Israeli Modern Orthodoxy and Female Clergy – Crossing the Line

The headline caught a huge amount of attention: In Israeli first, woman chosen as sole spiritual leader of Orthodox community.

The article, and countless other versions of the same, reports that Rabbanit Shira Marili Mirvis, who was trained at Ohr Torah Stone’s Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute of Halakhic Leadership (hereafter “OTS-WIHL”), will assume the position of spiritual and halachic leadership of Shirat Tamar, a synagogue in the Efrat neighborhood.

What is absent from the article’s description of Rabbanit Mirvis’ training, certification and position is the word “rabbi”, as Ohr Torah Stone (hereafter referred to as “OTS”) clearly seeks to avoid the rabbinic appellation:

‘The chance to witness Rabbanit Shira Mirvis take on this role represents an important moment as we recognize that the place of women in Jewish leadership can go fully hand in hand with halacha and our mesorah (tradition),’ said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, president and dean of Ohr Torah Stone. ‘I am deeply hopeful and confident that we will look back on this moment as one which paved a new halakhic direction for the rightful place of women spiritual leaders within the Orthodox community.’

This studious avoidance of referring to Rabbanit Mirvis in a rabbinic capacity manifests an eschewing of overtly violating Orthodoxy’s proscription on training or ordaining women as rabbis, reflective of the halachic position of the RCA, Agudah, OU, Igud, TORA, and various individual top-tier halachic authorities (e.g. here and here). (A presentation of these rulings is beyond the scope of this article, and readers are advised to read the rulings themselves.) Please also see this Statement on Orthodoxy from Coalition for Jewish Values.

However, evasion of rabbinic verbiage gets rather sticky under examination. For example, the RCA bans the “ordain(ing of) women into the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title used”; the OU ruling prohibits “the appointment of women to perform clergy functions on a regular ongoing basis – even when not accompanied by a rabbinic-type title.” A handful of American congregations at the edge of the Orthodox orbit have attempted to circumvent the prohibition on female clergy by hiring graduates of Yeshivat Maharat and assigning them rabbinic functions while cleverly bestowing up them novel titles such as “Director of Spiritual Engagement”, and it appears that OTS has embarked upon a similar path, as it provides women with rabbinic training and helps procure rabbinic-type positions for them, but makes sure to leave out the “rabbinic” wording.

Case in point – from a just-published interview with Rabbanit Shira Marili Mirvis:

When Shirat Hatamar was established, we adopted Rabbi Shlomo Riskin as our official Halachic adviser and community mentor. Rabbi Riskin is the founder of the Or Torah Stone Institutions, which includes the Lindenbaum Women’s Talmud & Halakha program where I studied these past five years. Rabbi Riskin has done tremendous work in advancing women’s Torah study and leadership, turning the Lindenbaum program into the women’s equivalent of what men study here in Israel for rabbinic ordination from Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

Knowing that I was functioning as my synagogue’s halachic authority for the past few years, Rabbi Riskin approached the community a few months ago and said it’s time to make it official, so the process began. [Last] week they felt ready to take a vote, and the results were that 83 percent of the community voted in favor of appointing me as the rabbinic leader of the community.

My duties in the synagogue are to serve as the sole Halachic authority for our community, teach Torah and rule in Halachic matters, which [were] always the traditional [duties] of a rabbi in halachic Orthodox communities. I will also counsel families and individuals, deliver sermons and teach Torah classes for our community. There are no other rabbis serving in our synagogue; I will be the sole “rabbinic voice” and “spiritual leader” in all religious matters.   

The conspicuous rabbinic overtones of Rabbanit Shira Marili Mirvis’ training and position were not imagined or invented by her. OTS-WIHL publicly states about its training program:

Over an intensive period of five years the following subjects are covered:

  • Hilkhot Niddah (rituals involved in family purity);
  • Shabbat and the Jewish Holidays;
  • Kashrut;
  • Aveilut (the laws of mourning);
  • Gerut (the laws governing conversion);
  • Kiddushin and Gittin (Jewish marriage and divorce);

WIHL fellows are also provided with Pastoral and Leadership training… Graduates of the five-year WIHL program are certified as spiritual leaders and Morot Hora’ah [authorized to provide direction in matters of halakha-Jewish Law].

The OTS-WIHL website further states that women in the program take “the same tests that men take with the rabbanut (rabbinate).” And the Hebrew version of the program describes the conferral of its “Heter Hora’ah” (authority to rule on halachic matters) as “the authorization that has been in practice for countless generations to lead and issue rulings in Halacha”. This is a glaring reference to semicha, rabbinic ordination. It obviously cannot refer to anything else, yet the words ”semicha”, “rabbinic” or “ordination” are mysteriously omitted.

If OTS-WIHL is not a women’s rabbinic training program, I don’t know what is. It is unmistakable. The author of Why it’s easier to ordain Orthodox women in Israel than the US affirms this, as does OTS leadership itself by implication, as quoted in this article.

This is far from a new phenomenon. During the 2017 OTS-WIHL conferral ceremony, the OTS-WIHL Rosh Bet Midrash publicly stated about the occasion, in the presence of Rabbi Riskin (who did not protest these words):

The inclusion of women in the rabbinic world is able to provide an opening for inquiry and understanding. The inclusion of women in positions of rabbinic leadership progressively creates a space for identification and personal connection… 

Moreover, in the aforementioned JTA article (also from 2017), Rabbi Riskin told the reporter that OTS-WIHL graduates “teach and direct Jewish law, just like a rabbi.

What does this mean on a larger scale? Put more pointedly, why does it matter? My shul is not about to hire an OTS-WIHL Morah Hora’ah, nor are most shuls; so what is the big deal?

Although a few borderline Orthodox congregations in the US have “snuck in” full-blown female clergy under the guise of concocted non-rabbinic titles (and this will surely continue, freshly inspired by the OTS-WIHL example), OTS-WIHL is setting a precedent and creating a new norm. OTS’ leading rabbis are household names who have been associated more or less with the mainstream and are viewed by much of Modern Orthodoxy as on the same page with it, and they have now created a mechanism to introduce a broad cadre of female clergy members into Israeli society under the Orthodox mantle – thereby normalizing and mainstreaming the notion of Orthodox female clergy on a comprehensive and far-reaching scale. The sentiment that “women are rabbis just like men” has been sown and cultivated, and seismic reform of much of the Israeli (followed by the global) Modern Orthodox landscape is on the way.

It is quite telling that Rabbi Riskin (OTS Founder, Chancellor Emeritus and Rosh HaYeshiva), Rabbanit Devorah Evron (OTS-WIHL Director) and Rabbi Shmuel Klitsner (OTS-WIHL Chairman) all sit on the Yeshivat Maharat Advisory Board; as is known, Yeshivat Maharat unreservedly grants semicha/rabbinic titles to women. Let us not pretend that much of OTS-WIHL’s senior leadership does not support the ordination of female rabbis.

The situation is quite unfortunate as it is disappointing, for the current state of affairs and clear trajectory have been in the works for quite some time, with very few people raising concerns. Now that much of the Modern Orthodox landscape stands to undergo substantive transformation as succeeding classes of OTS-WIHL graduates are sent out to serve in rabbinic capacities far and wide, will this trend be seriously challenged before it is too late?



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104 Responses

  1. Asher Yatzar says:

    There are far worse problems in the Orthodox world that you are ignoring.

    And you are upset that a woman was elected to answer questions in her shul as it is a violation of Mesorah.

  2. Steve Brizel says:

    If it walks talks and looks like a duck it is a duck This is the unfortunate and tragic logical conclusion and consequences of R Riskin’ long march to the far outer reaches of the MO left from his days as a wonderful and pioneering Rav at LSS and a great rebbe at YU’s JSS

    • mycroft says:

      Females having the title of Rabbis while limiting their duties to what they can do according to Halacha has been the publicly stated position of Rabbi Riskin for at least about 50 years. I remember hearing him advocate that one Shabbas when I was visiting UWS in early 70s and remember because I went up to him afterwards disagreeing with him about the issue.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        Long time no hear or see! Thanks for the fascinating comment which proves that R Riskin caved into the demands of the feminist choir decades ago

  3. Steve Brizel says:

    If it walks talks and looks like a duck it is a duck This is the unfortunate and tragic logical conclusion and consequences of R Riskin’s long march to the far outer reaches of the MO left from his days as a wonderful and pioneering Rav at LSS and a great rebbe at YU’s JSS This is what MO looks like when you let the woke world dictate what MO should look like

  4. Raymond says:

    I am far from being any kind of halachic expert of any kind, but my instinct tells me that there is something very wrong about this move to blur the distinctions between men and women. Such a thing is being done on a much more dramatic scale in the secular world, and it is horrifying, really a sign of the decline of our society here in America. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule, and so I have no doubt that there are individual women who know Jewish law and can better function as Rabbis than can many men. However, it is my understanding that Jewish law is decided not according to the exceptions, but according to appropriate generalizations, and that there are reasons why in traditional Jewish society, only men can be Rabbis. As I said, I am no expert in such matters, but one such consideration is the role that emotion plays in our lives. Generally speaking, men are able to separate their emotions from their intellect better than women can. This means that women are naturally better at things like raising children, since children often need such warmth and understanding from their parents, but it also means that when it comes to Jewish law, which must be decided on the basis of pure intellect rather than letting such judgements be infiltrated by our emotions, that men are naturally better at deciding Jewish law then women are. Furthermore, in traditional Jewish circles, men are seen to be masters of the world outside the home while women are the masters of the Jewish home, and therefore it stands to reason that it is men who should be the ones being in such a public role that is demanded of Rabbis. In any case, while I usually identify with the Modern Orthodox form of Judaism, I certainly do not go for any of this Rabbanit nonsense. As the saying goes, if it isn’t broken, then there is no need to fix it, and I just do not think that the Torah world is so broken that it needs female Rabbis to fix it.

    • Ben Waxman says:

      ” but it also means that when it comes to Jewish law, which must be decided on the basis of pure intellect rather than letting such judgements be infiltrated by our emotions, that men are naturally better at deciding Jewish law then women are”

      Do you really believe that women are bunch of emotions, which they are unable to control? You realize that according to what you’re saying, Rachel Freier should resign her position, anyone going to a female doctor is playing dice with his/her health, etc.

      • Moe says:

        Ben, Raymond doesn’t mean that a woman can’t be an expert in her field and we all know that we trust our wives in how they conduct the home which includes Kasharut, Taharat HaMishpacha, Shabbos, and loads of other things. Of course they can be experts (like we see the Tanach is full of women who were experts in their respective fields).
        But a leader of a congregation is required to make daily decisions that include many different and very complex situations that require a disconnect from the emotions in order to make a completely logical decision. In such situations, the average lady who thrives on being always in touch with her natural emotions that were endowed to her by Hashem to better run the house and take care of her family or friends (ever see a guy clean or take care of the kids?), she will have an extremely difficult time turning off her womanly instincts to make a solely logical decision. Yes there are exceptions, also as we see in Tanach, but these are the exception which prove the rule.
        These seminaries which teach woman to be Rabbis are doing no one a service, neither the woman themselves nor the congregations that employ them.

      • Yaacov says:

        Indeed, agree. How can we allow a female surgeon to operate or a judge to adjudicate if she is going to be swayed by her emotions? Believe this is not the best argument. Better to stick with “it’s not part of our mesorah”.

      • Ben Waxman says:

        Moe do you really believe that the job of the average shul rabbi entails making decisions that are more difficult than those that a judge, a doctor in the emergency ward or a medic in YOSH, a cabinet minister etc have to make?

      • Moe says:

        Ben, yes, I do believe that a surgeon or doctor has an easier time than a Rabbi. Going through medical school for 8-12 years plus experience is a sure way to know what needs to be done and the tools and knowhow to carry it out. A medic doesn’t worry about how his CPR will affect the Shalom Bayis or monetary situation of the person who he’s saving.
        Even a doctor is not expected to take these things into account. Sure, he can be a little more open minded, but the patient is expected to discuss all the things surrounding his operation or medicine with his therapist or other professional help (or Rabbi).
        Regarding a judge and cabinet member, i fully agree with you (and the Torah). A woman should not be a Judge or minister. [In a secular court/govenment there maybe a Heter because a Frum woman is still likely to give a better chance than a non-Jewish man… don’t know…]

      • Raymond says:

        This is the problem with the attempt to come up with reasons for the Torah commandments: it opens up the possibility of people looking for counterarguments as a way of doing away with the law. Perhaps the reasons I gave for the law are not the best ones to give, or perhaps I gave the right reasons but just not in the masterful way that an Orthodox Rabbi would, but that does not invalidate my basic position on the issue.

        btw, just as a side note, I am not so sure that, all other factors being equal, that I would trust a female brain surgeon over a male one. On the other hand, when it would come to, say, a general practitioner in the same medical field, a female with their extra dose of in-built compassion, may actually be preferred. For despite the best efforts of the Politically Correct to deny the differences between the sexes, those differences nevertheless very much continue to exist.

      • Ben Waxman says:

        Moe a few points:

        My wife is a health care professional. She deals with problems of “shalom bayis” day in, day out. Actually shalom bayis is an understatement of incredible proportions. She deals with substance abuse, violence, all sorts of abuse between family members, suicidal patients, etc etc etc. If you say that there are rabbis coming out of a smicha program who deal with this stuff (without being trained) all that means is that rabbis are dealing with issues above their pay grade. BTW you basically admitted that a rabbi dealing with these issues depends on a person’s training.

        Regarding the other jobs: I know medics in the IDF and MADA who had to decide who lives, who dies or what limb to save, or even “do I put myself in danger to save this guy”. Yet you call this simple.

        Regarding judges/cabinet ministers: I am not getting into the halachic argument. I will state that even the most chardal rabbis made their peace with female MKs and cabinet ministers. Bnei Brak’s comptroller is a woman. Yahadut HaTorah have voted for women in senior positions.

      • rkz says:

        WRT women doctors etc.
        These are realy not positions for women in general, there are always expetions, but we don’t decide public policy (of derekh HaTorah) based on expetions.
        WRT policians, most chardal rabbanim that I know (and I know many, including our gedolim) are generally opossed to it halakhically and in terms of emuna , but usually don’t wage battles on this issue because we have more argent problems to deal with.

      • Ben Waxman says:

        Interesting that the same people who say that women shouldn’t be doctors also encourage women to go to female doctors.

        When the argument is kept at the level of halacha netto, there is some internal logic. When it goes to the sociology/psychology/biology playing field, the internal contradictions start popping up very fast. Of course one doesn’t have to search too far to find right wing rabbis who have wives or daughters who are daughters.

      • rkz says:

        Ben Waxman, if you are reffering to me, I think that women should not be doctors, but there are excptional women who can manage to be doctors.

      • william gewirtz says:

        Moe, I am treated for a serious chronic condition by a female doctor and I know a few women to whom I would rather pose a halakhic sheailah than the vast majority of male rabbis. Remember you are comparing a select group to a highly general group. Most woman scholars prefer academia where they can excel without dealing with the comments of a largely uneducated enough to have an opinion ha’mon am. i do not mean you specifically; i have not seen enough of your comments

  5. Shani says:

    It is too late for Reform and Conservative people, right? We know they have women rabbis. So now left wing modern Orthodox people have women rabbis too.
    Why exactly does this matter to right wing and centrist modern Orthodox Jews?

    • Chava Rubin says:

      It matters because they should not be using the term “orthodox ” to describe women rabbis. It is a FALSE term. It’s false advertising .

      • william gewirtz says:

        does the non-tradition behavior of hareidi jews also prevent them from keeping the orthodox moniker? Was full-time learning for the masses a part of our tradition? Their behavior, avoiding the halakhot of pikuach nefesh, have caused deaths during COVID and the recent Meron tragedy.

    • Dovid says:

      It matters (speaking for myself) because it means another organized group departing from the mesorah while utilizing rhetorical legerdemain and creating yet another schism.

    • rkz says:

      The problem is that some Orthodox people still regard the Far LWMO/OO clergy as actual Rabbanim, and therefore see the crazy spectacle of women “rabbis” as a legitimate Halakhic view.

    • Tal Benschar says:

      At the risk of being offensive, the same reason that it matters that a pig sticks out his split hooves for all to see, while a donkey makes no pretense of being kosher.

    • Rob says:

      Why? Because it leads Jews in the direction of going “off the derech”, away from Torah. The appointment of female “spiritual leaders” , however one defines that, is empirically correlated with decline in Jewish practice and population (see Reform, Conservative, etc.). If it helped, it would show in the numbers.

      And only Orthodoxy is growing despite the historic lack of female leadership, and the parts of Orthodoxy growing fastest are the most “right wing” parts; “modern” orthodoxy is shrinking as a proportion of the the orthodox world. Causation is not proven, but the the imperative to maintain tradition and pass on that (prima facie sexist) tradition is probably the reason that Orthodoxy is growing.

      A Jews’ personal relationship with Gd and Torah is not and should not be dependent on having ones gender represented in the rabbinate. If it is truly that important for a Jew to have a female rabbi, he or she can be fully observant at non-orthodox shuls while having a female “rabbi” ; Reform and Conservative synagogues won’t stop you from keeping kosher, shabbos, family purity, etc. But very few of their members do those things, much less in keeping with strict halaca and halachic process, despite having the option of female rabbis. Religiously, sociologically, and demographically, it’s a dead end.

  6. Steven Brizel says:

    If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and acts like a duck, then it is a duck. Lincoln said it even better-you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time but not all of the people all of the time. We now see the tragic consequences of R Riskin’s long march from being a great, dynamic and pioneering rav of Lincoln Square and a great rebbe in YU’s JSS who explained to talmidim why HaShem wants us to be careful about Meleches Borer, as the result of someone who capitulated to the far left boundaries of how feminism views Halacha and MO. There is no doubt that the R Riskin of the 1970s who consulted with RYBS, RMF and the Luvavitcher Rebbe ZL and who was respected abeit ciritically in the American yeshiva world never the felt the need to consult with a Gadol as did RAL ZL and marched to the far left as a result of his encounters with the Chatredi world in Israel which was and is far more religiously conservative than its counterpart in the US. This is a classic case of what happens when the woke agenda dictates how MO should act. This is a tragedy of no small proportions

  7. Bob Miller says:

    “Orthodox” must be a popular label if so many impostors want it. As with shaky hechsherim, let the buyer beware.

    • william gewirtz says:

      You are correct. I avoid using the Eidah hechsher whenever possible. their behavior vis-a-vis the state of Israel is problematic

  8. doug honig says:

    Should more time be expended discussing rooting out and shaming financially corrupt and sexual and financial exploiters in the male only Rabbinate ?That will put this in perspective. There are no deviant and thieving feamale Rabbis!!!

  9. Tal Benschar says:

    Gerut (the laws governing conversion)

    Since gerut requires a beis din, and that means three men, one wonders what exactly the point of this is? Or are we going to be treated to a new psak that says woman can serve on a beis din for gerus?

  10. Yisrael Asper says:

    She used the words “no other rabbis”. This is a clear intimation that she sees her role as that of a rabbi.

  11. Yaacov says:

    Maybe this is how halacha is meant to work? Slow shifts, opposition, new norm, and then “if they are not prophets, they are the children of prophets.”

    • rkz says:

      Chazal said that only if the Halakha is “rofefet”‘ i.e. uncertain.
      Not in a case when there is no question to ask (e.g. women “rabbis”).

  12. Robert says:

    its not orthodoxy if she has serarah, independent discretionary authority over her kehilla, regardless of honorific or job title. Rabbi Riskin and his fellow travelers well know this and it’s time to shut them down or at least shut them out.

    • Ben Waxman says:

      I’m preparing a class on serarah for tonight. Anyone who thinks that a woman being a rabbi is forbidden because of that issue really needs to review the sources (all of them, not just the Rambam).

      • rkz says:

        I wrote about s’rara in my book. My conclusion was that a woman “rabbi” is indeed an issur according to all Rishonim.

  13. Steven Brizel says:

    RRiskin and OTS have zero credibility within MO outside of the far left wing of MO which is hung up on gender issues and which tries at times to seem as woke as possible on such issues Given such major deviations from Halacha and Mesorah on these and similar issues such as Gerus and the failure of OTS to produce either seriously committed Bnei Torah let alone Talmidei Chachamim Take a look who addressed the Covid related Halachic issues in the US for the RCA and OU on a consistent basis

  14. MO says:

    I find it deeply troubling that when we have a true tragedy in Israel, 45 neshomos lost in Meron, at a time when many are doing real cheshbon hanefesh about sinas chinam, the editors of Cross-Currents choose to ignore Meron and instead publish an article attacking female rabbis. Al eilei ani bochiyo

    • Steven Brizel says:

      Distortion of the Mesorah by distortion of the Halacha and causing the Shechinah to depart from Klal Yisrael is also a grave offense

    • Bob Miller says:

      Can you walk and chew gum?

  15. Alex says:

    I think a more serious issue is the erasure of frum women from Orthodox life, and we all know the חמרות that have taken over the community. One of the finest mesivta high school principals I knew was a woman. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. There are more burka wearers around than a few isolated Rabbanits. Why not write about them?

  16. Shades of Gray says:

    “seismic reform of much of the Israeli (followed by the global) Modern Orthodox landscape is on the way.”

    Yoatzot Halacha, which are less controversial, likewise originated in Israel.

    In a recent Koren Podcast with Rabbis Joshua Berman and Jeremy Wieder, they discuss tangentially(Minute 7) why innovations for Yoatzot and Gerus began and/or are more acceptable in Israel RZ community than the American MO world. They then move on to whether the geographic difference also applies to Biblical approaches, such as that of Prof. Berman.

    The more interesting issue discussed is how Prof. Berman deals with questions from a chaburah of philosophical Satmar Chasidim in Williamsburg(as well as Lakewood students), which he has also discussed in his blog articles. R. Wieder thinks YU students are currently less interested in these topics, perhaps because the student population has moved to the right(Minutes 26-29), and Prof. Berman thinks there is a positive aspect in a certain convergence of the RW and MO worlds represented by his above interactions(Minutes 30-34).

  17. Ben Waxman says:

    BTW, this entire discussion and the responses are using American terminology (Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, RCA, etc) to describe the Israeli dati leumi world. No mention of any Israeli poseik or organization has been made, nor was any argument made as to why an Israeli community is obligated to follow decisions made 10,000 kilometers away.

    This may be convenient for an American audience but it is a distortion of the story here.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      Who if any any Gadol or Posek of major stature in the RZ world of stature was consulted on this decision?

      • Ben Waxman says:

        I’m not a member of that shul or a resident of Efrat; I have no idea. I will say that HaRav Melamed doesn’t have a problem with female rabbis, HaRav Gigi teaches at this program, and HaRav Ravinovitch tz”l attended the graduation. All of the above more than qualify as gadol or poseik of major stature. This isn’t HaRav Riskin’s sole effort. I seriously doubt that the vast majority of people commenting here are aware of the people involved and the range of thought in the dati leumi world. Again, that you (second person plural) insist on dressing everything up in American terms is telling.

      • rkz says:

        The greatest Poskim in the DL community are Maranan Hagaon Harav Dov Lior and haGaon HaRav Yaakov Ariel. They are both completely opposed to this lunacy.
        So are other leading poskim.

      • rkz says:

        BTW during the lat few years, I was asked to explain the issue to rabbanim here in EY, because of my American background.

      • Ben Waxman says:


        Anyone who knows the Israeli DL community knows that there are multiple subcommunities. The idea of one or two rabbanim having the final word on any issue doesn’t exist. BTW Rav Lior is MK (and possible cabinet minister) Orit Struk’s biggest supporter.

      • rkz says:

        Ben Waxman,
        WADR. I know the Israeli DL community very well, since that is the community that I belong to for many years. I know “that there are multiple subcommunities”. I answered Steven Brizel’s question with the answer that I know to be exact and correct.
        I did not say that “one or two rabbanim having the final word on any issue” I merely wrote who should have been consulted, and was not..
        “BTW Rav Lior is MK (and possible cabinet minister) Orit Struk’s biggest supporter.” Even if that was accurate (and it is not), I do not see how it is relevant.

    • David Ohsie says:

      @Ben Waxman. Excellent points, but there was no real halachic decision here in the US anyhow. This is a sociological phenomenon. Lots of people called Rabbi here who have no real Semicha and lots of women who do the same jobs as “Rabbis” who are not called Rabbi. Also, the post appears to imagine that the folks in Israel were doing some kind of stealth move to get around the OU/RCA. I’m sure they couldn’t care less.

      • rkz says:

        Since this is an American invetion, they actually do care.
        WRT the actual halakha- it is indeecassur, not only a sociological issue.

      • Ben Waxman says:

        David Ohsie:

        ” I’m sure they couldn’t care less.”

        Truth. Only American Olim who were well versed in the American rabbinic scene care about the RCA. For Israelis the OU is a kashrut organization only.

    • rkz says:

      As an Israeli I must disagree. The whole women “rabbi” lunacy is a compeletly American invention, brought to EY by Americans and adopted ny the far left fringes of the leftwing of the DL world. It has nothing to do with the DL Olam HaTorah.

    • Ben Waxman says:

      Okay so you think that they should have been consulted but that doesn’t obligate anyone. Plus I totally disagree with your assessment of these rabbis, meaning regarding their place in the DL world. I don’t in any way what so ever question their status as rabbanim talmidei chachamim. However, they are the leaders of a specific community only. They aren’t considered to be the people having the first or last word. I know many people who eat chocolate, I don’t know anyone who says “ha-etz” before eating it.

      Plus, in the last week we had a perfect example of how other rabbis from the right and left don’t accept their opinion regarding public policy or halacha.

      • rkz says:

        OK, so be it.
        I think that you are mistaken wrt to their place in the DL world.
        (btw I do know people who say ha-etz before eating chocolate)
        WRT to last week, I don’t know what you mean. Please explain.

  18. Ari says:

    During the 1980’s, Blu Greenberg admitted that her push for Women rabbis in Orthodoxy was influenced by the Conservative rabbinical school’s then-recent decision to start ordaining its female students.
    Thus, היוצא מן האסור אסור!

    Ari Rosman

  19. Steven Brizel says:

    Readers of CC know that we have previously discussed and debated links such as here and the relevant portions such as :
    “Allow me to add to his symbolism. Can we not argue that, although we use different names, symbolic images, rituals, customs and incantations by which we call and worship the Deity, everyone is speaking and praying to the same Divine Force who created and guides our world? Allah is another name for the one God (“El” or “Elohim”), the Trinity is mysteriously considered a unity by Christians, all the physical representations of the Buddha are meant to express the All in the All that is the god of the Far East. Is it not possible that the real meaning of the credo of Judaism, the Sh’ma, is: “Hear Oh Israel, the Lord (who is known by our different names of different forces and powers), Elohaynu, is (in reality the) One (YHVH of the entire cosmos).” Just as the white of the cloud is refracted into different colors, so the one God of love may be called by different names and different powers, but these all coalesce in the mind of the one praying and in the reality of the situation into the one all-encompassing Lord of the Universe” and the clear problems that such views have with bedrock Ikarei Emunah such as Bchiras Am Yisrael and Kabalas HaTorah that we recite in our Tefilos and Brachos and accentuate on every Shabbos and Yom Tov. After you have read the above , which is not available in PDF form, read ttps://

    WADR , one can maintain that the second essay is equally problematic for at least the following reasons:
    1)R Riskin concludes based on the outgrowth of economic and political changes affecting women that women should be given a quasi rabbinical title and marshals what he has seen in contemporary secular and in some sectors of RZ life and cherry picked certain sources as supporting that position. It is as if the conclusion was reached without first examining the sources to see whether the vast majority of such sources would justify the conclusion and reminded me far too much of the faulty and halachically wrong logic that we can keep people coming to shul by allowing them to drive on Shabbos. To quote RSRH-we look to see whether the times fit the Torah not vice versa

    2) R Riskin’s position ignores the differentiation of spiritual roles vis a vis private and public dimensions that has been a function of traditional life going back to the Avos and Imahos and is an attempt to render this area of Mesorah compatible with the demands and ideology of feminism which viewsthe family as a comfortable concentration camp-in fact, there is no critique of the ideology of feminism whatsoever in this article.

    3) At least one view of the Baalei Tosfos in Nidah ( Ihave to look for other Rishonim as well) sets forth the understanding of Devorah as Shofetes as a Shas Hadchak because there were no men capable in her generation. One cannot simply say that Devorah was simply elevated and so considered by her generation for the same reason that any Posek was considered by his generation as the address for issues of Psak andHashkafa.

    4) RMF approved a woman mashgaich clearly where there was no qualified male See Shiurei HaGrid on Hilcos Shechita ( published by the OU) where RYBS discusses Serara and being a shochet and serara being an intrinsic appointment of any communal official such as a shochet.

    5) Women are Pasul to pasken and give any testimony where the issue is dependent on two or three witnesses-any testimony by a woman in a case of Agunah is classically not considered Edus but rather a special leniency to prevent Agunos Finding a collection of dissenting nviews from outside the classical Rishonim and Acharonim and Poskim does not change normative halacha.. Such views are at best relied on Bshas Hadchak.

    (FWIW, i have seen many women in my community, ,give Divrei Hesped to a mixed audience , especially at a funeral parlor or on Zoom)

    All of the above is set forth for the benefit of the CC reader who lacks the first hand knowledge and admiration that many of us had at one time for being a pioneering rav on the UWS and showing the MO world that they too could have a serious commitment to Torah Avodah and Gmilas Chasadim, who was unhappy with extended singlehood as a lifestyle option and “tefilin dates” and also a great rebbe in YU’s then storied JSS program. That is why the long march to the outermost flanks of LW MO by RRiskin was and is a tragedy of no small proportions and causes many of us serious Agmas Nefesh.

  20. Bob Miller says:

    People are generally wrong, and way too cynical, when they shrug off rabbinic decisions and actions as “politics.”
    However, Riskin’s decisions and actions in recent decades do warrant such cynicism.

  21. Noam says:

    Orthodox Jews follow Halakhah, not sociology. As R/Prof. Marc Shapiro wrote, privately, most Orthodox rabbis will admit that there is noting Halachically wrong with ordination for women. For more details, see here:

    • Rob says:

      There is a difference between granting any form of ordination and the use of authority from ordination. But we do not grant a drivers license to one not authorized by law to drive.

      • Noam says:

        I address that in the article. The ‘authority’ you speak of isn’t a problem.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      The Mesorah of TSBP not only rejects radical egalitarianism which is profoundly anti family – it finds great value in in depth study and analysis of those aspects of H as lacks which are inapplicable today precisely as a means of hosing Ahavas HaShem Citations to articles from a journal that is dedicated to the rejection of Mesorah and which rejects a Psak of Baalei Mesorah to whom we survived this terrible Pandemic by their Piskei Halacha all rooted in Mesorah does not really constitute a serious argument

    • Steven Brizel says:

      Many people don’t pay avoid or evade payment of legally imposed taxes and commit acts of violence That does not in sulfate the tax code or the criminal codes

      WADR your views on Mesorah which are stated in the above linked article represent what happens when you judge the Torah by the times and not the times by the Torah especially when you apply the radical feminist egalitarian ideology and its hostility to the traditional family which is snd remains the first means of transmission of the Mesorah and Mitzvos and your mistaken claim that which is not relevant to Halacha LMaaseh has no value To the contrary learning every seemingly practically irrelevant sugya shows one’ s Ahavas HaShem WASDR your article showed a profound lack of Kavod HaTorah for a Gadol BATorah whose Piskei Halacha rooted in Mesorah enabled many of us to get through the e we pray of this terrible Pandemic

    • Bob Miller says:

      Most, or most within a certain circle he can access?

  22. David Ohsie says:

    A very long post that fails to cite any violation of anything other than organizational pronouncements. A group of people voluntarily decides to ask their questions to a woman more competent than the average orthodox Rabbi. There also seems to be some illusion that this was done in stealth to appear avoid a Rabbinic title. Don’t see that at all here. It was done wide open because it is OK in the fully orthodox communities that are following Halacha and not sociological conventions.

    • rkz says:

      However, this is assur according to the halakha, so sociology is actuaaly the reason that people disregard what the halakha says here, not the reason that people oppose this crazy invention called women “rabbis”.

      • Noam says:

        If you read the article I posted above you will see that it actually isn’t assur. Happy to discuss any comments or questions.

      • rkz says:

        I read your article.
        I started counting how many times the phrase Modern Orthodox/Orthodoxy appeared, and stopped counting after the tenth time (there were many more). How is it relevant what a certain community does or does not do to halakha?
        If something is assur (and it is), it is assur even if many people do it.
        You qoute many people whose opinion is irrelevant, since they do not have any halakhic standing (even if they imagine that they do).
        You did not deal with the paramount issue of hikkuy haminim.
        Your discussion on serara ignores the fact that any rabbinical position is serara by its very nature.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      Who says and who vouched for such a conclusion? Those who reached such a conclusion snd those who gave the impetus for the same gave into the demands of feminism rather than recognizing and confronting the fact that the ideological basis of feminism was and remains profoundly against the traditional family which has always bee the most important and the first line of transmission of Torah and the Mesorah

    • Steven Brizel says:

      The only people who made such a mistaken decision were a group of people who swallowed the ideological Kool Aid of feminism and those who aid and abetted such a conclusion

    • Ben Waxman says:

      Much of this discussion is so 1950s. This whole back and forth of do women have the psychological makeup that would allow them to be a shul rabbi (not to mention doctor, judge, MK, etc) sounds like something right out of Father Knows Best.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        It has nothing to do with the 1950s and everything to do with rejecting an ideology that is predicated on hostility to marriage family and children as a lachatchilah

      • rkz says:

        As I wrote before, the baseless innovation of women “rabbis” is against the halakha. All other factors are “parperaot”

      • Bob Miller says:

        The Torah was HaShem’s ” blueprint” for Creation, making it much older than the 1950’s. We received it millennia ago. Attempts to distort it also go back millennia (Some Jews rationalized the Egel, and Korach rallied many for equity). Assigning some specific life roles to one sex or the other, or to Kohanim and Leviim, or to Klal Yisrael, as the Torah (written and oral) does, has nothing to do with their personal intelligence or worthiness.

      • Ben Waxman says:

        Saying that women shouldn’t be rabbis (and a host of other jobs) because of their emotional makeup has zero to do with Halacha and everything to do with society’s expectations.

      • rkz says:

        Women “rabbis” is assur because it is against halakha. The emotional makeup is an additional issue.

    • Bob Miller says:

      1. What do you know of average Orthodox rabbis over the whole spectrum?

      2. If you have some “sociological conventions” of your own, and who doesn’t?, are any based in written or oral Torah? The use of this term would not be foreign to Frankel or Graetz.

  23. Ben Waxman says:

    What is called the dati leumi community includes everything from HaRav Benny Lau to HaRav Aviner, Malka Piotrkowski to rabbaniot who never think of speaking in front of a crowd of men, Bnei Akiva and Ariel, mamlachti dati schools to very exclusive yeshivat high schools which don’t teach secular studies, women who go to the army to women who won’t go to sheirut leumi. You get my point.

    There is absolutely no (or extremely limited) homogeneity in this community. Where is this assumption that there would be one universally agreed upon standard about this issue when there isn’t agreement about who knows how many other issues?

    • rkz says:

      Halakha is halakha, even if some people or even many people choose to ignore it, and even if some “rabbis” support them.

    • Ben Waxman says:

      Nonsense. Shmitta is coming up. People go to Har Habayit. Two simple examples that demonstrate that there’s division of opinion within the community.

      • rkz says:

        How is that relevant?
        Shmitta is a makhloket between poskim, and so is Har HaBayit. Women “rabbis” is simply assur.
        As I wrote before, opinions of people in “the community” are not relevant to the halakhic discussion.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Did Rav Kook ZL advocate that the Heter Mecirah for Shemittah was ideal and a lchatchilah? Do the overwhelming consensus of Poskim permit entry onto HarHaBayis?

      • rkz says:

        Steven Brizel-
        Maran HaRav ztl was not the originator of Heter Mekhira. He did not consider it to be le’khatkhila and that was and is the accepted shitta.
        Wrt to Har HaBayit AFAIK most poskim oppose it, but there is a towering giant that permits it (Maran HaGaon HaRav Dov Lior) and so do lsome esser poskim

      • Ben Waxman says:

        As I cited above, there are ligat ha-al poskim who are OK with female rabbis. People here may have decided that there is a consensus but that is simply not true, no matter how many times people here a unanimity of opinion.

      • rkz says:

        Ben Waxman – “ligat ha al poskim”? AFAIK we are talking about halakha, not about sports…
        Le’gufu shel davar, who did you cite above that is an important living posek, not a writer about halakha, who actually allowed this?

      • Ben Waxman says:


        You do know what a metaphor is, right?

        To quote myself: “HaRav Melamed doesn’t have a problem with female rabbis, HaRav Gigi teaches at this program, and HaRav Ravinovitch tz”l attended the graduation. “

      • rkz says:

        Ben Waxman, I meant to say that I think it is not a respectful metaphor.
        WADR, HaRav Gigi is not a posek at all, HaRav Melamed is not a leading posek in the true halakhic sense, and HaGaon RNER passed away a few months ago, and we have no reason to think that he would support women “rabbis” (attending a graduation does not prove it al all)

  24. Steven Brizel says:

    Who validates such a choice which was predicated in no small part by acceptance of the ideological underpinnings of radical feminism and those who rationalize the same? Such a decision is not and should not determined by a “voluntary” choice

  25. bracha says:

    Just like the rest of the world has gone bonkers, so has even the Jewish world. Something is not right with these women (I’m a woman writing this) wanting to be what they are not). There are men who want to be women (we read it every day in the papers and these women want to be men also. Maybe it’s something in the water changing their DNA or just making them mentally deranged. They are so insincere about their yirat Shamayim that they have to find loopholes in the Torah to get their way and actually think they’re fooling the Creator. Wondering if these wannabee’s are not part of the nwo agenda to overturn religion and undo Torah Juda ism to make it a one world avoda zorah. This is what the open orthodoxy hoax is and anything where you read ‘rabbi riskin’ involved, you already know it’s not kosher!

    • Steven Brizel says:

      There are more than a few Midrashim that identify one of the aspects of Shibud Mitzrayim as role reversals between the genders

  26. Orly Himmelfarb says:

    OTS is decimating the education of an entire generation of young people in Israel. My daughter had to apply to ulpanot this year and there aren’t that many DL options in the Jerusalem area. Was shocked to find that lots of unsuspecting DL people are sending their daughters to OTS which encourages army service. Scary.

    • william gewirtz says:

      if army service scares you, then your confidence in your daughter’s upbringing and schooling, should scare you more.

      • lacosta says:

        would seem that is a matter for halacha to decide. pork doesn’t scare us , nor does chillul shabbat. they are assur. as would the entire sprectrum from far right haredi all the way thru normative halacha observing MO /DL OO and its equivalent DL forms , well frankly , that’s a differnet branch of judaism…..

      • Steven Brizel says:

        As opposed to Charedi Nachal or header allowing a daughter to serve in the army requires a level of Bitachon beyond Tefilos Tehilim and tears that your daughter will emerge a Shomeres Torah UMitzvos that is akin to that in sending an American teen to an Ivy League college campus i

      • Orly Himmelfarb says:

        Do you live in Israel? Have you had to face the issue of daughters choosing between National Service and the IDF?

        What’s scary is the external pressure on the girls (whether from peers or from the schools themselves) — something I imagine all families struggle with, however strong the “upbringing.” Part of a strong upbringing is choosing the right schools for one’s children. Unfortunately, the selection is becoming smaller and smaller these days.

        When girls are encouraged to go to the army by their supposedly religious educational frameworks, it becomes the new norm. The concern is that girls who don’t head for the IDF will be perceived, or will perceive themselves, as less “cool.” Same goes for all the other heterodox “innovations” that are putting pressure on girls and women in the name of “equality.” What if my daughter doesn’t want to learn Gemara? What if I don’t feel comfortable saying kaddish with a minyan? Are we now deficient?

        Pushing girls toward the army isn’t the only issue with OTS. There’s the very uncool matter of tsniyus. My impression, based on researching non-haredi religious girls’ secondary schools in the Jerusalem area, is that the schools that pride themselves on their Gemara studies and their sending-girls-to-the-army orientation, are the schools with the laxest dress codes. How learning Gemara in a miniskirt became a thing, I don’t know. But pardon me for finding it scary.

      • william l gewirtz says:

        To the various comments, I do not live in Israel and am ill-equipped to comment on she’erut le’umi versus the IDF.

        I do know two things. First, refusing the option of she’erut le’umi has more to do with ideology and the desire to distance from the klal. I am certain that “proper” forms of she’erut le’umi could be established if that was desired.

        Second, there is a well-known trope about secular universities’ detrimental impact on orthodox attendees. I can find many reasons to oppose many secular cesspools of woke bias, but fear of causing OTD is not one of them. As Prof. Marc Shapiro has pointed out, those who go off the orthodox derech almost always do that on or close to arrival. those who arrive as committed orthodox jews leave similarly. I have no data, but some of that may apply to the IDF; that was the basis of my omment.

  27. Raymond says:

    I realize that this conversation is already very long, almost to the point of beating a dead horse into the ground, yet I decided to write something anyway because I think that a factor so basic to this discussion has not been emphasized here, and that is the subject of building a family. The central location of Judaism is not in our shuls, nor at the workplace, but rather in our homes, our family life. G-d famously pointed out to us long ago that it is not good for man to be alone, nor is it an accident that the very first commandment of the Torah is to be fruitful and multiply. Women are the ones who carry and then give birth to the next generation, and they are also the ones perfectly suited to raise children, since they are better at multitasking then us men are, plus women have greater intuition as well as a built-in extra dose of compassion, traits so crucial to the raising of children.

    As extraordinary as some women admittedly are, they are still human beings, and thus unlike G-d, cannot be in two places at the same time. Every ounce of energy that women devote to their careers, means that much less energy devoted to the task of raising their children. And when one considers the powerful, lasting impact that each of our childhoods have on the rest of our lives, it should become clear that really there is no task more important to the future of our Jewish people than is being a devoted, caring mother. I realize that there are factors that compel a woman to not spend her entire time raising children, such as economic necessity as well as the need to break up the monotony and simply interact with adults rather than with children all day long, but the point is that the main thrust of a woman’s activities when she is both married and is of childbearing age, is to be the main one devoted to bringing up the couple’s children, for reasons already stated. And so I suppose that if a woman is still single, or past her childbearing years, that she can then feel free to pursue a career outside the home as forcefully as us men need to do to prove our worth.

    • rkz says:

      An exception that proves the rule, if it would have any provative value to beig with, and it does not (besides the fact that we do not bring a ra’aya from a ma’ase)

  28. Steven Brizel says:

    I think that we have seen is a demand that Halacha and the TSBP surrender to the demands of radical feminism and its ideological underpinnings and the tragic mistake of the LW of RZ in doing so at the expense of what could and should be a principled defense of the normal family and child rearing as vitally important goals for RZ and MO In this regard see the superb article by R R Eiss at Torahmusing

  29. Steve Brizel says:

    Facts about MO Students on Ivy League campuses and the impact of the same on their adherence to Torah and Mitzvos are facts not trope or narrative

    • Bob Miller says:

      Their parents need to abandon the nostalgic view of colleges and universities. “Torah U’Mada” depended on secular higher education being a honest process.

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