I later e-mailed the husband of one of the new maharats, whom I know personally, and asked him how the school could permit Kol Isha. This man, an Orthodox rabbi, replied that the prohibition of Kol Isha does not apply to someone saying a davar she’bikedushah (i.e. Shema, Kedushah, etc.).
The actual wording of the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 75:3 states otherwise. It says that “one should avoid listening to a woman sing when saying Shema.”
Only later did I realize that since the women were singing the words to a berachah (“Shehecheyanu”), that was the davar she’bikedushah he meant. In other words, listening to a woman sing from the words of Tehillim or anything composed by Chazal, according to Yeshivat Maharat, is permissible.
This attempt to give a halachic stamp of approval to Kol Isha by redefining Chazal’s meaning and usage of the term davar she’bikedushah is disingenuous and tramples on divrei Chazal.
Yeshivat Maharat has crossed a red line and can no longer be considered Orthodox, no matter what prefix is added to the word “orthodoxy” – “open orthodoxy,” “morethodoxy” or some other variant – to make others believe the school is still within the Orthodox camp. In this case, more is less.
Kol hamosif goraya (Sanhedrin 29a).
Rabbi Mordechai Bulua
Appalled At Administrators’ Attitude
I have been a Jewish educator for 36 years, during which time I’ve taught in public schools, non-Jewish private schools, Jewish day schools and Talmud Torah afternoon schools.
My heart goes out to every parent who has a child with ADD/ADHD, and as I read Michelle Gross’s “Rabbis Denied My Daughter a Jewish Education” (op-ed, Aug. 16) I was increasingly appalled at the way the yeshivot and administrative rabbis handled her case (and who knows how many other cases involving children whose parents don’t write articles).
The “educational professionals” Ms. Gross had to deal with should be ashamed of themselves. ADD/ADHD in nothing new and there is a tremendous amount of written material available on the subject. Have these administrators not read any of that material, or attended any of the numerous professional development classes given on ADD/ADHD?
Every Jewish child is so important and we are losing so many thanks to intermarriage and young people going off the derech. We can’t afford to throw away Jewish children who want a Jewish education just because they have a disability in learning, concentration and focusing.
I once heard a vort that stuck with me as an educator. What is the reason we put both the whole luchot and the broken luchot in the aron of the Mishkan? What benefit was there in keeping the broken ones? The benefit was that they reminded us we are responsible for the broken Jews in the world – the handicapped, the poor, the hungry and even the learning disabled and those children who suffer from ADD/ADHD.
The rabbis and administrators who run these yeshivot with expensive tuitions should get their act together and stop discarding our children. Maybe they could cut back on expenses elsewhere and open special programs in their schools to draw more kids with learning disabilities. I am sure there are plenty of unemployed teachers who would be happy to teach these kids.
Elul is here and Rosh Hashanah is coming. The rabbis/administrators should do a little soul searching and figure out how to help kids with disabilities, because what response will they have when Hashem asks them, “What did you do for those special children who are miracles from Me just like every other child?”