Monday, July 31, 2006

Women and Learning II

Anything that goes beyond the Halachos and Hashkofos that are relevant to her fulfillment of Torah is prohibited. Torah shebal peh is permitted to women on a "need to know" basis. It doesn't matter who you're learning with. It mentions a "father" can't teach Torah Shebal Peh to daughter only because in those days that's how people learned - there were no Bais Yaakovs. But the prohibition has nothing to do with your father exclusively. Nobody is allowed to teach you Torah shebal Peh.


I would guess, incidentally, that the desire to learn "exotic" topics - exotic for girls, that is - as opposed to the meat and potatoes of what she needs, is due to Mayim gnuvim yimtaku. It’s the same excuse that people have for learning Kabblaah - "It turns me one more than Gemora." And just as we tell those people that they still can’t learn Kabalah, and they should rather see what they’re doing wrong in their Gemora learning, we tell the girls the same thing. Don’t learn what Chazal said you can’t -- learn what you need. There's plenty of that - more than you will ever finish with.


Torah does straighten out a person, but not the way you’d think. For men, it means learning Torah. For girls, the Gemora asks, since girls do not learn Torah "nashim b'mai zachyan - how do women get the merit of Torah?" and it answers, "By encouraging their husbands and children to learn in the Bais Medrash, and waiting for them to come home when they are there." Rav Yonason Eyebushitz says that the Gemora means that women get the full extent of the benefits of Torah by supporting their husbands and children in their learning.

Note that the Gemora had no other answer as to how women merit Torah except this.

So that's how it will straighten out your heart. Its' a supernatural process. Torah is not a science. It works only the way Chazal said it does, and that means girls don't learn Torah shebal peh.


As far as Rabbi Henkin, never mind, then, that you are not Talmid Chacham enough to recognize 99% of the problems in his writings. But simple good midos should tell you that someone who writes pages regarding whether it is prohibited halachicly to say "Zatzal" after the Satmar Rebbe or not, should tell you that this man is not someone that you want to learn from.

And even if you are not a Talmid Chacham, simple A-B-C logic will be able to tell you that what was quoted from him - about girls being able to learn Gemora after Torah shebal peh was written, even though all the poskim who prohibit it have done so after that time - makes no sense at all.

You don't need to be a Talmid Chacham to see that this man's material is nothing you want to have anything to do with, both from a Torah perspective, and that of simple menchlichkeit.


In all the things that Rav Klonimus Kalman’s wife learned, Gemora and Mishna are omitted, and so we see again that even for girls on a very high level of learning, Mishna and Gemora are not c"v on the curriculum.


The root problem with Modern Orthodoxy, the issue from which stem all other issues, is that they incorporate secular, non-Jewish, values into their religious practice. What the secular world values, they believe is valuable. What the secular world thinks is normal, civilized, sophisticated, good, and proper, they do too, and they incorporate those values and attitudes, which are often corrupt and against the Torah, into their religious practice.

And so, because in the secular world, a "people" is bizarre when you’re talking about a people with no country and no common language - imagine the Italians without Italy or Italian - therefore, Zionism, which, to their standards "normalizes" the Jewish nation (that was actually the word the Zionists used) becomes almost a requirement of Modern Orthodoxy; because secular studies, college education, mixing of boys and girls and a general a collegiate, yuppy lifestyle, is considered "normal" in the secular world, it become part and parcel of the MO lifestyle.

And ironically, where college and mixing of the sexes is concerned, the MO community become tremendous meikilim way beyond what the halachah allows. In these areas, they will struggle to find heterim, whether they exist or not; on the other hand, regarding making aliyah, they will become fanatical machmirim, and despite the myriad leniencies and historical precedent of Jews willingly living outside of Eretz yisroel, they will often run around saying that you have to make aliyah, and not to do so is in violation of the Torah.

When secular values demand they be fanatical machmirim, they become fanatical machmirim; when secular values demand they become unreasonable mekilim, they become unreasonable mekilim.

In order to avoid coming in conflict with the Chazals that explain the terrible crime of making a State in Eretz yisroel before Moshiach comes, they will dismiss them as "agadita" - not binding, and non-cognitive. It doesn’t matter what they say. Only halachic Gemoras count. (The truth is, they are wrong on both counts - Agadita is not non-cognitive - they definitely reveal the will of Hashem, and according to most opinions, they are also halachicly binding unless overwritten by a different halachic Gemora. But these Chazals that prohibit making a Jewish State in EY are quoted l'halachah by the Rishonim and Achronim in countless places).

Yet they will make "ahavas eretz yisroel" a mainstay of their lifestyle, their studies, and their duties, even though there is no halachah anywhere that says one has to have ahavas eretz yisroel. The entire obligation is completely Agadic in nature. The Rambam, the Shulchan Aruch, and the poskim codify no such obligation.

So when their secular values demand they become Agadists, they do so - to the point where Agadita becomes one of the most important elements of their philosophy, if not the most important; and when their secular values demand that they disregard open statements of Chazal, they dismiss them, saying Agadita is not binding.

And so, when their secular values demand that women be "treated equally", and that education be "available to all", and that women's "intellects should be respected", they misconstrue all of those cliches into the act of ignoring open halachos and instituting a clear aveirah into the list of what they consider noble: teaching girls Gemora.

That is why all their "heterim" are not based on shas and rishonim, but rather on the secular idea that "today's women are different - we are no longer in the shtetle (someone actually sent me that in a post); today's women think; today’s women are sophisticated and deserve and need a full Jewish education - and even though they have not yet finished all the halachos and hashkofos that they are utterly OBLIGATED to learn, what they mean by "full Jewish education" is really "opportunity equal to that of males".


And then they want to know what people have against Modern Orthodoxy. Well, here's an example, they violated a open halachah and made their aveirah into something noble, because their modernity demands that they do it. Unless they come up with some kind of real heter - something more halachicly valid than some Virginia Slims advertisement showing how much more sophisticated and intellectual their women are than our holy ancestors - what in the world do they want from those who consider them off the path of Torah?

There are Chasidishe schools who prohibit girls from learning even Rashi. The Bais Yaakov hold that in order for them to understand the basic Torah shebiksav, which they are allowed to learn, they have to know a bit of pshuto shel mikrah, which is what Rashi teaches.

However, as Rav Shach ZTL himself writes, teaching girls too much meforshim is definitely out of scope of Torah shebiksav and is prohibited. I do not know what the heter is or who gave the heter for girls schools to teach all the Meforshim that they do. In Bais Yaakovs today there is no limit to what a teacher is allowed to teach in terms of meforshim.


Tiflus according to most opinions (including the parenthesis comment right there in the Shulchan Aruch) means "aveiros". Teaching Torah to girls is tantamount to teaching them to do aveiros.
The issue is not modern orthodoxy, but a simple Halachah in Shulchan Aruch - and I say simple because Rav Moshe says it is black and white clear-cut, obvious-like simple - that you cant have Gemora classes for women. Simple as that.

As far as the joy of Gemora, it is only a joy if it is the Will of Hashem to learn it; otherwise it’s at best plain intellectual acrobatics, no different than the "joy" of playing chess. And if the Halachah says not to learn it, then doing so is not a joy, it is a sorrow.

If you’re talking about hurtful and condescending, please understand that witnessing the public and mass violation of the Torah is hurtful. You want to know how hurtful?

Open a Shulchan Aruch. Look at the narrow meforshim on the side, on the page that says you can’t teach Gemora to girls. It brings a Chazal that says: "Better to burn Torah than to teach it to women."

How much would it hurt you if you saw a public burning of Torah seforim? And what if someone preached that it’s a big mitzvah to burn Seforim?

As much as that hurts, what these people who preach teaching Gemora to women are doing hurts more.

And I’ll tell you a secret. You know what hurts me even more than that? Seeing wonderful girls, well-meaning girls, smart, spiritual and aspiring girls being led astray. And being taught not to be happy with the role that G-d gave you. You know what it's like? It’s like watching - lhavdil - the greatest manager in baseball decide he’s jealous of the pitcher, so instead of managing he goes out and insists on pitching, thereby losing the game for his team. Hashem made you a woman. That’s a glorious position! You’re the manger who provides tactical air support for the Torah scholars - your husband and sons. Without your support, they’d lose.

But no, you aren’t happy being the manger. You want a role that you are not cut out for, and you grab the ball and start pitching. And you lose the game for Klall Yisroel.

You’re a manger, not a pitcher. Managers aren’t inferior; they’re just managers. G-d gave you a job and he gave men jobs. G-d knows better what we are suited for.

The joy of pitching a ball is great, I am certain. But the joy of winning the world series is greater.

You can win the world series. But only if you play the position G-d gave you. If you try to pitch you may enjoy throwing the ball, but you’ve thrown the game.

And here I am, watching you, the greatest manager in the league, throw off her manager's gear and run out to the pitchers mound and demand to be a pitcher, because of the "joy of throwing the ball."

That hurts me.

Please take my advice -- don’t lose the game because you like to throw the ball.

If you want joy, joy is doing what Hashem said you do best. Joy is winning the game after 120 years. Don’t blow it, please.



I think it gets a bit confusing, considering that women rabbis for the most part aren’t frum or even Orthodox and we automatically think that when we see a woman rabbi she’s not practicing Judaism.

But this one is. Even though she (I assume) does not call herself "rabbi" and does not claim to have smicha, writing teshuvos for the public that pasken shailos (never mind that it attempts to disprove what Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote) is just as much being a rabbi, even more so in very important ways, than preaching a musar sermon to the congregation.

It’s not enough they "learn Gemora". Now they pasken shailos. And remember - its not as if she quotes any sources that say women can learn Gemora. She derives (or tries to, in any case), in the way poskim do, the Halachah from her own understanding of Gemora and Rishonim, bringing implicit "proofs" and the like.

This is not giving over information. This is paskening a shailah. This is being a rabbi.

And this is what has become of Modern Orthodoxy. I remember, in 1977 I think it was - the 1977-1978 school year if memory serves - when Stern college started their first Gemora class for women, that the Gedolim said it was a terrible peritzas geder - crossing the line, as it were - and in the words of Rav Hutner (Rav Moshe said something similar) "They think they’re just teaching them Gemora? Soon they’ll be paskening shailos!"

The Modern Orthodox world laughed, then.

Now it’s time to cry.


They don’t even realize what is happening to them. I have no doubt that some of these people do not consider themselves rabbis, and wouldn't dream of calling themselves suchi. But when I give you a teshuva from Rav Moshe, and you give me back your own teshuva, "showing" from Shas and Rishonim that Rav Moshe is wrong, you are being a rabbi, no matter what you call yourself. It's like a woman shechting animals for the public and then saying "but I’m not a shochet im just shechting" (incidentally, why women are disqualified to be shochtim is simply because historical precedent shows the minhag is we don’t let them shecht). So here it's "I’m not a rabbi I’m just paskening".


Very few people follow everything Rav Moshe says, since there are other authorities in existence as well, but for some woman to write a teshuva "proving" that he is dead wrong - even if that teshuva wouldn’t be a collection of mistakes and misreadings , would be something to cry over.

These people are not poskim, and that's why they should not be paskenign shailos. If you are someone who is not a posek, and is not a lamdan and has no shimush in derech psak, which are good attributes in and of themselves when referring to the author of this publicly posted teshuva, then if you want to say "we’ll we follow the Chazon Ish,, or the Brisker Rav, or the Chofetz Chaim, or Rav Aharon Kotler" or whoever, and not Rav Moshe, that’s fine. But, without mentioning a single disagreeing authority, to just "prove" Rav Moshe wrong by Shas and poskim, for such a person not to know his (or in this case, "her") place, is arrogance off the scale, and an assault on the honor of the Torah. (And a pretty big joke. The only reason not to cry when you’re not crying when you see something like this is because you're laughing too hard.)

It’s not an excuse to say, "I don’t feel he’s big enough that I can’t show from Shas and Rambam that he’s wrong". And not only that, but announcing that you have successfully done just that, well, maybe it’s not arrogance, maybe its just childishness and foolishness. But either way, it’s absurd.


Tell me please, why is someone like this are not woman rabbi? She wouldn't call yourself one, I am sure - but I didn’t ask what such a woman would call herself; she wouldn't have a congregation, I am certain - but neither does Rav Chaim Kanievsky, neither did the Steipler, the Chazon Ish, or the Vilna Gaon himself. People who pasken shailos - and please note: we are not talking here about someone who quotes Kitzur Shulchan Aruch or Igros Moshe to a class of girls in Bais Yaakov, for she is not "disproving" anyone, nor bringing proofs and deriving halachos form Shas and Rishonim - are rabbonim. And people who are capable of disproving great poskim such as Rav Moshe ZTL are really great rabbonim.

And those who publicly proclaim that they have done so are even greater.

Are any of these “women rabbi’s” great poskim? If not then why are they paskening shailos?

It’s not as if they quoted someone who said "we may teach Gemora to girls", you derived that based on pilpula doraisa and limud sugya aliba dhilchasa (or at least you think you did), coming to a halachic conclusion that "disproves" the halchic conclusion of other poskim. And yes, "proves" the halachic position of your own poskim, though whose position you are proving and whose you are disproving makes no difference.

You are sticking your nose in where it does not belong.

If you want to discuss the implications of Rabbi Soloveichik's actions (and his followers, including his son-in-law), we can do that; if you want to say you follow him, we can discuss that too. But to say that you on your own have concluded that one side is right and the other wrong, is pathetic.

You do not know your place and you do not know Rav Moshe's place. Regardless of who you follow, leave the rabbinics to the rabbonim and the halachah to the poskim, please.


In Stern College, as well as the other places where they teach girls Gemora, they do really teach it to them on the level that the girls would be able to understand the difference between learning a sugya and coming to a halachic conclusion based on the sugya. There is a thin line - and it is in humility as well as in understanding the Gemora - that comes with experience both while learning in Yeshiva and as a rabbi, between learning a Gemora and relying on your own learning l'maaseh. Even when a great posek gives a shiur, we have no proof that he intended his words to be halachah lmaaseh, and there are actual rules in the poskim about this. Rashi in Chumash, for instance, because his role there is a commentator and not a posek, even when he mentions a Halachah, does not necessarily mean to pasken that way, but rather to give us the most straightforward explanation of the verse. If Rashi were asked a shailah, it is possible he would at times give a Halachic response that differs from what he stated in his commentary.

Nobody teaches these girls how not to become rabbis. Indeed, there may not be a way to teach it to them, because if you’re teaching them Gemora, you’re actually opening the door, wide and inviting, for them to become (in their own mind) poskim.

The formula is simple: Why should women not pasken shailos if they are learning all the material that is needed to pasken a shailah? That is, Gemora, Rishonim, Shulchan Aruch, poskim.

Why shouldn’t they?

In the places where they teach girls Gemora, nobody, including their Rabbonim, have been able to adequately respond to the simple fact that in the Rishonim and Shulchan Aruch it states clearly and unanimously that we are not allowed to teach girls Gemora. Not "advised" -- indeed, Torah shebiksav, it says, it "lchatchilah" not supposed to be taught to them, but the Rishonim and Shulcha Aruch state explicitly that Torah shebal peh is not merely l'chatchila not to be done, but black and white with no room for flexibility.

That is what Rav Moshe is saying. This issue is indeed black and white. The fact that Rabbi Soloveichik and his followers have taught girls Gemora just means - since nobody has been able to produce a halachicly compelling argument as to why they would be allowed to do that - that you have a question about their actions, but not a change in the halachah.

The Belzer Rebbe ZTL was a great man, in all aspects of Judaism. But he davened outside of the zman Shachris. That does not change the fact that if someone asks you until when you are allowed to daven, you must tell them as it states in the Shulchan Aruch. Why the Belzer Rebbe did it, I cannot be sure (although elsewhere on the site I suggested a possible halachic reason, but its just speculation, plus it wouldn’t apply to the Chasidim anyway), nor does it matter. If someone asks me until when are you allowed to daven, I have one answer for him. If they ask me then what about the Belzer Rebbe (and he is only one example), I would say "You’ll have to ask him." If someone wants to follow in the Belzer Rebbe’s footsteps, that’s his business. But proper halachic practice is to tell him not to.

And so I tell you girls that that Halachah is clear, from Shulchan Aruch and Shas and poskim -- it is prohibited to teach girls Gemora. And that’s what Rav Moshe said. He said there is nothing even to discuss. Nothing at all to discuss. That is the only time I am aware of in all of his psakim that he says such a thing. No need for discussion, he says, and therefore he will not discuss it. The issue is black and white, he says, since it is clearly stated in Halachah.

Why Rabbi Soloveichik did what he did, you’ll have to ask him. But it doesn’t change the Halachah. Rav Moshe, I remember, at the time, felt that there was no legitimate reason for what he did and he should not have done it. There is another issue where Rav Soloveichik had said something (not related to this, but a Hashkafa issue - something about the Avos) and Rav Shach writes, very respectfully, that what "HRH"G Rav Soloveichik" says, is assur to say, and what moved him to take such a Torah position was the result of the influence that his secular knowledge.

Would Rav Shach say that this is also such a case? I don’t know. But the issue of what a Rabbi should tell people when asked a shailah if women can learn Gemora is not affected by it. If I am asked until what time you can daven, I will say Tefilas Hashachar ad Chatzos (b'dieved), and if someone asks me if you can teach girls Gemora I will say "Keilu melamdah tiflus!"


The fact that the Perisha says there are exceptions to the issur proves it’s not an issur? Chazal, when they made the issur said that it won’t apply in certain exceptional cases. This is about basic 9th grade "lumdus" - chazal "weren’t gozer" in exceptional cases as opposed to the gezeirah being opposed by the exception. But what’s the use?

The fact that the Poskim, including Shulchan Aruch state clearly that Torah she biksav should not be taught lechatchilah, but Torah shebal peh is not merely lechatchilah is clear as can be that Torah shebiksav is, well, not merely a lechatchilah recommendation, but that if you did it you violated chazal's words. (The phrase "bdieved" would not be appropriate here because that only applies to some kind of ex post fact status, like if you’re yotzeh bdieved or something like that. In this case lchatchilah means you preferably shouldn’t do it, but if you did, it’s not as if you taught the girl tiflus; Torah shebal peh however, is as if you taught her tiflus, which is far more than a "discouragement". Chazal commanded us not to do it.)

It is also not appropriate to rely on a sole daas yachid (Rabbi Soloveitchik and his followers are the only religious people in the history of Klall Yisroel that have ever done such a thing as make Gemora classes for girls), especially when the Gedolim didn’t recognize his actions as an alternative shitah but rather as a simple misdeed, and, most importantly, the Shulchan Aruch and Rishonim unanimously say it is wrong, and not a single valid halachic defense has ever been put forth in defense of this practice.


In fact, even the Torah that girls are obligated to learn Halachah and mussar - does not merit for them the zechus of Torah; for their "obligation" to learn these things is not an obligation to LEARN - it is merely a necessary part of fulfilling their obligation to DO the Mitzvos, for if they do not know, how can they do?

They have no obligation to learn ANYTHING. It is merely that certain things must be learned in order to fulfill their obligation to practice, not because of any obligation to learn.

We ought not try to rewrite the Halchah the way we think it should be. If women - or men - have a desire for something permitted or obligatory, that's fine, but if they have a desire for something prohibited, then they should resist. That’s what were in this world for - to withstand nisyonos. And that includes women going to Gemora classes.


It is not only the Bais Halevi and the Bach that use the word assur - it is fairly common in the poskim. However, as I mentioned earlier, by citing proofs from seforim such as Bais Halevi and the Bach, you are implying that to pasken this shailah you need more than the simple Chazal and Shulchan Aruch, which gives it more credence than it needs. It should be noted that in Rav Moshe's Teshuva, he does not tackle the shailah like he does all the other shailos in Igros Moshe. Instead, he says the issue is clear in Chazal and Shulchan Aruch, and so there is no need for a discussion at all. He is saying, in other words, that you don’t need Rav Moshe to pasken this shailah, you don’t need to learn proofs and bring seforim. It’s a cut and dry, black and white issue that anybody who reads Chazal and Shulchan Aruch can see. Therefore, Rav Moshe says about that school that wanted to teach girls Mishnayos that he was asked about, not that he disagrees or that there are other opinions that they can rely on, but rather, he says you should stop them from doing it.

PS - For the record "assur" does not have to mean "prohibited." It sometimes means it is midas chasidus not to do (not that this has any bearing on our issue here).


I hope that was not Rabbi Soloveichik's reasoning [That the Chofetz Chaim wanted girl's to learn Torah Shebichsav, some say R' Soloveichick used this as a proof for why women can learn Gemorah] because it makes no sense. The Chofetz Chaim never permitted anything that was Halachicly prohibited. It was just our self-imposed, self-designed curriculum that the Chofetz Chaim adjusted. Teaching Gemora to girls is prohibited in the Gemora and Shulchan Aruch, and such reasoning cannot change that.

To this day, I have not heard a legitimate defense for the teaching of Gemora to girls, and it is one of the reasons that Modern Orthodoxy is not accepted in Traditional Orthodox circles.

I once asked Rav Yeruchem Gorelick, a Rebbi in YU and a student of the Chofetz Chaim and Brisker Rav, what the heter was to teach girls Gemora in YU.

"The heter?" he said in Yiddish, "The heter? It's YU! That is the heter!"

If that's the reasoning then it's sad, because there is absolutely no comparison between what the Chofetz Chaim did and what YU did. The Chofetz Chaim said that nowadays we should teach them "Chumash, Neviim, Kesuvim, and Musar". End quote. None of these subjects are prohibited. We merely did not put it in the girls' curriculum because there was no good reason to do so, but we were always allowed the option.

As opposed to Gemora which is prohibited, the Chofetz Chaim's reasoning would be completely unrelated to such an issue. Any high school kid could understand this Halachic distinction. In fact, years before YU started teaching girls Gemora (which if memory serves was 1976), there were those who wanted to teach girls Torah shebal peh using the Chofetz Chaim as support; the idea is addressed in the Satmar rav's Vayoel Moshe, at the end of the sefer. He refers to these people as, well, "idiots" (tipshim).

It's really very defective Halachic reasoning to base such a thing on the Chofezt Chaim's ruling; anyone with a high school level Yeshiva education would not take it seriously. Perhaps that website person is missing something here. But whatever, it makes no sense.

And no, if the women are asking to be taught, so what? Why would that undo the prohibition? I am not familiar with the Tzitz Eliezer that you mentioned and I do not have seforim with me now to look it up, but when a statement of Chazal is explicitly based on a reason that Chazal gave then there is room to say that included in the statement is a condition that it in fact be true. You find such reasoning in the Ramah regarding Ain Ishah Me'Izah Panehah Bifnei Baalah, for instance, that is a social observation and not a Halachah, and so may not apply nowadays. People's behavior can change, and if it does then it does.

But nowhere in the Halachah of teaching girls Gemora is there anything that indicates that you can dispense with the Halachah because nowadays women are educated. Please refer to the discussion we had in the other forum (quoted above).


Although we are allowed, according to many Poskim, to give an individual who is about to do an aveirah, a lesser aveirah (such as when someone is goign to eat a cheeseburger, we would be allowed to give him, instead, a chicken-cheeseburger), but:

(a) You may never, ever say that it is permitted to do the lesser aveirah - even for him. To do so is changing the Torah, which, the Yam Shel Shlomo says, is Yehoreg V'Al Yaavor. You may tell him something like, "This is assur, but I’m giving it to you anyway, so that you will avoid the greater issur." But you may never say or give him the message that it is OK for him even to eat the chicken cheeseburger. By Stern specifically offering these courses, the message is clear that it is permitted. And never mind the "drashos" about how advanced the women are and how wonderful it is that they do this.

(b) You can only do this specifically to someone who is for sure going to do the greater issur. You can’t do this for those who you "think, may, likely, some of them, many of them" do the greater issur. And especially not if you also have no great surety that giving them the smaller issur is going to prevent them from doing the greater issur anyway.

(c) You can’t do this is there is a permitted item available instead,

(d) Most important - You can’t permit this for the masses. You cannot officially sanction an issur in your community, done by an official "chinuch" institution. An officially sanctioned issur is never permitted.

And there are no "yesh lismoch". The Tur is a misprint, and outnumbered by everyone. This is not a valid Halachic ruling.

Incidentally, this type of attitude is precisely what makes Modern Orthodoxy against the Torah. In the words of Rav Aharon Kotler ZTL:

“The Modern Orthodox claim that their path is the true path of Judaism, that it is the path that was followed by our ancestors throughout the generations, but that they only add some modernizations and insignificant changes in order to make the Torah appealing to the masses. But the truth is that this small point is the same as the point of Reform, and it is at the heart of hearts of the great defection from Torah and religion in past generations. They [Modern Orthodox] change [our] ways and twist [our] concepts.” (Mishnas Rav Aharon III p.216)

If YU can give a heter for girls to learn gemora because they think that maybe some of them will be doing worse and that maybe maybe some of those ill not do the worse because of the Gemora (dream on!), then a similar "heter" (sic) exists for everything in the world. (A lounge in YU with the videos would also be good for business...)


I would like to point out that great women, even Sarah Schinerer, did not feel nay need to learn Gemora, despite their status. There is no need, really. There is plenty of Torah to be learned and Mitzvos to do that why would you need or want to learn Gemora? Are these girls more frum than all the Rebetzens in the world? Or is it that they have been wrongly led to believe that there is something in Gemora that they are missing that will help them get closer to Hashem that only men have. This is a big mistake.

There is no reason women should want to learn Gemora. Their avodas Hashem is complete without it. If it is permitted for an exceptional women is a question, but based on how our exceptional women have acted throughout history, this does not really include it. At the very least, not for teenagers today.

So the question is: Why do these girls want to learn Gemora if they have not finished everything they NEED to know? What do they think they will gain by it?


A list of the arguments given for why women can learn Torah Shebal Peh:

(1) It's not fair that men should and they shouldn't

(2) it's not within the spirit of modern times to prevent women from learning gemora

(3) it's silly to allow women to learn medicine and law but not gemora

(4) the women want to

Of course, all the above arguments are secular, non-religious arguments, though often said by religious people. From a halachic or Torah point of view, they don't mean anything. There are some more, but all equally inconsequential.


The Maskilim were very involved in "correcting" our texts and changing Girsaos that they weren’t big enough Lamdonim to understand, which happened a lot. The Torah Temimah does this at times too - prefers to change Girsaos where more acceptable solutions are available. His most famous "bizzareity" (there should be such a word) is not in the changing of a Girsah but rather his statement that the Makas Choshech in Mitzrayim was not darkness of all, but rather cataracts. Whatever. The Torah Temimah is a very useful sefer, but because he was not a Torah authority, we take what he says with a grain of salt, or, as in the case of the cataracts, we don’t take it seriously at all.

As far as his historical recollections, they, too, are not considered authoritative. It’s not necessarily an issue of lying, but rather reliability and accuracy, and his seeing things through his own personal perspective. Take, for instance, the story about the Netziv's wife learning Mishnayos. Does this mean that she learned it herself (which may be permitted as per the Prisha), or in a group (prohibited)? Or maybe the Netziv gave her Mishnayos that were purely l'halachah to learn, which would be the same as learning Halachah in Shulchan Aruch which is permitted? Or did she learn random Mishnayos, which is prohibited? Perhaps this "mishnayos" was Pirkei Avos?

Or maybe a thousand other things. And there are those who will tell you that it is also possible that it never happened at all, despite what it says.

As an example, I once saw written that Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer's wife helped him write the Even H'Azel, which means she had Talmudic knowledge. Lots of it. I spoke to the author if the article and he said that he heard this from two people who knew her personally.

I asked Rebitzen Rishel Kotler about this - she was the closet relative of Rav Isser Zalman that I could access at the time - and she said of course she knows about it. Rav Isser Zalman's wife edited the "dikduk" in Even HaAzel, not the content at all. "How would she know anything about Rambam?" she told me).

These things happen all the time. What the Torah Temimah says should be taken with a grain of salt.

If we know something to be wrong, or we know something to be untrue, we do not rely on the unconformable recollections of one man to change that.


There was something that set Rebitzen Braunstein apart, unique among other Rebitzens and other Melumodos, something that made her very exceptional and unique. And that is, that despite - no, because of! - her exceptional Torah knowledge, the thing that made her most proud, the thing that she valued more than anything else in the world, was the fulfillment of what Chazal said:

How do women merit Olam Habah? By waiting for their husbands while they are learning in the Bais Hamedrash, and sending their children off to learn Torah in Yeshiva.

The glorious role of the real Rebitzen that values the Torah of her husband and children more than anything else in the world, and who works with all her heart and strength and soul to that end - that was not only her greatest pride, but it came out between the lines in every single complex Torah lecture she ever gave.

Often times, a girl looks up to her rebitzen role model, admires her knowledge of the Maharals and ibn Ezras, and says to herself while hearing a lecture, "Wow. I'd love to be like her. To do that, I'll have to know a lot of Maharals and ibn Ezras". With Rebitzen Braunstein, a girl looked up to her as a role model, was in awe of her knowledge of Maharals and ibn Ezras, and Radaks and Rashis, and said to herself while hearing a lecture, "Wow. I'd love to be like her. To do that, I'll have to do whatever I can to make sure my husband is a great Talmid Chacham, and my home is a Mikdash Me'at."


Labels: ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the book "Carry me in your heart" it states that Sarah Shneirer did learn gemara. Factual inaccuracies are lazy as are sweeping mass generalisations.

12:34 PM  
Anonymous taon said...

I dont know much about that, though i do know the same book says she didnt learn gemara, but

a. it could have been what she was permitted to learn

b. she didnt consider it something women needed to do, which is exactly what Rav Moderator wrote

c. i dont think she kept doing so past a young age, when she also went to secular school and said she wished she didint have to to learn

6:12 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home