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January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
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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?
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I frankly don’t see how that will help. If I were a woman who saw what men do and wanted to have the same spiritual experience, half measures would not be satisfying.

If for example the strict letter of the law would allow a woman to Daven Pesukei D’Zimra at the Amud since that part of the prayer service is not a Davar SheB’kedusha (and need not even have a Chazan at all) how would that make me feel? I am still barred from being the Chazan during the actual Teffilah B’Tzibur. And I would still feel short changed spiritually.

The main areas of synagogue participation would still be barred from me. A paradigm shift would serve only to radically change the Shul experience to one which is unrecognizable. While there may be a Halachic way to do that, is it worth it?

Is our traditional way of Davening so off-putting to women that it requires us to do that? And will it ultimately be satisfying spiritually for a woman to stop where Halacha requires her to? She will still be required to sit separately from men. She can still not be counted into a Minyan. And she will still not be able to be the Shaliach Tzibur for the essential parts of the Teffilah.

In my view, as well intentioned as Rabbi Farber is, I don’t see any real benefit to this in the long run. All I can see is at best a slight – and probably temporary – mollification at the expense of a radical change to the traditional way of doing things in Shul – Halachicly permissible though it may be.

This does not mean that I don’t respect the desire of women who are sincere in searching for more spirituality in Judaism. They have that right. And it is a laudable goal. But trying to do that in a Shul just isn ‘t going to work ultimately in my view since woman are Halachicly barred from fully doing it.

What is the answer for these very sincere women? I’m not sure. But trying to equalize the role of women to men in the Shul is impossible if one is to stay within the bounds of Halacha.

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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.


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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.

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Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
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