Author Archives: Aryeh Frimer

Partnership Minyanim Revisited

by R. Aryeh Frimer and R. Dov Frimer (A printable PDF of this essay is available here: link) Partnership Minyanim Revisited: A Response to Rabbi Ysoscher Katz I. Introduction The question of women receiving aliyyot is briefly discussed in a baraita cited in the Talmud Megilla 23a, which reads: תנו רבנן: הכל עולין למנין שבעה, ואפילו קטן ואפילו אשה. אבל אמרו ...

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She-lo Asani Isha Revisited, Once Again!

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

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The Wrong Changes in Jewish Liturgy

R Aryeh Frimer / The prolific R. Prof. Daniel Sperber has published yet another masterful book—this time “On Changes in Jewish Liturgy: Options and Limitations” (henceforth, “Liturgy”)—in which the erudite author surveys the evolution of Jewish liturgy over a period of two and a half millennia. As with Prof. Sperber’s other books, this one too is enjoyable, edifying and breathtaking in its depth and breadth. There is a lot of action in the footnotes and appendices that will keep scholars happily diverted. Prof. Sperber outlines how the prayer text has evolved into a variety of nusha’ot and a plethora of sub-nusha’ot—such that no two Hassidishe shtibelakh daven exactly the same, nor do Yemenite batei kenesset. If one follows the prayer book from the time of the Geonim and the early Cairo Geniza manuscripts, through the Hassidei Ashkenaz, the Ari, and students of the Besht, down to the modern period—it becomes eminently obvious that there have been extensive additions of new prayers to the liturgy, and modifications in the text of the shemone esrei.

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Keep the Conversation Honest

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

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