Volume 18 Number 62
                       Produced: Sun Feb 26 16:04:34 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Altering Jewish practice/thought
         [Ralph Zwier]
Changing/Maintaining Womens role in Jewish Society
         [Michael Lipkin]
         [Zvi Weiss]
Role of Women
         [Harry Weiss]
Women, Judaism and Feminism
         [Chaya London]
Women, Mezuman and Feminism
         [Chana Luntz]


From: Ralph Zwier <zwierr@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 08:38:01 
Subject: Altering Jewish practice/thought

Binyomin Segal writes:
> Since Torah comes from Sinai the assumption is that innovation (even
> within the bounds of the written texts) is suspect.

[Avi Feldblum responds]
>>It is far from clear to me that this approach to innovation is
>>fundimental to the halakhic process.  I invite some of our more
>>halakhic historically oriented readers to reply to this issue.

The case comes to mind of the "innovation" of modern Copernican 

If you look in the back of the siddur of Rabbi Yaakov MeEmden he 
tentatively supports Copernican astronomy. It is absolutely clear from 
the discussion in the siddur that he felt that he needed support from 
a Passuk or a Maamar Chazal before he could give his authority to the 
permissibility of the sun-centered universe. He in fact says that a 
midrash on the word Eretz-ratz supports the idea that the earth could 
be moving along in space.

How is this example relevant to the "Womens Participation" thread ?
Because where we want to innovate (within the confines of Halachah) it 
seems that it is appropriate to find support for the innovation 
itself within the Holy writings.

I notice that the contributors to the feminist innovations debate have
not quoted supporting Midrashim, and have not dealt properly with all 
the [apparently] negative Maamarim which appear in the Talmud on 
womens issues---

Ralph S Zwier
Double Z Computer, Prahran, VIC Australia       Voice +61-3-521-2188
<zwierr@...>                        Fax   +61-3-521-3945


From: Michael Lipkin <michael_lipkin@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 95 13:52:09 EST
Subject: Changing/Maintaining Womens role in Jewish Society

>From: Aleeza Esther Berger

>I would in theory be interested in leading the service or reading the 
>Torah.  Carrying the sefer Torah and having a separate service are 
>mere crumbs in contrast to what I personally feel I could be doing.

What's going to happen to a generation of young women who are raised
going to teffilah groups, learning gemorah, making kiddush, etc. when
they realize that these things are mere crumbs, that the Torah has
ordained fundamental gender-based differences in obligation and
observance?  What of the more mortal talmud?  I have already heard frum
people say that the rabbis of the gemorah were too biased by the sexism
of their time to have decided correctly on women's issues.  Is it such a
large leap to go from that line of reasoning to indicting our entire
system of halacha?

>For many of us who attend halakhic women's services and the like, the 
>alternative is even greater resentment of a system in which the cards 
>are stacked against us, or abandonment of the system altogether.  
>There is no prize given -- except perhaps in Olam Haba (the World to 
>Come), where G-d will comfort the oppressed in this world -- for the 
>person who suffers the most due to the halakha. I would not win this 
>prize anyway - some agunah would.  But I am sure she would rather not 
>win it; neither would I.

I feel for Aliza. Through her desire to get closer to G-d and help the
community she has created a paradox for herself.  Unlike the agunah to
which Aliza compares herself, there are many accomplished, well
educated, frum women who CHOOSE the traditional women's role, who thrive
in it, and who are stunning role models exemplifying how women can reach
tremendous spiritual heights in their own way.

That there are such women is probably of little consequence to those
women who, like Aliza, are not satisfied with the traditional women's
role. Do we accommodate these women by innovating, experimenting, and
then teaching a new generation to follow this path? Or do we teach our
next generation of women how to seek fulfillment in more traditional
ways?  For our daughters, my wife and I opt for the latter.  For Clal
Yisroel, only time will tell as this extremely divisive issue plays
itself out in the years to come.



From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 17:29:59 -0500
Subject: Clarification

I strongly agree that there is little purpose in calling someone a
heretic.  Also, that was NEVER my intention.  However, I do feel that
there is a distinction between calling a person a heretic and noting
that given postings/ comments appear to be "heretical".  This may seem a
fine distinction -- but I do not believe so.  Rather, I wish to note
when *content* of material is something that appears to approach 'out of
bounds'.  Again, I certainly do not mean to label anyone a heretic AND I
used that term in this particular case as that is the terminology that
R. Moshe used in that oft-cited Teshuva.



From: <harry.weiss@...> (Harry Weiss)
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 95 23:35:58 -0800
Subject: Role of Women

Regarding the various practices that could be done by women in various
postings by Leah Gordon, Aliza Berger and Steve Bailey and Feige
Zilberstein I would like to add my two cents.

I think I remember a discussion regarding the various circumstances that
one male or female can be Yotze another for Kiddush on the list
Practical Halacha by the Melbourne Lubuvitch Kolel.  I think they are MJ
members and could post how to get a copy of their discussion.

Regarding a woman saying Kaddish, I agree with the posting, but as an
aside I feel that should always be a designated Kaddish sayer so someone
who feels uncomfortable saying by him or her self can say Kaddish
together with him without concern about the quality of their Hebrew etc.

In our synagogue the Chazan takes the Torah to the women's section.  In
the Bailey/Zilberstein posting they mention the Torah being passed to
the woman rather than placed down and picked up.  How do they resolve
the Negiah (touching) problem.

Also they refer to using the mother's name as kibbud eym (honoring the
mother).  The person's name the son of his/her father is only an
identification and not an honoring of a parent.  Do they also use the
father's name when saying the prayer for the ill.

I disagree with Binyomin Segal in that changes always have been made and
always will be made that are halachically permissible.  I am sure he
himself prays in an air conditioned or electric/gas heated facility with
electric lights etc.  I fully support change that is mandated by
changing situations when this is in accordance with Halacha.

 From my limited knowledge, I think that Aliza Berger's option of having
women reading the Torah or Haftorah would be in violation of the
Halacha.  That must always remain the final and decisive factor.



From: Chaya London <CGREENBE@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 13:42:22 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Women, Judaism and Feminism

Until now I have felt so well represented by Leah Gordon and Aliza
Berger, that i have not felt any need to express my opinion, but Moishe
Kimelman's recent post compelled me to add my two cents.

How can I make you understand that I have no desire to be a male, that I
do think men and women are different, that I am not looking to go
outside of halacha yet desire to express my love of Hashem and Torah not
just cloistered by myself?

I told my husband to add back "shelo asani ishah" (he had stopped saying
it before he met me).  My understanding of the prayer men say (thanking
G-d for not making them women) has to do with having more mitzvot and
not "suffer" childbirth.  Quite honestly, I am very happy with the
prayer I say every morning "sheasani cirtzono" (for having made me
according to His will ).  I am thrilled and delighted that I can have
children (G-d willing) and will happily go through childbirth, and I
thank G-d for that ability.

Where I have trouble is where things go beyond halacha.  First, there is
no more Sanhedrin.  I don't think anyone would deny that Judaism's rate
of change slowed significantly when this forum disappeared.  Second, not
being obligated does not mean that I am not permitted - who made that
rule?  Right now I do not have children, and as a physician (M.D. this
May) I am working in the world with all of its influences everyday.
Where does Judaism answer for women who never have children or have a
home to take care of?

Mr. Kimelman claims that the quest for equality echoed secular society
and christianity.  Weell, my family (and many others) was assimilated
LONG before the sixties - more like the turn of the century.  I find it
ironic that I am the only one in my family connected to Judaism, and I
am also the only feminist.  My brothers all married non-jewish women,
and the two with children have wives who stay at home.

When I do have children (G-d willing) why should my husband get an
aliyah for benching gomel?  I would much prefer to be in a women's
minyan - I will be the one who survived, not him.

The times that I have done the Haftorah have meant so much to me. Hashem
gave me the gift of a voice, and I am quite proud to use if tor such a
wonderful and holy purpose, especially when I later heard the reactions
of some of the people there - a friend of mine said that as I warmed up,
the whole room got quiet - which means that people heard (isn't that the
purpose of torah and haftorah being chanted aloud?).  When I have heard
many men peform the same function, I cannot say that there was rapt
attention in schul.

Well, I am not sure my thoughts are entirely clear here, but as I said
earlier, I did feel compelled to answer the latest barage.

-Chaya London 


From: Chana Luntz <luntz@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 22:25:10 +1100 (EST)
Subject: Women, Mezuman and Feminism

> >From: <kimel@...> (Moishe Kimelman)
> is it merely co-incidental that this sense came to the forefront
> during the same period that the secular world started their search for
> equality?  Why is it that the wives of all our Gedolim of earlier
> generations didn't feel discriminated against?

How do you know how the wives of our Gedolim of earlier generations felt?

It is an interesting question.  Because we don't know a lot about them 
and how they felt.

Two pieces of information that I happen to know:

1) when I was at Harvard (1992/1993) a friend of mine there was reading
a book that was a biography/autobiography of I think it was the Epstein
family, i don't remember the details. And in the book there are long and
extensive discussion with one of the women of the household (at least
either the mother of a gadol, a wife of one, or the daughter of one I
think,) about how she felt about the women's role. He actually wrote an
article about it which he submitted to the Hillel magazine (I forget
what it is called, Mosaic I think), but they, not in my opinion being
able to recognise the significance of what he was discussing, turned it
down. I only know what i am telling you because he showed me the article
- which is why my memory is not great on the details as I only ever saw
it once. I don't know where he is today, but it would be very
interesting if it could be dug up, or the book could be.

2) the second bit of information - well, I'm going to be cryptic because
I am not sure that it is my information to tell. I am a bit of an
ameteur genealogist, and as it happens, I have traced part of my tree to
link up with one of the recognised gedolim of this generation, via his
mother.  Now me being me, want I wanted to know was family stories, and
so my questions were more geared to asking about the family and
particularly his mother. And, fascinatingly enough, what is the story
that the grandson told me. Oh when she was young, in Europe, she was the
one always arguing with her father (also a famous Rav) about learning
gemorra and doing things with the boy of the family.

And yet of all the sisters, she is the one who had a Talmid Chacham for a 

Now if I hadn't been specifically interested in asking these questions -
how many people would know that this was the case, and yet I can
guarantee you all know who her son is.

So, how do you know what the Vilna Gaon's wife or the Chafetz Chaim's 
wife said and felt and how can you make assumptions?




End of Volume 18 Issue 62