Volume 19 Number 01
                       Produced: Tue Mar 28  7:16:46 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Forest & Trees
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
Obligation of women
         [Rachel Rosencrantz]
Women and Halacha
         [Aryeh Frimer]
Women And Judaism
         [Chaim Steinmetz]
Women Fulfilling the Obligation of Megillah Reading for Men
         [Israel Botnick]
Women of the Future.
         [Michael Lipkin]
Women Reading Megillah
         [Aryeh Frimer]
Women's Megillah Groups
         [Eli Passow]


From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 1995 11:49:40 -0500
Subject: Re: Forest & Trees

My comments are not meant to respond to one particular posting, but
rather to the general discussion of Chazal and women.  I use the
following post mermely as a springboard for my few short comments on the

Jeff Korbman writes:
> 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.  

> 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.

Why do people assume that Chazal did not talk to their wives?  Yes, I
know about not talking excessively with women, even one's wife, but if
there is a need it is permissible.

When Chazal approached an issue, I would hope they knew how the women of
the time were feeling, and that those feelings were taken into
consideration to the same extent that the feelings of men were taken
into consideration.  I don't think anyone would accuse the "Men of
Chazal" of promulgating laws that were unfair to men.  How about those
men who like to sleep late, and must wake up for z'man kriat sh'ma [ the
time to read the sh'ma ].  Did Chazal take their feelings into account?

One might argue that women did not feel about their lot in life as they
do now.  One might also argue that they felt much worse, having no
avenue to express themselves as individuals.  If their entire life was
as house-servant and child-rearer, it would seem that they would want
more opportunity to perform mitzvot.  In that way they could have a
sense of accomplishment in actions they did in service to G-D, since
those actions were being done by themselves, for themselves( or for
whatever other purpose mitzvot serve ).
 In a modern society where a woman can gain prominence in many areas,
the need for finding fulfillment in mitzvot might be reduced.

And yet, Chazal did not see that need being expressed by the women of
their time, or if they saw it, did not consider it weighty enough to
counterbalance their other concerns, whatever they were.

My point is that Chazal were sensitive people: sensitive to nuances in
Biblical texts, sensitive to the halachic system, and sensitive to human
emotions. Let us give them the credit they deserve for the system they
have handed down to us.

Eliyahu Teitz


From: <rachelr@...> (Rachel Rosencrantz)
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 1995 12:26:26 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Obligation of women

> I don't think there are many (if any) posters who have tried to say here
> that home and family are not important. However, if the restrictions on
> women *are* due to the important task of raising children and creating a
> Jewish home, it seems odd that they still apply to single women with no
> children, or married women whose children are grown and no longer at
> home. And that they *don't* apply to men who may unfortunately be in a
> situation where they are the sole parent in a household.

I think that most of the restrictions are really due to modesty
(Tzniut).  Thus, if it is a problem to hear a woman's voice it's really
not because a woman is caring for a child, but because they are a woman.

With davening women are not so much restricted as not required.  I think
Kol Isha (voice of a woman) and issues of a man seeing a woman when he
is daving is more of the issue with women leading prayer and laining
(chanting?) Torah than the issue of if they are obligated equally.

However, this does imply that woman should be allowed to do these things
if a man isn't present.  (With the exception of those things that
require a minyan (and in that situation 10 women won't fufill the
requirement.)  Since women aren't required to pray with a minyan if they
aren't with the minyan it shouldn't make that much of a difference as
far as their responsibilities and obligations of prayer.  (Now how it
will affect the community, I'll leave that to the Rav, and the members
of the community.)

I do recall in Halachos Bas Yisroel that it actually said that women
are, by most authorities, expected to pray the Shemona Esray (unless
other situations prohibit it) and should ideally pray the Shema.  Women
are encouraged to pray Maariv and there are some of the Rabonim who
actually state that they see no reason why women shouldn't be saying
Maariv.  (The wording was odd but it basically implied "Why aren't the
women saying Maariv? They should be.")

Also, the leniency for women caring for children only saying a short
prayer instead of the regular prayers is I believe also a leniency
allowed for people caring for sick people.  (It's in the footnotes, and
I didn't bring the book with me today.  Sorry for my unresearchable
references, borrow/look at the book for the real footnotes).  A single
father might have a similar leniency, or perhaps, because praying with a
minyan serves a different purpose for men than for women, there might be
no leniency.  I'm not sure on that aspect.

Women actually are supposed to say the prayers by a certain time,
although the time for the Shema (with brachot) for women is the first
1/3 of the day instead of the first 1/4 of the day.  And I don't recall
the time periods for the Shemona Esray.  Also, if a woman misses mincha,
she should daven Maariv, even if it isn't her custom, and say the
Shemona Esray twice.  (And the first and second Shemona Esray should be
the same. So if you missed Mincha Erev Shabbas you would say the Maariv
_Shabbas_ Shemona Esray twice.)

Enough for now,


From: Aryeh Frimer <F66235@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 95 08:38 O
Subject: Women and Halacha

      I met with Rav Dovid Feinstein last week and discussed two issues
with him which the readership may find of interest. (Present at this
meeting were my brother Dov and my Brother-in-law Noach Dear).
      1) While Rav Dovid was against womens services in general, which
he felt were alien to Judaism, he saw was nothing wrong with a
women's megillah reading in which women are obligated me-Ikar ha-Din (by
law). This is the second time I've asked him this Shailah and he said
explicitly that I could quote him. (He refused to comment for the record
on Rav Mordechai Tendler's assertion that his father, Rav Moshe zatsal,
permitted women's services, at least in theory).
     2) He saw nothing wrong with 3 women making a zimun in the presence
of two men, but felt that since the men don't count toward the zimun
they should reply like one who has not eaten - namely "boruch umevorach
shmo tamid le-olam va'ed"


From: <CSTEINMETZ@...> (Chaim Steinmetz)
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 1995 19:14:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Women And Judaism

Since this has been a hot topic for a while, I figured I might as well
add my two cents. While I certainly have an enormous amount of sympathy
for the women writing, and we have a women's prayer group in my shul,
Halacha is clear that it assigns a different role to men and women. The
question is: why?

 I think one of the unspoken issues in the ongoing debate on mail-Jewish
is why Halacha assigns different roles to men and women. Some assume it
is because men and women are different, and therefore they should be
treated differently by Halacha.  Others have questioned this, because
they are women who do not percieve these differences and do not
understand why they should be assigned a different role.

I think perhaps we should look more carefully into whether all gender
based differences are inherent and physiological. While there certainly
are major psychological differences between the genders, there are many
that are cultural, ie, are created by the culture people live in. It is
quite possible that the Torah is trying to create a cultural difference
between the genders. For this reason, it may not be percieved as
responding to the natural spiritual needs of men and women, but rather
creating a new cultural construct, a Torah manufactered way of how men
and women identify themselves.  Like a great deal of the Halacha, the
roles assigned to men and women are meant to be a new, spiritual way at
looking at life, not merely a way of conforming to nature.

Chaim Steinmetz


From: <icb@...> (Israel Botnick)
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 95 10:11:38 EST
Subject: Women Fulfilling the Obligation of Megillah Reading for Men

Michael Broyde wrote:
> One of the writers suggested that women cannot fulfill the obligation of 
> megillah reading for men because:
> > men have the additional obligation of Talmud Torah K'Neged Kulam(The
> > learning of Torah [including Megillah] is equivalent to all other mitsvos)
> > Men are obligated to learn Megillah simply for the sake of learning Torah,
> > fulfilling an obligation that women don't have.
> I am unaware of any halachic source which advances that as a reason that 
> would actually prevent a women from fulfilling the obligation for a man.  
> Indeed, significant halachic consequences would flow from the assertion 
> that any time there is a general obligation to do an act, and on top of 
> the obligation, one also fulfills the obligation of talmud torah, that a 
> woman cannot fulfill that obligation for a man.

Rabbi Herschel Reichman (in his compilation of Rav Soloveitchik's lectures
on masechet sukka pg. 184) quotes Rav Soloveitchik as saying that the mitzva
of reading the megilla has 2 components  1)publicizing the miracle of purim
2)talmud torah. Therefore since women are not obligated in the 2nd component, 
they cant fulfill the obligation for men who are obligated in both components.

According to this, It is not that on top of the obligation of reading the 
megilla one also fulfills the obligation of talmud torah, but rather talmud
torah is inherent to the mitzva of reading the megilla itself.

Israel Botnick


From: Michael Lipkin <michael_lipkin@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 95 13:52:59 EST
Subject: Women of the Future.

>From: Jeff Korbman

>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.

There is a certain P.C. sexism in Jeff's assumptions. He implies that if
women had been involved in deciding halacha things would have been
"different", i.e. more like what the Aliza Bergers are clamoring for
now.  Well what if it were women like Esther Posen who had interpreted
halacha? (And you think women had it though with men making the rules!:)
Things might be different in a very different way than Jeff imagines. In
politics liberal minded people often bemoan the lack of female
representation, but when a Christine Whitman or Margaret Thatcher gets
elected they cry foul, i.e. that's not the "kind" of female they meant!

>My public pondering is: given the male role to date, and given the 
>emerging female role, What Up for the future folks?

So to answer Jeff's question (as if anyone really could), I guess such a
future would depend on what "kind" of woman we're talking about.  And
don't let the skewed nature of this list fool you. My guess is that
there are a lot more of the "other" kind out there.



From: Aryeh Frimer <F66235@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 95 09:56 O
Subject: Re: Women Reading Megillah

      Contrary to Yisroel Rosenblums assertion, Rav Ovadya Yosef in
Yechaveh Da'at demonstrates that the vast majority of the poskim hold
that there is no issur of Kol Be-ishah ervah by Trop (torah
cantillations). Which is of course why the Gemarah in discussing women
and aliyot uses the Kavod Hatzibbur argument, not kol be-ishah ervah.


From: Eli Passow <passow@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 1995 14:30:34 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Women's Megillah Groups

	When I first raised the issue of women's megillah groups, my main 
concern was why there seems to be so much opposition from the Orthodox 
rabbinate. Although I mentioned in passing that, according to many 
poskim, women can even read the megillah for men, this was not the 
focus of my posting. Women's megillah groups are usually restricted to 
women, so the issue of women reading for men does not arise. So let's 
drop this matter.

	On the other hand, women can certainly read for themselves and for 
other women, so why not give those women who wish to participate 
actively the opportunity to do so **in shul**, rather 
than in private homes where such groups generally take place? 

	There have been numerous postings about what women can and
cannot do and about their motivation. Here we have an issue as innocuous 
as can be. It is an easy way to satisfy **some** of the desires 
of women for participation. And yet there are very few Orthodox rabbis who
have come out in favor of this practice and allow such groups to meet in
the shuls in which they serve. WHY?

Eli Passow


End of Volume 19 Issue 1