban and therefore the view can be dismissed. You agree with R. Freundel that this isn’t the Ramban’s view. But you are saying that the MB does not quote in the Ramban’s name, which I believe is a possible but unlikely reading. Either way, you agree with R. Freundel that the supposed view of the Ramban does not exist among Rishonim.
And if you want to say that really Rashi (according to the MB) holds that women must daven twice a day, you still face the problem that most women do not follow that practice. You are back in the same place as R. Freundel–just the Rambam.
R. Freundel accepts the interpretation of the Rambam offered in the codes (Magen Avraham, Mishnah Berurah) but they did not make it up. The Ramban in his hasagos to Sefer HaMitzvos suggests it as an explanation of the Rambam to answer one of his questions.
Steve B: Thank you for your response. I’ll let the readers decide.
Thanks for your reply. I will try to address your questions –
(1) Nachat Ruach is only considered relevant by the Rabbis insofar as they allowed women to do a partial (incomplete and technically invalid) semikhah because many of them wanted to. They pointedly refused to allow women to do an actual semikhah, since it would be improper and demeaning to them. Moreover, women have no obligation to perform semikhah – this was merely a cosmetic change. This begs the question – why couldn’t women just do semikhah? The answer lies in the Jewish understanding of ritual sacrifice –
(2) The fact that Judaism is the ONLY major religion in the ANE or Mediterranean world to COMPLETELY EXCLUDE women from sacrificial ritual is an extremely important point. The exclusion was not arbitrary. It was based on a fundamentally differing conception of what ritual sacrifice entails. Even though women are obligated to bring certain sacrifices to the priest, they are prohibited from offering them. This is not difficult to understand – women are human and have a need for atonement and for the affirmation of the Passover covenant (though Rabbi Shimon goes so far as to maintain that they are not even obligated to bring the Passover offering!), yet in their role as God’s final and closest creation, they are God’s agents and are supposed to be sacrificed for, by men.
(3) To understand what I meant by the “obvious” reasons for Judaism’s exclusion from ritual sacrifice, please understand that I meant that they were “obvious” to the ancients in the original context, not today when the vast majority of religious Jews, even scholars who should know better, have not studied comparative sacrificial ritual in the ANE and Med. region. (Nor before modern archeology and anthropology, when this study was virtually impossible – though Maimonides attempted it in the Guide.) Even the earliest anthropological studies of sacrifice from the turn of the 20th century quickly recognized the humbling experience involved in offering a sacrifice – essentially ritually offering oneself to God as a dying victim, replaced only by the animal – condemning oneself to death. This happens to be the literal pshat concerning the blood on the doorpost upon leaving Egypt – offering oneself to God as a dead man, with total obedience, in exchange for freedom as God’s servant. The destroyer did not destroy because his would-be victims were already essentially dead. (There is a difference here between Jewish resurrection in life and pagan resurrection in death, but this is another topic entirely.) Understanding the prohibition on women priestesses as arising from concern with sexual licentiousness misses the point – this is indeed a factor in the prohibition, but the more basic question is why was sexual licentiousness a part of sacrificial ritual in the ANE and Mediterranean in the first place? Pagans believed that women have greater godly powers on account of their ability to produce life, and that they should be harnessed in the service of the gods in order to obtain fertility for the world. Judaism forbade this practice not only because it is licentious, but because it understands women as elevated godly beings who are not to be demeaned by sacrificing for man’s benefit – they are to be sacrificed for by men, who devote themselves to serving God and the godly agents they are responsible to devote themselves to – their women. Christian theologians introduced women into the clergy on account of the Christian idea, derived from pagan theology, that God sacrifices for man – this particular point is contrary to Judaism, and this is why Judaism banned female clergy. A litany of commandments in the Torah and literary narratives (beginning with the stories of Sarah and Hagar) contrast with pagan understandings of women – consider the connection between sexual sins and the land, and the contrast between Sarah and Helen of Troy when it comes to the responsible parties for women and the expectations of obedience.
What I say makes perfect sense, though it may not seem to make sense because it requires studying comparative ritual sacrifice, Christian theology, and comparing biblical narratives and commandments with their counterparts. Therein lies the key to making a seemingly difficult to understand tradition fully understandable.
R Gil: I said I wouldn’t review the issue, and I won’t. I will comment on the point you add to the discussion, re the ramban in his hasagos to sefer hamitzvos as the Ramban there does not discuss anything related to the MA’s limud zchus. The Ramban is bothered by the following question: Why, when it comes to tefila, which is d’oreisa according to the Rambam, do we say safek hispallel, eyno chozer umispallel. Mi lo askinan that he didn’t daven at all this day, and would have to be mispallel due to safek d’oreisa lechumra. If tefila (midoreisa) is not a daily chiyuv, then what is the d’oreisa chiyuv – how often must one daven midoreisa – once a year? once in your life? He’s not discussing women or whether women must daven once per day or once in their life. The meforshei harambam in hilchos tefila who dispute the MA’s limud zchus based on the rambam in pirush hamishne don’t hold that midoreisa women have to daven three times a day. Nobody holds that women or men have to daven midoreisa three times a day. That you needn’t daven three times a day midoreisa is what the Rambam himself says and we needn’t go to the hasagos to the Rambam to discover this point! What these meforshei harambam hold is that the chachomim were mechayev women the same way they were mechayev men.
My point was not to defend Rabbi Freundel. My point was that I do not think anyone can seriously say that Kabbalath Shabbath, as it has been accepted for generations, is not “tefillah betzibbur”. It is what it obviously is. Frankly, no one would care very much about women leading it, and no one would call it a “partnership MINYAN” if it was understood as akin to tefillath haderech or some other similar example. I think it is difficult for Rabbi Freundel or anyone else to define Kabbalath Shabbath based on halakhic sources, since there are no halakhic sources that address it. The reason there are none is very simple – no one even thought to address it. This only became an issue when advocates of female leadership of sacrificial ritual prayers (i.e. synagogue service) strove for a way for women to lead a prayer that virtually every Jewish individual would characterize as tefillah betzibbur.
I think Dr. Soloveitchik’s “Rapture and Reconstruction” article is very relevant here – we need to be careful not to deconstruct an organic development with overly technical halakhic labels – we need to see it for what it is. Otherwise, we tend to create unnecessary and unwarranted stringencies – but we can also do the opposite, and create intellectually unfounded and untenable leniencies.
“They pointedly refused to allow women to do an actual semikhah, since it would be improper and demeaning to them”
the pshat of that gemara is that it is “demeaning” to the sacrifices (avodah bekodshim), not the women.
the rest of your post is interesting but i am not sure it fits with rabbinic literature.
Forest seeker: I do not think it is at all obvious that kabbalat is tefillah be-tzibbur. Saying it is obvious is not an argument. I think what we have here is a slippage from the non-technical use in English of “communal praying” to the halakhic notion of Tzibbur in tefillah be-tzibur. Again, as the Rav notes, a group of yehidim praying together do not by virtue of that automatically become a tzibbur. Waht makes them into a tzibbur a tzibbur is that they resposively recite a text, kaddish or Barkhu, that can only be recite by a tzibbur. That is, for a group of individuals to become a tzibbur they need a metazref, to use the Rav’s term. There is no such metzaref in kabbalat Shabbat.
Gil: Re the Hassagot of the Ramban. I checked myself and “you lost me” on this point is clearly correct. For the life of me, I do not see the relevance of the Ramban to the hiyyuv of women praying. By the way, in shiur the Rav was srongly critical of the view of the MA’s reading of the Rambam with regard to the hiyyuv of women praying.
To support the words of Mori ve-Rabbi R. Kaplan (not that he requires my endorsement): Ye’yasher kochakha R’ Forest Seeker for the beautiful ta’amei ha-mitzvot explanation of why the Torah disqualifies ladies from avodat ha-kehunah (-and, by extension, why ladies are exempted from a variety of synagogue-centered obligations). Your words nicely elaborate the ta’amei ha-mitzvot thesis presented by R. Moshe Feinstein in Iggerot Mosheh, Orach Chaim 4:49, and more recently by R. Menasheh Klein in Shu”t Mishneh Halakhot 17:92. [The latter item was recently published online here:
Yet, as R. Feinstein explains in his responsum, the ta’amei ha-mitzvot explanation does not necessarily forbid ladies who are sincerely motivated to express their love for HKB”H from voluntarily assuming the obligations of gentlemen in some contexts (e.g. donning a tallit). [N.B. R. Klein diverges from R. Feinstein on this point, ruling that it is actually forbidden for ladies to voluntarily assume the obligations of gentlemen, but this latter ruling appears subject to the general dispute regarding Women’s Prayer Groups discussed by the R. Frimer brothers in their Tradition Winter 1998 article, available here http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/english/tfila/frimmer1.htm#start . (Indeed, R. Klein’s responsum is addressed to one of the R. Frimer brothers, and is cited by them – at that time as an unpublished manuscript – in footnote 64 of their essay.)] Thus, the beautiful ta’amei ha-mitzvot rationale you present, R’ Forest Seeker, would explain why it is generally accepted for ladies to excuse themselves from attending Kabbalat Shabbat (and, a fortiori, from leading Kabbalat Shabbat), but would not necessarily absolutely forbid a lady who wants to go beyond the call of duty from attending or even leading Kabbalat Shabbat, were Kabbalat Shabbat to be monotonously recited from the pulpit, the same way a lady could monotonously read Megillat Esther for Sephardic gentlemen in a time of emergency, at least according to R. Ovadiah Yosef in Shu”t Yechaveh Da’at 3:51, as debated by R. Avi Weiss and R. Aaron Cohen in Torah u-Madda Journal. [See
Indeed, R. Ovadiah Yosef has more recently suggested (Shu”t Yabi’a Omer 9:68) that the reading of Megillat Esther is a form of Hallel on Purim, and that one who lacks a megillah must therefore read the Hallel as a replacement. If so, synthesizing the two positions of R. Ovadiah Yosef together (viz. that a lady may lead Sefardic gentlemen in Megillat Esther in a time of emergency, and that Megillat Esther serves as a substitute for Hallel on Purim) we arguably have proof that – at least for Sefardim and at least in a time of emergency – according to R. Ovadiah Yosef ladies can lead gentlemen in the recitation of verses of the Bible which serve the function of offering praise to HKB”H, provided that the verses of the Bible are recited monotonously.
However, as referenced earlier, R. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb has ruled that because Kabbalat Shabbat in our society is sung rather than recited monotonously, the mitzvah de-rabbanan of kol be-ishah requires that a Kabbalat Shabbat service led by a lady be purely composed of ladies.
I retract my comment about the Ramban. I can’t even recreate my own thought process.
Would love to see Rabbis Barry Freundel and Steven Pruzansky in some sort of forum together. Serious heavyweights.
(The topic itself, however, is, in my opinion, beyond riddiculous. “Partnership Minyanim” does not even merit a blip on the radar screen, and to the extent it does, its just another form of conservatism. Next.)
DF unfortunately we cannot afford to treat these “Minyanim” as a blip on the radar screen. Their proponents intend them as a serious threat to our understanding of the practices and epistemology of Orthodox Judaism and they have gained more converts and power than we should be comfortable with. They are springing up on college campuses and in more cities than I am comfortable with. They have more than a few defenders (as you can see on this blog) and strongly intend to have their ideology represented (under the banner of Orthodoxy) in every Jewish institution. It doesn’t strike me as possible for two movements that are so fundamentally different to coexist under one subdivision without each diluting the message and frustrating the goals of the other.
If its proponents of this movement were to acknowledge that they were just another branch of Conservatism that would be the end of our discussion. We could let them be Conservatism’s headache. (and with the high proposition of academics and well educated youngsters in their ranks they are going to be someone’s headache as they work their rapid march through the institutions.) Unfortunately they are clinging to the fantasy that they remain Orthodox and until such point as they recognize reality, they are our headache. It is very important for us to make sure that we highlight our differences so that every observer (and maybe the most forthright and open minded members of their group) recognize that we are not the same movement.
This is not a dispute you can afford to sit out.
History – there is the rub…they are orthodox and affiliate with all orthodox institutions including yu and orthodox shuls ( as past presidents and current officers and trustees).
Alan brill had a post about a women leading kabbalat Shabbat in wash. heights 25 yrs ago – it just shows how things never change:
Btw, are rabbis e. berkowitz and y. Adler… Not orthodox?
Actually there is no indication at all as to what the pshat is concerning the reason why women cannot perform semikhah. It is taken for granted as a drashah, with no reason given. This is one example of many involving the assumption that women must not engage in ritual sacrifice in the same way as men – they omit the primary part of the sacrifice – identification with the sacrificial victim – they do not offer the sacrifice, they merely bring it to a priest. My main point here was that this has deep roots at the beginning of Jewish sacrifice. A sacrifice without semikhah is not even truly a sacrifice in the same sense as one with semikhah. (See “Or Hamizrach” April-July 1974 issue, article by R. Mayer Herscovics for an example of an treatment of this issue.)
As for your point about squaring original understandings of sacrifice with rabbinic literature, you are getting at a central problem in this discussion. Almost all of the analytic rabbinic literature in existence postdates sacrificial ritual, and virtually all of it did not benefit from comparative study. Consequently, a great deal is taken for granted or speculated when it comes to rabbinic interpretations of sacrifice. Maimonides most famously dealt with this problem in his attempts to minimize the importance of animal sacrifice and to explain the prohibition against cooking meat in milk using comparisons with Sabean rituals. He recognized that rabbinical literature was simply lacking in the area of explaining the original meaning of various sacrificial rites – and this is no fault of the rabbis – as the Geonim put it when explaining the prevalence of mahloketh, the tradition was simply lost. We do know 2 things – #1 the treatment of women in sacrificial ritual in Judaism is unique, and nowhere in all of Jewish history did women lead sacrificial ritual. #2 19th and 20th century archeology and anthropology have uncovered the materials and produced the methods we need to understand the original meaning of various sacrificial rites. This allows us to better understand assumptions that were simply taken for granted in the past.
Lawrence: I travel a lot, and I have never been to a single OU, Young Israel, or Agudath Israel synagogue in the US or Israel that allows women to lead Kabbalath Shabbath. I think it is “obvious” to the vast majority of Orthodox Jewish rabbis that it is prohibited because it would involve a woman leading public synagogue prayer. One might argue that this is an incorrect assumption, but the burden of proof is on those who wish to change current practice to prove that it is permitted. The burden is not on Rabbi Freundel or anyone else to prove that it is prohibited. I have no reason to assume that Kaddish or Borchu or any other particular prayer makes any difference here. What matters is that never in all of Jewish history have women ever led public sacrificial rites. We now have the luxury of knowing very good reasons as to why this was the case, and this only increases the burden of proof on those who wish to change this practice. Rav Soloveitchik never allowed women to lead Kabbalath Shabbath, and attempts to make him a would-be supporter of the practice by citing technical definitions from brisker-style analysis of diverse practices is really irrelevant to the establishment of a religious decision based on the obvious nature of Kabbalath Shabbath as a public service. The only reason Kabbalath Shabbath is any different than any other formal ritual prayer established for synagogue use is that it was established in the 16th century without certain prayers that are normally associated with a minyan. This has no bearing on whether it is a public prayer (tefillah betzibbur) when recited in the context of a synagogue prayer quorum. It is “obvious” that it is.
Shalom: You misapplied my points about the meaning of sacrifice. Far from allowing women to lead Kabbalath Shabbath if they want to, our tradition in this area does not allow them to lead, because it is demeaning to woman’s elevated stature.
I never attempted to make Rav Soloveitchik into a would be supporter of a woman leading Kabbalat Shabbat. I am sure he would have been strongly opposed to for al sort of reasons, not least because it is a critical change in synagogue minhag. What I do NOT think is that he would consider Kabbalat Shabbat to be Tefillah be-Tzibbur.
I’ve also been to a few Orthodox shuls in my day, and I really don’t need you to tell me that it is universally NOT the practice for woman not to lead Kabbalat Shabbat in Orthodox synagogues. That the reason is because it is universally believed that Kabbalat Shabbat is tefillah be-Tzibbutr is an unsubstantiated assumption on your part, and you have brought neither halakhic nor sociological evidence in support of it.
Ther is a typo in my last post. Change to: “for women to lead”
Steve Brizel: Are you being cholek on R Freundel’s tallis proof, as the issue with the chazzan wearing the tallis is only if he davens kabbalas shabbos after shkia? And why do so many shuls start mincha close to shkia, arriving at kabbalas shabbos after shkia if kabbalas shabbos is about the communal tosfos shabbos? Are you permitting women to lead kabbalas shabbos up until mizmor shir, which will be led by a man??
Regarding what women davened historically, a he’ara that I saw from R Henkin (Bnei Banim 2:19). As mentioned, despite the MA’s limud zchus, the MA himself obligates women to daven shmone esray. One place he does this is in connection to maariv on motzei shabbos (299:16) where he also strongly indicates that women in fact davened 3 tefilos a day with the exception of motzai shabbos. The machatzis hashekel tries to reconcile the contradiction in the MA by saying that when MA refers to women davening maariv, he must be speaking of a minority of women who do daven. R Henkin points out that this reconciliation is very difficult to read into the magen avraham.
This adds up to a lot of conflicting information about women’s historical practice in davening. There’s a stira in the report of the MA about whether women in his time are davening. AH also gives conflicting reports about whether women in his time daven, unless we assume one of his reports is about the MA. We have others saying that women did daven. I don’t see how anyone can draw sweeping conclusions about historical practice.
It comes down to a fundamental and irreconcilable disagreement. I never said that there is a “universal” belief that Kabbalath Shabbath is communal prayer – I think it is obvious to the VAST MAJORITY of Orthodox Jews that Kabbalath Shabbath in the synagogue is prayer with a congregation just like any other service. This is because my definition of tefillah betzibbur does not make use of what I consider to be misapplied halakhic hyper-analysis, which I think to be irrelevant to our tradition of male responsibility to lead humbling ritual sacrifice. You think that tefillah betzibbur can be neatly defined in a way that does not include Kabbalath Shabbath. I simply don’t agree. I think that were it not for an ideological effort on the part of a small number of people to alter a fundamental aspect of Jewish tradition concerning communal sacrificial rites and the communal prayers that were meant to temporarily substitute for them, no one could reasonably make the argument that permanently formalized synagogue services are not prayers in congregations when they are prayed in congregations. I understand your position and I don’t accept it. We will have to agree to disagree.
“which I think to be irrelevant to our tradition of male responsibility to lead humbling ritual sacrifice.”
Does this tradition express itself outside of excluding women from sacrificial rituals/synagogue rituals? Do you believe that women as elevated, godly beings, his finest and closest creation etc. relate to other differences between men and women in Judaism, such as their exemption from mitzvos asey shehazman grama? To Talmud Torah specifically? Are you taking an expression like meymis atzmo aleha to mean self-sacrifice? Is this all part of a larger framework or an explanation specific to sacrifices and synagogue rituals?
Forest: Indeed, we will have to be content to disagree. I will only say that what you consider to be misapplied halahkic hyper-analysis, I consider to be properly applied halakhic analysis.
“Unfortunately they are clinging to the fantasy that they remain Orthodox and until such point as they recognize reality, they are our headache.”
I don’t think so. There is a popular trend these days for liberals to call themselves orthodox. [I discussed this on the Menachem Mendel blog, with examples.] It’s partly becuase orthodoxy has recetnly been “discovered”, and its perceived as being on the rise, and people want to associate with a winner. Also becuase they think it gives them more credibility to advance their left-wing views. In any event, such groups or individuals are only cause for excitement among the uneducated non-orthodox. (“The first orthodox gay rabbi! The first orthodox woman rabbi!”) The rest of the orthodox world couldnt care less.
Ruvie’s link proves my point. Twent three years ago already some guys thought they were hot stuff for getting a woman for kabbalas shabbos. They thought it would start something. Here we are a generation later and they’re still trying to start something. It will never happen, because it cuts to the core of what orthodoxy means.
DF: But now, whatever your view, it has taken off.
I thank our Rosh Yeshiva R. Student for his kind words of retraction. Actually, the entire shakla ve-tarya in this venue redounds to our Rosh Yeshiva R. Student’s credit. Ye’yasher kochakha.
R’ Forest Seeker, thank you for your rejoinder. R. Klein eminently agrees with you, as referenced above, and forbids any lady from participating in ritual traditionally associated with gentlemen. However, as also referenced above, R. Moshe Feinstein – while closely paralleling R. Klein – does not completely agree with you (-particularly as R. Feinstein’s responsum is interpreted by the R. Frimer brothers). R. Feinstein believes that – despite the fact that the Torah ordains separate roles for ladies and gentlemen – this does not necessarily preclude ladies involving themselves in gentleman-oriented ritual involvement under all circumstances. Such is the nature of the current debate over Women’s Prayer Groups.
Allow me to substantiate the R. Feinstein vs. R. Klein debate with a personal anecdote. My brother arranged a bat mitzvah celebration for his child at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale on Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5771 [=Nov. 7, 2010]. The kallat bat mitzvah was scheduled to read the Torah as part of a Women’s Prayer Group in the main sanctuary (where only ladies would be present), while the gentlemen would simultaneously read the Torah downstairs in the beit midrash of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. In a telephone conversation on Oct. 28, 2010, I asked R. J. David Bleich if I should attend, and he said most definitely yes.
Then, on Shabbat, Nov. 6, 2010 [i.e. one day before the bat mitzvah] I decided to visit R. Mordechai Willig’s synagogue, just a few blocks from the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. R. Willig congratulated me on the family simchah and was eager to know what ritual role the kallat bat mitzvah would be performing. Upon my apprising him of my conversation with R. Bleich, R. Willig responded with a smile “It’s a good thing you didn’t ask *me* in advance.” In other words, R. Bleich (more or less) follows R. Feinstein, whereas R. Willig (more or less) follows R. Klein. Elu va-Elu Divrei E-lokim Chayim, as per the gemara in Eruvin 13b.
Dr. Kaplan – I dont think it has. That’s precisely my point. Partnership minyamin are statistically irrelvant. In fact, they are non-existent. All of the particapants in such minyanim nation-wide can fit into one good-sized shul in Williamsburg, with room to spare. Proportionately, there are far more people in this country that believe in aliens from outer space, than there are Jews who belong to Partnership Minyans. I dont doubt the creature exists, but the movement qua movement is entirely a creation of the non-orthodox media, wishfully convincing themselves that their viewpoints have penetrated into orthodoxy.
“In other words, R. Bleich (more or less) follows R. Feinstein, whereas R. Willig (more or less) follows R. Klein. Elu va-Elu Divrei E-lokim Chayim, as per the gemara in Eruvin 13b.”
R Spira – R Bleich told you to attend the WPG or the men’s davening? It would be a more informative anecdote if you were a woman who he’d told to attend the Women’s davening and kriat hatorah. As it is, all we know is that R Bleich told you not to upset your relatives and refuse to attend the men’s davening and the rest of the celebration in order to protest a WPG going on elsewhere with which you were not involved.
Thank you and ye’yasher kochakha, R’ you.lost.me . You are definitely correct that permission was only granted to me to attend the gentlemen’s service, and I apologize for glossing over this point. Thank you for being mezakeh et ha-rabim with this clarification.
Still, if R. Bleich would regard a WPG as literally prohibited, I don’t think he would allow me to attend and wish “mazal tov” to the family in Riverdale, since that would constitute chanifut on my part, which is prohibited by virtue of the gemara in Sotah 41b. [I.e. it is forbidden to tell a person who is transgressing that his/her behaviour is worthy of congratulations. This issue was raised during the telephone conversation. R. Bleich responded that the ladies’ Keri’at ha-Torah is “a Purim shpiel”, presumably meaning that it is permissible.] Ergo, permission for me to attend the gentlemen’s service recognizes that the simultaneous WPG is kosher. By contradistinction, R. Willig has stated (-interestingly, just about a month after I was privileged to meet him; though I take no credit for this) that he believes that WPGs are literally prohibited. See the first few minutes of his lecture on Dec. 11, 2010, available here:
During his lecture, R. Willig does admit that his mentor R. Joseph Ber Soloveitchik zatza”l did not ever explicitly state that WPGs as literally “assur”. Yet, R. Willig maintains that R. Soloveitchik largely agrees with him. R. Willig explains the linguisitc divergence between R. Soloveitchik and himself on the grounds that R. Soloveitchik “was very very Brisk in that sense… you know… he didn’t want to use the word assur when it wasn’t… you know… a capital Aleph…”
Ergo, I see the divergence of approaches between R. Bleich and R. Willig as paralleling the divergence of approaches between R. Feinstein and R. Klein.
Correction to third paragraph above: “as literally” -> “are literally”
I would rephrase R. Willig. The Rav did not want to use the word assur when something was not assur min ha-din.” To elaborate, he did not want to dress up issues of public policy, no matter how seriously and deeply felt, as matters of strict halakhah.
R Spira – Thank you for elaborating; that’s a fair point. interesting that he called it a purim shpiel.
I thank Mori ve-Rabbi R. Kaplan for rephrasing (and thus improving) R. Willig’s lecture. Indeed, I was originally unclear on the following comparison (in the context of WPGs) presented by R. Willig’s lecture (during the first few minutes):
“As I often have said: If someone for example… he doesn’t make Kiddush. He doesn’t light candles. He doesn’t make Havdalah. He doesn’t bentch. Is that assur? What do you think? Whatever it may be… the bottom line is… if you want to be technical… I didn’t do any assur, I just didn’t do the mitzvah as I’m supposed to do it. I would say it’s assur. Because when I use the word assur, I’m using it in the more general sense.”
The reason I was originally unclear by this comparison of R. Willig is that Kiddush, Hadlakat Nerot, Havdalah and Birkat ha-Mazon are all obligations that are (more or less) binding on ladies, whereas tefillah be-tzibbur is not, as explained by the R. Frimer brothers. Thanks to Mori ve-Rabbi R. Kaplan’s rephrasement of R. Willig’s case, I now appreciate the cogency of his words.
Thank you, R’ you.lost.me , for your kind words of acknowledgement. Indeed, the “Purim shpiel” metaphor is noteworthy. I suppose one could place a complimentary emphasis on this metaphor by pointing to a responsum by R. Samuel ha-Levi Wosner (Shu”t Shevet ha-Levi 10:18, available here
which allows a person to pray in a Purim shpiel costume. When this responsum is recapitulated by R. Simchah Rabinowitz in his Piskei Teshuvot to Mishnah Berurah Vol. 1 (p. 722), R. Rabinowitz writes “On Purim when many are accustomed to wear a strange costume, or one that is unusual for their habit, since his body is covered appropriately and according to Halakhah as explained in this paragraph [of Shulchan Arukh, viz. OC 91], and he is standing in awe before the King, this is okay (shapir damei), since he is not doing so for the sake of levity (kalut rosh) but rather for the sake of a mitzvah and minhag Yisrael.” If we apply these words to ladies’ Keri’at ha-Torah, then the Purim shpiel metaphor emerges as a compliment.
[Parenthetically, there is an amazing Kiddush Ha-Shem on p. A17 of today’s Montreal Gazette (-the daily English newspaper in my city), as a photograph there appears with this very volume of Piskei Teshuvot in the bookcase immediately behind R. David Stav. I am sure R. Rabinowitz is beaming with pleasure (or would be if someone informed of this good news) that his book has now received a vast audience including many Noahides.]
I have put some comments on the original article at:
In particular please see the Beis Yosef I quote there and the Rashba that he in turn quotes which specifically brings kavod hatzibbur as the reason why a minor (katan) cannot be motzei others in prayer services – and then further discussion of the Beis Yosef there regarding the custom extant in his time of katanim leading the service of Arvit on Motzei Shabbat and his defence of this custom.
It seems to me that one cannot have a proper conversation on this topic while appearing to ignore this Rashba, Beis Yosef, Shulchan Aruch, Bach (who is close to Rav Freundel’s approach) and others.