August 3, 2004

by Reb Yudel
Hirhurim discussions

I've been interrogating some of Rabbi Herschel Schachter's supporters over on other blogs.

These dialogues have been quite frustrating, since these self-styled faithful are more comfortable dealing with ad hominem attacks than answering cutting questions.

Still, it is an interesting record. If you care, you can see for yourself.

First, a discussion in reference to Herschel Schachter's article, as raised in this post. at Hirhurim. Herewith the comments:

I decided that none of the personal criticism in these comments, by me or by others, is appropriate. Particularly during this time of the year.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.21.04 - 5:15 pm | #

This is essentially the same idea you previously referenced on behalf RYB Soloveitchik (as quoted by R.Twersky). It bears repeating and reflection. The desire to "perform" in public, even something sacred, is not always laudable. R.Schachter extends and universalizes the previous expressions of the idea by grounding the concept in Tzniyus as opposed to just an understanding of the point of prayer.

I have thanked you before for bringing this idea to my attention and do so again. I try to internalize this often and reminders help.

On the other hand, R.Schachter's repetitive comparison of women reading a Kesuba to monkeys, parrots and animals is insulting and seems intentional, unnecessary and mean-spirited.
dopey | 07.21.04 - 5:32 pm | #

Why is the spin necessary. The torah doesn't "impose" on women, and it does "impose" on men, I think it's silly. The issue of women and tznius might be valid, but the notion that tzinus is nidcha for obligations that you have to do b'tzibur seems off the wall. What, t'fila b'tzibur is doyche tznius? Find me a source that says that.
The embarrassment for the tzibur when a woman gets an aliya is that the presumption was that men do know how to read, and fewer women do, and that the society they were living in, men did this sort of thing and women didn't. Ditto for anoshim in this week's parsha. It's not clear to what extent chazal took this state of affairs for granted, or were seeing different roles for women as a value in itself.

I'm not disagreeing with the p'sak, but who needs the spin?
anon | 07.21.04 - 6:38 pm | #

"Kesuba to monkeys, parrots and animals is insulting and seems intentional, unnecessary and mean-spirited."

I didn't read it that way. I thought that he was trying to prove a point, and was just tone-deaf. Just silly, not ill-intentioned.
anon | 07.21.04 - 6:40 pm | #

Perhaps you are right, but the analogy occurs in three places in the article. Given where we are on the calendar, I will accept your suggestion nonetheless.
dopey | 07.21.04 - 6:59 pm | #

dopey, I'm not sure my explanation is so much more charitable, lol.
anon | 07.21.04 - 8:00 pm | #

I assumed it was an argument ad absurdum to prove the point.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.21.04 - 9:34 pm | #

yes, simcha, but a monkey or a parrot could have told him that it's a stupid argument to use in a published piece. Are there no editors at this site?

Did you really find the larger argument compelling?
anon | 07.21.04 - 9:49 pm | #

It's an interesting drasha, but no more than that. By the way, if the Time magazine piece is correct, shouldn't Chazal have set the age of majority for girls at 11 and for boys at 12 1/2? Or might it be that the issue is not brain size, it is sexual maturity. I would also like to note that it would seem that the ages mentioned in the Time Magazine piece would seem to be variable over time. So, nu? Simcha, is RHS really the best that YU has?
Shmarya | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 12:51 am | #

It is said that in in other towns it was easier to find a chassid doing an aveira in public, than it was to find a chassid doing a mitzva in public in Kotzk.
J.I. | Email | 07.22.04 - 2:18 am | #

As an aside, why was this blog entry entitled "Women Rabbis"? That subject gets slight mention and almost no analysis in the article.

It is either about Women reading a Kesubah or the mida of tzniyus as it relates to public acts by women, using reading the Kesuba as the main example.

Second request: Do you know how I can find the article in Tradition by Rabbi Twersky that he refers to in "Torah Perspectives on Women's Issues" ( ), Fn.4 [He cites Tradition, Vol. 30 No.4]. Is it the same as "Halakhic Values and Halakhic Decisions: Rav Soloveitchik’s Pesak Regarding Women’s Prayer Groups" ( )? That is listed as Tradition as well, but with a different cite. On the other hand, the title indicates the right subject.
dopey | 07.22.04 - 9:03 am | #

first of all,the gemara about binah yeseirah is indeed saying that a girl can make nedarim from the age of 11. that's the whole point. second, r. schachter was just trying to make the point that science is pretty close to halacha over hear, to squibble about a few months is silly.
third, r. schachter has written about this theme of tzniut and imatateo dei in various contexts over the years and it was not invented by him for apologetic purposes. he really believes this is foundational to jewish thought. if you cull all his articles you will see that his broad understanding of kol ha-torah kulah is the basis of his thoughts on this-- even though there may not be a siman in shulchan aruch to that effect. and i should point out that he really gets this from the rav who speaks abou this at length in halachik man.

scout | 07.22.04 - 9:12 am | #

finally, while i have to admit that i cringed when i read the line about the parrot and monkey and the subsequent lines, i really have to say that i'm sick of it. if you look in any book of thought or philosophy you could be offended any which way you want. the truth is that in making arguments you draw analogies and comparisons to extreme cases in order to prove a point. we live in such a over-sensitive, politically correct society that you can't say anything anymore.
scout | 07.22.04 - 9:19 am | #

i frankly find it refreshing to read someone just express an argument without worrying what a bunch of cry baby liberal feminists are going to say. the gemara has women and slaves together all the time. and there are worse analogies to be found. let's just expurgate the talmud. believe me, there are plenty who want to. the anti-semites use analogies between goyim and animals to attack us all the time, let's just erase those sections. these are philosophical or legal arguments. leave the emotion and personal stuff out.
it's just plain silly to be offended.
i only cringed b/c i knew how people would react.
it's amazing to me that people are not bothered by trying to uproot thousands of years of jewish tradition or are not concerned about being mevazeh a talmid chacham for which you lose your olam haba. but are troubled by an argument that was clearly not meant to insult women. look into your hearts.
scout | 07.22.04 - 9:22 am | #

You are correct that Rabbi Schachter did not invent the arguments about tzniyus and the same thing, in different forms, shows up in Rabbi Twersky's articles in his own name and in discussing the Rav's view. Rabi Schachter is a little bit more specific here, which is a good and valuable addition.

Surely you didn't mean to use anti-semites' comparison of Jews to animals as a justification of Rabbi Schachter's analogies. Deliberate or not, comparing the reading by women to a reading by animals is not helpful in the context of demonstrating that Halakha respects rather then denigrates women. To me, Rabbi Twersky (see above) shows the right way to do it.

Bravado about not being politically correct is nice, but if someone is likely to be offended (as you anticipated), what is the benefit?

When properly motivated women ask these questions they deserve a response that shows respect rather than one that appears to show contempt or disregard.
dopey | 07.22.04 - 9:44 am | #

Dopey asked "why was this blog entry entitled "Women Rabbis"? That subject gets slight mention and almost no analysis in the article.It is either about Women reading a kesubah or the mida of tzniyus as it relates to public acts by women, using reading the Kesuba as the main example."

Rav Schachter's article is entitled: "Can Women Be Rabbis?" the question shouldn't be on Simcha, but the editors of
Jacob Katz | 07.22.04 - 9:51 am | #

Jacob Katz:
The only reason I care is that the blog titles get referred to when Simcha puts the "Selected Topics" digest on the side-bar and the title doesn't really track the article (regardless of who selected the article title). Perhaps this entry, since it doesn't contain Simcha's thoughts, won't make it the side-bar.

BTW, I recall hearing a panel discussion between Rabbi's Irving Breitowitz and Nathaniel Helfgot, who were among the Scholars-in-Residence one Pesach, on Womens issue. Rabbi Helfgot began by saying that the entire subject needs to be looked at from the understanding that it is in the context of trying to be ivdu at Hashem b'simcha. How this may or may not conflict with the concept of tzniyus discussed above is a good blog subject, but his point that I hope all will consider is that we should assume people are trying to deal with this subject l'shem shamayim and treat them accordingly. Being dismissive of "feminists" or "neandrethals" is not helpf
dopey | 07.22.04 - 10:06 am | #

"it's just plain silly to be offended. "

Personally, I wasn't offended, and not only because I thought RS is just a bit tone-deaf in the sense of how the argument will sound. It's just STUPID to use an argument like this in what is, I'm sorry, apologetics.

Scout, I would like to see a PRIMARY source that says that eg t'fila b'tzibur or krias hatorah or even reading a ksuba and etc. is b'dieved, and that these things are somehow doche the imperative of tznius. I will go out on a limb and say you will not find such a source in chazal. (cont)
anon | 07.22.04 - 10:48 am | #

The silliness is partly b/c it's not a useful argument. If you want to argue that tznius is more of an issue w/ women than men, and put an entirely positive spin on tznius (all about honoring women, and etc) fine, and you can root that to some degree in chazal, even if a lot of that rhetoric is a bit over the top for me.
However, by saying that tznius is in principle nidche here for men, you are not contributing anything - there is still a disparity left between men and women's treatment. It doesn't do anything to explain the gender disparity, and it's an intellectually dishonest argument. It's condescending, it insults the intelligence. the halacho is what it is. Why apologize for it (and that is what RS is doing).
anon | 07.22.04 - 10:56 am | #

(cont) This piece will not convince anyone who is offended by the halocho or general attitude to such things as women reading k'subos. But it does manage to offend the traditional.

You can take my reaction fwiw. I'm a women. I don't have the slightest problem with not being allowed to read a ksuba at a wedding. I thought this argument was extrememly off-putting. I'm surprised to be this put off by it, but I am, *really* put off by it. Who is the audience here? This argument will do nothing for anyone, and it's just ...I'm sorry, it's naarishkeit.
anon | 07.22.04 - 11:08 am | #

"I wasn't offended"

i.e. by the animal comparison. I was offended by the larger argument.
anon | 07.22.04 - 11:08 am | #

"r. schachter was just trying to make the point that science is pretty close to halacha over hear"

Yeah, and so what? Since when do we care??? Why rely on this sort of unreliable evidence? If the science showed the opposite, would we be changing our attitudes? There's this willingness to rely on every piece of pseudoscience, every crumb from essentially speculative theories... it's silly. If you are going to present that sort of evidence, at least couch it in tentatives.
anon | 07.22.04 - 11:13 am | #

And btw if the problem was tznius in the sense that RS says it is, with us being doche tznius for public necessity, then women would have a problem leading things when there are only women present. The problem is explicitly women in the presence of MEN, and the reverse issue is not present with men in the presence of women - it's just general tznius, men in front of other men that RS is nidche here. Even if you do think there is tznius issue, it isn't a parallel issue.
anon | 07.22.04 - 11:17 am | #

Simcha, I'm sorry if this ranting is not in the spirit of whatever you hoped for. I'll stop now.
anon | 07.22.04 - 11:18 am | #

1) Reaching Halachic majority relates to sexual maturity in all cases. I do not see the supposed relevence of brain size.
2) If R. Schachter really believes this tznius apologetic, kol ahakavod. However, as is well known, this is not the reason given for why women cannot recieve aliyot etc. So, perhaps his argument will hold sway over the ignorant masses who really might be persuaded that "tznius" is some huge metahalachic principle that is almost never mentioned in regard to any actual halachot, I wish them all well. The rest of us will have to continue our struggle to live within a religioin that does not merely proscribe "different roles" for men and women, but does so in a way that portrays the female as the weaker, lesser, dominated sex.
huh? | 07.22.04 - 1:02 pm | #

1) Reaching Halachic majority relates to sexual maturity in all cases. I do not see the supposed relevence of brain size.
2) If R. Schachter really believes this tznius apologetic, kol ahakavod. However, as is well known, this is not the reason given for why women cannot recieve aliyot etc. So, perhaps his argument will hold sway over the ignorant masses who really might be persuaded that "tznius" is some huge metahalachic principle that is almost never mentioned in regard to any actual halachot, I wish them all well. The rest of us will have to continue our struggle to live within a religioin that does not merely proscribe "different roles" for men and women, but does so in a way that portrays the female as the weaker, lesser, dominated sex.
huh? | 07.22.04 - 1:02 pm | #

i thought the parrot/monkey comment was meant to point out the foolishness of the groups who want to do this. at least they should have picked something that really shows what women can do. isn't that the point?
D | 07.22.04 - 1:04 pm | #

3) How can R. Schachter know:
"Clearly the motivation to have a woman read the kesuba is to make the following statement: the rabbis, or better yet - the G-d of the Jews, has been discriminating against women all these millennia, and has cheated them of their equals rights, and it's high time that this injustice be straightened out"

First, I'm sure no one who does this thinks that it is God doing the discriminating, but rather the rabbis in their interpretation of the halacha. Second, no one said it was malicious or intentional, but that instead, by giving women a prominent kibud, we show that we are michabed them at weddings as we do men, instead of just being mechabed them as women, by having them pose for pictures in pretty dresses.
huh? | 07.22.04 - 1:07 pm | #

I question whether a reading of the kesubah by a parrot or monkey would be satisfactory. After all, the takanah was specifically to have a kesubah reading to serve as a hefsek between kiddushin and nesuin; otherwise there could simply be music played or other interruptions that would also serve as a hefsek. Therefore, a kesubah reading by a parrot or monkey, who is not a bar da'as and isn't subject to the laws of ishus, seemingly wouldn't serve as a proper hefsek. Query as to whether a reading by a gentile would be OK. For halacha lema'aseh regarding parrots and monkeys, consult your local Orthodox rabbi.
skeptic | 07.22.04 - 1:27 pm | #

you're all being a little silly. tzniut in this context is a meta-halachik principle. it's at the bedrock of judaism as r. schachter, the rav and others see it. it's not going to be in a se'if in shulchan aruch b/c it's screaming from every word in shulchan aruch.
r. schachter's point, is that we've all absorbed the pysche of modern western culture to the point that what is fundamental to judaism appears like apologetics in our eyes. we are the messed up ones.
re: "we show that we are michabed them at weddings as we do men" that is exactly the point. thank you for proving it.
scout | 07.22.04 - 1:28 pm | #

4) This slippery slope argument is typical of reactionary rabbis who would do a lot more for the community if they could bring themselves to express the slightest bit of sympathy for MO women who feel that despite being full fledged members of secular society, cannot be equal as jews.
5) why is it always the women whose motivations need to be so carefully scrutinized by rabbis? Why can't we follow the usual course of thought on this: God is the one who evaluates our motivations and only He can pass this kind of judgement.
6)Maybe Rashi's comment was motivated by the fact that in his society, and prior Jewish societies, women essentially had no public role? (Oh no, I attributed a historical reason to A comment by Rashi, who clearly wrote everything with Ruach Hakodesh, I'm gonna burn now.)
huh? | 07.22.04 - 1:31 pm | #

7) Yes, we should all pray for a sense of shame and modesty in our lives. But pray tell why the application of these lofty principles always comes down to keeping women in their place? When was the last time you saw signs advertising lectures about how men must be stricter in their modesty? When was the last time someone said that there are bus bombings becasue men are not tznius enough?
Let's stop kidding ourselves and admit that this whole tznius campaign is really a deeply rooted fear of women and the 'havoc that they might wreak' if allowed to partake fully in Jewish life?
huh? | 07.22.04 - 1:33 pm | #

Scout, I'm glad you have taken to heart my point that women should be equally honored and respected as men, It's good to see I'm getting through to someone.
huh? | 07.22.04 - 1:35 pm | #

scout, you are wrong. There is A) NOTHING in halacha or in chazal to indicate that things done b'tzibur are somehow in principle preferably done b'yichudus. B) the notion of tznius, as I pointed out, is irrelevant, b/c tznius is defined in two different, nonparallel ways for RS' shtickl. The form of tznius that is ostensibly waived for men in deference to the need for tzibur display is ALSO waived for women in the company of other women. There is nothing unique to men about waiving this sort of tznius (if htat is what is being done when one performs publically). There is a specific issue of tznius that only applies to women in front of men, and not men in front of women, and that is the only tznius issue that is relevant to reading of the k'suba. (cont)
anon | 07.22.04 - 1:40 pm | #

C) Huh? proves my point that RS managed to offend the traditional and the nontraditional alike. D) the busha u'chlima footnote is also just plain wrong. Whether it's chayim she'yesh bohem busha u'chlima or she'eyn bohem busha u'chlima, one isn't davening for the moral sentiment to be instilled. One is either davening to be spared busha or to experience it. This isn't about experiencing a mida b'nefesh, a "Sense of shame and a sense of privacy" as RS writes.
anon | 07.22.04 - 1:40 pm | #

ok, i'll bli neder put together a bibliography to show you that you are simply not aware of the sources in this matter anon.
and could you rewrite the busha part, i didn't understand what you said.
scout | 07.22.04 - 1:47 pm | #

the t'fila is not as RS explains it. Even if you daven to experience busha u'chlima, you are not davening to have the sense of privacy instilled. You're davening to experience actual humiliation (to be m'marek avonos, presumably).
anon | 07.22.04 - 2:27 pm | #

More nitpicks: "Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote in one of his teshuvos that if a woman choses to listen to shofar or to shake a lulav, despite the fact that these are mitzvos aseh shehazman gramma, we must determine what motivated her to do so. If she's upset at the rabbis and at the halacha, and her shaking lulav and listening to shofar is done out of protest to the tradition, then these acts constitute an aveira. Only if what motivates the woman to volunteer these mitzvos is her sincere desire to come closer to G-d is she in the category of "aina metzuvah veosaah", and she is deserving of reward."

I don't know what t'shuva from Rav Moshe RS is talking about here, but I dont think this rendition can possibly be correct. Women do get s'char if their motive is to be m'kabel s'char - the problem should only be if their motive is to protest, per se.

and (cont.)
anon | 07.22.04 - 2:28 pm | #

"This particular form of the verb appears in connection with a funeral and a wedding - occasions which are intended for a public outpouring of emotion. The navi Micha is telling us that even on these occasions one should tone down his public display of his inner emotions." this is a reference to rashi, succah 49b, and rashi says that it means not to be noheg kalos rosh, nothing like this explanation of display of emotion.

Huh writes: "1) Reaching Halachic majority relates to sexual maturity in all cases. I do not see the supposed relevence of brain size." The gemara does give bina yeseira as the reason, as per the article. Many things have nothing to do with sexual maturity, s.a. da'as for kinyonim, n'dorim, etc.
anon | 07.22.04 - 2:31 pm | #

anon, when da'as is the issue, it is evaluated seperately from reaching majority. However, the technical status of majority is determined by sexual maturity. As far as I know, all things contingent on technically being a "gadol" are determined by sexual maturity, which is assumed to have already been reached in a boy of 13 and a girl of 12, without a need to actually show shtei s'arot. Where does the gemara state that a girl reaches majority sooner becasue of bina yeseira? The fact that a girl of 11 can make vows is contingent on her supposed intellectual, not physical maturity, and is thus a seperate issue from the age at which mitzvot become obligatory, ie bar/bat mitzvah.
huh? | 07.22.04 - 2:59 pm | #

R. Shachter is, indeed, being "reactionary." However, I believe his reaction is entirely warranted and correct. If given their way, the ultra-Modern Orthodox activists would, perhaps unwittingly, destroy Jewish society as we know it.

R. Schachter's raison d'etre is to simplify Torah for his audience. That is his style of teaching and has been remarkably successful for him. He uses funny analogies all the time, because it amuses and even shocks a little. This TorahWeb essay is another example of him trying to simplify a complicated concept and present it in a way that the average person can understand it.

You might not like his style, but many others do and they got his message loud and clear.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 3:09 pm | #

For those looking for a more profound and complex exposition of this subject, see R. Mayer Twersky's two articles available on TorahWeb (yes, those are his only two articles on this subject).

I have heard from a number of students of the Rav, both academics and traditional Torah teachers, that he included within kevod tzibbur a concept of tzeni'us and I believe that one can see this clearly in R. Meiselman's book (that the Rav reviewed from cover to cover before publication).
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 3:13 pm | #

To all those claiming that there is no source of tzniut being an over-arching meta-halachic principle, you are simply wrong. The gemarrah on the final daf in Makkot states that Micha (loose translation) broke the mitzvos down to three basic principles: asot mishpat v'ahavat chessed v'hatzne'a lechet im elokecha. If being one of only three basic principles does not qualify a midda as an over-arching meta-halachic principle, then I don't know what does.
J.I. | Email | 07.22.04 - 3:16 pm | #

Rav Shachter is hardly the first Rabbi to come come up with this, and I'm surprised you all find it so novel. Especially those of you who claim to be such devotees of modern Orthodoxy. Tznius, and a de-emphasazing of ritual, are a major theme throughout Rav Soloveitchik's writings. That modern Orthodox feminists' attempts to achieve what they perceive as equality focus on shul ritual is particularly ironic, as the Rav was very clear on emphasizing that the source of Judaism, its vitality and continuity, is not in the shul, but rather in the beit midrash.
J.I. | Email | 07.22.04 - 3:17 pm | #

You may think it is funny but others find him vulgar and crude.
anon-jk | 07.22.04 - 3:17 pm | #

Simcha, if Rabbi Salomon reaches a lot of people, does that mean that I have to agree with his arguments or his style or find his recent piece in the JO less than foolish? People with a loyal base reach their base every time. The question is whether they can do that without alienating people also. One can and should criticize this sort of apologetics, particularly when it's presented in a way that is bound to alienate supporters of the pov too.
anon | 07.22.04 - 3:19 pm | #

"that he included within kevod tzibbur a concept of tzeni'us"

Simcha, it doesn't matter. We don't waive the obligation to perform in public for women, for eg muzamen. Even if you think there is some infringement on tznius when any act is done b'farhesya, this infringement is not waived for women. The tznius issue that exists for women performing public functions in the presence of men has nothing to do with doing things b'farhesya per se.
anon | 07.22.04 - 3:23 pm | #

If you want to understand why people do things, you have to look at to whom they address them and the response they receive. If you do that, R. Schachter is tremendously successful. As is R. Ovadiah Yosef.

Can you disagree with their style or even their message? Yes.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 3:24 pm | #

Why is this thread titled "Women Rabbis?"

Because I have been meaning to write something on this subject for a while and, as recently as last Shabbos, had planned on doing it this week because of the midrash that R. Schachter quotes. I did not end up having the time to write anything up, but this should be the first in a series of posts.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 3:26 pm | #


Life is complex. I advise you not to dismiss important concepts with simple arguments.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 3:27 pm | #

"over-arching meta-halachic principle"

That is NOT what RS is talking about. He is saying that there is inherent violation of tznius in any action done b'tzibur, and that t'fila b'tzibur is essentially an instance of one obligation being doyche another, as is k'riyas hatoyrah, mikra m'gilla, and etc.

Even if this is true, as I've written several times already, we don't waive this sort of violation of tznius for women. The issue of women performing in front of men has nothing to do with the inherent violation of b'farhesya and everything to do with men being present.
anon | 07.22.04 - 3:29 pm | #

"Life is complex. I advise you not to dismiss important concepts with simple arguments."

Simcha, is it ME who is doing that??? Or is RS doing that?
anon | 07.22.04 - 3:30 pm | #

"Can you disagree with their style or even their message? Yes."

I am not talking about RS as a human being, a rov, in general. I am writing about this particular article. why did you link to it? Did you find the argument compelling? This argument, in this article, it's not a correct argument. It distorts the truth. It's the worst kind of apologetics.

In general, I think RS is indeed a lovely person, in addition to his stature as talmid chochom, and he can occasionally be tonedeaf. It would be a good idea for him to get a bit more feedback on that, it might help.
anon | 07.22.04 - 3:34 pm | #

huh, as far as I can tell RS's point is that da'as is an essential component of gadlos (which we normally define by reference to puberty). Puberty, in addition to whatever significance it has in itself, is also a marker for da'as.
anon | 07.22.04 - 3:56 pm | #


Yes, I think you are dismissing an argument that he did not make.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 4:25 pm | #

What argument is that?
anon | 07.22.04 - 4:53 pm | #

"Sometimes the halacha requires of us to act in a public fashion (b'farhesia), as for example to have tfilah b'tzibur, krias haTorah b'tzibur, etc. On these occasions the halacha distinguishes between men and women. We only require and demand of the men that they compromise on their tznius and observe certain mitzvos in a farhesia (public) fashion. We do not require this of women. They may maintain their middas hahistatrus, just as Hashem (most of the time) is a Kel Mistater (Yeshaya 45:15)."

"The answer is obvious. Although we must sometimes compromise on our midas hatznius and do certain mitzvos befarhesia (in public), this is not required of women. Women are not being discriminated against. They alone, unlike men, are given the opportunity to maintain their midas hahistatrus at all times."

How did I distort this?
anon | 07.22.04 - 4:59 pm | #

This has long since stopped being a productive discussion and has instead become a debate where scoring points rather than teaching or learning is the objective.

Simcha: Was "(yes, those are his only two articles on this subject)" was in response to my question? If so, thanks.
dopey | 07.22.04 - 5:50 pm | #

Not on my end, dopey. If I misunderstood something in RS' argument, I'd like to know.
anon | 07.22.04 - 6:17 pm | #

Front page article in the NYT today -
"Muslim Women Seeking A Place In The Mosque"
I wonder if this identical conversation is going on in the Muslim Hirhurim Blog??
Anonymous | 07.22.04 - 6:32 pm | #

O.K. Let me try. You misunderstand R. Schachter's arguments by approaching them point by point rather than seeing the big picture. The big picture is that it is admirable/incumbent for us all to behave modestly. Men sometimes, must perform mitzvot publicly, but women need not. Women should not view this as a negative, but rather as a positive in that they can continue to behave modestly. Further (shifting to R. Twersky and the Rav a bit), women should not desire the public roles men have in religious functions because those unnecessarily compromise their religious service. By focusing on whether or not getting an aliya trumps modesty or how many kinds of tzniyus there are, you are missing the forest for the trees. You can argue endlessly about the details in the article but the main point stands.
dopey | 07.22.04 - 6:52 pm | #



I think Simcha described the function, style and intended audience of this article correctly. It is not meant to address the concerns of advocates for an increased public role for women seriously, but rather to give chizuk to their opponents. I can't imagine someone who davens at Darchei Noam reading this article and saying "Oh, now I understand." I can, however, see that same person reading R.Twersky's articles and changing his/her view on the subject. If you have not read them, I believe you should.
dopey | 07.22.04 - 6:59 pm | #



I think Simcha described the function, style and intended audience of this article correctly. It is not meant to address the concerns of advocates for an increased public role for women seriously, but rather to give chizuk to their opponents. I can't imagine someone who davens at Darchei Noam reading this article and saying "Oh, now I understand." I can, however, see that same person reading R.Twersky's articles and changing his/her view on the subject. If you have not read them, I believe you should.
dopey | 07.22.04 - 7:00 pm | #

So you're saying that I shouldn't read the article and take the argument that is actually advanced seriously. It DOESN'T give chizzuk to their opponents. I'm a woman, I find these proposals for women reading k'subas and etc unappealing, never mind the halacha, and I'm completely put off by the argument. Insulted by it. Insulted by the idea that I should treat divrei torah as though they don't say what they say, also.
anon | 07.22.04 - 7:19 pm | #

Dopey: Where is Darchei Noam?
Jacob Katz | 07.22.04 - 7:27 pm | #

You're saying, essentially, that whatever you say is OK as long as there is some vague, positive self-esteem building message to those who don't read the argument too carefully. There have to be limits to the apologetics.
anon | 07.22.04 - 7:27 pm | #

I am not sure I understand your paraphrase of what I said but I will address what I understood. Basically, I think that if you are interested in an analytical discussion of this issue, then for many reasons, this article is not the most productive place to spend time. It is argument and advocacy not exposition. This is true regardless of what your pre-reading view is. Read it. Get what you can from it and move on. As for divrei Torah always meaning what they say, see, by analogy,

In any event, I certainly didn't mean to insult you.
dopey | 07.22.04 - 7:34 pm | #

And what about all the other mistakes that are in the article, agav?

Women's roles are a prime example of the confusion of golus. The truth is that it's often hard to know what chazal viewed as inherent to women's role, and to what extent what they mandated depended on prevailing mores. We have no way of knowing what changes they'd find desirable and what not. We are stuck with the halacha as it is. The truth is also that there's much more than need to be m'chazek the audience here. There's also absorption of the new-age idea that everything has to be meaningful, every practice lead to growth, and an utter rejection of the fact that what golus means is that we do in fact live with practices that we can't change, and with concepts that may or may not have application to contemporary times - we don't really know. Not knowing is a function of golus, and the acceptance of any argument that sounds nice and makes things sound more meaningful is a rejection of that.
anon | 07.22.04 - 7:40 pm | #

I didn't mean that you personally insulted me. I meant that it's an insult to torah to not take the argument, as written, seriously, and the argument is an insult to the women who do conform to the halacho.

Ok, unless anyone can tell me I actually misunderstood the argument (little picture), or why what Rs says (little picture) is correct, I'm willing to drop it now.
anon | 07.22.04 - 7:43 pm | #

Re the link - The underlying message in midrashim is correct, the details are allegorical. Here the underlying lesson about men performing mitzvos b'farhesyo is NOT correct, and that is what I'm objecting to.
anon | 07.22.04 - 7:57 pm | #

anon, You lost me long ago with your arguments.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 8:05 pm | #

"Life is complex. I advise you not to dismiss important concepts with simple arguments."

Yes, I think you are dismissing an argument that he did not make.

followed by:
"anon, You lost me long ago with your arguments."

You can go back to the part before when you were lost and tell me how I distorted the argument.
anon | 07.22.04 - 8:12 pm | #

Jacob Katz:

I meant DARKHEI Noam. As for where . . . from their website . . .
"Darkhei Noam meets for Shabbat morning services every other week on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Founded in March 2002, Darkhei Noam provides a davening experience that is traditional, inclusive, and inspiring. We invite you to join us.

At Darkhei Noam, women lead pesukei dezimrah, hotza'at vehakhnasat sefer torah (the Torah service), and fully participate in keriyat ha-torah (Torah reading). This is done in the context of a traditional minyanwith ten men and a mehitzah.

To learn more about the halakhot surrounding women's participation in Torah reading, you can read Rabbi Mendel Shapiro's halakhic analysis of these issues in the Edah Journal."

"Darkhei Noam will meet
@ 10 W. 84th St. on:
July 24, 2004 - 9:30 a.m.
August 7, 2004 - 9:30 a.m.
August 21, 2004 - 9:30am"
Anonymous | 07.22.04 - 9:09 pm | #

Tznius as a meta-halachic concept? Puhleeze!

As Rav Parnes told us back when JTS started ordaining women, "there is no halachic problem with women rabbis because there is no halachic concept of 'rabbi' "

Details don't matter in a d'var Torah? Didn't I once read an article in Beis Yitzhok that made a big deal of the concept of ziyuf hatorah?
Reb Yudel | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 9:34 pm | #

Also, I don't see the lines about parrots and monkeys. Were they edited out? Can we really trust a posek who doesn't know what words to not say in the first place?
Reb Yudel | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 9:35 pm | #

Finally, on tzniut: The piece raises all sorts of questions regarding waiving tznius to go out in public. Shouldn't we be striving then to go back to the Maimonidean ideal of having women stay inside the house? Or is Rav Schechter afraid that his Teaneck audience who get off on putting down "politically correct" feminists wouldn't be so happy to give up on their two-income lifestyle?
Reb Yudel | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 9:37 pm | #

One post-final point, this one in regards to one of the comments: I'd like to see some very strong proof that the hatzne lekhet of Makkot refers to anything we consider tznius. Arguably, it might constitute a warning against those presidents and poskim who are convinced that God speaks through them.
Reb Yudel | Email | Homepage | 07.22.04 - 9:39 pm | #

Chabad has found the solution to Woman Rabbis.
They call them Shluchot. Shluchot say shiurim, have conventions, have leadership roles. The Shluchot woudnt even think of leading pesukei dezimra or getting an Aliya. They are proud of their roles as a Shlucha and they dont need the mens roles
Chabadnik | Email | 07.22.04 - 9:44 pm | #

It's not a question of halacha at all for a woman to read a ketuba. So, if we are not in the business of confining women to their homes, whose business is it if the chassan and kallah want to give a kibbud to a female relative? As far as tzniut is concerned, are we going to have our men do all our shopping, etc., for us now? Cont.
yid | 07.22.04 - 10:43 pm | #

And you've got to hand it to Rav Schachter; why be careful not to be incendiary when you are writing on a sensitive topic if you can toss off gratuitous insults instead? The parrot/monkey metaphor was ill chosen. He could have substituted the word "tape recorder," and the arguement would not have suffered. It actually would have been improved. It would have kept the answer on point and out of the realm of the personal. The zetz is real. Am I offended?? Nah. It's of a piece with its context. cont.
yid | 07.22.04 - 10:44 pm | #

With all due respect to Rav Moshe Feinstein,is there any beis din in this plane of existence that can sit in judgement of what any person, man or woman, has in mind when they perform a mitzvah? Let's look to our own lulavim, shall we?

But... find that monkey and your fortune is surely made.
yid | 07.22.04 - 10:45 pm | #

"Tznius as a meta-halachic concept? Puhleeze!"

I do think tznius is a metahalachic concept, but not as defined in this article (that it's in any way a s'tira to eg t'fila b'tzibur).
anon | 07.23.04 - 2:56 am | #

Reb Yudel: Re the gemarrah in Makkot:

If by "anything we consider tznius" you mean modesty in dress, the gemarrah is not explicitly referring to that. Rather the meaning of hatzne'a lechet according to the gemarrah there is exactly as Rav Schachter was using Tzniut: i.e., to do things privately and modestly, not with a public display, and especially not to make a public display out of performing religious rituals. Feminists' attempts to take over public roles in shul in particular, for the sake of those roles qua their being public is not in the spirit of the type of behavior the gemarrah is emphasizing.
J.I. | Email | 07.23.04 - 6:36 am | #

I am a woman and while I am not offended by Rav Schachter, shlita I am offended by "anon". There is a meta-halachic principle called kavod HaTorah. Please speak about talmidei chachamim properly. You can only defend the Torah's honor by speaking about Torah, Chazal and modern day Roshei Yeshiva in the proper tone and with anavah.

a. You cannot make a statement that there is NOWHERE in shas or poskim that says things done b'yichidus are better than if done b'pharhesia. Quote me a proof and I will take you seriously. Otherwise it is just an emotioanl argument.
Non-rabbi | Email | 07.24.04 - 10:46 pm | #

b. You began your argument stating a rationale why men are embarrased if a woman reads the Torah claiming it is all historical and then later said that Chazal could have done things based on social mores. Chazal never say a reason for their statutes. Chazal are the bearers of our mesorah. It is they who DEFINE every aspect of our Judaism. I would think that they would be a little deeper than the local imam in Saudi Arabia. They may actually have known what they were talking about since their ideas about the roles of men and women are deeply rooted in their metaphysical understanding of the spiritual and physical world. None of us can claim to have that kind of insight.

c. You also state "I don't know what t'shuva from Rav Moshe . . . but I dont think this rendition can possibly be correct. If you are have not seen the Rav Moshe, please don't comment on it.
Nu | Email | 07.24.04 - 10:47 pm | #

Just wondering, do meta-halakhic principles turn into halakhic?
Jacob Katz | 07.25.04 - 12:28 am | #

a)it's not an "emotional" argument, though you are being emotional when you lay that charge. It's either valid or not. The burden is on you to find something that supports this, because it's an unsupported claim. R. Shachter does *not* support it. The references to "Tzina in eg t'fila b'tzibur" that run through this thread don't relate to the point that RS made.

It isn't disrespectful to R. shachter to disagree with this article or even to say, as I did, that the argument is simply incorrect. It is disrespectful to torah to argue incorrectly or to defend invalid arguments no matter what or no matter who said them.

b) You misrepresent what I wrote. I didn't say the reason WAS historical. I said it can be difficult to know when they were reacting to prevailing social conditions and when they thought something was inherent to the role. Sometimes one or the other is relatively clear; sometimes it's murky.
anon | 07.25.04 - 12:36 am | #

You write: "Chazal never say a reason for their statutes." This is untrue. It often says, e.g. ro'u v'toknu.

This issue has nothing to do with how well or how long they thought about what they were being m'saken.

c)No, this is an unreferenced t'shuva. It is either an incorrect rendition of a line in the t'shuva (most likely, IMO, given the imprecision of some of the other quotes in the article) or a question on the t'shuva (if the rendition is correct).

Something is very odd about the statement I quoted. It might be explained in context, but whatever statement in whatever t'shuva this refers to, it's unlikely to have the meaning, in context, that is ascribed to it in the article. If someone knows what t'shuva this is referring to, they can write in to comment (and I hope they will). If you don't, you aren't contributing anything, except the admonition not to question authorities, which you mistakenly equate with kovod hatorah.
anon | 07.25.04 - 12:43 am | #

"This issue has nothing to do with how well or how long they thought about what they were being m'saken."

Just in case this is unclear: Even when it's clear that chazal were m'saken something in response to prevailing mores, it doesn't follow that the decree is not still binding. This is a primary issue in golus; we abide by many things that have no real contemporary meaning apart from highlighting the inability to change takonos chazal. A dramatic example of this is yom tov sheyni shel goliyos. Attempts to flee from this are, essentially, attempts not to experience golus, which is a spiritual punishment.
anon | 07.25.04 - 12:51 am | #

Unless I misread, R. Schacter does permit a woman to read the Torah if there is not a qualified man to do it. Does this mean that he feels the only impediment to women reading the Torah is Kavod Hatzibbur/Tzniut? he did not bring up other usual issues that are raised such as kol isha, etc.
dilbert | Email | 07.25.04 - 7:45 am | #

Kol Isha, as Rabbi Yosef Blau once explained to me, isn't an issue in situations like these, since those rishonim who allow women to lain megillah (Rashi, Rambam) don't raise it as an issue.
Reb Yudel | Email | Homepage | 07.25.04 - 9:38 am | #

From the article:

"In Hilchos Krias HaTorah the Shulchan Aruch quotes from the Talmud that although judging from the perspective of Hilchos Krias HaTorah alone a woman may receive an aliyah, from the perspective of Hilchos Tznius this is not permitted."

Can anyone find that source, either in the Shulchan Aruch or in the Talmud?
Reuven | Email | 07.25.04 - 3:59 pm | #

From the article:

"In Hilchos Krias HaTorah the Shulchan Aruch quotes from the Talmud that although judging from the perspective of Hilchos Krias HaTorah alone a woman may receive an aliyah, from the perspective of Hilchos Tznius this is not permitted."

Can anyone find that source, either in the Shulchan Aruch or in the Talmud?
Reuven | Email | 07.25.04 - 4:00 pm | #

What has changed in yom tov shein shel goliyos? In the time of the gemarrah it was minhag avoteinu byadenu.
mykroft | 07.25.04 - 5:46 pm | #

Nothing has changed, minhag avoseinu b'yodeinu means that there is no deeper significance, apart from inability to change practice even when the meaning is lost.
anon | 07.25.04 - 8:49 pm | #

Reuven, he is referring to megillah 23a, shulchan oruch orach chaim 282:3.
anon | 07.25.04 - 9:32 pm | #

anon, you've got to study more. there's a lot of depth to our torah that you may not be aware of. the Hatam Sofer for instance maintains that after moshiach comes, jews living in golus (for whatever reason) will keep a yom tov sheini shel geulah!
there's more to a lot of things than meets the eye. maybe r. schachter is has just a little more breadth and depth than you in torah?
yoohoo | 07.26.04 - 9:27 am | #

But Jacob Katz points out how the Hatam Sofer was argueing beyond the halakhah and against tradition to say that yom tov sheni will remain. According to Katz, he was using his charismatic authority to fight reform, who wanted to do away with second day of yom tov.
The same ideas should apply here, a rabbi when he feels that his world is being threatened relys on his charismatic power to state things outside the halakhah and tradition. Rav Schechter's statements should be seen as rhetorical and breaking with tradition in order to fight what he sees as a threat.
Jacob Katz fan | 07.26.04 - 9:44 am | #

first of all, i'm not a fan of jacob katz so i couldn't care less what he has to say. but in any case, i don't see how r. schachter is "breaking with tradition" in any way over here. what in the world are you talking about?
yoohoo | 07.26.04 - 10:25 am | #

re: Yom Tov Shani. see Shir Ha'shirim rabbah: Yom TOv Shani is a punishment for galut.
dilbert | Email | 07.26.04 - 12:58 pm | #

fine. i'm not quibbling with diff. approaches to yom tov sheni or to any issue. the point is that there can be diff. approaches and that unless one is extremely steeped in learning they should have the proper humility to recognize that maybe they don't know everything.
yoohoo | 07.26.04 - 1:29 pm | #

I am aware of the chasam sofer; it's an anomalous position, and was directed against the Reform movement, as J. Katz already pointed out. In any case, yom tov sheini is just a single example of something that is clearly part of the system. The point I was making, that seems to escape you, is that we can't always determine what was intended to be permanent and what wasn't. Even when it seems fairly clear, one can't make an absolute determination.

Why is this point so threatening? Why are so many simply unwilling to accept a basic aspect of Judaism (golus is as much a meta-halachic concept as tznius is). Why this need to insist that we have a system that is functioning as though we have a sanhedrin when we don't??? Something to think about on tisha b'av.
anon | 07.26.04 - 4:11 pm | #

"unless one is extremely steeped in learning they should have the proper humility to recognize that maybe they don't know everything."

V'chi masuy ponim yesh b'dovor?

As R. Meir Shapiro allegedly said, the world doesn't need a yeshiva that produces 100 rabbonim; it needs yeshivos that produce one rov and 99 people who know when they need a rov's opinion. This isn't an example of a case where one needs to subjugate one's own judgement; there's an obvious problem with RS thesis, and none of my critics have addresssed it. They defend the "big picture" or they change the topic to something extraneous, and admonish me that "RS must be right because he's a talmid chochom." That is not the way our system works; the torah doesn't belong to some elite class; the best argument wins, even if it's made by a schoolchild. I am not arguing with RS p'sak; I'm arguing with his reasoning.
anon | 07.26.04 - 4:13 pm | #

". . . [T]he torah doesn't belong to some elite class; the best argument wins, even if it's made by a schoolchild."

This is absolutely true -- in theory. In reality, the exact opposite is true. That is perhaps the greatest problem with Judaism today.
Shmarya | Homepage | 07.26.04 - 4:56 pm | #

Shmarya, I don't think you and I mean the same thing And I don't think this is the "biggest problem with Judaism today." Child abuse is!
anon | 07.26.04 - 5:46 pm | #

Please note that I am not the "Jacob Katz fan" listed above. Proof: I wouldn't incorrectly spell Rav Schachter's name...
Jacob Katz | 07.27.04 - 9:06 pm | #

I thank R. Schachter, TorahWeb and all of you for bringing me above 20,000 hits in under two months.

But let's drop this subject already. 100+ comments is enough. Thank you.
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.28.04 - 1:45 pm | #

Simcha, it seems that Gary Rosenblatt at The Jewish Week has picked up on this discussion.
JewishWeek | 07.28.04 - 7:13 pm | #

Regrettably, R. Schachter seems to have forgotten the advice of Hazal: "Wise ones, be careful with your words."

This article doesn't seem like public education to me, except perhaps as a lesson in how not to write a devar Torah. He uses crude language and offensive comparisons. This is inexcusable. Isn't Torah learning supposed to refine people and guide them away from using crude, offensive language? And doesn't increased learning create greater responsibility?

Also, has R. Schachter perhaps forgotten that our deadliest enemies at present delight in calling us the offspring of pigs and monkeys?

If Jewish leaders can allow themselves to use this kind of language, and if we allow them to do so, I fear for our future.
Rahel | Email | Homepage | 07.29.04 - 2:49 am | #


Did you read R. Schachter's words? Nowhere does he call women animals!
Simcha | Email | Homepage | 07.29.04 - 4:25 pm | #

From the Protocols discussion:

close window
josh waxman @ 6:03PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

it was mentioned last week at hirhurim.

email | website

josh waxman @ 6:10PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

and it was meant as an halachic statement. there is a concept of maaseh-kof - the act of a monkey, which is acceptable in certain situations - when no daat is needed to validate the action.

for example, is daat needed to wash hands for neigel vaser?

doing a google search for maaseh kof in hebrew returns about 14 results.

i think that the nature of the internet plays a role in it, in that the audience is far wider, and so things travel faster and to people who are not necessarily the intended audience, who would recognize the reference and would not be so offended.

email | website

Miriam @ 6:22PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

How do you explain the reference to the parrot????

email | website

jj @ 6:34PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

over 100 comments on this at Hirhurim

email | website

josh waxman @ 6:41PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

i'm responding to comments over at Bloghead. i deal with the parrot there.

email | website

new picture.... @ 6:50PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

MUCH more recent picture of Rav Hershel Schachter, shlita, via (from YUPR)

email | website

new picture.... @ 6:50PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

click on the words "recent picture"

email | website

new picture.... @ 6:51PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

MUCH more recent picture of Rav Hershel Schachter, shlita, via (from YUPR) (click on recent picture for the picture)

email | website

Kerry @ 6:57PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Rav Schachter's statement, if offensive at all is equally offensive to men and women, and monkeys. I am an extreme male liberal, and I see no reason why my needs and feelings go unnoticed by the "feminist" movement. For the record, I am also in the midst of writing my senator to pass a bill which will allow me to marry myself. No one knows me better than I do, and I am perfect for myself. I dream of a day when I can publicly declare my love for myself, and start masturbating publicly. Heck, even Monkeys are allowed to do that in public, i guess the natural hierarchy is women on top, perhaps equal to monkeys, and men below that. someone should put these rabbi's in their place, how dare they say the halacha in the words of the gemara....

email | website

george @ 7:00PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Why do you need a law to masturbate in public? Join the YU faculty and you can masturbate in synagogues and class rooms around the world!

email | website

Isaac @ 7:05PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Kerry, no need to write your senator. You already have a heter from the Vice President.

email | website

Baal Kerry @ 7:07PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

I see from your ability to reduce a halakhic argument to absurdity that you must be a talmid muvhak of
Rav Schachter.

email | website

Baal Kerry @ 7:20PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

So that everyone can see the original offensive article by R. Schachter:

email | website

LSAT 178 @ 7:35PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Rav Schachter, while a very knowledgable man, is highly overrated with regard to his insights and analysis.

Any person who has read enough of his work can easily spot his sloppy contradictory logic, and poor analogies, which are usually followed by a string of conclusory statements.

email | website

again?! @ 7:43PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Kudos to Miriam for once again bringing religious insensitivity to protocols. Luke at least kept it a blog, miriam wants a rant.

Lady, your feminism is SO seventies.

email | website

anonanon @ 7:48PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

again, your use of the word lady is SO seventies.
And we don't need you to tell us - we KNOW what Luke wants. (not that there's anything wrong with that...)

email | website

Isaac @ 8:02PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Ask an "ultra" why women can't get aliyot or read the ketuba and the answer is "that's our mesorah." Ask a "modern" and you get gymnastics.

email | website

Yehupitz @ 8:11PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

What I read the article a couple of weeks ago, I remember thinking that monkey was a reference to the halacha of kof and parrot was about the ability to speak. I also remember thinking that it was the type of lingo that would offend people. The Rambam does the same thing in Hilchos Eruvin when he explains that a goy has the din of a beheima in that when a Jew shares a chotzeir with a goy he doesn't need schiras reshus. The offended people here would be equally offended there. But that's the talmudic way of speaking: Make your point by pointing out in the clearest and most blatant analogy.

email | website

Isaac @ 8:25PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Let me distill R. Schachter's premise: There's no "glory" in an aliyah/reading a ketubah/being a rabbi. It's a burden and any idiot can do it. Those who push for egalitarianism are a. needlessly burdening women, b. motivated by less than pure motives, c. perversions of Judaism & Jewish life and d. destined to fade away. capeche?

email | website

Luke @ 8:48PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Why should Rav Shachter give a hoot what Blu Greenberg says or thinks on a matter of Jewish Law? He is a posek with a formidable body of halachic work. He should pay as much attention to Blue Greenberg's halachic insights as should to Michael Jordan and his halachic insights.

email | website

Joe Schick @ 9:04PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Luke: Rumors were circulating that Blu was about to issue a psak allowing the use of electricity on shabbos. She reportedly told Gary Rosenblatt:

"To say that Luke is insulting God and the rabbis when he calls for reinterpretation of certain laws that affect his life is to impugn the entire enterprise of halachic reinterpretation." She cited as proof "rabbinic innovations in the past that enabled the use of shabbos elevators and blechs."

email | website

yu rosh friend @ 9:31PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

do any of the feminazis out there realize that reading the ketubah is very often the 'kavod' that is given to rav schechter at weddings and that in 'insulting' half of miriam's population, he is also saying that a 'kavod' he is normally singled out to receive can just as well be done by a monkey?

Take offense at things and people who deserve it.

Would you rather daven or be led in riverdale where the insistance on pandering to the feminist movement forgoes any attempts at reconciling it with religion, theology or mesorah?

email | website

apeshit @ 9:35PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Why we all gettin so pissed off about some silly thing Rav Schechter let slip out?

Miriam, why don't you contact Rav Schechter and inform him that you were offended. If you REALLY wanted to solve this problem and bring more unity to the Jewish people, you would be direct and speak to the offender. Be the bigger person.

By taking the comment public without confronting the source, all you do is function as a source of lashon hara and time wasting and, ultimately, sinat chinam.

I agree that he probably should have been more sensitive, and I feel that he probably would feel badly if he knew you were so offended.

email | website

not a sheep @ 9:50PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

People came to the Roshei Yeshiva after the gang of 5 article came out.
Then again they spoke to RHS personally after his "be sheep" article was published.
Many out there would love to have a dialogue if it was possible. But all they get back from RHS is
"your motivations are bad because we know your motivations"
RHS and the gang of 5 were uninterested in finding out anyone's true motivations.

email | website

Isaac @ 9:52PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Perhaps, if Miriam had asked nicely, R. Schachter might have even made some special arrangement just for her.

email | website

joke @ 9:56PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

So, uh, does this mean rav shachter wont be reading the ketuba at miriam's wedding?

email | website

Barefoot Jewess @ 10:13PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

Blu is a wiser woman than I. I would have gone for the rabbi's throat. It does not take a feminist to comment on how silly his assertions are. I can't take him seriously.

Such naivete is rather embarrassing, don't y'all think? It would have been more impressive of him to admit that his choice or words were stupid regardless of his naivete and to apologise. Isn't that what teshuva is about?

I think, Miriam, that you were spot on in your critique.

email | website

espy @ 11:16PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

the comment about parrots is just an example of RS being tone-deaf. I think the real problem with the article is that the thesis simply isn't true. The notion that there is some contradiction between things done b'farhesya (eg t'fila b'tzibur, mikra m'gilla and etc) and tznius, and that there is some loss of tznius involved that we waive for men, is not based in chazal. Moreover, even if there were such a concept, we don't waive the requirement of doing things b'farhesya for men but not for women - women are obligated, for example, in m'zumen. The only tznius problem is when women are in the presence of men.

email | website

wondering @ 11:29PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

The real question now is: How do we get rid of RS as an authority in the community?
Appeal to Richard Joel?
Newspaper editorials?
Let the press know about all his other inappropriate statements?
Have Luke Ford write an expose?
Any thoughts?

email | website

Barefoot Jewess @ 11:31PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

I barely understand some of what you are saying but I think that I get the gist that you cannot find any basis in Chazal for what the man said. C'mon, it's silly and specious, simply in terms of reason and human decency. You don't need Chazal for approbation to tell you that it was an airhead dumbass statement. Granted, I don't think he meant it to come across the way that it did. But then, them's the breaks when you adhere totally to some weird logic.

email | website

Izzy @ 11:57PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

why cant Rav Schachter have the ability to say what he wants to say, just like any professor can say whatever they want to say?

email | website

espy @ 11:59PM | 2004-07-28| permalink

I wasn't talking about the parrots/monkeys issue b/c I think that RS is just tone-deaf.

email | website

Barefoot Jewess @ 12:04AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

Okay, I can accept that he is tone deaf- without reference to Chazal. many thanks

email | website

Miriam @ 2:34AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

Espy: My original point was that the fact he was tone-deaf is not a defense, it's an indictment.

email | website

jj @ 9:36AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

You can't get rid of Rav Schachter. His authority does not come from his position but his popularity, and he is EXTREMELY popular.

email | website

popular @ 9:41AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

JJ- maybe we should get RS a radio talk show?

If we went on popularity alone Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter would be Roshei Yeshiva.
People like vulgarity and reduction to absurdity.
I expected more from our leaders.

email | website

D @ 9:45AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

espy, you sound like anon over on hirhurim. let me say that you are just ignorant of some basic facts. r. schachter has another article that he wrote in a memorial book called Ishei Hashem where he develops this same theme. And one of his main proofs is from mezumen and he shows clearly the concept of tzniut has nothing to do (in this context) with men being present at all, but is a meta-halachik concept. I suggest you read that article before you keep repeating that erroneous argument.

email | website

Catmatic @ 9:56AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

I think Miriam is right on target. "Chachamim Hizharu b'divreichem." (On this, being machmir is out of fashion.)

There was absolutely no need, in context, for R. Schachter to have made those particular comparisons. It added precisely nothing to his argument.

email | website

Yu knower @ 10:00AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

You are all blind. I mean completely blind. In a Jewish institution, be it a yeshiva or an organization or anything else, when you are small or don’t have an agenda or activity, you find someone to beat up.

Richard Joel has been president of YU for a year and other than enabling and ennobling, redoing his office, buying an expensive house, making yu logos and pins, and enjoying the supple feel of luxurious Lincoln leather on his way to work everyday, he's got nothing. He isnt running the academics, he isnt running the fundraising, he isnt running the financial books, nothing.

So, as a good hater of the right, what do you do? You take the person with the most support from the one faction that does not respect you (the yeshiva guys and the 'yeshiva' part of the yu community, have no respect for Joel neither as an administrator – they say zakheim would have been better - nor as a smart person – they say most people would have been better) and you orchestrate an assault on him.

As for those who jumped on the bandwagon, leave Rav Shachter alone. Anyone who has ever met his rebbitzin or has seen him speaking to women knows that he treats them better than he would a monkey. The rebbitzen is a tough and smart woman and would not stand for a man who is chauvinist.

This whole thing is riled up by people who are so in love with hating the right (and there is a lot to hate) that they are going to take something that is nothing and turn it on its head.

By the way, Miriam and all you other's, the R”an in nedarim says "isha k'karka dami" do you really think the R”an thought his wife was a piece of land anoymore than Rav Shachter considers a woman a monkey or a parrot? No, but in the context of the discussion in describing the laws ‘land’ was the best way to articulate it.

Btw maybe he said parrot in addition to kof because a parrot would be the most likely talking animal…

email | website

V'hatz'nay'ah Le'chet... @ 10:07AM | 2004-07-29| permalink

ESPY is just plain wrong when he says "The notion that there is some contradiction between things done b'farhesya (eg t'fila b'tzibur, mikra m'gilla