web analytics
April 21, 2015 / 2 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


Is Half a Loaf Really Better than No Loaf?

Is our traditional way of Davening so off-putting to women that it requires us to make radical changes?
synagogue-women-section

I do not question Rabbi Zev Farber’s sincerity. I even applaud his resolve to right what he sees to be wrong in the way we practice Judaism today. But I do not agree with him at all on the way to do it.

In a recent article on Morethodoxy, Rabbi Farber suggests that we change the paradigm with respect to a woman’s role in Judaism. His contention is that women are (at best) inadvertently ignored and mistreated vis-à-vis their public religious personae. Their current place in the synagogue is where this is mostly felt.

Rabbi Farber mentions the fact that women are excluded from any and every part of synagogue service and are basically considered a non entity in the vast majority of Shuls – having absolutely no participatory presence. Even those Shuls that try and accommodate them with things like Women’s Teffilah Groups or putting a Mechtiza down the center aisle of the shul which crosses the Bimah is at best a piece-meal approach to the problem of giving women a greater role. That – says Rabbi Farber is insufficient and does not satisfy a woman’s desire for a greater spiritual experience in the Shul.

Indeed, men do everything. They are counted toward a Minyan; Daven for the Amud; get Aliyos; get to say Brachos over the Torah; get to do Pesicha (open the ark when the prayer service requires it); get Hagbeh or G’lilah (lifting the Torah after Kriyah and/or rolling it together)! All women get to do (aside from Davening) is observe men doing it.

Rabbi Farber would like to see all that change – a basic overhaul in the role of a woman in the Shul – to the extent that Halacha allows. He claims that the only thing preventing real change is an antiquitated paradigm based on a culture that no longer exists. That paradigm stems from a time where women in every civilized society stayed home. It was for those reasons that Chazal, Rishonim and Achronim as late as the Chafetz Chaim created and maintained the current non participatory role for women in the synagogue. Here is how he puts it:

Women were rarely public figures and were discouraged from receiving too much education, taking visible public roles, participating in the power structure, and generally from being around men. If any woman were to express superior learning or knowledge than a man in front of a group it would have been a serious breach in etiquette. This is why, according to Tosafot (b. Sukkah 38a, s.v. “be-emet”), women do not lead the Grace after Meals for men or read the Megillah for men, since it would be insulting to them (zila milta). For the same reason, R. Israel Meir Kagan, in his Mishna B’rurah (281:4) argues that women should not say Qiddush for men, at least in public. The Talmud offers a similar reason why women do not read from the Torah in synagogue (b. Megillah 23a), although they are apparently eligible to do so, as it would offend the honor of the congregation (kavod ha-tzibbur).

In today’s world there has been a radical shift in societal attitudes about a woman’s role. Today we find women in all sorts of public roles. Roles that were once the sole bastion of men. There are female doctors, lawyers, scientists, politicians, Supreme Court justices, generals, CEO’s of major companies and university professors, deans, and presidents. You name the field and women can easily be found there.

Women of every Hashkafic type participate in public positions once anathema to them. One need not look any further than the ultra Orthodox Hamodia to see a woman, Ruth Lichtenstein, as its publisher. Or to note that the daughter of Charedi Gadol Rav Yitzchok Hutner earned her PhD at Columbia University.

Certainly the role of the woman has changed in our day even among the right wing.

So – says Rabbi Farber – things like Kavod HaTzibur that were based on no longer existent sensibilities should be re-visited. And he suggests that the entire paradigm be changed so as to accommodate the sincere desire of many women to more fully participate in the Shul… and thereby enhance their spiritual experience.

Here’s the problem. Rabbi Farber is an Orthodox Rabbi and as such he realizes that no matter what we do, Halacha forbids an equal role for women. Acknowledging that at least tacitly he says that we ought to do whatever we can – where ever we can – to allow as full a participation in the synagogue experience as possible.

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Is Half a Loaf Really Better than No Loaf?”

  1. The answer may lie in non-Orthodox Jewish movements, but that generally is more of an anathema the more Orthodox one's approach is.

Comments are closed.

Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
Student at Har Etzion Yeshiva reads announcement of the death of Rabbi Lichtenstein.
Thousands Mourn Rabbi Lichtenstein
Latest Blogs Stories
Brudner-012414-Hollywood

It is the character of the individual that counts, not his sexual preferences.

Oron Shaul, Hadar Goldin, both murdered last summer by Arab terrorists from Gaza,

Bibi gives a great speech, especially when talking to foreigners, but on policy, he’s very weak.

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein

One of us had the chutzpah to ask him to join the ball game. He said okay and he played aggressively.

Doug Goldstein

Watch this Doug Goldstein video to learn how easy it’s to open a US brokerage account from overseas.

An Israeli TV show about Holocaust Day asserted the Holocaust is/was a European not Jewish tragedy

“I am 100% convinced that she is not in any way anti-Semitic. She is in fact a philo-Semite”

Poverty has become a thriving business; Learn how the payday loan has affected many US households

Pressure by Pres. Rivlin for a monstrous “national unity government” has made things worse for Bibi

How do money managers take care of your money? And have you ever heard of “socially responsible” investing?

In the memory of loved ones, I commit to continue the fight for our survival in their blessed memory

The US Consulate in Israel should have people helping US citizens on various tax & benefits issues

This whole Arab Palestinian myth was concocted to prevent a viable Jewish state.

Teaching integrity is allowing family, friends, and associates see the business of living your life.

Chumros-YES! But when it comes to the Chilul HaShem described in the article they couldn’t care less

Yarmouk is the opportunity for “Pro-Palestinian” groups to prove they aren’t just anti-Israel.

Why are employers reluctant to hire Charedim? Legitimate concerns or plain old fashioned prejudice?

More Articles from Harry Maryles
Brudner-012414-Hollywood

It is the character of the individual that counts, not his sexual preferences.

Former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton. (archive)

“I am 100% convinced that she is not in any way anti-Semitic. She is in fact a philo-Semite”

Chumros-YES! But when it comes to the Chilul HaShem described in the article they couldn’t care less

Why are employers reluctant to hire Charedim? Legitimate concerns or plain old fashioned prejudice?

Just like the shoppers on Black Friday those attending Rav Wosner’s funeral were oblivious to others

Iran not only hates the ‘Little Satan’, Israel, they hate the US- “The Great Satan too.

Daas Torah has been extrapolated to include ‘asking a Gadol’ about every decision one makes in life

Studies have shown that there are more people leaving Orthodoxy than are coming in.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/is-half-a-loaf-really-better-than-no-loaf/2012/10/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: