Women and Tefillin: R. Twersky’s Magisterial Approach

You may also like...

28 Responses

  1. yy says:

    Powerfully eloquent elucidation of a major challenge to our generation.

    Thank you

  2. Chardal says:

    >For anyone of lesser stature to tamper with five hundred plus years of tradition represents the height of brazenness and goes well beyond the pale of Orthodox Judaism.

    This is done regularly by people on the right when it comes to other areas and leHumra. For example, the bada”tz insistence to check the lungs and tzomet haGiddim of fowl tampers with five hundred plus years of tradition/psak and is baseless in both its halachic argumentation and its understanding of the realia of shchita. This is one example amongst many. The decisions of badatz hashgacha is rarely subject to the kind of halachic process described in the post and yet no one says a word. Could the main reason be that its hard to call someone with a long beard and a black hat “well beyond the pale of Orthodox Judaism”?

    There are those who challenge the very idea of meta-halacha. Most of orthodoxy does not reject it, but is it too much to ask that the meta-halachic considerations be both transparent and consistently applied? This blog has been attacking OO for quite a while, and while I have no connection to OO, and frankly, find much of the topics that animate them to be of little interest to myself, I often find that the very arguments employed against them are just as applicable to the right.

    [YA – I know many people who feel and say that the otherwise unjustified substitution of an new set of halachic standards (e.g. deciding to be insist on being machmir like the Rambam, no matter whom he opposes) is an equivalent threat to the mesorah). We can speculate as to why people don’t see as much of a problem when it comes from the right.

    Can you expect or demand consistency in the application of meta-halacha? Perhaps. But you will have to go to the people responsible for its decisions. By definition, they are not bloggers.]

  3. Bob Miller says:

    “Does the educator, rabbi, or layman not realize that he lacks the breadth and depth of knowledge required of a ba’al hora’ah? Does he, in a flight of Walter Mittyish imagination, think himself an expert in Shas, Rishonim, Shulchan Aruch, and major responsa? Halachic queries are never directed to him qua ba’al Halachah because he is not. They come his way only because of the professional position he occupies…”

    His constituents might be routing queries to him because they also have no concept of what a ba’al hora’ah is and/or because they share his social/political orientation.

  4. Noam Stadlan says:

    Rav Twersky essentially states that something that has been stated by Chachmei haMesorah and not challenged for many years cannot be overturned. This is not reality. Metzitzah b’feh was done for many years, went unchallenged, and then was overturned when it was realized it was a danger to health. A deaf/dumb was not obligated in mitzvot and couldn’t get an aliyah until it was realized that they had normal mental capacity. There are many more examples. Halacha is the result of the application of the eternal Torah to changing reality. When our understanding of reality changes, the results of the Halachic analysis can and does change.

    An article in the recent Torah u’Madda journal describes attitudes towards eved k’naani. It has changed over time. Has it been because of egalitarianism? Modernism? When the blind are given more opportunities, or the deaf/mute, is that because of egalitarianism? Why is it only when women want to do more(within Halacha) that it has to be given a label, and then described as anti-Torah? The Torah in fact commands us not to oppress our fellows. We are supposed to recognize that we are all created b’tzelem Elokim and there are responsibilities that go with that. The Yerushalmi tells us that just as it is forbidden to permit the forbidden, you cannot forbid the permitted.

    Describing those who want to allow women to do more as demanding equality or going down the road of Conservatism is an easy way to demonize the opposition, but it isn’t true of the vast majority of those in the category that I know. It is a straw person argument and the conversation, if there is one, deserves better. These are women(and the men who support them) who believe whole heartedly in Torah and Mitzvot and are not trying to make life ‘easier’ or find ‘kulot’. A woman who wants to put on tefillin is trying to find an easy way out?

    Quoting the Rav on the issue of Mechitzah and then applying it to women and tefillin is disingenuous. Partnership minyanim have mechitzot. No one in the orthodox community that is commited to Torah and Mitzvot is arguing against a mechitza.

    [YA – It appears that we read this essay very differently:
    1) R. Twersky did not say that accepted halachic practice can’t change. He said that such change properly comes about only with the approval of the most seasoned Torah scholars.
    2) He did not say that the OO crowd is looking (at least in this instance) for kulos. He did say that the tefillin-thing was motivated by an egalitarian instinct foreign to Torah thought.
    3) He did not “apply” the Rov’s thinking regarding mechitza to tefillin. He cited that thinking only to illustrate the Rov’s vehemence against changes to the mesorah motivated by the embrace of a foreign zeitgeist.

    There is enough that we disagree about without adding more to the mix! 🙂 But do keep the comments coming. The interaction keeps all of us healthy.]

  5. Ari Rieser says:

    I repeat this question, time and again, whenever I read such responsa against the growing liberal trend withing Orthodoxy: I get that you are vehemently opposed to this liberal agenda and that you feel that these innovations are heretical and anti-halacha – So what will you (in the Right-of-Center) do to make davening and the entire shul-going experience more meaningful and fulfilling to women, who are on the sidelines looking in? Surely, there should be at least a modicum of attention paid to this issue? But, unfortunately I don’t hear any voices in the “Frum Velt” wrestling with this issue. Shul is such a major aspect in our Avodas Hashem, and yet tragically nobody seems to even consider how devoid of spiritually the whole experience can be for women who are relegated to “the back of the bus.” Even if we are not ready to make significant changes, at the very least this should bother us, and the fact that it doesn’t, speak tremendous volumes.

  6. yy says:

    Ari – you touch an essential pt to the overriding issue: How to help our brethren who want to join in communal Torah observance, yet find traditional ways lacking personal meaning. Ok. I don’t think anyone here is unfamiliar with this dilemma. The problem is that before we can intelligently consider viable options for stretching tradition in more meaningful ways for segments of the more modernized members of our community, we must hear people like you putting into the same chullent the question of the “volumes” that are spoken from their lack of concern about heretical and anti-Halacha agendas!

    If you want to be grounded in Halacha, and not “reform” it, then you’ve got to be at least as bothered by these rabbinical quacks and the modern ideologies they are bent on accomodating as you are about being bothered about why standard halacha lacks meaning for them.

  7. Baruch B. says:

    You write:
    “Shul is such a major aspect in our Avodas Hashem, and yet tragically nobody seems to even consider how devoid of spiritually the whole experience can be for women who are relegated to “the back of the bus.” Even if we are not ready to make significant changes, at the very least this should bother us, and the fact that it doesn’t, speak tremendous volumes.”
    2 questions: 1: Is shul really supposed to be such a tremendous aspect of a woman’s avodas hashem? Or maybe it’s supposed to be more about Davening?
    What do you think?
    2: When it “speaks tremendous volumes”, what does it say? (I really want to know, I’m not trying to provoke anyone)

  8. DF says:

    To Ari Reiser:

    You have no evidence – whatsoever – that there is a “growing” liberal trend within orthodoxy. In fact, in proportion with the rest of growing orthodoxy, liberalism is shrinking. Don’t mistake the proliferation of news outlets for actual proliferation of numbers.

    Likewise, the claim of women being relegated to “the back of the bus” – you, my friend, are projecting your personal thoughts onto women at large. (How paternalistic.) I see ezras nachim’s packed to the gills wherever I go, just like the men’s sections. If it was such a lifeless exercise, the women wouldn’t show up. Again, assertions don’t equate to facts.

    As for me, allow me to summarize what I wrote on a different blog that also addressed R. Twersky’s article. I don’t think the Rabbi’s article stands up to scrutiny. If one is honest, there are many, MANY changes that have taken place in Jewish and Halachic life down throughout the centuries, frequently caused by outside catalysts. However, in no way does this mean we must accept all such changes. Feminism all but promotes staying single – if it does not actually do that in word, it is without question the practical effect. More American women proportionately are single today than at any other period in American history. [If you look around, there are plenty of women’s magazines that timidly explore this issue, but don’t do so in full voice for fear of appearing, God forbid, to actually want a husband and thus offend the feminists.] Orthodoxy, by great contrast, focuses on the family. In addition, the divorce rate – for which there IS evidence of its explosive growth – is directly related to the growth of feminism. Broken homes, single mothers, one-child homes. Why on Earth would we incorporate this failed ideology into orthodoxy?

    Feminism, which I define as the legally enforceable brand of Title VII, has been around less than 50 years. Orthodoxy, or shall we say, Judaism, with all its developments – thousands. Let’s see if feminism can even make it out of the 21st century, without vanishing like so many other 20th century ideological movements. Until then, it is it that must accede to the realities of orthodoxy, not the other way around.

  9. Gil Student says:

    Ari Reiser: Rabbi Twersky wrote the following in a 1998 article:

    A modicum of introspection regarding women’s tefilla groups exposes a pervasive malaise in our community affecting men and women equally. Our experience of tefilla is at best impoverished. On weekdays, we race the clock in an attempt to make tefilla conform to our hectic schedules. Instead of immersing ourselves in the heartful and soulful experience of prayer, we squeeze it, heartless and soulless, into our routine. On Shabbat and Yom Tov, tefilla, punctuated and at times overwhelmed by congregational chatter, has deteriorated into recitation by rote and mechanical mouthing of words. In this experiential vacuum, where authentic religious experience is all too often lacking, active leading roles appear-to men and women-very significant. Frustrated by the shallowness of our tefilla experience, we (men and women alike) misguidedly try to gratify ourselves by seeking active participatory roles. In truth, however, such pursuits which further externalize prayer only exacerbate the real problem.

    Thus, a vital task awaits us. We must educate and train ourselves to experience in the most profound fashion genuine service of the heart. Such an educational program cannot be fully set forth in the present forum, and thus the ensuing remarks are, at best, schematic and illustrative, but clearly inadequate and incomplete.

    The process must involve careful study of halakhot of the synagogue and biur ha-tefilla. Compliance with these halakhot would eliminate all idle talk at all times from the synagogue, and create an atmosphere conducive for kavana. By virtue of such habitual compliance, we could condition ourselves to banish from the sacred domain of the synagogue all thoughts of politics, the stock market, sports, and the like. Upon entering the bet keneset our mood would instinctively change and become reflective; our attention would be focused upon the impending encounter with the Ribbono Shel Olam. Devoting a few minutes in this rarified spiritual atmosphere to prepare for tefilla would further facilitate our experiencing genuine service of the heart. And finally, engaging in tefilla with the benefit of prior study of the various prayers-their basic themes, structure and vocabulary-would allow us to recite these tefillot thoughtfully, contemplatively focusing upon each word and its religious content rather than mindlessly flipping pages.

    Similarly, we ought to respond educationally to the secular egalitarian impetus for the tefilla groups. We need to expound and internalize the Torah’s axiom of dissimilar equality of the two genders. Moreover, we must elucidate the vitally important, heightened spiritual dimension of the feminine role, as delineated by the Torah and our sages.

    Such educational initiatives will, God willing, foster genuine religious experience and satisfaction in general and enhance the tefilla experience in particular. The religious crisis which has spawned women’s tefilla groups would thereby be authentically resolved.

  10. Robert Lebovits says:

    Ari Reiser: “Shul is such a major aspect in our Avodas Hashem, and yet tragically nobody seems to even consider how devoid of spiritually (spirituality?) the whole experience can be for women who are relegated to ‘the back of the bus'”.
    The assertion underlying this statement – that the shul experience ought to be equally meaningful for women as for men despite the fact that as a vehicle of Avodas Hashem it is only required of men and not women – is precisely the idea that R. Twersky challenges as part and parcel of a liberal, non-Torah based ideology. The avodah character of shul, as opposed to its social dimension, is purely tefillah b’tzibur for which only men are obligated. Further, I would challenge the notion that tefillah which is non-participatory – i.e., the normative experience for women in Orthodox shuls – is in and of itself “devoid” of spirituality. Anyone who has ever seen the women davening at the Kotel is immediately impressed by the devotion and intensity of their avodah irrespective of the fact that they are “simply” engaging in tefillah b’yichidus.
    I am not sure what exactly “should bother us” about women’s shul experience if the primary goal is Avodas Hashem. On the other hand, if feeling and sensibilities are the real concerns then we are no longer addressing spiritual matters, are we?

  11. Yaakov Novograd says:

    Dear Ari Rieser,
    Please see the book “Guardian of Eden” (Feldheim 1993) in which Part 2 contains “Letters to a Jewish Feminist” where Rabbi Yisroel Miller deals with these issues in a brilliant and entertaining manner.

    If that book isn’t readily available, I hope you’ll connect with someone like Rabbi Barone, who spoke with parents in America this week about his yeshiva, and said — in a different context — that even Torah study (and certainly davening, Y.N.) is a detail amongst many crucial details [yes, Torah is the most important detail] in yiddishkeit, but our focus swhould be on appreciating yiddishkeit as a whole.
    IOW, let’s try to learn, and learn to appreciate, how Hashem (the Author of the human “owner’s manual”) wants each of us to experience spirituality and then we won’t feel we ‘are relegated to “the back of the bus”‘, but we’re actual drivers.

  12. Bob Miller says:

    The more general problem is: how does one communicate traditional Torah views to someone who thinks along different lines conditioned by contemporary mores of the surrounding society?

  13. Ari Rieser says:

    Rabbi Student – for a change I actually agree with what you (or the quote you shared has to) say! If our shuls truly resembled the true Mikdash Me’at that they are supposed to be, then perhaps a good number of these issue would be resolved.

    DF – perhaps you do not live in a Modern Orthodox community or daven in a Modern Orthodox shul, but rest assured that there most definitely an under and above ground movement developing. This is not just a media-driven, online blogger bluster – this is for real. You also bring up the issue of “feminism” – I made no mention of this being a feminist-driven agenda in my comment. Why do those who oppose addressing the role of women within Orthodoxy always distill the issue as Feminism? The answer is, because it is convenient to say so and discard the whole matter as Pritzus and a breach of Tznius. This is a fallacy and enables you and others to completely avoid the issue of how we within the Orthodox community need to at least minimally address of the reality of the enhanced role of women in modern society (that may be a result of the Feminist Mov’t, but no longer is driven by it) and the inherent consequences that it poses to us.

  14. shaul shapira says:

    “As for me, allow me to summarize what I wrote on a different blog that also addressed R. Twersky’s article. I don’t think the Rabbi’s article stands up to scrutiny. If one is honest, there are many, MANY changes that have taken place in Jewish and Halachic life down throughout the centuries, frequently caused by outside catalysts.”

    Can you elaborate? (Some actual examples) Specifically, were those changes similar to the Beis Yaa’kov movement- which R Twersky himself addresses in this article- or ladies putting on tefillin? I think that’s a crucial differtence.

  15. Rafael A. says:

    Why is everybody here responding to Ari Reisner’s assertions. They can basically be boiled down to the fact that liberal Orthodox Judaism wants the gender role division in Yiddishkeit to be minimized as much as possible, if not eliminated (same with the treatment of heterosexual and homosexual sexuality). The answer to this is that halochoh does not permit this, this is not Judaism in any sense of the word, and if that means that a few who want full egalitarianism feel they are at the back of the bus, it is for those women to change their feelings and not expect Judaism and halochoh to change in order to assuage those feelings, which is something really that frum Yidden do everyday when halochoh conflicts with our thoughts, desires, and societal pressures.

  16. Steve Brizel says:

    R Twerksy’s article on Torahweb is a superb analysis of the clash between egaliatarian rooted feminism and its unyielding and never satisfied demands, those who lend support to such claims and why Baalei Mesorah are correct in viewing the views of feminists and their apologists within the LW MO with grave suspicion as to the motivations for the same.

  17. Steve Brizel says:

    Ari Reiser set forth the following basis for his observations:

    “perhaps you do not live in a Modern Orthodox community or daven in a Modern Orthodox shul, but rest assured that there most definitely an under and above ground movement developing”

    I think that it wrong to extrapolate from LW MO communities located in the UWS, UES, and Riverdale to other far more committed MO communities and claim that what exists in some quarters in the LW MO world is a “movement.” I think that it also patronizing and condescending to write off entire communities, Charedi and MO, where no such evidence supporting your claims is extant at all.

  18. Steve Brizel says:

    Noam Stadlan-attitudes towards the “deaf/mute” changed solely because of the development of specialized treatment and education of such individuals. It remains an open halachic question whether for example a person with a hearing aid could and , even more importantly, be a Baal Tokea or a Baal Koreh on any day when Krias HaTorah is a Mitzvah Min HaTorah. Your discussion of MBP assumes that the same has been abolished by Poskim ala smoking in a public place. In fact, I would suspect that the same is probably more an individual choice, rooted in minhag than in anything else, as opposed to the controversy as to whether MBP is merely a Minhag or an essential part and parcel of the Mitzvas Milah. I would suggest that far more evidence on the ground is warranted in terms of actual Piskei Halacha from Baalei Horaah, and what people are choosing to do in all Torah observant communities, before asserting that MBP has been abolished. I don’t see your point re Eved Knaani-so many sugyos in Shas and discussion in Rishonim and Acharonim deal with the halachic consequences of such a status.

  19. Steve Brizel says:

    Noam Stadlan-the article in the TuM Journal by R Shmalo surveyed views in the Gdolei HaMfarshim as to understand the institution of Eved Knanni as a historical, and philosophical issue from a wide range of perspectives. Yet, the article IMO should have included a section reminding the reader that the institution of Eved Knanni could and should not in any way be compared with slavery as practiced in the pre Civil War US.

  20. Eli M says:

    While it is true that certain movements are pushing women’s issues to destroy Halachic Judaism, that does not negate the fact that there is also a real problem that must be dealt with. The classic role of a woman in society was one that fit well with the classis frum experience. As society is changing, and it is irrelevant whether the changes are for the better or for the worse, the way women exist in this world is changing too. Sticking our heads in the sand will not make the changes go away. Lack of tefilin is not the issue, lack of respect and recognition as real equals is.
    The rub is to make clear that women are truly considered the equals of men, each in their respective roles, and if we can convey that, then there won’t be such a clamor for equivalence. The problem is that womens’ platitude detectors are pretty good, and when men talk equal but different but don’t really believe it, then women fight – they see that in secular field sthey are equal, why does the Judaism insist they are inferior. What is needed is a serious treatment of this issue, dealing with all the parts of the mesorah, those that praise and raise women and those that seem to denigrate them. If done well, women are more than smart enough to understand, unfortunately, if not done well, women are also more than smart enough to notice.

  21. Ari Rieser says:

    Steve Brizel – While you may be correct that there isn’t the same push for a more liberal MO outside of NYC, the fact remains that NYC has the overwhelming majority of young MO singles and new married couples. These couples eventually move out of the city to raise their B”H growing families. As such, it is only a matter of time for this (as you put it) “LW MO” ideology to gradually spread elsewhere. Therefore, I am confident that, like it or not, this movement to give women a more involved role within Orthodoxy will be an issue that will have to be addressed in many more MO shuls in the near future.

  22. Robert Lebovits says:

    Eli M.:
    “Equal” by what measures? I am a child of the 50s & 60s with Holocaust survivor parents and a mother who did not work outside the home. There was never the slightest doubt in my mind that my mother was the “equal” of my father, whether in terms of her standing, authority, or hard work. Whatever activities they each pursued had no impact on my perceptions of them as both deserving of my respect and admiration.
    My wife has always worked outside the home as have I. The “equal” status we have in the minds of our children I seriously doubt is owed to our out-of-the-home engagements. The current controversy will not go away so long as playing roles traditionally ascribed to men are the standard by which equality is measured – precisely the foundational principle of feminism. Liberal ideology does not accept the very notion of separate gender pathways for living.

  23. DF says:

    Ari Reiser – you ask why the “changing role of women” is always distilled to feminism. The answer, of course, is because that’s the driver. You want proof? Why is it that the morethodoxies of the world always speak about adapting to change, but keep coming back, time and again, to women’s issues? How come they never address yom tov sheni? Why don’t they ever wonder if perhaps the halachic view of electricity is outdated? Why don’t we hear anything about the second yokum purkan, which still speaks as though we’re in Bavel? It’s always women’s tefillah and women’s hakafahs and now women’s teffilin, and nothing else. Why? Because its driven by feminism. Please don’t be naïve enough to think there’s any genuine religious yearning here.

    Shaul Shapira – I could cite many examples, but it’s not the thrust of the blog here. Google this topic, you’ll find plenty.

    Eli M – as it happens, I think its already been pretty well conveyed that women are equal to men in their respective roles. In fact, I’ve not seen any statement to the contrary in any sefer written in the past hundred years (and if such a statement exists, it would reflect merely an individual opinion.)However, included among the “respective roles” is the fact that men are tasked with being the public face, or if you prefer, the head. This shouldn’t be a big deal. A famous non-Jewish movie a few years ago showed two women speaking to each other, in which one told the other that the man was the head – but, she said laughingly, the woman is the neck, and the neck turns the head! (I know many, MANY orthodox Jews, including modern orthodox Jews, who saw that movie, and laughed right along with the line, identifying with it.) So you say that Judaism insists they are “inferior”? I think that’s how you’re interpreting “different.”

  24. Eli M says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. However, I am afraid that if you ask a random sample of non rabble rousing mainstream frum high school girls, they will tell you that they consider themselves less than equal to their male counterparts. Many will have no problem with this, and be content to be ‘merely’ an aizer k’negdo, but for many it may fester inside them. Mainstream frum society often seems to prioritize males over females, even when there is no Halachic issue at stake, i.e. more responsibilities and less ‘fun’ for girls. This feeling is probably exacerbated by the current situation in shidduchim.
    Personally,I believe women to be the equal of men, and my mother to be at least the equal of my father. I detest the OO movement, and consider the desire for women to be the same as men as silly. I must admit though, that in frum society as a whole, and in some ways it creeps into my own thoughts and actions, a subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) belief that as a rule men are superior and ‘more worthy’ than women. Some gemaros and halachos can easily be (mis)constued this way, and unforunately not all lomdei Torah are sufficiently mature to properly understand these sugyos. I remember singing ‘shelo asani isha’ to annoy the girls when I was a young child, sometimes it seems that some men remain forever young.
    If everyone was as sensitive as you and I, or the majority of the readers of cross-currents, I wouldn’t worry.
    Read some comments and posts here or especially at other sites, and you will see why I believe that not everone is one with our mindset. Would that it were so.

  25. Sara says:

    The whole debate about tefillin strikes me as unecessary. Women wanting to wear tefillin, women creating their own tefillah groups… these are all merely symptoms of an underlying, festering problem. Addressing the symptoms is like putting band-aids on an infected wound that is rapidly becoming a systemic infection. The misguided women who fight for these “rights” do so for lack of awareness of the wholeness of our Torah life, and for lack of a better way of dealing with their – very real – frustration. Many frum women feel the same frustration and anger, but do not have the freedom of expression – or even desire for that expression – of our less constrained counterparts. We frum women know that putting on tefillin will not help the underlying issue, but we do wish and hope that the underlying issue be dealt with seriously. We are not placated when you tell us, “of course Judaism finds you equal”, because in today’s age we are lucky to have access to almost all the writings and sources and resources that men do, albeit acquired with more difficulty. So when in high school we are told that women don’t need all the mitzvos that men do because women are naturally more holy and spiritual and don’t need the extra “motions” to become close to Hashem, we feel placated and calmed. Then we grow up, and scour for information because some answers still don’t sit right, and we find male-driven writings (such as the one by H. Grossman reprinted on this site) in which we are told that men are the spiritual, holy, transcendental beings whereas women are more base, earthly, purely utilitarian beings. Pick one, we cry; you can’t be both picking each at the time when it is most beneficial for men. We are good at sensing these contradictions. Another incongruity we have noted: women, you say, are meant to exist in the private sphere, while men are the “public face” of Judaism. But then for the purpose of supporting husbands who want to live in the cocoon world of kollel, frum women are encouraged en masse to become the primary breadwinners and exist in the public sphere (but only within those very exact parameters – as soon as we return home from our hopefully lucrative jobs we are expected to fade into the background, dim into obscurity). Pick one, we say; if you are the public heroes, then act like it. Throughout the women’s educational process we are told of the value of mitzvos, chessed, middah-improvement, and emunah and we are joyful to be able to serve Hashem fully. Then we become older and have the opportunities to listen in to male-dominated halacha and hashkafa education, and we find out that talmud Torah is the prime, the supreme, practically the only way to come close to Hashem and become great, and we are hurt because we are simultaneously told that this is an endeavor from which we are excluded. You tell us we are equal, but for many purposes we are equated with canaanite slaves in halacha. Animal farm equality, we ask? You tell us we are equal, but then we are also told that our only value lies insofar as we are able to support the wellbeing and advancement of men (aizer k’negdo, nashim bmah zachyan, etc). And no, the racecar driver and the mechanic are not equal; each is essential, no doubt, but no thinking person would ascribe them equal value in winning the race. You tell us that the Torah respects and values women, but once we begin to search, we find myriads of demeaning and derogatory statements. You tell us that these are just the few among the many complimentary onces, but not having access to those elements of Torah learning, we have not been able to find them yet, and the men are remarkably silent in this area.
    For better or worse, as members of modern society we have had our value, intelligence, capabilities, success and potential validated. We are too aware by now to believe the opposite. Imagine; many women are highly successful in previously male-dominated careers while at the same time caring for a home, raising a large family, being involved in community and chessed, and attempting to carve out time to build a relationship with Hashem.
    We don’t deny Hashem. We don’t negate Halacha. But we have real issues and questions and want them dealt with seriously, within the constraints of Torah-true values and Halacha, and with our involved input. We are not clamoring for the rights to wear tefillin. We are not fighting for the role of baal koreh or pulpit rabbi. But we are growing loud enough for you to hear that perhaps change is necessary. Before the BY movement was put into action, it was inconceivable to most men – including many gedolim of that generation – that women can and should be learning Torah in a formalized setting. That too went against axioms of torah shbeal peh (halomed bito torah…) and conventional mores. But it was, unexaggeratedly, a lifesaving measure for the continuity of the Jewish nation. I don’t know what form this change would have to take. But I do know that change is possible within the confines of Halacha and Jewish values, and that it will take big people to “be man enough” to shoulder those changes. Perhaps this is still a few years premature, but change will have to happen; your Jewish bloodline depends on it, depends on us.
    This is stretching way beyond relevance to the original essay, so please just take note: when you deny the existance of a problem, when all you allow yourself to see are a few unrelated symptoms, then you are encouraging the eruption of new symptomatology, potentially more harmful than what came before.

  26. shaul shapira says:


    “Shaul Shapira – I could cite many examples, but it’s not the thrust of the blog

    It’s certainly part of it. R Twersky pointed to a difference between BY and PM’s

    How about if you just cite a few? (say 3)

  27. Rafael A. says:

    Our society, revolutionized by feminism, now accepts the principle that equality means nothing less than full and equal roles, in whatever area of life. Therefore, differences predicated based on gender = inequality of the genders.

    Judaism believes that men and women are equal but have different roles to play. Therefore, what is happening is that OO is trying to push the square peg of general society’s view of equality into the round hole of Judaism. This is doomed to failure.

    What we have to is educate our children, especially our daughters, that they are equal to men in the eyes of Judaism and Hashem. Instead, all lot of our daughters come to feel, whether this is taught to them or not, that society’s version of equality is correct and so we have to do everything we can to bring Judaism into compliance with that view of equality.

    This is what OO is doing and its dangerous.

  28. Steve Brizel says:

    Ari Reiser wrote:

    “Steve Brizel – While you may be correct that there isn’t the same push for a more liberal MO outside of NYC, the fact remains that NYC has the overwhelming majority of young MO singles and new married couples. These couples eventually move out of the city to raise their B”H growing families. As such, it is only a matter of time for this (as you put it) “LW MO” ideology to gradually spread elsewhere. Therefore, I am confident that, like it or not, this movement to give women a more involved role within Orthodoxy will be an issue that will have to be addressed in many more MO shuls in the near future”

    Unfortunately, one can discern support for “LW MO” within YU ( as opposed to RIETS), and in some portions of some communities that either in such cosmopolitan areas of NYC such as the UWS and YES, or communities that are best described as MO in orientation. Like it or not, ignorance of Halacha and Hashkafa is a malady that knows no hashkafic boundaries.I see no evidence of such a trend outside such communities.

Pin It on Pinterest