Chillul Tefila Bifarhesia, as well as halachicly challenged verbiage and dress, are external manifestations of a critical lack of personal yiras shomayim which has lethal consequences.
R. Lichtenstein stated that a member of parliament and certainly a government minister are often involved in coercive legislation or votes on budgets involving tens of millions of shekels or issues of war and peace. This position is clearly more of a serarah than any shul rabbi or president. He thus felt that, certainly in Israel, the Modern Orthodox community has taken the position that the expansive reading of the Rambam, limiting women’s roles, is not the normative ruling. (It should be noted that R. Lichtenstein’s own wife, Dr. Tovah Lichtenstein, ran for Knesset in 1988 as a candidate for the Meimad party headed then by Rav Yehuda Amital.)
In this context I would also add a question of halachic methodology and consistency that needs to be examined in this as in many other halachic issues. There are many communal voices that, despite the existence of opinions against the Rambam’s view or severely restricting its contemporary application, take the position that we should be stringent for the view of Rambam (in its expansive reading).
I’ve always wondered why, on this specific issue, the “Rambam’s position” is the only one that should be entertained communally.
There are many other opinions of the Rambam’s – some of them quite central to his worldview – that much of the Orthodox community seems to have no problem neutralizing or ignoring because other views exist.
Two examples of the myriad one can cite:
1. Many of the communal rabbis or activists who cite the Rambam on serarah do not hesitate to allow their communities to use standard communal eruvin, in their own neighborhoods and all over the world. According to Rambam’s view, almost all our eruvin are not kosher as they have more than a ten-amot gap between eruv posts.
2. Rambam maintains that receiving money for learning Torah is a chillul Hashem (the worst sin possible in his hierarchy of sin in Hilchot Teshuvah). Yet the haredi, Modern Orthodox, dati-leumi, and hardal worlds not only neutralize the binding nature of Rambam’s position on this matter, they trumpet the existence of various kollelim as the pinnacle of their educational infrastructure.
In all these instances, of course, there are other rishonim who take issue with Rambam, or there are acharonim who limit the Rambam and attempt to show that even he would agree in this or that situation (sometimes more convincingly, sometimes much less so). In many instances, acharonim attempt to show that because of pressing need or another countervailing Torah value, we need to be lenient and not only look to the Rambam’s view as dispositive.
In a word, through the give and take of halacha, the analysis of the social realities and religious needs of the community, and the weighing of other Jewish and ethical values, this or that position of the Rambam’s does not become the final word in the living, practicing reality of the committed community.
Thus, the simple statement that “we should be stringent for shitat ha-Rambam” is far from simple. The question has to be evaluated on a much broader canvas of potentially countervailing legitimate Torah needs, halachic values and spiritual directions that may point us to look to other views besides the restrictive reading of a particular Rambam.
About the Author: Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot is chair of the departments of Bible and Jewish Thought at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School (YCT), a member of the steering committee of the Orthodox Forum sponsored by Yeshiva University, and co-chair of the Public Affairs committee of the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF). The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of YCT, the Orthodox Forum or individual members of the IRF. This article is excerpted from a lengthy essay found at the Text and Texture blog (www.text.rcarabbis.org).
You must log in to post a comment.
Ahmadinejad may plan to reveal proof that the 2009 elections were rigged if his candidate’s registration for presidential candidacy is not accepted.
With a ‘friend’ like Erdogan, Obama’s policy toward Syria, Iran, the advance of revolutionary Islamism, and the Israel-Palestinian “peace process,” is in serious trouble.
The media loved Obama, but it discovered early on that he did not love it back.
How far the PA will go to present the lie as the truth and the truth as a lie? Its claim that Jesus was a Palestinian is old hat. But now the “resurrection” also refers to “the Palestinian state.”
The progressive consolidation imagines that organization can contain the messier side of man.
The Russian Yakhont missiles already delivered to Syria threaten Israel Navy ships carrying out vital missions in the Mediterranean.
Islamism represents the transformation of Islamic faith into a political ideology.
America could be said to be building a united front against Iran, but at what price?
The Japanese do not feel the need to apologize to Muslims for the negative way in which they relate to Islam.
Palestinian youths from Hebron, though, who met with Israelis near Bethlehem to share their problems and insights have been forced to issue a statement distancing themselves from the meeting.
Benghazi isn’t likely to keep Hillary out of the Democratic field in 2016, but after 2008, she is justifiably paranoid.
The contractors received the land at a bargain basement price, moved the prices up to 1.8 million NIS and pocketed one million NIS per apartment.
Many of my fellow college students are quick to voice their acceptance of their LGBT friends, but they turn up their noses and frown slightly when they speak of a Hasid.
The growing revelations that the Obama State Department watered down public statements on the attack in order to cleanse them of any mention of al Qaeda and terrorism is a travesty.
We must confront Islamist groups with what Prime Minister David Cameron referred to as “muscular liberalism.”
The latest round in the broader canvas of debates about the approach of Modern Orthodoxy to the role of women in communal life has focused on the issue of learned Orthodox women receiving some form of rabbinic ordination and serving as rabbis or clergy.
As Super Bowl weekend approaches the signs at the local takeout stores in Modern Orthodox neighborhoods (and even some haredi ones as well, but I limit my discussion here to the former as that is my community) abound with signs advertising gigantic food package options with catchy names such as the “Linebacker” or the “Halftimer.”
A few weeks ago I was completing the silent amidah at the morning minyan I attend in my local shul. Suddenly, a cold breeze shot through the room. I headed back to the door of the bet midrash where we pray and saw that a young observant woman I know had propped the door slightly ajar in order to hear the repetition of the Shemoneh Esrei and the reading of the Torah.
David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of the State of Israel, was often quoted in the early years of the state as remarking, “it is not so important what the Gentiles say as what the Jews do.”
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/women-modern-orthodoxy-and-communal-leadership/2010/03/24/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: