Volume 18 Number 81
                       Produced: Sun Mar 12 10:10:05 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Considered equal
         [Binyomin Segal]
Feminists missing the boat?
         [Freda B. Birnbaum]
         [Zvi Weiss]
Shaking Hands
         [Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund]
Women Dancing, again.
         [Zvi Weiss]
Women's Role
         [Aleeza Esther Berger]
Women's Zimun - Clarification
         [Mechy Frankel]


From: <bsegal@...> (Binyomin Segal)
Date: Mon, 6 Mar 1995 21:10:16 -0600
Subject: Considered equal

Janice Gelb asks:
 * I would also be curious as to what documentation Mr. Kimelman has that
 * the many gedolim mentioned in his message considered their wives equal
 * partners in their achievements. In contributing to their health and
 * well-being, perhaps. In their Torah achievements? I doubt it.

Though I cant bring documentation for the gedolim mentioned, the gemara
quotes Rebbe Akiva. Returning to his wife after a separation of quite a few
years, he tells his students:

"Sheli v'Shelachem, Shelah hi" - (Roughly) Both what I have achieved & what
you have achieved - the achievment is hers.

This statement of Rebbe Akiva was used by my rabbeim in reference to their
wives on numerous occasions.



From: Freda B. Birnbaum <FBBIRNBAUM@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Mar 1995 7:42:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Feminists missing the boat?

Esther Posen says (among other things), in V18N74, re the more-participation-
for-women issue,

>3) Aliza Berger (and her supporters) have suggested innovations which
>would certainly make me go daven elsewhere (which is fine - it's a free
>country).  Certainly my husband would rather daven at home than in any
>place that would practice these actual and proposed innovation.
>Frankly, I probably wouldn't feel comfortable at a Shabbos Seudah which
>had an adult male present and an adult female made the kiddush or the
>motzei.  I have no such mesorah and no need to find my fullfillment by
>making kiddush - for me, it just not where it's at.  I find the whole
>thing most pathetic.

It doesn't bother me that Esther doesn't feel the same needs as Aliza
and her friends (of whom I am pleased to be one, in "real life" as well
as email), as I have never been one of the feminists who insist on
dragging all the other women off to my nefarious activities.  I invite
someone to our women's davening if I think she might be interested.  If
she's not, I drop it.  I don't give her an ideological lecture or impugn
her commitment to the tradition because she expresses it in a way that I
feel less comfortable with.  I don't think she's "pathetic" because she
doesn't see it the same way I do, I just think she's got a different set
of circumstances (which may or may not change once she sees how nice a
women's davening is! :-) )

BTW, I can understand that one might be a bit taken aback if the adult
woman made BOTH the kiddush and the motzi, but I have noticed in a
number of households, the man often makes the kiddush and the woman the
motzi.  In fact, in our house, my husband insists that I make the motzi!
And for those of you who remember him from the mail-jewish picnic in
1993, your impresson that his frum credentials appear to be in order is

(Didn't someone make the case a while back that actually, since the man
has heard kiddush in shul on Friday night, it might make sense that the
woman who hasn't heard it at all might be more in need of making kiddush
at the table?  Of course there is the issue of whether just hearing it
in shul frees you from the obligation to make it at home.)

Esther notes, and I agree:

>(I would not feel comfortable either at a meal where one very pregnant
>woman served a number of men and none of them would move a finger to
>help her.  On the other hand I've had "feminist" guests who were very
>disdainful of my doing the serving mostly on my own.  The fact that my
>husband had done half the cooking, all the shopping, all the shlepping
>and was holding the baby throughout the entire meal didn't mean very
>much to them.)

Seems to me that feminists and non-feminists alike might work on giving
other folks the benefit of the doubt re their motives and aspirations.


>Our religion is not egalatarian.  I can understand the pain of women who
>don't feel there is enough of a role for them in traditional judaism.  I
>understand their pain, I just think that the society in which we all
>find ourselves have caused them to "miss the boat".

I'm not sure if you really do understand their pain, you give them a
pretty hard time, kind of throwing it in their faces and rubbing it in.
I don't think it is the nasty old outside world that is causing us this
pain, though it may have made us able to "compare and contrast" a bit
and see more clearly where the tradition is causing us this pain.  I
think there is more room for change or accomodation than some of the
more conservative people on this list have been presenting us with.
Women's davening groups have been around for close to twenty years now.
Some proposed changes will probably not make it to the mainstream, but
clearly some are doing so.  There are at least three eminently
respectable Orthodox shuls in Manhattan which have women's davening
groups meeting on a monthly or bimonthly basis.  The rabbis who permit
and encourage them are certainly not out to destroy the tradition.

Freda Birnbaum


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 1995 16:25:43 -0500
Subject: Kiddush/Zimun

1. I was ALWAYS taught to not "Imi Morati" when I lead Zimun in my house.
  It was always presented as a clear case of Kibbud Eim having nothing to
  do with "hitztarfut".  while I understand the "counter-position" that
  we only say "Birshut" to other people IN the Zimun specifically the Kohen,
  parent, Rav, etc. who takes precedence over us, it may be that the Birshut
  by parents is not in the sense of asking permission from one who takes
  precedence -- but rather it is a way of acknowledging the parent's presence
  -- whether s/he is part of the zimun or not.  I have NO source material on
  this and would appreciate feedback.  In particular, when eating with parents
  at SOMEONE ELSE's house (parents are guests, as well)... does one include
  one or both parents?  If the father was there but did not eat (and so cannot
  be aprt of the zimun), does one still say "Birshut Avi"?  I find the "non-
  gender" approach to be a non-solution.  If the zimun is only for the ones
  eating then it should be limited specifically to the one participating in
  the zimun; if this is a "Kavod" to the parent, then it seems that the parent
  should be explicitly acknowledged.
2. Re Kiddush, I advanced the QUESTION of "Kol Kevudah Bat Melech P'nima".
  I admitted up front that I have no clear source material here.  However, if
  there is existing p'sak that refers to something as "Zila ba milta" -- that
  it is a "base thing", then I believe that we should look beyond simple
  sociology before discarding accepted source material.

  Maybe WE have to re-evaluate OUR norms....



From: sg04%<kesser@...> (Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund)
Date: Mon, 6 Mar 95 11:12:32 EST
Subject: Re: Shaking Hands

I have seen two techniques (both lack something when compared to
directly dealing with the issue):

1. She sticks out her hand, you place your business card in it
(pretending like you don't understand the convention, or that the card
was what was desired).

2. This technique requires a couple: Women extends hand, your wife is
standing next to you, she grabs the hand and shakes it. (same technique
works if the man is the one who extends his hand).

Basically, though, what is wrong with explaining the reason why we don't
shake hands? We are entitled to our customs, and in today's world one
can give good examples from society why this is actually a very fine
process. Certainly, both Jew and non-Jew can be made to understand the
logic in this. And by spreading the logic of Torah, we are helping
fufill our purpose on this planet.

Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund		 	            <sgutfreund@...> 
GTE Laboratories,Waltham MA      http://info.gte.com/ftp/circus/home/home.html


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 1995 09:26:26 -0500
Subject: Women Dancing, again.

Harry Weiss apparently misunderstood my posting re Dancing W/ Torah.  I
noted that men have a SPECIFIC Mitzvah of Learning which is NOT the
notion of learning sufficient Torah in order to know what to do but
rather a unique obligation that is on MEN only.  If Harry Weiss has a
problem with that, I would suggest that he go back to the Gemara in
Kiddushin which explicitly states that the Mitzva of "Talmud Torah" is a
male-only Mitzvah.  I further stated that the dancing around the Torah
can be characterized as a celebration of that unique Mitzva and NOT
simply as a "celebration of love of Torah" and it was in THAT context
that I stated that for women to dance with the Torah would be
celebrating a vountary OPTIONAL matter (as women are NOT obligated in
this mitzva) and it is for THAT reason that I stated that one COULD
question the motives of women doing this.  I also have made clear that
where the motivation is proper, I do not believe that there is ANY major
issue and I made clear that this is but a subset of the general matter
of one asuming voluntary obligations when one is first required to
fulfil their mandatory ones (I realize that "voluntary obligations" is a
contradiction in terms).  In that light, I feel that -- unlike Leah
Gordon's thoughtful analysis (which must be dealt with at length and
with much sensitivity) Harry Weiss' comment that my posting demonstrates
"chauvinism" is entirely unwarranted.



From: Aleeza Esther Berger <aeb21@...>
Date: Sun, 5 Mar 1995 13:10:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Women's Role

> >From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
> Recently, Aliza Berger stated "In order to put yourself in my place, the
> only assumtion is that men and women do *not* [emphasis mine] have
> different "roles" ordained".  I would be most interested in Ms. Berger
> citing a source to back up that assumtion as according to the Teshuva
> that I have referred to in R. Moshe ZT"L, that assumption does *not*
> appear to be supported by him and -- in fact -- is CONDEMNED by R. Moshe
> in the strongest terms.  
> In general, I find this assumption difficult to support as the Torah has
> given men and women different obligations.  

(I'm sorry, i have lost track, which responsum of Rabbi Feinstein are you 
referring to?)

Let me restate the case being made by Zvi Weiss:
Because the rabbis have given different obligations, therefore we may infer 
that men and women have different roles ordained. 

This reasoning, however, has no bearing on the conclusions.  In order to 
support the extensions beyond the the few differences in obligation set out 
by halakha  - extensions which Mr. Weiss suggests - it would have to go 
the other way: Because men and women are naturally different, therefore 
the rabbis assigned them different obligations. *This* view is not 
necessarily supported as a general principle.  For example, if Rabbi 
Feinstein took this view, I suspect that he might have categorically 
prohibited women from doing things such as wearing tallit, as an extension 
of the "different roles" reasoning behind women's lack of obligation. But, 
actually, what he says is that he says the permissibility depends on 
type of motivation, thus taking into account individual differences - 
far from a group categorization into "roles". 

If "different roles" was an ever-extendable category, Moses would have
decided on a women's case (daughters of Zelophad)  by using such vague 
reasoning about "well, men and women have different roles, women 
don't need land, therefore the answer must be no". I think the 
Torah is trying to teach us in that story *not* to make such group 
assumptions, but to take into account individual differences.

If I may be allowed to say so, my "individual difference" theory allows 
for opinions such as those expressed by the women (Esther Posen, Smadar 
Kedar) who wrote that they are satisfied with their place.  They are 
entitled to their individual way of leading their life.  But the 
"different roles" theory, which doesn't allow for individuals to deviate 
from the usual, is more rigid than actually required by halakha.

aliza berger


From: Mechy Frankel <frankel@...>
Date: Mon, 06 Mar 1995 10:56:39 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Women's Zimun - Clarification

1. I need to make a clarification cum correction of one point in my
recent post on women's zimun and an expansion of another. In that post I
suggested essentially that the seemingly well known but squishily
sourced custom that one or two men absent themselves during the women's
zimun had its basis in the sociological reality in the 19th century,
where the generally poor education of women precluded their exercise of
the established obligation of women to bentsch and make a zimun, with
this reality then assuming for many the status of halacha through the
conservative cementing of this "minhag." While the basic halacha to the
contrary remained in force, hence R. S. Z. Auerbach's simple approval of
men's presence and answering to a zimun led by women, as quoted by his
nephew in Halichos Baisoh (P. 94).

2. I also mentioned that through the ages there was almost no quibble
with the fact that women were obligated to bentsch and make zimun, with
the the only difference of opinion related to its status as a di'oraysa
or di'rabanan. Here, however, I should have more carefully
differentiated between the requirements of bentsching and zimun. While
it is true that there is pretty uniform agreement about the obligation
to bentsch, as well as the obligation of women to participate in a zimun
of three men, it is clearly not true of the obligation of women to make
a zimun for themselves. e.g.  While the Rosh and the Gra do mandate a
women's zimun, Rashi, Semag, Tur, Shulchan Aruch, Aruch Hashulchan, and
Mishna Berurah all clearly designate a women's zimun, in contrast to
bentsching, as a permissable but not not mandatory action.

3. Finally, while I believe the sociological reality of women's not
making a zimun in the 19th century because of poor education is still
quite valid, (cf.  the R. Y. M. Epstein's remarks in Aruch Hashulchan
Orach Chayim 199 and Chafetz Chayim's remarks in Mishna Berurah Orach
Chayim 199), the fact is also true that the origins of this "neglect" on
the part of women of this mitzvoh (either manadatory according to Gra,
Rosh, or a "reshus" according to the others) may also predate the 19th
century. The 14th century Tur notes the widespread Ashkenazi
appreciation that a women's zimun is only a rishus, despite the talmudic
sources which seemed, at first blush, to mandate it (Berachos 45b and
Airichin 3a) because of his observation that it was being
skipped. However, he does not definitively attribute it to the same lack
of women's education as does the Chafetz Chayim a generation ago.

Mechy Frankel                                   W: (703) 325-1277 
<frankel@...>                             H: (301) 593-3949


End of Volume 18 Issue 81