Volume 28 Number 10
                      Produced: Wed Nov  4  7:53:06 1998

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Anything your soul can do, my soul can do better
         [Aryeh A. Frimer]
Kavvana versus speed in Prayer
         [Sheri & Seth Kadish]
Male and female souls
         [Yitzchok Adlerstein]
Soul of Women Superior to Men
         [Eli Clark]
Women have superior ENVIRONMENTS not SOULS (R Hirsch)
         [Russell Hendel]


From: Aryeh A. Frimer <frimea@...>
Date: Mon, 02 Nov 1998 12:31:54 -0800
Subject: Anything your soul can do, my soul can do better

Yaacov Dovid Shulman wrote:
> I recently saw a letter to the editor in Commentary Magazine by (I
> believe) Rabbi Mottel Twerski, in which he speaks of women's souls
> being superior to those of men....As far as I can tell, this is a 
> doctrine, or apologetics, that is no more than twenty years old.
> I do not know of any gadol espousing it...

It has been stated by Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch (JUDAISM ETERNAL,
chapter 2: "The Jewish Woman, pp. 49-96)
(quoted in R. Elyakim Getsel Ellinson's Ha-Ishah Ve-Hamitsvot) and more
recently by Rav AharonSloveitchik in a lecture he gave at the OU Midwest
Convention in the sixties and recently reprinted in one of his Books in
ON TOPICS OF OUR TIMES (Genesis Jerusalem Press, 1991),  "The Torah's
View of the Role of the Woman", pp. 92-97.  A similar idea already
appears in the Maharal (Hidushei Aggadot I, KOL KITVEI MAHARAL (London,
1969). Maharal states man was given the Mitzvot in order to enable him
to learn to overcome his aggression and aspire to higher spiritual
perfection.  Not so woman, who was bestowed with greater potential for
spiritual growth.  She requires fewer Mitzvot to attain that goal. 
Referring to the Talmud (Ber. 17a), the Maharal recognized woman's
inherent quality and potential for spirituality and that, therefore, she
is capable of achieving higher levels of perfection than man, without
the rigorous mitzvah-training assigned to men.


From: Sheri & Seth Kadish <skadish@...>
Date: Sun, 01 Nov 1998 19:11:53 +0200
Subject: Kavvana versus speed in Prayer

	Moshe Nugiel makes some very important comments about the
realities of daily prayer, the time which kavvana requires, and
especially the conflict between "quality" and "quantity", namely: to say
everything rushed, or to say less than everything at a pace allowing
	I happen to be "nuts" about this topic, as anyone who has seen
my book is aware ("Kavvana: Directing the Heart in Jewish Prayer").
Despite the fact that I went overboard in the book (in terms of
quantity), I have still learned quite a bit of interesting new things
since it was published, from conversations and reading.  One article I
came across deals with the exact numbers in Moshe's problem (in terms of
measuring words-per-second).  So here are some comments on Moshe's
comments that I hope will be helpful.  I hope people will forgive their
length :-).

>'Kavanah' = keeping one's awareness fixed upon what one is doing

	I realize that this definition is widely used; but as a simple
defintion of the term "kavvanat ha-lev" for discussions like this, I
suggest "sincerity" instead.  The meaning of prayer and "kavvana" has
been widely debated for many centuries.  "Sincerity" is the basic
meaning, but "keeping one's awareness" (or simply "concentration") has a
long and honorable history as well.  Each seemingly simple definition
has wide ramifications for how we should pray (see my book on this).
	On the conflict between "quality" and "quantity" that Moshe
raises, here is a devastating description by Uriel Simon:

	"Prayer... generally stands out as an almost 
mechanical muttering, at a speed which prevents 
contemplation, and often as a hum of whispers from the 
mouths those who "trample the courtyards of the Lord".  
The eyes of many pray-ers are closed and their faces 
asleep, and during weekday prayers or on regular 
Shabbatot they never awaken, except on a very few special 
occasions.  Also, uniting the community into a "praying 
congregation" is much too rare, and however much this is 
achieved it is more because of joint participation and 
pleasant tunes than because of an inner identification 
with the plural language that most of our prayers are 
based upon: "You love us", "bring us back", "heal us", 
and "let us lie down to sleep in peace".  One who hears 
how the plea for mercy for "our brothers who are in pain 
and captivity" is said, clearly senses that it isn't 
meant about real brothers, like those who are strangling 
in the Syrian ghetto or a Soviet jail...
	"Listen to how the triple kedusha is said or sung, 
and you will be convinced that it is no experience of 
existential awe.  Listen to how the words of vidduy 
(confession) are quickly swallowed on weekdays, and you 
know that you are not part of an act of repentance or 
cleansing. And worst of all: try to pray at the pace of 
the sheli'ah tzibbur (prayer leader), and you will very 
quickly need to choose between a rushed mumbling of all 
the tefillot, or saying just some of them while paying 
attention.  Most people who pray choose the first way, 
and therefore the time of prayer is not a time of 
effortful, spiritual and soulful labor."

	Moshe wrote: 
>	I would estimate, that in order for me to have proper Kavanah
>during my morning davening, I would need about 2 hours to complete the
>service.  Since I can devote only 30 - 45 minutes to my morning prayers...

	I agree with this estimate.  If you speak to God when you pray
at the same rate you'd speak respectfully to a human king, then the full
shacharit must take between one to two full hours.  This is far more
time than most people have available, as well as far beyond most human
capacity for kavvana.
	After my book came out, I found one Israeli high school teacher
who is even crazier than me, who actually counted the words and timed
people with a stopwatch!  (See David Rozensweig, "Tiv ha-Tefilla
ve-Ketzev ha-Tefilla" in Bisdei Hemed, 5758 #3.)  Rosensweig comes up
with 6910 words in a regular shacharit (nosah sefarad/hasidim), without
keriat ha-Torah.  Then he tried to measure the only halakhic term for
the speed of speech, namely "tokh kedei dibbur", and concluded that it
means between one to two words-per-second, such that shacharit must be
anywhere from one to two full hours.  Since this is clearly impossible
in the context of any normal school, he then rejected the "tokh kedei
dibbur" definition and timed children whom he simply asked to davven at
what they thought was a "normal" rate while pronouncing all the words.
Based on this, he found that shacharit should take up to 45 minutes.
	Personally, I think what he wrote about "tokh kedei dibbur" is
right, and the 45 minute shacharit is wrong.  No one would ever
"speed-read" to a human king like the latter rate.  Instead, I tell my
students not to worry about keeping up with the hazzan, and instead to
read shema (with its berakhot) plus the amida as they would in human
conversation, even if that's nearly all they say of shacharit.  Only a
tiny minority follow this advice, of course :-).  In a nutshell, this is
close to what I personally do myself, though there are some halakhic
details that still have to be worked out (here is not the place).
	Of course, all of this can only work for an individual praying
with a minyan.  As for what the sheliakh tzibbur should do, I have found
no fully satisfactory solutions.  So I try to avoid being sheliah
tzibbur, especially on weekdays.

Seth (Avi) Kadish
Karmiel, Israel

P.S. Orah Hayyim 1:4 can be cited to give Moshe "hashkafic" backing for
his idea that quality is important, not quality.  But the halakhic
context of this comment is specifically about tikkun hatzot.
	Also, on Moshe's question as to whether saying only part of
shacharit out of concern for kavvana can be considered "Orthodox",
please see my book.  I definately think it is Orthodox (though I
generally dislike simplistic labels like "Orthodox" and try to avoid


From: Yitzchok Adlerstein <ravadlerstein@...>
Date: Sun, 1 Nov 1998 11:05:14 -0800
Subject: RE: Male and female souls

Yaacov Dovid Shulman writes:

> I recently saw a letter to the editor in Commentary Magazine by (I
> believe) Rabbi Mottel Twerski, in which he speaks of women's souls being
> superior to those of men.  This is an argument that I have heard a
> number of times, in various permutations.  For instance: Men need to
> pray on a regular basis whereas women don't, because this keeps men's
> greater sexual desire in line.  Men need more mitzvos on a regular basis
> because they are more likely to get into trouble; women have less
> mitzvos because they don't need to be elevated.  And this one, that in
> essence women have a higher soul than do men.
> As far as I can tell, this is a doctrine, or apologetics, that is no
> more than twenty years old.

Consider the following citation from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch, Bereshis
17:14 (English ed., pg 305):

"The pure feminine sex, if it descends from Sarah, does not require the
external sign of the covenant [i.e bris milah -YA] with Sha-kai, the G-d Who
"sets the measure".  It itself bears this warning of "Dai" [enough -YA]
within itself, in the pure feeling of the limits set by its tzniyus with
which the true Jewish women are filled.  She has the tendency by itself to
submit herself to all the laws of purity and godliness, and demands such
submission from all that come into contact with her."

He may not speak of difference between souls, but he speaks of essential
difference, which gives women an advantage over men.

> In a related matter, I would very much be interested in others'
> understanding of, or reaction to, Rav Kook's description of the
> difference between women and men in his Olas Harayah (pp. 71-2).
> He writes (I translate roughly),
> Neshamos, in the destiny of their lives, are divided into active and
> passive; into those that make an impression upon life and its being in
> all its secret treasures, and those upon whom life impresses itself.
> This is the essential difference between the nefesh of a man--who is
> active, influencing, conquering and subduing, and the nefesh of a
> woman--who is impressed upon, acted upon, influenced and conquered and
> subdued--in regard to the man's conduct.

The distinction between active and passive, between form-giver (tzurah)
and form-recipient (chomer) is classic Maharal.  See the beginning of
chapter 28 of Tifferes Yisrael, and many other places.  Nothing all that
new in the cite from Rav Kook.

>In regard to those
>quintessential activities and arousals of action, a man (adam) uses them
>to form an impression, constricting them into his own physical and
>spiritual might.  Because of this, he can at times turn aside from the
>exalted, divine goal.

>But this is not the case with regard to woman's passive character--when
>she is straight.

Even his formulation of the unique advantage of women might owe to
Maharal.  In his Derush Al HaTorah, pg. 28, Maharal writes that women,
because of their passive roles, enjoy a tranquility not shared by men.
This makes them easier recipients of Olam Haba, closer to it by their
nature!  (Thus, Moshe's "bais Yaakov speech, aimed at the women,
preceded the "Bnei Yisrael address to the menfolk.)

Men, on the other hand, caught up in their drive towards the expression
of powerful activity, need unceasing involvement with Torah learning to
keep them in line!

Yitzchok Adlerstein


From: Eli Clark <clarke@...>
Date: Tue, 3 Nov 1998 10:30:00 -0500
Subject: RE: Soul of Women Superior to Men

<Yacovdavid@...> (Yaacov Dovid Shulman) asks about the notion that
>in essence women have a higher soul than do men.

>As far as I can tell, this is a doctrine, or apologetics, that is no
>more than twenty years old.  I do not know of any gadol espousing it,
>yet it seems to be extremely widespread--reminding me of the golem
>stories that were created and published for the first time at the turn
>of the century, and which are now accepted as part of the Jewish

The are in fact three sources which discuss the superiority of a woman's
soul.  Ironically, given YDS's reference to the Golem, one is from the
Maharal of Prague, the 16th century Jewish thinker.  In his Derush al
ha-Torah (publ. together with Be'er ha-Golah in Sifrei Maharal, p. 27a),
he explains the exemption of women from certain time-bound commandments
by reference to their spiritual superiority, which requires fewer
mitzvot to achieve perfection.

An earlier source for this idea appears in the midrash anthology Yalkut
Shim'oni (I Sam. 1:13), which describes women as having "lev ehad" --
one heart.  In other words, women do not have the same struggle between
a good and evil inclination.

Finally, R. Samson R. Hirsch, the 19th century thinker and exegete,
writes in his Commentary to Lev. 23:43 that women do not need as many
commandments because they have greater fervor in their service of God
and are exposed to fewer temptations.

Regarding Rav Kook's view, the active/passive distinction is not of
course original to him nor even uniquely Jewish.  That he views man's
nature as being both an advantage and a disadvantage seems consonant
with other, analogous distinctions, such as that between Jews and
gentiles and between the Kohen, the Levite and the Israelite.

Kol tuv,



From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Subject: Women have superior ENVIRONMENTS not SOULS (R Hirsch)

Just to answer Schulman on whether the fact that women are free from
certain mitzvoth implies they have superior souls.

According to Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch women have superior ENVIRONMENTS
not superior SOULS. A man goes out and fights for a living all
day...hence he must wear tefillin to remind him of his moral
obligations. But a woman stays home and raises children...she has no
need for tefilin.

However it is not her soul that is superior. It is her environment that
is superior.

(I once mentioned this to Rivka Slonim, and she stated that the trouble
with such explanations is that they imply that if a woman goes out to
work which is the custom today then she should put on tefillin. I simply
shrugged my shoulders and said that probably according to Rav Hirsch she
should..but perhaps her point is deeper)

Russell Jay Hendel;Phd ASA Rhendel @ mcs drexel edu


End of Volume 28 Issue 10