Volume 34 Number 19
                 Produced: Tue Jan 30 22:59:44 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

An Argument FOR Learning in Silence
         [Batya Medad]
The ban of teaching women Gmarrah
         [Russell Hendel]
Burial of Parts
         [I. Harvey Poch]
Rashi's Daughters (2)
         [Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer, Janet Rosenbaum]
Request - HaMa'avak B'Tabak
         [Dani Wassner]
The Singing Maid
         [Yael Levine Katz]
Studying Out Loud
         [Avram Montag]
Women and Gemara (2)
         [Wendy Baker, <HowieSherman@...>]
Women and Gemorra
         [Janet Rosenbaum]


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2001 07:32:42 +0200
Subject: Re:  An Argument FOR Learning in Silence

> Hence >ANY< activity that contributes to >sharpening ones knowledge of
> Torah< is a fulfillment. This includes, reading out loud, thinking about
> distinctions, reviewing by reading silently etc since all these
> activities contribute to learning.

I'll answer this as a teacher of MLD's (dyslexics, ADD, ADHD, etc)
Learning should be done via the hands (writing), ears (listening), eyes
(reading), mouth (speaking), but we must remember that sometimes the
activity/method that helps one to learn prevents another.  ADHD doesn't
necessarily mean that the person keeps jumping on and off the table, the
"H" is also for hyper-sensitivity and hyper-alertness.  In a group, or
even a pair, the "noise" of one--which helps that one learn--may
distract his partner totally.  Tuning out background noise/activity is a
MLD disablility, like the hearing aid that magnifies the door opening as
much as speech.

Derech eretz means that one's learning style shouldn't prevent another from

Batya Medad


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2001 22:40:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: RE: The ban of teaching women Gmarrah

In mjv38n11 Alexis Rosoff asks for information about the ban of teaching
women Gmarrah.

Alex is correct that the mishnah literally says >Women should not be
taught Gmarrah because they are lightheaded<.

I however(in the URL listed below) have explained this as follows: True
halachic research requires preparing long lists of legal precedents
which is time consuming. While women are equally capable of thinking and
making Talmudic type distinctions as men, they dont always have the time
to check that halachic rulings are backed by long lists of
precedents. Such lists or database queries give "weight" or "heaviness"
to a decision. By contrast an "halachic ruling" based only on legal
Talmudic analysis and distinctions is "light" in the sense that it is
only logic, and not multiple precedents, that back it up. THe URL below
gives a simple example of this from Rashi.  This URL was published on
the email group Bais Medrash at Torah.Org

In passing, this standard of backing up rulings by lists of similar
examples applies to both men and women.

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA <RJHendel@...>
Dept of Math; Towson Univ;
Moderator Rashi is SImple
http://www.RashiYomi.Com/bm1_86a.htm   ADVANCED JEWISH PHILOSOPHY PAGE


From: I. Harvey Poch <harvpoch@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2001 20:57:34 -0500
Subject: Re: Burial of Parts

> Batya Medad <ybmedad@...> wrote (v34#14)
> I just discovered a bit of family history, while doing a children's
> literature paper.  My cousin wrote that our grandmother, as a little girl in
> Bellarusia, played with her grandfather's finger bones.  They were in a box
> awaiting his death, to be buried with him.  Apparently he had lost part of
> his limb in an accident years befoe.  I thought that the burial of parts of
> the body was immediate.  Anyone have any ideas?

The halachic requirement is to bury the body of a person who has died,
not necessarily any parts amputated while the person is alive. However,
it is common practice either to bury the amputated parts while the
person is alive (either in what will be their own grave after 120 years,
or in the unused parts of the cemetery e.g. between graves), or to store
them until the person dies.  The Baycrest Hospital here in Toronto (the
Jewish geriatric hospital and home for the aged) does store amputations,
for example. This is not as difficult for them as for a general
hospital, since the owners of the amputations generally continue to live
in the facility and tracing them is not a problem.  Incidentally, from a
practical perspective, bone amputations are easier to store than
excisions of soft tissue (e.g. a kidney).)

In my own congregation, one of our late members had a leg amputated and
asked that it be buried in what would be his own grave, which we
did. When I later had occasion to discuss this with the late Rav
Gedalyah Felder o"h, Rav Felder chastised us for using a grave
unnecessarily. He stated that the person might live many years longer
and move to another place, eventually to be buried there. The
congregation would then have one unusable grave site. Years later when,
as a professional funeral director, a family requested my assistance in
buying a grave to bury the amputations of their father, I suggested to
them that it was not necessary. Their rabbi, another prominent Toronto
rov, insisted that this was imperative. When I discussed with him my
conversation with Rav Felder (who was by then no longer alive), the rov
conceded that burial of the amputations in the person's eventual own
grave was 'desirable', but not 'necessary'.

One last item: Many years ago we had a stillborn baby. After burying
him, Rav Felder remarked, only as a matter of fact and not as a
criticism or psak, that it is halachically not necessary to bury a
fetus, but that we do so as a matter of kovod hab'riyos (honour to G-d's

May we never know of such tzuris.


From: Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer <frimea@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2001 09:21:58 +0200
Subject: Rashi's Daughters

Seth Lebowitz asks the source for the assumption that Rashi's daughters
wore Tefillen.  The answer is that there is NONE.  Over the past 25
years I have been deeply involved in researching various aspects of
Women and Halakha. I (and many others) have actively searched for such a
source and have found none.

From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2001 12:40:47 +0200
Subject: Rashi's Daughters

From: Seth Lebowitz <LEBOWITZS@...>
>  I have heard people make this claim about Rashi's daughters (also that
>  they put on tefillin).  I have heard it stated as though it is common
>  knowledge.  I, however, am not knowledgeable enough to know what the
>  source is for these statements.  If anyone could enlighten me, thanks in
>  advance.  It would be helpful to have as exact a citation as possible so
>  that I could look it up.

Try Zolty's _And all your daughters should be learned_.  She has sources
for a number of learned women --- e.g., that the Maharal's wife learned
gemara with him.  On Rashi's daughters, according to Aliza Berger's
article in _Jewish Women's Legal Writings_, there are sources that they
were learned, but she could not find a source that they put on tefillin.



From: Dani Wassner <dani@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2001 10:23:16 +0200
Subject: Request - HaMa'avak B'Tabak

I am president of an organisation called HaMa'avak B'Tabak (the Israeli
anti-smoking organization). We are currently forming a "religious team"
to deal with the problem of smoking in the religious community.

Does anyone know of any good articles (in Hebrew or English) that
summarise all of the main rabbanim and their objections to smoking?
(Particularly Israeli sources). Any help would be appreciated.

Alternatively, is there anyone who could/would volunteer to compile such
an article, as a service to our organization? Any help would be most

Dani Wassner ,
Ministry of Industry and Trade
Investment Promotion Center
30 Agron St, Jerusalem 94190, ISRAEL


From: Yael Levine Katz <ylkpk@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 01:02:55 +0200
Subject: The Singing Maid

In Rabbi Rakeffet's work The Rav: The World of Rabbi Joseph B.
Soloveitchik (Volume One, page 243) it is related in the name of the
Bostoner Rebbe that the Rav's grandfather, R. Yosef Baer Soloveitchik,
was visiting R. Yaakov Gesundheit, rabbi of Warsaw. The Jewish maid
started singing. R. Gesundheit arose to ask that she stop, but R. Yosef
Baer prevented him from doing so, explaining that it was a unfair
request since this was her enjoyment, and they had the option of going
outside or into a different room.

I am aware of several variations to this story that have been attributed
to other rabbanim as well, and I am seeking additional ones as well. One
refers to a record with a woman singing, and not to a maid.

I welcome any pertinent information.

Yael Levine Katz



From: Avram Montag <avram.montag@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 06:57:43 +0100
Subject: Studying Out Loud

The concept of studying out loud as an aid to memory retention is
mentioned in Eruvin 64a where Bruria kicks a student for studying merely
in a whisper.  The halakhot are brought down in Rambam MT, Laws of
Studying the Torah 3:12 and in Shulhan Arukh YD 256:22.

This particular Rambam is very interesting in that it states that "The
words of Torah do not abide with one who studies listlessly nor with
those who learn amid luxury and high living, but only one who mortifies
[or kills] himself for the sake of the Torah...."

Avram Montag
mailto:<avram.montag@...> <mailto:avram.montag@med.ge.com> 


From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 16:45:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Women and Gemara

> As the father of a "Yeshiva Bachura", all I know is that the change is
> dramatic.  My second girl finished law studies at Bar-Ilan where she was
> in the Bet Medrash program and then continued for a full year of Gemara
> learning at MaTan, including chavruta and real "beis-midrash" learning -
> "just like the boys".  She reads the Purim Megilla at women's minyanim
> and gives occasional shi'urim either in Jerusalem or here in Shiloh.
> Societally, it's as if it always was that way.
> Yisrael Medad

I am delighted to her about your daughter's accomplishments in learning
and leining.  Please note that Orthodox women's prayer services are not
minyanim and we women do not consider them to be minyanim.  Use of the
term "women's minyan" only works to antagonize those who are having
difficulties accepting women's prayer groups and serve to give a wrong

Wendy Baker

From: <HowieSherman@...>
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 00:28:16 EST
Subject: Re: Women and Gemara

In a response to Alexis Rosoff re: Women & Gemara Yisrael Medad wrote
that his yeshiva bachura << reads the Purim Megilla at women's minyanim
and gives occasional shi'urim either in Jerusalem or here in

here in the USA my wife & the other member of the local women's tefillah
[prayer] group(s) are careful not to use the term " women's minyan "
because 1) it is inaccurate, as there is no real (technical) Minyan as
a) men are absent & b) davar shebikdusha [holy invocation] is/are not
said and 2) use of that term loosely/cavalierly and inaccurately, leads
to or at least unnecessarily fans the flames of sin'at chinom & lashon
hara etc.  So unless the tekes [ceremony] in Jerusalem is different I
suggest the members of MJ take care to use the accurate term in this


From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2001 13:18:56 +0200
Subject: Re: Women and Gemorra

>From: Alexis Rosoff <alexis1@...>
>  > I think I either misphrased my original message, or it was
>mis-interpreted here (probably both, rereading my message--I only
>mentioned teaching, but failed to draw this distinction). I know that
>women _learning_ Gemara is not prohibited, and women studied it on their
>own (and that it can be inferred from Jewish history that women have
>done so) but _teaching_ it is--or at least, halacha is interpreted that
>way by some. I'm more interested in the teaching aspect--how the halacha
>came to be interpreted so that Gemara/Talmud specifically was banned,
>and why it was changed.

There are a number of relevant book chapters about this --- R
Meiselman's Women in Jewish Law, R Joel Wolowelsky's book on Jewish
women, R Eliezer Berkovits's book, R Ellinson's Women and the Mitzvot v

In general, as women had better secular educations, it became fitting to
make sure their Jewish educations kept pace (see e.g. the Chofetz
Chaim's tshuva).  Exactly what this demanded was debated, but some such
as Rabbi Soloveitchik and the Lubavitcher rebbe believed women's
learning required gemara.  I'm not sure who were the main proponents in
Israel, but it seems like gemara is nearly universal in the dati leumi
(national religious) schools for women.

[As far as I can understand, there is a clear sense that it is
permissible across such a broad swath of society because the dati leumi
and charedim respect each other as distinct communities, rather than
them blurring together as in the US.  e.g., I have a cordial
relationship with a particular bookstore owner in Mea Shaarim who sells
me books his daughters would never learn, compared with a (female)
friend of mine who sometimes has trouble acquiring gemaras in New York.
Likewise, a woman who went through the Nishmat halachic advisor program
went to her father's charedi rabbi because her father had some qualms
about her new position.  The rabbi quizzed her, and afterwards he said
that he would have never told her to go to Nishmat and learn all of
this, but now that she had, it would be asur for her to withhold her

Why was gemara the red line picked for women's learning?  I'm not sure
--- presumably because it's an obvious place to draw a line.  Looking up
things in halacha books like Shmirat Shabbat is very practical, whereas
gemara tends not to be very practical --- at the end of the day, you
only learn how a certain chain of logic works, rather than what to do.
All the learning you might do about e.g., the different kinds of ovens
in the gemara, might inform what you do on shabbat in your own life, but
the bottom line is that it doesn't make a difference since when you want
to know what to do, you just look things up in Shmirat Shabbat.  If you
want to add a layer so that women learn more, they would learn the legal
codes which Shmirat Shabbat discusses, or the midrash that Rashi cites.
But the halachic parts of gemara are a separate, fairly impractical
layer.  Personally, I find it easier to make sense of the halacha after
having learned the gemara, but their line does seem to work for them in
their social context.



End of Volume 34 Issue 19