Yoatzot: What We Learned

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6 Responses

  1. micha berger says:

    I feel the need for yoatzot is the consequence of living in an increasingly decadent society — in a positive way. As we have to fight harder and harder against the tide to keep sexuality holy by keeping it private within the bounds of marriage, it is only natural that more women are less comfortable breaching its walls — even when necessary and appropriate.

    But the role isn’t entirely new. It’s more like a variant of the one many rebbetzins were historically — and still are — forced to assume without such education. I would therefore make sure pastoral counseling classes to the curriculum, so that fewer mistakes are made in determining whether a marriage is unhappy or altogether unhealthy, when a family’s dysfunction reached levels where family services should be involved and when they should be avoided — and help being part of that solution. We currently have amateurs with no training, very well meaning and holy baalos chessed, but who are relying on inution rather than others’ experience to know what to say to someone fragile like an abuse victim — what heals, and what can make problems worse. Training yoatzot to serve in that role can help reduce the number of such mistakes.

  2. tzippi says:

    That was a very bracing and thought-provoking summary.
    And a good point about kallah teachers. But a fair number of young women may move out of town and away from their kallah teachers after their weddings. So they will somehow have to be given tools beyond, “Give it to your husband to pass on.” That could be anything from name of reliable contacts in their new community to discussion on – gasp – actually talking to the rav oneself, if a yoetzet isn’t available.

  3. Nachum says:

    Indeed, lots of yoatzot are kallah teachers and vice versa, and “accompany” a woman from before her marriage through the years following it. It’s a good system.

  4. Thank you Rabbi Adlerstein. May our efforts meet with heavenly approval

  5. Tova Warburg Sinensky says:

    Thank you Rabbi Adlerstein for opening this conversation so that there can be more widespread correct information about the training and work of yoatzot halacha. For more information please see the article in Times of Israel:

  6. Sarah says:

    Thank you Rabbi Adlerstein.
    I wonder if your ha’aros above – and specifically the first one – can serve to highlight a perhaps broader issue within our community today. You note that the need for Yoatzot “is far greater than people would have thought”. If I could point out, many women, even in the more chareidi sectors, knew of and could have expressed this need for years. It is the male half, including the Rabbanim (and other frum men in leadership positions), who were unaware – or unwilling to validate – the need. Unfortunately, there are other areas as well where frum women have valid needs and perspectives that are not being brought to the attention of Rabbanim, or are being dismissed as soon as they are expressed. This leads to psakim that may be invalid, to angst and suffering, and to the unfortunate diminishment of emunas chachamim.
    Perhaps the realization demonstrated above – that leadership in our community does not fully have the pulse and understand nearly half its constituency – will serve to open dialogue that aims to truly understand the needs, interests, wants and experiences of half our Nation. It is imperative for Rabbanim to recognize that in order for them to pasken on issues that primarily apply to women they need to understand the issue from the perspectives of women. This is something that can only be done by creating a conversation that involves women and by legitimizing perspectives that may not be intuitive to the men making the decisions.

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