Author Archives: 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.

Praying for the Government in the UK and Elsewhere II

by Rabbi Dr Barry Freundel The London Beth Din, United Synagogue and Maggid Books are publishing Morash Kehillat Yaakov, a two-volume collection of essays in honor Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. This two-part essay appears in the English book and is republished here with permission. The first part of the essay is here. Please join us to celebrate the launch of ...

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Praying for the Government in the UK and Elsewhere

by Rabbi Dr Barry Freundel The London Beth Din, United Synagogue and Maggid Books are publishing Morash Kehillat Yaakov, a two-volume collection of essays in honor Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. This two-part essay appears in the English book and is republished here with permission. More years ago than I care to remember, I spent some eleven months as a student ...

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Partnership Minyanim VI

R Barry Freundel / As the discussion has gone on concerning my analysis of Partnership Minyanim in halakhah I find the critics going further and further afield to try and challenge what I wrote. These arguments tend to share some troubling common characteristics. They misstate what I have written The cite me as saying things that others have written They challenge peripheral issues with an approach that seems to say that any flaw anywhere in my argument means it all falls, when I was at pains to show multiple arguments that each stand alone They draw parallels where none are warranted They present sources that support what I am saying as if they actually present a challenge I do not know Chana Luntz and I don’t mean to be unkind, but her post on Avodah (link) does all of these things and more; while being written in an English that is often difficult to understand. Let me begin by again stating the purpose of my article because much of what she claims that I didn’t cite simply is beyond the scope of what my goal was in my article. I wrote an article about Partnership Minyanim (a new phenomenon in the Ashkenazi community where women lead things like Kabbalat Shabbat, Pesukei Dezimra etc. but not Maariv), and about why I believe that these services are halakhically unsustainable within our community. I first challenged those few halakhic defenses of Partnership Minyanim that I have read or heard and then provided many additional sources to challenge the practice. Inter alia I did discuss the custom of some communities that allow male children to lead Pesukei Dezimra and Kabbalat Shabbat because that practice does potentially challenge my conclusion and I then provided answers to that challenge. That is the totality of what this article required for its purposes on this last subject, and as such I did not write the definitive discussion of children leading any and all parts of davening as found in halakhic literature.

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Partnership Minyanim V

R Barry Freundel / I have not had a chance to thoroughly review the last week or so of posts about my article, but I have seen and been told about several of them and particularly about some recurring themes in them. I intend to respond to three of these here and hope in the next week or so to read through the rest and see if they need a reaction. Prior to the specifics, a general comment in reaction to an ethos spread by the internet age that is profoundly troubling precisely because it reflects the glorification of a lack of seriousness, and that has been evident here.

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Partnership Minyanim IV

R Barry Freundel / At the end of my last post on this subject I indicated that I would only be back to discuss this issue on the blogs if something dramatic occurred. Dr. Lawrence Kaplan approached me off line and indicated that there was something dramatic that he had found and that he had posted on Hirhurim (Torah Musings). Before I turn to what he writes a bit of an apology to my friend Rabbi Mathew Hoffman whose title I left out and whose name I misspelled in my last post. I am truly sorry. Returning to Lawrence Kaplan, he claims to have found (in opposition to my view) a posek who sees the content and not the presence of ten men as defining tefillah betsibbur. He writes that this posek is none other than: Rav Soloveitchik. He continues: “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 recitation 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-zimra together does NOT make them into a tzibbur. They are a group of yehidim until the Hazan recites the Kaddish.”

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Partnership Minyanim III

R Freundel / 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. 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.

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Partnership Minyanim II

R Barry Freundel / I appreciate Rabbi Zev Farber’s respectful response to my paper on Partnership Minyanim and particularly his recognition that a blog post is not really the best venue for a full treatment of what I presented. Nonetheless, what he posted is really the first serious attempt to offer a halakhic defense for Partnership Minyanim in writing that I know of. Rabbi Farber takes me to task for making this claim in my presentation, but in fact the literature I have read, including the items he cites, do not address Partnership Minyanim in a thorough, serious scholarly or halakhic way. They either, by the author’s own words, represent a preliminary reaction or deal with women’s emotions (which certainly are important- see below), but are not dispositive in a halakhic or academic sense, or with Kol Isha which is not the central issue here (I do not mention it in my article at all), or present a practical guide to Partnership Minyanim with little or no halakhic analysis, or, in the large majority of cases, with women receiving aliyot.

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Partnership Minyanim

R Barry Feundel / Over the last few years a new phenomenon has appeared on the Jewish scene. This phenomenon, referred to as “Partnership Minyanim”, claims to be Orthodox and/or halakhic, and to offer increased opportunities for women to participate in services. Specifically, women are allowed to serve as prayer leader (in some venues a woman is always asked to lead) for Kabbalat Shabbat – but not for Maariv on Friday night. On Shabbat morning a women may serve as Hazan(it)for Pesukei Dezmira but not for Shakharit and Musaf. So too, a girl may be asked to conclude the Shabbat morning services beginning with Ein Kelokeinu. Finally, women are given aliyot and read Torah at these services (in some places this is allowed only after the third aliyah). There are some of these groups that follow somewhat different structures.

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