New Articles: Women’s Talmud Study, P’sak Halacha and Inreach Versus Outreach

Jewish Link of New Jersey asked me to write about the topic of women’s Talmud study, in light of the recent controversy. It was readily assumed and agreed that the article would not be polemical, but that it would address the core and practical issues, only touching as necessary upon the recent discussion. Please click here for the article.

Jewish Link of New Jersey also published an extremely important editorial about the kavod (respect) that is due to rabbinic luminaries when discussing heated issues. Please click here.

Another excellent article in this week’s Jewish Link of New Jersey, written by Rabbi Neal Turk, responds to the recent article by Rabbi Ysoscher Katz regarding p’sak halacha (halachic adjudication). I addressed Rabbi Katz’ article as well here, taking issue with Rabbi Katz’ understanding of Modern Orthodoxy.

The current issue of Jewish Link of New Jersey also contains an article by Associate Publisher/Editor Elizabeth Kratz that insightfully highlights the Open Orthodox Symposium, featured this past week on Torah Musings with much acclaim.

And finally, the new edition of Jewish Action contains a letter to the editor by my wife about Orthodox students attending secular colleges. (Yes, I guess that you could say that we are a couple of troublemakers! 🙂 )



You may also like...

11 Responses

  1. Eli Blum says:

    Avrohom Gordimer ·- WADR, will you give as much Kavod to those Rabbis of Open Orthodoxy as the article demands given to those of Closed Orthodoxy ? I haven’t seen it. IMHO, both sides should take to Chazal’s directive to be “Ohev Es HaTochachah” and listen to all, and be willing to reconsider.

    Point is, both sides should treat each other with respect and deference. When one side does not, often the conversation rebounds back with a similar tone..

    Also, regarding your article on female Torah study, if only schools would concentrate on Shulchan Aruch, Mogen Avraham and Shach/Taz instead of Radak and Ramban on Chumash, which is real Torah She’Baal Peh. At least Talmud can give the underpinnings of Halacha (even Choshen Mishpat), which can be useful (and would be included in the Chyuv Talmud Torah for women).

  2. tzippi says:

    Rabbi Gordimer writes in first link, re the Rav and women learning Talmud:
    1. Orthodox women in modern society were pursuing advanced academic degrees, and the Rav felt that should these women encounter or view Torah as on a less-advanced level, it could cause them to lack respect and appreciation for Torah.. Hence, apprehending the sublime complexity and sophistication of Torah, as embodied by the Talmud, was the antidote.

    2. Orthodox women in modern society, as Orthodox men, need engagement in Torah that matches the lofty level of their secular academic studies, for such is what will be resonate and be impactful. This role is fulfilled by Talmud study for all.

    Interestingly, this is the argument my friends and I were given in the early 80s as to why we should go to seminary: if we were going to go to college, as most of us were, we should have as sophisticated a level of Torah learning . No mention of Talmud. Personally, I felt I got it in seminary, and in the ongoing Torah study (admittedly much of it passive now) that I engage in.

    I fully accept that there are women who find Talmud study satisfying and inspiring. I just ask that they do it without agenda. One of the more distasteful articles I read was about a young woman who I’ve heard is a wonderful, lovely person, who would toss a coin into a jar every time she and her chavrusa encountered something misogynistic. I’m not impressed. (If this is considered ad hominem or lashon hara in any way, I ask the moderators to please delete this paragraph after “agenda.”)

    • dr.bill says:

      you might suggest to them Daniel Boyarin’s book on the subject(he being the world’s only feminist member of Neturai Karta); it would reduce their need to toss coins.

      • tzippi says:

        Just got around to googling Daniel Boyarin. You really think that’ll work? 😀

      • dr.bill says:

        for sure, it works. despite being an avowed feminist, he reads talmudic texts with remarkable lack of bias. the book i suggest has a title that i prefer not to mention; God knows what thoughts the title might provoke in the minds of (some) men! He contextualized /clarified some texts that I previously found difficult to deal with.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      This is the key-is there is a feminist rooted agenda that is attempting to view the statements of Chazal from a gender related POV? I would add that we need a survey to see what if any relationship there is between such ;programs as SCW’s GPAT program for women and the subsequent level of observance of its graduates and their POV on issues relating to Halacha, mesorah and gender.

  3. dr.bill says:

    First, wrt to psak: The late Prof. Katz popularized the notion of traditional versus chareidi psak, and demonstrates the significant differences, most resulting from the reaction of Jews (from one extreme to the other – reform to chareidi with the forces of modernity.) I don’t really know if Rabbi Katz has something similar in mind, his style in these pieces is annoyingly unclear. If he does, it would be unwise to dismiss it out of hand.
    As to RSZA ztl, who are we kidding? His views on electricity are not typically chareidi; his comments about shemitah and Rav Kook ztl were DELETED by a son when republished. (Thankfully a MO Jew in the UK printed and distributed many UNEDITTED copies gratis.) I can go on and on. When RAL ztl asked him questions in areas not strictly halakhic, he often advised him to do what his father-in-law might have suggested. Name a chareidi posek of note today who would say that? He looked remarkably chareidi, but looks are deceiving.
    As to the Rav ztl, his older SIL ztl was the first in the US, to recognize the insights/approach of Prof. Katz and his son became his talmid muvhak. If you think the Rav’s philosophy in the Halakhic Mind is incompatible with thrust of Prof. Katz’s work, I suggest the need to better understand.
    Second, wrt Talmud study: Rather than quoting Rav Twersky, I would suggest any of a number of shiurim by RAL in which he does not quote the Rav, but discusses women’s learning in depth. In fact, rather than theoretical debate, look at the current curriculum at Migdal Qz or the attendees at a recent Chag haSemicha that ordained women. There is no putting the genie back in the bottle.

    • mycroft says:

      Re the Rav and any issue-look to what he did or what institutions that he controlled did during his lifetime. It is especially critical to see what he permitted in his lifetime versus hearing testimony from even superb talmeidei Yeshiva-it is not a matter of integrity-it is frankly a matter of Brisker chakira. The Rav could discuss issues and argue different ways but that doesn’t mean it was necessarily his final decision. Look to see what he ruled in his time as undisputed head of the RCA halachik commission See what Maimonides did in the decades when his wife and daughter were heads of the school committee.
      Thus, Maimonides was coed-most years they had 2 classes enough for one boys and one girls class.Thus, clearly enough people to have 2 separate classes-yet Maimonides was coed for everything except gym. Gym classes were separated by sex-not limudei kodesh.which was always mixed with identical curriculum.

    • Rafael Lawrencebergstein says:

      See here for other MO voices that R’ Katz’s view of psak is one that is moving beyond the denominational boundaries of Orthodoxy. R’ Benjamin Hecht raises the very valid point that the citing of the Binyan Tzion and the Chazon Ish does not do R’ Katz a favour as it indicates a change in how to treat heretics, not what heresy is defined as: Also, see R’ Turk’s nice short analysis here:

      • dr.bill says:

        if you believe what traditional Judaism called heresy, did not change significantly, over the last 3000 years, i would go back and reread some original sources. Rambam’s books were not burned, because he reflected traditional beliefs. Talmudic passages deal with textual variants and do not present a unified view of the Messianic age or the afterlife. While some beliefs of Rabbi Farber or dozens of practicing Jews involved in academic research, are significantly at odds with Rambam’s ikarim, it is unproductive to try to define them as chutz lamakhaneh. I would rather see either (traditional) credible response or some more sophisticated (modern) philosophical formulations. I have seen little of the former and look forward to more of the latter.

      • Rafael Lawrencebergstein says:

        Thanks for putting words in my mouth. I didn’t say anything of the sort. Next time please read what I wrote and what I quoted. These links show that the sources quoted by R’ Katz do not support in any way how definitions of change.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This