Volume 19 Number 44
                       Produced: Sun May  7 20:01:22 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Clinical Approach
         [Heather Luntz]
         [Zvi Weiss]
Co-ed education? Is it permissible?
         [Hayim Hendeles]
Nefesh Harav
         [Zvi Weiss  ]
Putting the cart before the horse
         [Hayim Hendeles]
Women and Positive Timebound Commands
         [Hayim Hendeles]


From: Heather Luntz <luntz@...>
Date: Sat, 1 Apr 1995 21:45:05 +1000 (EST)
Subject: re: Clinical Approach

In mail-jewish Eliyahu Teitz writes responding to a post of mine:
> > 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.

I understand your problem, given the way I phrased the above, but when I 
used the term "need" I didn't necessarily mean that G-d gave us the 
mitzvot "to fulfil a need that men have", although I do think that that is 
one hashkafic view that comes through our sources (eg the idea that the 
Torah was given as an antidote to the yetza hora, - ie we have a yetza 
hora, we "need" an antidote). But I think that whichever way you phrase it, 
lets say "G-d desires" instead of need, you still get the same 
possibilities emerging. Perhaps it is not that G-d desires different 
roles, but rather that G-d desires that men be locked into these 
obligations while women be given "choice" (either over time or in any 
given time). Of course, if we ask the question Why? We can either give 
the answer "that is the way G-d wills it" or we can engage in the time 
honoured tradition of seeking tamei mitzvot and using some of the 
traditional answers (human need, tikkun olam, Or l'goyim, kiddish 
Hashem). Perhaps I myself tend towards the idea that the mitzvot were 
given to us to elevate us, which is why I phrased the above paragraph in the 
way I did, but I am fully cognisant of the fact that although this is a 
hashkafa that has been embraced by many of our gedolim over the years, it 
is certainly not the only one. For example, if you understand the mitzvot 
to be given for tikkun olam (whether in this world or in the higher 
spheres), you can still raise the same question - perhaps tikkun olam 
requires that all men do these mitzvot while some women do and some 
don't? And the same with any of the other "reasons" for mitzvot.

>  > 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. 

Ok, so substitute, "maybe in all generations G-d wants men to do these 
mitzvot (for whatever purpose it is that G-d wants us to do them) but in 
some generations G-d wants women to do them and in some He doesn't,(and 
it is part of our job to figure out when it is and isn't wanted).

> 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.

The only problem I have with this approach is the question If there are 
different mandated roles - I understand what the man's is - but what 
characterises the women's role? I think most people would say - Being 
wife and mother. Fine - except - Women are exempt from an obligation to 
marry and women are exempt from the obligation to have children, both 
being mitzvot only encumbant on men.

ie Here you have a woman - she is not obligated to marry, she is not 
obligated to have children, she is not obligated to study torah, she is 
not obligated to earn a parnassa, she is not obligated to learn a trade. 
What is it that she is supposed to do? There seem to me to be two 
possible options 1) her mandated role is to do absolutely nothing, but 
since that is too harsh for most women to manage (it would drive me 
insane!) they opt for one of the things she is permitted to do (eg marry, 
have children, learn torah etc); or 2) she is supposed/encouraged to do 
some of these optionals, in which case her role isn't mandated but 
permissive, and so then you get back to the question as to why it is 
framed in this way? I suggested two possible answers (variation of women 
as a group or variation of women's circumstances over time), there may 
be others.

> 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 agree with that. We all grope to understand and make sense of our world 
(it may be na'ase v'nishma, but one can't forget about the nishma). But 
since our understanding is by definition finite, there are always pieces 
beyond its perimeters and hence any choice of understanding is biased. 
And an attempt to stand back a bit further (as I did) a) is fraught with 
difficulty (as you correctly pointed out a position that the mitzvot were 
given to elevate us, ie for our need, although not necessary for my 
dicussion, was implicit in my phraseology, and hence a bias towards a 
certain hashkafa was indicated where it shouldn't have been) and b) 
always ends up with several alternatives to which there is no definitive 
answer - necessitating hashkafic choice in the end (and  
the very limited nature of our comprehension means we have almost 
certainly not covered all the possible options available).

What i was attempting to demonstrate was that the viewpoint criticised in 
the post to which I was responding could be seen to be on extremely 
strong haskafic grounds rooted in an understanding of the halacha, and that 
what was being proposed as the obvious and unbiased alternative might be 
a lot more shaky than one might think (although not indefensible, I could 
do a quite cogent defence of that position, but I don't think it is 
obvious and I don't think that one can impune anyone's iras shamayim for 
taking a different position).




From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Tue, 2 May 1995 10:05:41 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Co-ed

Aliza Berger stated that she was responding on a halachic level to Ari 
Shapiro's objections to Co-ed.  As Ari attempted to cite actual sources 
in support of his view, I would expect that the response would ALSO cite 
sources to support a "counter" point of view.  I did not see that.  
Instead, I saw unsubstantiated thoughts of her point of view -- i.e., an 
attempt to state that the halacha did not apply without citing supporting 
material but simply stating how she interpreted matters.
I will repeat my call: Will someone PLEASE cite authoritative material that
atates that "Co-ed" is (a) desireable or (b) at least considered 
"LeChatchilla".  I am aware that there are specific situations where 
Co-ed has been permitted because of the SPECIFIC circumstances.  However, are
we entitiled to extend these very specific instances to the point of 
being an "ideal" situation?


From: <hayim@...> (Hayim Hendeles)
Date: Thu, 4 May 1995 12:19:39 -0700
Subject: Co-ed education? Is it permissible?

A number of postings recently have questioned whether Jewish Law
prohibits co-ed education.

One of the foremost poskim of the 20th century, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein
zt"l, in a response (Igros Moshe, Yore Deah - Chelek 3, Siman 78)
FORBIDDEN.  In fact, he says that the nature of this prohibition is so
basic and simple, that there is absolutely nothing to talk about, and no
room for discussion.

As others on this forum have previously pointed out, even Rabbi
Soloveitchik zt"l, who himself founded a co-ed school more than 1/2 a
century ago, did so only because "he had no choice" - not because he
held it was permissable. In fact, I heard that Rabbi Hershel Shachter
(who probably more than anyone else knew what the Rav held) mentions (in
one of his writings) that the Rav told him that he was afraid that after
120 years, he would be questioned by the Heavenly court why he
participated in the founding of a coed school.

Hayim Hendeles


From: Zvi Weiss		 <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 1995 12:53:46 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Nefesh Harav

I would be cautious about questioning the accuracy of those who were 
fairly close to the Rav ZT"L.  The fact that *all* classes were co-ed may 
have also had to do with the Rav's assessment of the situation when 
Maimonides was first founded...



From: <hayim@...> (Hayim Hendeles)
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 1995 09:18:35 -0700
Subject: Re: Putting the cart before the horse

In a recent post, I had brought attention to a serious problem I have
with those who  approach the Torah/Halacha with the preconceived bias
that Torah/Halacha must subscribe to the beliefs and values of our
own 20th century culture (or with any foreign value system).

IMHO, an outlook such as this, especially through the distorted
spectacles of our own 20th- Century beliefs and values, will lead to a
perverted view of the Torah and Halacha ch"v.

I vehemently object to those who have responded by claiming that
all of our Torah leaders have always (sic) approached the Torah with their
own preconceived notions. To those responders I will respond with several

I once had the privilege of hearing (on tape) a lecture given by
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt"l where he brought out a point
(typically understood to be one of personal philosophy),
and carefully pointed out over and over again that people should
realize that he is not voicing his own philosophy or opinions, but
is only stating *what the Torah says*. And of course, he proceeded
to prove his point from numerous passages in the Talmud.

Or in the words of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt"l:

"My outlook is based only on knowledge of Torah, whose ways are truth,
without any influence of secular ...".

The point is that these Torah giants did not first develop their
own philosophy, and then look into the Torah for support. On the
contrary, they only developed their own philosophies AFTER
learning the Torah. Their philosophies were based on their
understanding of the Torah --- and not the other way around ch"v.

I close with the words of a simple but Torah-true Jew:

"Let us not be counted among those ... Jews who attempt to create G-d
in their own image. Let us be true Torah Jews who accept all of G-d's
laws regardless of how it may jive with some western concepts which may
have diluted our ability to understand and practice authentic Judaism."

Wishing everyone a Chag Koshe V'sameach,

Hayim Hendeles


From: <hayim@...> (Hayim Hendeles)
Date: Mon, 1 May 1995 11:40:36 -0700
Subject: Re: Women and Positive Timebound Commands

> >From: <baker@...> (Jonathan Baker)
> In v19n30, Hayim Hendeles writes:
> >It seems that you misunderstood the concept of "mitzvot aseh she-hazman
> >grama". The reason women are exempt from such commandments has *nothing
> > whatsoever* to do with their caring for children. The reason for their
> > exemption is a Divine decree (learned via the 13
> > principles). Period. End of discussion.
> >G-d does not give us any reasons for His decree, the ultimate answer
> >why is "G-d's wisdom".
> It seems that I don't understand "mitzvot aseh she-hazman grama" as
> you do.  It also seems that I don't understand either "Divine decrees"
> or "13 principles" either.  As I see it, things derived via the 13
> principles are not necessarily Divine decrees, but are rather the
> logical and exegetical results of Rabbinic efforts to understand the
> text of the ...

> ... Reference to Talmud tractate Kiddushin ...

> Looking at it this way, it's hard to describe the rule "nashim paturot
> mimitzvot aseh she-hazman grama" as a Divine decree, period,
> end-of-story.

It seems that we are talking about apples and oranges. You are referring
to the source by which *we know* this mitzvah. And on this I agree with
you, that except for the relatively small number of Halachos L'moshe
M'sinai (Laws received by Moses at Sinai), all the other mitzvos are
derived from logic using the priciples by which the Torah may be

However, I am referring to the reason *why* G-d gave us the Mitzvoh in
the first place. The answer to all of these is always a Divine decree
--- no matter how logical and how intuitive a given command may seen,
the ultimate reason is a Divine decree (Berachos 34(?)a).

It so happens, that in many cases we can speculate and give reasons why
G-d may have said such and such. And if this makes it more palatable to
you - fine. If not, not. Regardless, it is wrong to say this is the
definitive and absolute reason; and even worse to base halacha on such
rationale. (Ein dorshin taamei dikra).

Hayim Hendeles


End of Volume 19 Issue 44