Volume 38 Number 84
                 Produced: Sun Mar 23 13:14:08 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Baruch Hashem L'Olam (2)
         [Ira L. Jacobson, <ERSherer@...>]
On Russian Jews and sibilants:
         [Mark Steiner]
"Sh" and Russian Jews
         [Richard Schultz]
Women Learning Gemara (7)
         [Aliza Berger, Janet Rosenbaum, Shoshana Ziskind, Michael
Rogovin, Yisrael and Batya Medad, Moshe Pessin, Joel Rich]


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 13:16:36 +0200
Subject: Re: Baruch Hashem L'Olam

Jack Gross stated:
      I distinctly recall that during his aveilus for his mother, the
      Rov followed the practice described, when leading Maariv in the
      dorm Beis Medrash: He remained silent while the tzibbur said
      B.H.L., and after waiting would continue directly with Kaddish.

The noted poseq, Harav Yitzhaq Zilberstein of Ramat Elhanan, stated in a
shi`ur over 15 years ago that one from Eretz Yisrael praying abroad must
not say Baruch Hashem L'Olam, even as a sh'li'ah tzibbur.

And what if one has yahrzeit, he was asked, and responded that such an
individual should learn mishnayot rather than recite Baruch Hashem

In my own case, during the sheloshim for my mother I found myself in New
York, in a shul that recited Baruch Hashem L'Olam, and therefore didn't
even attempt to daven from the `amud.  The rav there, upon hearing my
reason, suggested a solution used by his friend.  After the congregation
completes Baruch Hashem L'Olam, the sh'li'ah tzibbur remains silent,
while the rav (or essentially any member of the congregation who does
not himself refrain) says the conclusion aloud, followed by the sh'li'ah
tzibbur's recitation of qaddish.


From: <ERSherer@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 10:26:51 EST
Subject: Re: Baruch Hashem L'Olam

<< that this minhag is indeed prevalent in the RIETS Beis Medrash but that
 as the majority of the tzibbur there apparently no longer says BHL (he
 speculated that this was a result of bochrim having learned in Eretz
 Yisr >>

        The Rav (Yoseph B. Soloveitchik) never said it and this minhag
continues to the present at the school he founded, Yeshivat Rambam in
Brookline MA


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 14:01:47 +0200
Subject: Re: On Russian Jews and sibilants:

    As Uriel Weinreich in Leshonenu (1960 and 1961) pointed out, the
confusion was not only between s and sh but also between ts and tch
(note that the name Soloveitchik was spelled with a tsadi; note also the
blintzes/blintches dualism) and z and zh. ( This was called "sabbesdike
loshn".  Note that the confusion is both in Yiddish and in Hebrew.  The
more interesting question is not why this happened, but why the above
distinctions were REINSTATED in both Yiddish and Hebrew in the 19th
century.  See Weinrech op. cit. for some speculations.

Happy (Shushan) Purim!

Mark Steiner


From: Richard Schultz <schultr@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 15:03:42 +0200
Subject: "Sh" and Russian Jews

In mail-jewish Vol. 38, No. 82, Robert Israel writes:
: Many sources seem to indicate that many Russian Jews couldn't properly
: pronounce the "sh" sound (saying "sin" instead of "shin").  What would
: be the reason for this?  Certainly it's not true of Russian Jews today,
: and the Russian language has a "sh" sound.  Does anybody have an
: explanation?

I'm not sure what the "many" sources are.  The similar claim that I have
seen is that there was a certain part of *Lithuania* the Jews of which
did not differentiate between "shin" and "sin."  I can confirm that this
dialect exists (or existed), having heard Jews descended from this
community have trouble in this regard (one friend of mine has no trouble
with modern spoken Hebrew, but says the blessings "shelo ashani. . ."
instead of "asani").

I am not sure of the origin of the confusion -- I'm sure that it's *not*
because the Lithuanians are descended from the tribe of Benjamin -- but
I do know that it is mentioned (at least in the big table o' dialects)
in the Encyclopedia Judaica article about "Hebrew, Dialects of."

					Richard Schultz


From: Aliza Berger <alizadov@...>
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2003 20:28:21 +0200
Subject: Women Learning Gemara

As a practical matter, Rav Soloveitchik approved of women studying
Talmud at Stern College, so maybe someone on the list knows what the
policy is/was at Boston's Maimonides School (near RI, anyway).

For articles, check www.lookstein.org <http://www.lookstein.org>  under
'library resources'. I did a search for 'women Talmud' and came up with a
lot of articles, especially 'Education of Women' by Rabbi Aharon
Lichtenstein Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivat Har Etzion. You could also try 'girls
gemara' or combinations. 

Aliza Berger, PhD
Director, English Editing: http://www.editing-proofreading.com/
Statistics Consulting: http://www.statistics-help.com/

From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 2003 19:13:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Women Learning Gemara

A. Krinsky <adkrinsky@...> writes:
> 1. One rabbi told me that none of the Gedolim have approved of girls'
> learning Gemara.  First of all, is this true?  Who in the rabbinic world
> have come out in support of women learning Gemara?  

I imagine it depends who you consider to be a gadol.  

The Lubavitcher Rebbe supported women learning gemara.  A number of
Chabad girls' high schools have optional gemara classes.

Non-hat-wearing gedolim supporting gemara for women:

R Soloveitchik supported women learning gemara to such an extent that
all the limudei kodesh classes are coed.

R Aharon Lichtenstein supports women learning gemara.  I don't know his
exact relation to Migdal Oz (also in Alon Shvut), but that's a truly
serious yeshiva for women.  I hosted some M"O women visiting for
shabbat, and they were really impressive.

The Nishmat Yoatzot Halacha program teaches gemara, tur, etc., and is
endorsed by many rabbanim, and run by R Henkin and R Warhaftig.

The Stern College post-college Torah She'Ba'al Peh program is supported
by the YU rabbanim, some of whom are considered to be gedolim.

R' Teitz's daughter (Dr Blau, married to R' Blau of YU) told me that her
father considered it natural for women to learn gemara, and consequently
gave her a great Jewish education.  She didn't realize that women didn't
generally learn gemara until she was older.

Many many schools teach gemara implicitly --- by learning Tanach in
depth, women end up learning gemara.

> 3. Can someone suggest to me any good sources/articles/essays on the
> halakhic justification for women learning Gemara?

It's been years since I've seen any of these, but if I recall correctly:
R Meiselman's Women in Jewish Law has a chapter on this.  In R
Ellinson's series on women and the mitzvot, volume 1 has a chapter on

> 4. Am I wrong to think it reasonable that even those opposed to women
> learning Gemara ought to recognize that the opposing position is well
> within Orthodoxy?  

"ought", sure.  
Whether it's realistic, I'm not sure, simply for sociological reasons.

Purim sameach,

Janet Rosenbaum					  <jerosenb@...>
Center for Basic Research in the Social Sciences, Harvard University 

From: Shoshana Ziskind <shosh@...>
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 2003 19:48:26 -0500
Subject: Re: Women Learning Gemara


I don't know about most of the questions, but the Lubavitcher Rebbe was
very much for women learning Gemara.

IMHO, the problem with learning Gemara is that if you're not going to be
doing it for probably at least one hour at a time and probably every
school day, not much is going to stick.

I speak from personal experience.  I was learning at a women's baalei
teshuva yeshiva in Israel and some of the girls wanted to learn Gemara.
So they started having a class twice a week maybe one hour each session.
Two things happened: One was that a lot of people didn't quite catch on
that the Gemara is not learning halacha.  People kept on saying "but
what's the din?".  Another was, that we would completely forget the
trail of the argument from the previous time, forget about trying to
understand it with Rashi or Tosofos.

The only thing I really learned from the bits of Gemara (Okay so my
neshama probably learned a lot) was an appreciation for the greatness of
the Torah and for men who learn Gemara all the time.

I think a nice compromise might be to learn the Aggada parts of the
Gemara.  Before we had a class at the yeshiva a nice woman in town sat
down with me and learned Gemara with me.  I only realized later it was
really an aggada.  It could still be learned within a Gemara and with
meforshim but it might be more reasonable than to try to follow a long

I just re-read your post.  These are hard questions.  I don't really
like labels so much.  Jews are Jews.  I just read something lovely that
Tzvi Freeman wrote.  He says: "There are three types of Jews: Jews who
do mitzvahs, Jews who do more mitzvahs, Jews who do even more mitzvahs."
I get confused by Modern Orthodoxy(why some women who are modern
orthodox don't cover their hair etc) just because it covers much
territory, but I'd be surprised by people who think its closer to
Conservative Judaism (which is also something rather confusing).

Anyway here's a link to the Tzvi Freeman article:

All the best and a Freilichin Purim!


From: Michael Rogovin <rogovin@...>
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2003 09:31:27 -0500
Subject: Re: Women Learning Gemara

Alan Krinsky asked several good questions. 

First, as to gedolim who approved of women learning gemara, the Rav
(Yosef Soloveitchik) not only approved, but instituted the practice both
at the Day School he founded in Boston but also at Stern College.  I
believe that the late Lubavitch Rebbe also approved of it, but I have
this second hand. I believe that Rabbi Henkin in Israel also approves,
as do many other prominent poskim there (witness the general approval of
advanced institutions of learning for women).

If the practice were akin to mechitza, then there is no question that
poskim would vigorously protest day schools that instituted the
practice. The fact that they don't does not mean approval, but it
certainly means that an optional course of study is not beyond the
pale. There are many things one can do that do not meet with approval of
(some) rabbinical leaders, but cannot be said to be prohibited (asur).

That there is diversity in orthodoxy is a strength and not a
weakness. Forcing everyone to adhere to one opinion is not orthodoxy and
never was (at least until recently). The mishna and gemara are repleat
with examples of different opinions on many subjects. No one ever
suggested that followers of Rav vs Smuel or Hillel vs Shammai were not
Torah Jews.

There are major differences within orthodoxy today, most are
philisophical rather than practice (although there is great diversity in
practice as well). There are also differences between orthodoxy and
non-orthodox movements, again the significant ones are philisophical,
rather than practice. So long as the Torah is taught as miSinai and that
mitzvot are obligatory rather than suggestions, and that truly
fundimental practices are observed, I would not write off any school or
community from orthodoxy so quickly. (This is an oversimplification).

The issue of how women participate in communal life, in learning and
ritual is critically important for all of orthodoxy. Statements that
attempt to isolate some rabbis and congregants from the broader Torah
community are dangerous (who gets to decide; today it is someone else,
tomorrow it is you). Diversity within orthodoxy is to be celebrated, not

Michael Rogovin

From: Yisrael and Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2003 17:09:59 +0200
Subject: Women Learning Gemara

      A. Krinsky <adkrinsky@...> asks
      a number of questions related to women learning

While I do not have specific answers, I can say with pride that our
daughter is a graduate of the Matan Beit Hamidrash program of several
years ago, having learned a regular Beit Midrash program, as far as I
can remember.  I referred to her as our Bachura Yeshiva.

Yisrael Medad

From: Moshe Pessin <mypessin@...>
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2003 16:19:41 +0200
Subject: Re: Women Learning Gemara

1)r' solevetchik gave the opening gemmara class in stern, of his stature he
was a da'as yachid.
    it does matter if the gedolim disapprove eventhough second tier rabbi's
approve, see the whole issue with r' rienman and his book.

2)from the time of the gemmara till now all halachik literature forbade it
including r' moshe fienstien. there is a mazniam l'torah which permits it
but he is vastly in the minority.

3)as for it being out of the pale of orthodoxy, when something violates the
shulchan aruch then it is out of the pale, which this does.

4)as for modern orthodoxy in general, i will write my opinion which is
middle of the road in the chareidi world it depends. one who still holds the
shulchan aruch as binding is orthodox, if he chooses to be more makil then
if he has rabbinic support he is ok, unfortunately many in the modern
orthodox world have left this. this includes rabbis in the movement, for
them they are beyond the pale of orthodoxy and all modern orthodox who still
have fealty to H' and his torah as set down in the shulchan aruch should
distance them.

5)women learning gemmara is one out of more then 30,000 sifim in shulchan
aruch, why then is it shuch an issue? the answer is as r' moshe writes in
his teshuvos the feminists are rebelling against H' and His Torah. R'
herschel shacter brings this in his sefer b'ikvai tzon telech.

From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 2003 22:05:12 EST
Subject: Re: Women Learning Gemara

<<  1. One rabbi told me that none of the Gedolim have approved of girls'
 learning Gemara.  >>

R' Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik ("The Rav") gave the first Gemora shiur to 
women at Stern College.

Joel Rich


End of Volume 38 Issue 84