Volume 35 Number 31
                 Produced: Tue Jul 31  5:46:03 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Do women have different cognitive styles
         [Russell Hendel]
How should a Rambam be read
         [Russell Hendel]
Rabbinic Authority
         [Carl Singer]
Role of Yoatzet
         [Chaim Wasserman]
Tanach & Women Judges
         [Yeshaya Halevi]
Vilna Gaon
         [Eli Turkel]
         [Saul Davis]


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2001 22:38:28 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Do women have different cognitive styles

Andrew Klafter in v35n25 states about why women cant become Rabbis
<<7. Women are not eligible for ordination because the (a) halakha, for a
number of reasons, excludes them from becoming Judges and this standard was
adopted also for rabbinic ordination and (b) numerous statements in Chazal
about how most women function with a different cognitive style than do men
which led Chazal to exclude women from the Rabbinate based on this
generalization, despite the fact that some women may be exceptions.>>

Actually (a) is the real reason women cant become Rabbis (Because they
cant be Judges which is more or less a Biblical decree). I dont know of
ANY Talmudic legal passage which prohibits women from becoming Rabbis
because of their different cognitive style.

While learning Daf Yomi last week (Kidushin Daf Pay) Rabbu Weinreb of
Shomrey Emunah Baltimore pointed out that the SOURCE for the statement
>Women are light headed< clearly occurs in a context discussing sin and
in that context has absolutely nothing to do with their intellectual (or
cognitive?) ability.

Russell Hendel; http://www.RashiYomi.Com/


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2001 00:41:34 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: RE: How should a Rambam be read

Ira Jacobson in v35n10 corrects some errors in my translation of Rambam
Shma 2:11 but then proceeds to make his own errors. Actally this
Paragraph in Rambam is very complicated (even if one has a good
translation) and illustrates crucial and fundamental issues on HOW to
read a paragraph Rambam.

The Rambam deals with 2 ISSUES(repetition and order reversal), applied
to 3 OBJECTS(paragraphs, verses, words) and then on each of these makes
3 (not 2) DECISIONS(is it allowed? Do we require a resay of shma? and
(in my opinion, though as Ira points out, not explicit in Rambam) Do we
publicly silence a cantor and remove him from the Amud? Here are details
of the cases in 2:11

[Case A] We Require a resay of shma on a person who reverses order in
verses.  [Case B] It is not allowed to reverse order in paragraphs
(though the Rambams opinion is not to require a resay). [Case C]
Repetition of verses is DISGUSTING (or IMPROPER--Iras translation). I
interpret this to mean that it is not allowed but we do not require a
resay(See paragraph 8 for a similar use of DISGUSTING). [Case D] It is
not allowed to repeat words; furthermore we require a resay of shma;
furthermore we remove the person from praying before the congregation if
he does this (Cf similar laws in Rambam Prayer 9:7--Kesef Mishnah).

Now I quickly go over errors made here: I stated >The repetition of
verses is disgusting but not prohibited<. Ira caught this. I meant to
say >Although the repetition of verses is disgusting we do not require a

However Ira then goes on to point out that the Rambam does not refer to
the reason given by the Talmud and only says we SILENCE someone
repeating words without PROHIBITING the action. My answer deals with HOW
we should read the Rambam. It is standard procedure to read the Rambam
in light of the Talmudic sources on which he bases himself. In
particular,my interpretation of SILENCE as meaning REMOVING HIM FROM
PUBLIC CANTOR is, as Ira notes, not explicitly stated in Rambam, but is
justified by the Gmarrah on which Rambam bases himself (See Kesef
Mishnah here and in Prayers 9:7).

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.RashiYomi.Com/mj.htm VISIT MY MJ ARCHIVES


From: <CARLSINGER@...> (Carl Singer)
Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 07:36:27 EDT
Subject: Re: Rabbinic Authority

> While the Vilna
>  Gaon was the officially appointed Rav of the Vilna community; a Rabbi
>  today is not the official Rav of an entire community. As such the Rabbi
>  no longer derives his authority, as I understand it (again, see Shulchan
>  Aruch, CM 25, 1,2) from appointment by the community but by consent of
>  the questioner on an ad hoc basis based upon the alternative source of
>  authority of Kiblu Aleihu (lit.  "they have accepted upon themselves").

I was using this as a counter example -- I don't have reference handy,
but as I recall -- The Vilna Gaon was NOT the Rav of Vilna -- despite
his stature, he needed to ask permission of the community Bet Din to
hold services in his home -- which was, I believe, denied -- and he
abided by this decision.

Granted the form of government within the religious community (polity)
may have changed -- but if a community or the micro-community -- a
synagogue -- is to function as a community, not as a co-located bunch,
then it needs some form of governance and leadership -- If one davens in
shule XYZ then one must (at minimum) adhere to the standards and choices
made by the Rav of that Shule.  If one lives in a community but distains
the halachik authority of it's Rabbi(s) then one is contributing to a
lack of community.

Let me sight an example (perhaps a repeat) several years ago as we were
about to move into a community (we had bought a home, but not yet moved
in) a Rabbi from that community (not a "congregational" Rabbi) called to
welcome us.  He reached my wife on the telephone and after concluding
his greeting informed her that we had 3 days to put up Mezuzahs in our
new home.  My wife asked him who he was, when he repeated his name, she
asked not for his name, but for his position that he should call and
give us this advice.  He was taken aback.  My wife then informed him
that (a) he was wrong and (b) no one had asked him.  Forget about point
(a) -- the accuracy of the statement doesn't matter -- the point is this
Rabbi's behavior is what fractures communities.

Kol Tov


From: <Chaimwass@...> (Chaim Wasserman)
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001 09:55:59 EDT
Subject: Re: Role of Yoatzet

Nacum writes: << I see no reason to worry that a yoatzet is functioning
as a RAV unless she oversteps her bounds, >>

While I may have missed some of the postings on this subject please
refer to Shulchan Choshen Mishpat 7:4 in Pitchei Teshuvah note 5 where
we learn: "....Isha chachamah yecholah lehorot hora'ah...."  Simply put,
a woman who has been educated to pasken sh'aylot (in Orach Chayim and
Yoreh Deah as opposed to Choshen Mishpat's civil law) may do so. See
there, and this may throw new light on the discussions concerning
differences in function between a rabbi/posek and a yoetzet.

Again, I apologize to all just in case this point did come up and I
didn't see it. [I'm pretty sure that it has not yet. Thanks. Mod.]

Chaim Wasserman


From: Yeshaya Halevi <chihal@...>
Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 12:35:38 -0700
Subject: Tanach & Women Judges

Shalom, All:

        Andrew Klafter, in his examination of the issue of women as
rabbis, stated/quoted something which IMHO seems to contradict the
Tanach itself.
        Among the points he quoted were these: <<7. Women are not
eligible for ordination because the (a) halakha, for a number of
reasons, excludes them from becoming Judges and this standard was
adopted also for rabbinic ordination {{snip}}...... despite the fact
that some women may be exceptions.  8. Women for centuries who are
knowledgeable of halakha have been consulted for advice, clarification,
explanation, etc., but this is not the same thing as ADJUDICATION
        The Tanach in Shofteem ("Judges") Chapter 4 verses 4 and 5
specifically says that D'vora (Deborah) was both a Prophet and a Judge.
As a matter of fact, she was the first Prophet in the Book of Judges to
be specifically described as both Prophet and one who adjudicated
matters for all of Israel.
        Let's say this one more time: D'vora DID ADJUDICATE matters for
all Israel.
        I realize Andrew stated <<some women may be exceptions>>, but
let's also bear in mind the following:
        Miriam, D'vora and Hulda were all Prophets of HaShem. Their
level of holiness was far above, I daresay, even the greatest of today's
G'dolay HaTora (Torah scholars).
        I fully understand that both ancient Israel and the Israel which
existed in the times of the G'mara (Talmud) reflected the
patriarchalistic tendencies of the Mideast, Asian, European etc.
societies with which they were contemporary. It therefore comes as no
surprise to me that even though Jewish women were better treated by
Jewish men and had more rights under halacha than women anywhere else,
they still got locked out of the rabbinate.
        What I don't understand is why our Sages, who acknowledged that
the Tanach "trumped" them in terms of deciding matters of Law,
overlooked the fact that none of them were prophets, but some women were
prophets -- and one was even singled out as worthy of judging all of
Israel, adjudicating matters of Law. Why didn't they infer that God was
trying to teach us something about the inherent possibilities women had,
and that denying a full Torah education to them was just creating a
"self-fulfilling prophecy" that a woman's intellect couldn't "get" the
Torah's teachings?

Yeshaya Halevi (<chihal@...>)


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 09:55:57 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Vilna Gaon

AFAIK the Vilna gaon did NOT have any official position in Vilna though
he was supported by the community.

In Israel is is fairly common for communities to have official rabbis
whether through the rabbanut or independent of it. Thus, several
neighborhoods in Bnei Brak have official neighborhood rabbis (with many
thousands of people in the neighborhhod and several shuls) as do most
yishuvim in Yehuda and Shomron.

Eli Turkel


From: Saul Davis <sdavis@...>
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2001 20:33:12 +0300
Subject: Yoatsoth

I am still confused about the Rabbi/Yoetseth problem.

David Cohen wrote:
" ... There is a real difference between the function of a Rav and the
Yoatzot: In the halachic system, the Rav has the power to issue a p'sak
(decision) that is binding. If I ask a shayla from my LOR (assuming that he
is my posek) I am bound halchically to follow his ruling. ... "

Please do not make comments like "In the halachic system" without giving
references and/or quotes. Where in halakha is it written that a
modern-day, non-smekha Rabbi can give a psaq but that a talmidat hakham
(=woman fully knowledgeable of halkha (=Yoetseth)) cannot? Why can I not
go to a Yoetseth, make her my "poseq" and bind myself by her ruling?

The greatness of Halkha is that it is an ongoing living process (of
which mail-jewish is a fine example). For example, 2 generations ago
most Jews would have been shocked and horrified at the idea of religious
Jews getting a secular education - that is not so today (see eg YU or
Bar-Ilan) attitudes and ideas change. Jewish women in our generation
have reached the highest levels in all realms (tora study, politics, law
et al) EXCEPT for becoming rabbis. I predict, that, just as it is
becoming acceptable, even popular, for women to learn tora today, in 1
or 2 generations they will be rabbis.  The "jumps" from: women learning
to Yoetseth to Rabbi are very small!

[Joined from second submission. Mod.]

I agree with most of Andrew Klafter's analysis of the function of the
Yoatsoth, especially his conclusion.

But on one important point I cannot agree with him. He wrote:
" 7. Women are not eligible for ordination because the (a) halakha, for a
number of reasons, excludes them from becoming Judges and this standard was
adopted also for rabbinic ordination and (b) numerous statements in Chazal
about how most women function with a different cognitive style than do men
which led Chazal to exclude women from the Rabbinate based on this
generalization, despite the fact that some women may be exceptions".

What are the "number of reasons" that women were excluded from becoming
Judges. (I do not know what they are, but) I guess they are irrelevant
to our era. Today women receive full and equal education and there is no
reason (IMHO) why a halakhically qualified women should not be a
Rabbi. Of course I do not expect lesser standards of women and expect
the halkhic qualifications of all rabbis to include Shulhan Arukh and
Gemorra as a minimum and not the lay handbooks (Qitsur, Shmirath Shabath

What is so special about being a man, what cognitive skills are women
lacking, that bar women from giving a psaq as a rabbi (or even as a
judge)?  No doubt 2000 years ago "nashim daatan qala aleyhen" (Shabbat
33b) was accurate (even 100 or 200 years ago). Not so long ago women
spent almost all their time indoors ("kol kevoda bath melekh penima"
(Tehillim 45:14)), were ignorant of all but simple domestic matters, had
decisions made for them and did not expect anything else. Today things
are different and so are women.  If women can be surgeons, fighter
pilots and prime-ministers (albeit unsuccessful ones in Israel and
India), why can they not be rabbis (successful ones)?

Please enlighten me but preferably without generalizations - just the
references and the quotes.

Saul Davis
Beer-Sheva, Israel


End of Volume 35 Issue 31