Volume 18 Number 97
                       Produced: Wed Mar 22  9:17:53 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Aleeza Esther Berger]
More on Motivation
         [Zvi Weiss]
Putting the Cart before the Horse
         [Heather Luntz]
Women and the Forest
         [Jeff Korbman]


From: Aleeza Esther Berger <aeb21@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 1995 20:47:30 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Ketuba 

Arthur Roth writes:

> when he himself is the sole cause of the "damage"!  In this case, the
> claim in the ketuba about the woman's virginity was indeed true at the
> time he actually "acquired" her.
> On a social level, like many of us, I have very negative feelings about
> the concept of a wife as a piece of property, but we have to accept the
> fact that this is the halachic principle upon which the whole idea of a
> ketuba is based.  Please understand that I am simply stating R. Moshe's
> psakim based on this principle without interjecting any personal opinion

I am often the first to point out where halakha is being male 
chauvinistic, but....

Not so clear, I think, that the man is "acquiring" the woman in the sense 
of a kinyan ("acquisition").  The normal procedure for a kinyan is for 
the seller to give something symbolic to the buyer to demonstrate the 
kinyan.  Here, the man gives the woman a ring (or something worth a 
perutah = small coin). If the man was the buyer, and the woman the seller 
of herself, she would have to give him something.  

The ketuba has nothing to do with this.  There are 2 ways to get married 
besides the ring/money: Shtar (contract), which is *not* a ketuba, and 
biah (intercourse).  Neither of these involves an exchange of money, and 
neither is practiced today.  The kinyan appearance of the 
ring-giving is a red herring: it's not really a kinyan.  

Someone correct me if I'm wrong. I'm not sure I remember this correctly.

Aliza Berger


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 1995 16:07:22 -0500
Subject: More on Motivation

Aliza Berger states that men and women do not have different roles.
This seems to lead to some questionable conclusions:
1. Why does the Torah NOT obligate women in "Talmud Torah" if there is no
  difference in roles?
2. Why are women exempted from [most] time-dependent positive commandments if
  there is no difference in roles?
3. Why is it the Torah law that only a man can institute "Kiddushin" if there 
  are no difference in roles?
4. Why does the law of "inheritance" (anyone keeping up with current Daf Yomi?)
  state that a woman only inherits where there are no males?
5. How does Ms. Berger understand the controversy as to whether women are even
  allowed to make B'rachot over "optional" mitzvot?  According to the Sephardic
  school of thought -- BTW -- a woman is NOT allowed to make such a B'racha and
  it is considered stating Hashem's name in vain.  In the special Siddur that
  R. Ovadiah Yoseph published, the tefillot for women are all carefully 
  "framed" to avoid this matter.
6. What is the basis for the P'sak that only the male is explicitly
  commanded in the Mitzva of P'ru U'rvu if there is no difference in roles?
7. Why would the Torah only allow a man to initiate a divorce if there is no
  difference in roles?
8. Why does the Torah permit polygamy but not polyandry if there is no 
  difference in roles?

I think that the point is clear.  To assert that the Torah posits
identical roles for men and women is quite difficult.  I am not even
including the posting that cited the Maharal who discussed the
conceptual differences between man and woman.

I also STRONGLY object to the comparison with the Black Jew.  Such a
person is a Jew.  Being "Black" is irrelevant to his obligations as a
Jew.  He has the same obligations in Mitzvot as his next door
[white/chinese/yemenite] Jewish neighbor.  Indeed, there is NO reason
for him to be different.  Why *should* he "look different" to anyone
else?  Only because people are not accustomed to seeing a black Jew.
Once people are accustomed to this, there is no reason for him to be
perceived differently from anyone else (and to so perceive him is
perobably a matter that violates various halachot).  On the other hand,
a woman IS different because she does NOT share the same Torah

I do not question Ms. Berger's desires or aspirations.  I *do* qusetion
the notion that she appears to hold that she should "really" be entitled
to "read the Torah" when the male Ba'al Koreh is atrocious.  Once Chazal
defined certain guidelines for us, it is much more constructive to seek
to understand them rather than harbor resentment.

Instead of using the pejorative term "archaic definitions" when
describing the matter of "Kabvod HaTzibbur", a more neutral terminology
may be nore appropriate.  Her use of the terms clearly frames the matter
as something that is no longer applicable.  This is not fair as it begs
the issue.  Instead of asserting, analysis and exploration are
necessary.  If her Schule has a lousy Ba'al Koreh, she can (a) change
Schules or (b) protest to the Gabbaim that THEY have a responsibility to
ensure proper Kriat Hatorah.

Instead of defining how SHE thinks that "G-d would be honored", perhaps
she should do more searching in the halacha as to how she can honor G-d
with her talents in a manner that the halacha would encourage.  For
example, she can use her learning to teach other women (I personally
think that women's education is abominable).  By focusing upon the areas
where halacha and Minhag (The Rav ZT"L was quite adament about the
sanctity of established Minhag as noted in the Nefesh Harav) are
established, the matter seems to be framed as one of "ego" rather than
one of "service".

I further object to the distortion of my suggestion that women cite
their academic background in Talmud when appropriate.  I never stated
that such expertise was a basis for p'sak.  The context of the
discussion was in terms of the use of titles.

Finally, Ms. Berger states that women's study and permission to decide
halakha is an absolute right (those are HER terms).  I would point out
that (a) in so doing she is directly contradicting CHAZAL who limited
(for various reasons) what a woman can/should study.  Also, she is in
opposition to the stated halacha that women are NOT obligated in "Talmud
Torah".  To base her statement solely upon how she feels is a rather
presumptuous approach.  Further, while the Chafetz Chaim permitted study
because of the availability of secular education, I know of no basis for
an extension of his "Heter".

This does NOT mean that I think or encourage women to be ignorant.  BUT
at the same time, let's not fool ourselves.  There are clear indications
that men and women do NOT have identical roles.  Rather than go around
with a chip on the shoulder and a feeling that the deck is stacked,
women have the same overall obligation as men have: to learn how they
can do the will of HaShem in this world.  Perhaps, if that approach is
adopted by all of us we can all work *together* to make the world the
sort of place that it should be.



From: Heather Luntz <luntz@...>
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 1995 22:28:23 +1100 (EST)
Subject: Putting the Cart before the Horse

On Thu, 2 Mar 1995 Hayim Hendeles wrote:
> A previous poster commented:
> >However, these explanations, it seems to me, beg the question...
> >Is it an absolute and eternal religious desideratum that the
> >religious roles of women be private, and private only? If so,
> >one cannot argue with the reasoning above. However, if one
> >believes, as I do, that the place of women in religious society
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> >is subject to modification based on the cultural nuances of
> >different times and places, ...
> This statement underscores what is, IMHO, a significant problem with the
> so called "Modern Orthodox" - viz.  approaching halacha with
> preconceived biases and opinions.
> There is a major difference between approaching the Torah from an
> unbiased standpoint, vs. approaching it to find support for your beliefs.

But why are you so sure that this statement embodies an approach to 
halacha that with preconceived biases and opinions, in contrast to an 
unbiased standpoint?

If anything, I would have thought that on this point, the halacha might 
well be seen to be making exactly the point of the "other poster".

Lets approach this from a truely clinical standpoint - what do we find in 
the halacha? - We find a situation where men are obligated in certain 
mitzvot where women are exempt (the term used is patur). 

Approaching this from an unbiased standpoint, what might this teach us 
about men and women? Well clearly that they are different and that there 
are distinctions. But does this necessarily teach us that different roles 
are mandated? Perhaps. But if that were the case, why doesn't the halacha 
make it clearer that for women to do these mizvot would be assur 
[forbidden] not patur. There seem to be two more likely explanations for 
a situation where one group is obligated while the other is exempt:

1.	There is greater variation in the one group than the other, 
making it inappropriate to obligate the more varied group. So that for 
example in this case - maybe men are more similar in all needing these 
mitzvot, while women are more varied, some do, some don't, and therefore a 
blanket obligation was not appropriate. If this were true, the proper 
approach to take would be to be careful not to coerce those women who do 
*not* need these mitzvot, as the Torah is careful, while encouraging 
those who do.

2.	There is a greater variation over time in one group than in the 
other. Remember that the Torah is given for all generations. Thus it has 
to take into account all contingencies. Maybe in all generations men need 
these mitzvot, but in some generations women do and in some they don't. 
The perfect way of dealing with such a problem is to make women patur but 
not make performance of the mitzvot by women assur. Thus in generations 
where there is no need, there will be no pressure to perform, and in 
generations where there is a need, there will be such pressure. And is it 
not possible that the built in contingency in the halacha was created 
for just the circumstances we find ourselves in today in dealing with the 
modern world.

Now adopting either 1) or 2) would be termed a "belief" in modern 
English. But so would the "belief" that the roles of women are not 
supposed to change, ie that women and their needs and obligations are as 
inherently invariable as men's seem to be. And this latter belief would 
seem to be less rooted in the halachic reality of built in flexibility 
where women are concerned [may but not must], and dare I say it, more 
closely linked to modern, Western, 19th century Christian thought (which 
sources through to the Madonna worship of Catholicism and its image of 
the unchanging mother).

> This latter approach, so prevalent in our modern society, undermines
> the entire relationship between the Jewish people and G-d; for we
> are supposed to be "avdei hashem" [servants of G-d] and not vice-versa.


> Unfortunately, the Torah is not interested in your opinions nor is the
> Torah interested in my opinions. G-d did not consult us before he wrote
> the Torah. The question we must ask is "What does G-d want?" --- and
> NOT "where can I find a basis in G-d's Torah to support my opinion".

Yes, but the answer we always give to the question "what does G-d want?" 
must always effectively be "I believe this is what G-d wants" - whether it 
is in following my Rabbi, or choosing my Rabbi, or trying to work out which 
questions to ask my Rabbi. For you or I to truely be able to say "this is 
what G-d wants" would mean that we would have to be G-d, because only 
He can truely understand himself, and only he can truely know what it is 
that He wants. 

I think what is being objected to is not the belief, but the danger that 
the search may be improperly motivated. But this is a danger whichever 
position one takes, certainly on hashkafic matters in which we are all 
implicated. And in fact a statement of belief and hence a recognition 
that there are others who may think differently maybe a more likely 
antidote to this danger. It is after all an expression of humility. 
And one of the reasons, I believe, why we posken like Beis Hillel rather 
than Beis Shammai, is because they always cited Beis Shammai's opinions 
as well as their own. The matter seems to be less that the Torah is not 
interested in your or my opinions, and more that it is interested in us 
truely striving to purify these opinions and align them with a true Torah 
direction. And maybe the opinion that women's roles change with time is 
more truely sourced in the halacha than the idea that they don't.




From: <jekorbman@...> (Jeff Korbman)
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 1995 16:48:59 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Women and the Forest

I was somewhat relieved to read Ari Shapiro's comment on my posting
regarding women and Judaism.  I believe strongly that our mesorah is
what has endured our continunity, generation after generation.  In fact,
I refer readers to R' Hirsch's introduction to parshat Mishpatim for
those interested in an eloquent and compelling argument for the
necessity of our Oral Law.

However, let me make the following comment.  Shapiro concludes: "It is
ludicrous to categorize mitvoth as d'rabbanan and gender-based, and
therefore we do not have to observe them."

I agree with the premise, but not neccessarily the conclusion.  For over
two thousand years, our rabbis have taught and interpreted the mitzvoth.
If for two thousand years only men taught, studied and practiced
ANYTHING, it would occur to me that decisions made would reflect only
the thoughts and feelings of their gender.  (BTW I would argue that the
converse is also true, namely, if only women....)  This DOES NOT MEAN
that we do not have to follow the laws.  And I apologize if that's how I
came across.

What I belive we need to asess, at this point in time, is how to
accomdate a new voice the halachic process - a female voice - while
still maintaining the integrity of the framework that got us to this
point.  It seems to me to be a bit simple to say either: All the
mitzvoth are gender based and, therefore, heck with them all; or, the
system can not be flexible, sorry women, read the following male
commentaries on this and this topic and have a nice day.  (Then, of
course, maybe for some life is that simple.)

It is interesting, though, that Shapiro picks up on the section that
deals with the part that dealt with the mitzva of Shabbat and hair
covering.  And in response, more male makorot were cited.  What he wrote
was absolutely accurate, but I kind of got the feeling that the forest
was missed for the trees.  I know how the system has worked.  That's
what I'm RESPONDING to.  My questions are not so much who says what on
which mitzva, or the essentiality of the Rabbanan through the years.  My
public pondering is: given the male role to date, and given the emerging
female role, What Up for the future folks?

Finally, thank you to the many private poster in response to my piece.
Your words were quite kind.

jeff korbman


End of Volume 18 Issue 97