Response To “A Next Step”

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10 Responses

  1. Steve Brizel says:

    Yasher Koach to R Adlerstein for his response and especially the following portion thereof:

    “While making it clear that you distance yourselves from some of the program of Open Orthodoxy, you find at its core that “Its leaders are seeking an intellectual and religious space in which people who are committed to Hashem and His Torah and who have also engaged in various disciplines can try to address the relationship between those commitments. They are trying to figure out the practical implications that may derive from that.” Bemechilah, I cannot agree. They are not trying to figure things out. They already have. Without any consultation with world-class talmidei chachamim. And they are trying – by their own admission – foist their conclusions on an unwilling public. They want to “jump start” the process of change, and they take their case to wherever they can prevail – including the general Jewish press, the New York Times, and the heterodox movements.

    Before you get too upset with me for the pushback, let me concede that I do agree with your single most important point. We do live in different times. That is true regardless of whether the changes should be seen as positive or negative. The times are different, and all differences call for a cogent Torah response. We have yet to hear of a systematic Torah treatment of how Torah observant women are to utilize the new opportunities that Hashem has given them. What should frum women – single and married – do with the extra time in the day that their great-grandmothers did not have, tethered as they were to domestic chores? How should particularly gifted and motivated young women use their access to education and to career to fulfill aspirations that, for better or worse, are part of their inner reality?

    I would suggest that the learned women in our communities deserve more than articles on shidduchim, child rearing, cooking , mussar on Tznius,and serials in the frum media today. Many very frum women, due to the fact that they study Tanach and Jewish history , are serious students and scholars in these fields. Women who know, can and should be writing Sefarim rooted in serious Parshanut, and on various issues in Jewish history. The study of Tanach is too important to be relegated solely to the lead in to a sichas mussar disguised as a shiur or the opposite extreme of literary analysis without utilizing the views of Chazal and the classical Mfarshim.

  2. DF says:

    How interesting that the post of Professor’s Saiman and Finkelman is chock-fill with “shlitah’s” and “baruch hashem’s” and other over-the-top religious overtones, noticeably absent in any of their other published articles. Perhaps they think we’re a bunch of rubes, easily fooled with pious words and phrases?

    In any event, the whole debate – if this mismatch can be called a debate – boils down to whether or not one thinks feminism has been a positive or negative development on society. If you think it’s just dandy, then for sure you want to transplant it into orthodoxy. If you think otherwise, then of course you want to keep orthodoxy free of the maladies that have blighted secular society. I suppose there are some whose opinions are somehow not informed by these considerations, but such people are few and far between. This is, to use a nice orthodox sounding phrase the professors might have used, a dovor poshut.

  3. Ari Rieser says:

    “We should be prepared to go beyond that, and describe an avodas Hashem for women who find themselves with opportunities that were not available decades ago.” I hope that the mainstream Orthodox camp takes this charge seriously and declares this an “ays la’asos” to be proactive in offering talented, frum women a more expansive role with more opportunities to shape Yiddishkeit in these rapidly changing times; rather than maintaining the restrictive, reactive, and critical stance it has had until now.

  4. SA says:

    DF: Are all parts of feminism “maladies?” Is it really a “dovor poshut?” I don’t know if we can relate that way to *all* results of feminism, such as the expansion of “acceptable” employment options for women and such concepts as equal pay for equal work, when these developments have also helped support the kollel system and keep yeshivas afloat.

    We’ve been finessing this contradiction between what is meant to be a Bas Yisrael’s ultimate task with the need to rebuild the Torah world and the reality of the cost of Jewish life for over 40 years now. If anything, now, in the 21st century, I would venture to say that most women — particularly older women — work less out of some kind of ideology and desire to “find themselves” than out of financial necessity. But it’s a good thing those options are out there, isn’t it?

    I personally can’t even imagine why any woman would want to take on more than she is required by Halacha. I’m now working three different part-time jobs and can barely manage to find time to daven daily. I don’t think issues like partnership minyanim and tefillin that are being debated here ad nauseam (mostly by men, interestingly enough) are part of most frum women’s aspirations or reality.

    But “feminism” may well be an example of something that we can’t just reject or accept as a unit. Like many things, it has had some positive parts, and one can assume that its emergence in its time was part of Hashem’s plan to provide those positive parts when we needed them.

  5. Mike S. says:

    “Before you get too upset with me for the pushback, let me concede that I do agree with your single most important point. We do live in different times. That is true regardless of whether the changes should be seen as positive or negative. The times are different, and all differences call for a cogent Torah response. We have yet to hear of a systematic Torah treatment of how Torah observant women are to utilize the new opportunities that Hashem has given them.”

    Precisely. But these changes in roles of women in society have been happening for forty years. It seems to me that the Torah world is entitled to ask for a more active response from its leaders than merely setting limits, whether that response is new perspectives in Chinuch that help us find the contrast between religious life and secular society less alienating, adjustments in communal structures removed from ritual, or changes in ritual that are consistent with halacha. Whether one thinks the social changes are positive negative or a mixed bag, they do shape our reality, and need to be addressed not ignored. If the greatest Torah leaders of the times do not respond, it should come as no surprise that lesser lights attempt to fill the void. I am not here advocating any particular response, but I do think that just deciding to ignore changes in the larger society, perhaps because we wish they hadn’t happened, is woefully inadequate. And I find responses like “my wife and daughters don’t see a problem so you shouldn’t either” quite off-putting. Yes, it is often the job of great Torah leaders to set limits; however, when they do so it is also part of their job to educate people so they can see those limits as constructive parts of our service of God. I haven’t seen that happening.

    Millions of Jews, including children of our greatest scholars, were lost to the Jewish people because it took the Torah leaders 100 years or more to find an effective response to the changes wrought in Gentile society by the European Enlightenment, the subsequent French Revolution and their consequences for the Jews. The pace of social change has only quickened, and it affects the Jewish community more rapidly. It seems to me it behooves the great Torah scholars of the day not only to find constructive responses, but to be looking outward enough to respond not only to the changes of 40 years ago, but to be prepared for those that will happen 20 years hence.

  6. A.Schreiber says:

    If “times have changed”, and if it’s so important for Orthodox Jews to change in reaction thereto, why then do these writers (and the morethodoxers) keep harping on feminist issues? Shouldn’t the changed times we live in prompt change of a more universal application – like dropping yom Tov sheni?

  7. Mr. Cohen says:

    I object to the way the word “korbanos” is misused in the first paragraph.
    The popular misuse of that word distorts its true meaning.

  8. Sholom says:

    Whether we like it or not, more and more frum women know from experience in the secular world that they can participate and thrive in traditionally male dominated areas, and therefore they’re less accepting of the limits placed on them inside Yiddishkeit. If all they ever hear from Orthodox Rabbanim is “No”, then inevitably they’ll find other forms of Judaism where they can participate fully. So Orthodoxy has only two options if it wants to continue to survive into the future. Either accommodate women’s increased awareness of their abilities, or make sure they don’t become aware by closing off the community from any outside influence, and placing severe restrictions on what women can do and where they can go.

  9. Steve Brizel says:

    SA wrote in part:

    “DF: Are all parts of feminism “maladies?” Is it really a “dovor poshut?” I don’t know if we can relate that way to *all* results of feminism, such as the expansion of “acceptable” employment options for women and such concepts as equal pay for equal work, when these developments have also helped support the kollel system and keep yeshivas afloat”

    Knowing how to distinguish between the political and economic results generated by feminism and the anti family ideology that underlines feminism is part of the answer. Notwithstanding the above results, the roots of feminism are avowedly anti-femily and today are marked by a POV that a woman should be free to do whatever she desires with her body, regardless of the reaction that such conduct will cause, and that the only difference between men and women is the physical act of giving birth to a child.

  10. David Z says:

    Beautiful. But just as to women of leisure–weren’t there always wealthy women who had lots of time on their hands? That just seems to be a red herring. The real issue is the educational opportunities that hashem has given. Although had ezra wanted he could have required girls to be educated as well. These are the difficulties.

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