Volume 19 Number 10
                       Produced: Thu Mar 30  7:42:40 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

A Woman's Role???
         [Zvi Weiss]
Blinders on???
         [Yaakov Menken]
Clinical Approach
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
Modesty and Korbanot
         [Aryeh Blaut]
Rav Soloveitchik and women
         [Eli Turkel]
Women voting
         [Gad Frenkel]
Women's role in Halacha
         [Yossi Halberstadt]


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 1995 17:20:56 -0500
Subject: A Woman's Role???

In her post of 12 Mar 1995, Aliza Berger tries to claim that ALL
religious subgroupings have their own "preconceived" biases thus
attempting to refute Hayim's assertions re the "Modern Orthodox".
Without getting into the question of whether this is indeed a valid
characterization of the Modern Orthodox (If anyone has read J.Sack's
anthology on Modern Orthodoxy, I think that one could find serious
grounds for disagreeing with Hayim's characterization), I di think that
Ms. Berger has prsented a very problematic approach.  In effect, she is
asserting that every group has a set of "biases" and that is the basis
of our halachic evolution!  I would like to see some cogent source
material to backup such an assertion.  Normally, our halachic evolution
is based upon how our Gedolim in each generation continue the task of
maintaining the Mesorah both through study as well as through P'sak.
Even the application of statements in situations where they had not
previously been applied is NOT necessarily be- cause of a bias but
rather because that is how the p'shat of the statement appears to the
Posek.  Some years ago, there was a review of one of R.  Sternbuch's
volumes of Mo'adim U'Z'manim ... Responsa that (usually) deal with
aspects of various holidays.  What is interesting is that R. Sternbuch
has -- apparently -- come up with various stringencies (Chumrot) in his
work.  This review took some time to discuss R. Sternbuch's view that
Limud can be regarded almost as an on-going "evolving" process such that
it is not a Chumra that is formulated -- but the logical result of the
Limud.  (I am sure that I do not have this too precise -- if I can I
will try to locate the review but it was something from MANY years ago).
The point is that a Chumra does NOT have to derive from a "preconceived
bias".  A more pertinent qusetion for Ms.  Berger to consider is that if
major Poskim -- in general -- all rule different- ly from how she thinks
that halacha is supposed to be formulated, what are the implications?
Of course, once she has a legit. Posek to follow, then there are no
porblems BUT I believe that even the Posek who provides the "halachic
basis" for Ms. Berger will not go and say that other Poskim are just
working from preconceived notions...  Instead, a posek will state that
he understands the halacha in a certian way and bases his P'sak upon
that understanding.

Second, Ms. Berger equates the Mitzva of "learning to know" with the
Mitzva of "Talmud Torah".  The two are simply not equivalent.  The
Gemara is QUITE clear that it is MEN who have the absolute Mitzva of
Talmud Torah.  I believe that The GRA (and later Rav Svei) were
interpreting the "Torah Tavlin" as re- ferring to the mitzva of Talmud
Torah -- not simply learning to know.  In that context, there was stated
that the equivalent "antidote" for women is in terms of Tzniut.  I do
not believe that this was a matter of "assigning" the mitzva as much as
a statement that the challenge for women to be Tznuot is significant
enough to constitute the "Tavlin".  As there are many more practical
matters of Tzniut (skirt length, sleeve length, covering of hair, Kol
Isha, etc.), it MAY be that this ongoing "work" was considered to be a
"Tavlin".  In any event, I would not casually equate R. Svei's world
view (regardless of whether I agree or disagree with it) with my own.
That seems to be an act of arrogance.

Maybe *that* was waht Hayim was getting at -- that people seem to be
arrogant in approaching the halacha -- "expecting" to get what they



From: <menken@...> (Yaakov Menken)
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 1995 20:30:06 -0500
Subject: Blinders on???

>From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
>The main difference between the Modern Orthodox and the Haredim concern
>the question of through _whose_ preconceived biases and opinions should
>we approach the Torah?
>The modern Orthodox approach is for many people individually to apply
>their own preconceived biases and opinions, and then to debate the
>varying conclusions.  The Haredi approach is to appoint a single
>superior soul to take this responsibility upon himself.

I don't think this is stated correctly.  Let me offer the following
half-hearted guide called "How to become a Gadol":

The answer is generally that the leaders of each generation are selected
by the leaders of the previous, and then confirmed by their peers.

The first step is for you to learn Torah all day, and of course - we do
mean ALL day.  The guys who take off during second Seder, and then go
into business (or start running outreach programs on the Internet), may
do great things for the Nation of Israel, but will _not_ be its future

Then as one acquires ever greater amounts of Torah learning, his peers
recognize him as a person to ask questions in "learning" and Halacha.
And more importantly, his teachers recognize him to be an outstanding
prospect for leadership.  They see if he is learning productively and
"on the straight path", or if he, despite his great scholarship, is
straying from the norms of Halachic thought and opinion.  Therefore it
is very important that you, as an up-and-coming leader, NULLIFY your
opinions and biases, and ADOPT those of your teachers.  Not in
_learning_, btw, but in questions of philosophy (hashkofa), mussar, and

Why is Rabbi Shach the leader of Lithuanian Jewry today?  Because of his
father?  No, he's not a Rebbe - most of us have no idea who his father
was.  Because he's a Rosh Yeshiva?  Guess what - he's not!

Rav Shach is the leader of Lithuanian Jewry because I defer to my Rabbi,
he defers to HIS Rabbi, he defers to HIS, and so on, and so on... until
we get to Rav Shach.  It is _Torah_ knowledge alone that makes him.  And
not merely Torah knowledge, for no one would defer to him had he not
been considered by the previous generation's greats to be an outstanding
scholar.  Rav Shlomo Wolbe once said that he heard in _Europe_ about
this amazingly dedicated and knowledgeable young scholar, who he only
met in Israel.  [Actually, that's a pretty faint recollection on my
part... Don't quote me.]  But Rav Shach learned and absorbed the Torah
philosophy of his previous generation, and MADE IT HIS OWN.  Which, as
should be obvious, is crucial to the continuation of our Mesorah.

So there are two outstanding characteristics: 1) that your time must be
devoted not to politics, not to the diamond business, not to chemistry,
but only to Torah, and 2) that your "way of thinking" be in line with
that of the previous generation's leaders.  The result: your
"preconceived biases" will be DERIVED from Torah, and be similar and
nearly identical to those of the previous generation.  And so on, and so
on, and so on, back to... Sinai.

Yaakov Menken                                            <menken@...>
http://www.torah.org/genesis/staff/menken.html             (914) 356-3040
Just Remember:  "LEARN TORAH!"           Project Genesis: <learn@...>


From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 1995 11:49:38 -0500
Subject: re: Clinical Approach

Heather Luntz writes:
> 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. 

Interesting point.

> 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....'

Here I have a problem.  You are assuming that men are obligated in
mitzvot based on some need that they have, and that women at different
times do not have this need.  As you yourself write, we can not assess
what G-D wants or does not want.  Why do you assume that G-D gives
commandments to fill a need that men have.

 > 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 
> enerations men need these mitzvot, but in some generations 
> women do and in some they don't....'

Here again, the same problem, assigning mitzvot the function of fulfilling a
need in men. 

An equally valid possibility is that men and women in fact have
different mandated roles, but to prohibit the women who have a special
need ( to use your logic ) from performing mitzvot would have been too
harsh, so a window wa s left open for them ( if they want to they may
perform these mitzvot, but that shows a lack of fulfillment on their
part in the role assigned to them by G-D ).  This is not necessarily my
personal feeling, but it is a valid, unbias approach.

Basically, as has been pointed out by many others, no one in this world
is unbiased.  So to make claims that one system is flawed because it is
biased is unfair.  I feel there are significant problems with Modern
Orthodoxy as well as with the Charedi approach.  Which has the worse
problems depends on the specific area being looked at.

Eliyahu Teitz


From: <AryehBlaut@...> (Aryeh Blaut)
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 1995 10:07:54 -0500
Subject: Modesty and Korbanot

Aliza Berger writes:
>Surely modesty is a great quality - but there is no need to "assign" it
>just to one gender. Men have to be modest as well, in dress and manner.
>Also, women are required to study too. The requirement to study "laws
>which apply to women" - see Rama on Yoreh Deah 246 - can be a big
>assignment depending on how one interpretes it.  Rabbi Svei's message,
>like many of the "expansions" and "assignments" of the modesty issue to
>women, is a reflection of a certain worldview (preconceived opinion, see
>above) -- not a halakhic requirement.  Other worldviews (hashkafot) lead
>to other interpretations of the issues of tzniut and Torah study.  To
>each (group or individual) her or his own.

Various Mitzvos are always assigned to various people.  It may be assigned by
gender or not.  Based on what you said, why couldn't I, being a Yisrael,
bring korbanos?  Why should only a Kohen be "assigned" the opportunity?

Aryeh Blaut


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Mar 1995 15:12:10 +0200
Subject: Rav Soloveitchik and women

Israel Botnick writes

>> 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

    In general I would very hestitant about using anything Rav
Soloveitchik said in a shiur for paskening halacha. I still remember a
shiur I attended where the Rav started the shiur by stating that he
would bring several cases during the shiur but this would be for
examples only and are not meant to be his opinion in psak. As I left the
shiur I could hear several boys saying "did you hear what the Rov
said ...".



From: Gad Frenkel <0003921724@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Mar 95 10:49 EST
Subject: Women voting

There has been much discussion regarding the basis for prohibiting women
from voting, or holding office in shules.  There was very thorough
article written in Tradition (vol. 15 #4 Spring 1976) by Rabbi Bleich,
entitled of "Women on Synagogue Boards".  To the best of my recollection
the issue centers around the prohibition of having a Queen over Israel
(as opposed to a King).  From that starting point the various Halachic
sources discuss what level of authority a woman can have over men, and
what leadership roles constitute having an effect on men's lives.  He
discusses the obvious questions such as Devorah.

Gad Frenkel


From: <fx_joe@...> (Yossi Halberstadt)
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 1995 12:30:56 GMT
Subject: Women's role in Halacha

Heather Luntz wrote:
>Lets approach this from a truely clinical standpoint - 
>what do we find inhe 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. 

For the same reason that it does not ban women from standing on their head,

In legislative Halacha, actions may fall into three categories:

1) Spiritually beneficial - Mitzvos
2) Spiritually damaging - Aveiros
3) Spiritually irrelevant - Optional, for example, standing on one's head.

 From the fact that the Torah does not mandate certain Mitzvos for
women, one could possibly assume that

a) They are not spiritually beneficial for women
b) They are spiritually beneficial, but the woman have other activities which
are still better, so mandating the lesser activity would be spiritually

instead of assuming that:

>1.	There is greater variation in the one group than the other,
>making it inappropriate to obligate the more varied group. So that for


>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

which would refute:

>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).

Just my thoughts.

Yossi Halberstadt
Joe Halberstadt                                 <HALBERSTADTJ@...>


End of Volume 19 Issue 10