web analytics
June 26, 2016 / 20 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘WOMEN’

Do Women Recite Birchas HaTorah?

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

The Rambam begins Hilchos Talmud Torah with the following halacha: Women and slaves are exempt from Talmud Torah. A man is obligated to teach his son Torah, as it says, “v’limaditem osam es beneichem ledaber bam.” However, a woman is not obligated to teach her son Torah because whoever is obligated to learn is obligated to teach – and since a woman is not obligated to learn, she is not obligated to teach.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 47:14) says that women should recite birchas haTorah. There is a machlokes Rishonim whether women can recite a berachah on a mitzvah from which they are exempt from performing. According to the Rishonim who opine that they can recite a berachah, it makes sense that they can recite the berachah on learning Torah as well. But the Mechaber rules in favor of those Rishonim who do not permit women to recite a berachah on a mitzvah from which they are exempt. How then can he rule that they should recite a berachah on the mitzvah of learning Torah?

The Magen Avraham quotes the Beis Yosef, in the name of the Agur, and explains that women are obligated to learn the halachos that pertain to them and are obligated to say the pesukim of korbanos, just as they are obligated to daven. Thus, they may recite the berachah on learning Torah. The Magen Avraham also explains that it is for this reason that women can say in the second berachah of bentching, “v’al Torasecha she’limaditanu,” since they are obligated to learn the halachos that pertain to them.

The Vilna Gaon does not agree with the Magen Avraham’s answer since the Gemara derives from the pasuk, “v’limadetem osam es beneichem” – v’lo benoseichem – that women are exempt from the mitzvah entirely. This exemption applies even to learning about the mitzvos that they are obligated to perform.

HaRav Shach, in his sefer on the Rambam, explains that there are two obligations to learn Torah. One is a general obligation to learn the entire Torah. This obligation is derived from the pesukim of “v’shinantam” or “v’limadetam.” It is from this obligation that women are exempt.

However, there is another obligation to learn Torah that is a component of every specific mitzvah, demanding that one learn how to perform it. In other words, included in the commandment to perform each mitzvah is an obligation to learn how to properly perform that mitzvah. And this obligation is also a mitzvah of learning Torah.

Women are exempt only from the first general obligation to learn Torah, not the second, more specific one. Thus, they may recite the berachah on the mitzvah of talmud Torah, even according to the opinion that women may not recite a berachah on a mitzvah from which they are exempt.

Rav Shach brings a proof from a Tosefos in Avodah Zarah (3a) that this obligation (to learn how to perform the mitzvos that one is obligated to do) is considered a mitzvah of talmud Torah. The Gemara says that a non-Jew who learns Torah is comparable to a kohen gadol, and he is rewarded just as one who is not obligated to perform the mitzvah (which is a lesser reward than the reward received by a person who performs a mitzvah he is obligated to carry out). Tosafos explains that the Gemara is referring to a non-Jew who learns Torah that pertains to the seven mitzvos that non-Jews are required to perform. (A non-Jew is not allowed to learn any other part of the Torah.) If learning the halachos of how to properly perform a mitzvah is not considered a mitzvah of Talmud Torah, why does the Gemara make reference to a non-Jew who learns Torah? The Gemara should have said: “A non-Jew involved in preparing for a mitzvah he is obligated to do.” By using the language that it does, one can infer that there is an obligation to learn the halachos of each mitzvah, and that that is a mitzvah of talmud Torah.

Rabbi Raphael Fuchs

8 Women Receive Orthodox Ordination in Largely Political Endeavor

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

On Tuesday night, according to a report by Ynet, eight women received certificates of Orthodox Jewish ordination in Jerusalem and selected for themselves various equivalents to the commonly used “Rav” or “Rabbi” by males: some picked “Rav,” instantly making the title unisex; others went with “Rabba,” which would be the female conjugation of the male title, although the term is not in everyday use; some went with “Rabbi,” which in the genderless English grammar has been a common title for Reform and Conservative women clergy for decades.

One preferred to go with “Doctor,” possibly recalling the shamanist attributes for which some Jewish scholars were once renowned. Or more simply, because she has a PhD, but no ordination.

No one went with the prevalent “Rebbetzin,” presumably because to become a Rebbetzin one doesn’t need to study, just marry well.

The ordination was given personally by Rabbi Daniel Landis, a YU graduate who is the head of the Pardes Institute, an open, co-ed and non-denominational Jewish learning community, based in Jerusalem and operating programs worldwide. Landis is also a senior member of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC).

In his message to the freshly ordained Orthodox female rabbis, Landis explored the fact that his graduates are different from ordinary ordained Orthodox rabbis not merely because of their sex, but in their emphasis on Jewish studies, and on any studying at all for that matter:

“I very quickly abandoned the ambition to achieve only rabbinic expertise, and moved on to the more important initiative of promoting you as creative scholars, with integrity, sensitivity and courage, who have access to the members of their generation,” Landis said.

“Yes, but can they pasken on a chicken?” you might ask. It appears that ruling on the mundane needs of rank and file Orthodox Jews was not the top priority of this ordination, which is not a comment on the quality of scholarship of the graduates. They simply appear to put a different emphasis on their future roles in the Jewish community:

Rav Avital Campbell-Hochstein, one of the graduates, said at the ordination ceremony: “Receiving the ordination is not merely a score for knowledge. Ordination, or permission, like halakha itself, is focusing on human beings, on the image of God. Human beings must be seen and heard. The halakha and the Torah are sensitive to the slimmest signs of humanness.” And so, she continued, “in order for halakha, which is an emanation of the will of God, to be relevant and applicable, we must first and foremost be attentive. Human dignity is our driving force. Halakha can be a divider and it can be a meeting ground. It can be a wall and it can be a bridge. Choosing between those component depends on the human beings who use it, and who represent it.”

So, basically, no paskening on chickens for now. Instead, there was a lot of talk about advancing the status of women in halakha and in Orthodox society. You may have to rely on someone else for your kashrut decisions, but in areas of marriage, conversion, and burial, these ordained female rabbis will make sure, as Rav Naama Levitz-Applbaum put it, “that women will be counted, in the full meaning of the word, and to feel as full partners along the path.”

Perhaps as the number of ordained Orthodox female rabbis grows and as each ordination ceases to be viewed as a revolution and starts to be more commonplace (as has been the case in every profession women have entered over the past two centuries) we’ll start hearing about women Orthodox rabbis who are not so heavily invested in the feminist politics of their role but in caring for their congregations. At which point we should be able to assess this fledgling but growing movement not based on our political views but instead on the concrete scholarship and the halakhic contribution of these female rabbis. Because, let’s face it, Orthodox Jews need rabbis to interpret halakha for them. They have plenty of social workers doing everything else.

JNi.Media

Police Arrest Women of the Wall Director for Torah Scroll Violation and Catch 22

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Police arrested Lesley Sachs, Executive Director of Women of the Wall, as she was exiting the Western Wall plaza with a Torah scroll Tuesday morning. Sachs was detained for “disturbing the public order,” although, according to the WOW’s own report, the prayer service of about 80 women at the Kotel was “relatively quiet and uneventful” on Rosh Chodesh Sivan. Apparently, Police accused Sachs of smuggling a Torah scroll into the women’s section.

According to the WOW email, the incriminating Torah scroll was lent to WOW executive board chair Anat Hoffman by Peter and Lawrence Michaels from Congregation B’nai Israel in Sacramento, California, in memory of their parents, Ann and Rudy Michaels. Hoffman, who flew from Sacramento to Israel with the Torah scroll in her arms, related that on her journey she ran into her flight’s all-female team of pilots, Captain Wendi Shaffner and First Officer Katrina Mittelstadt, who were moved by the small Torah. The email did not specify what or where they were moved to.

“Though we believe that the Torah was handed down to women and men equally at Mt. Sinai, and though women and men both sacrificed their lives and loved ones for the reunification of Jerusalem, in 2016 Women of the Wall struggle for access to Torah scrolls at the Kotel,” the WOW statement lamented. Of course, these dear women could access as many Torah scrolls as they wished anywhere else, including at the Reform section of the Kotel a few yards away, but over at the Women’s section of the Kotel it was No Torah for you, ladies, which, apparently, defied the equality promised to women at Mt. Sinai. Not the one on Fifth Ave., the one in Sinai.

The email also accused Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the state-appointed administrator of the Kotel, of creating a “Catch 22” for women: “he prohibits entrance with private Torah scrolls and refuses women access to the 100 scrolls he holds at the Kotel for public use in the men’s section.” But that’s not a catch 22, which was described by Joseph Heller in his 1961 novel by the same title via the character Doc Daneeka, an army psychiatrist who invokes “Catch 22” to explain why any pilot requesting mental evaluation for insanity—hoping to be found not sane enough to fly and thereby escape dangerous missions—demonstrates his own sanity in making the request and thus cannot be declared insane.

Rabbi Rabinowitz simply doesn’t want women to read out loud from the Torah at the Kotel because he interprets this as a desecration of halakha. As the WOW email confirms, he has the right to interpret it this way because he is the state appointed official in charge of interpreting Kotel-related issues.

The real question, not asked by WOW, is how come Sachs was picked up at the end of the Rosh Chodesh prayer session in which she openly defied the law, and not while she smuggled it in, or while the women were reading from it?

In a final episode of Heller’s book, the Catch-22 rule is described to Yossarian, the main protagonist, by an old woman recounting an act of violence by soldiers: “Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.”

Wow.

David Israel

Female Border Guard Police Wounded in Jerusalem Night Terror

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Arab terrorists attacked two female Israeli Border Guard Police officers Wednesday night on the “Ofrit” base near Jerusalem.

The terrorists hurled firebombs (Molotov cocktails) at the officers. They sustained minor wounds in the attack, which ignited a fire on the base, located near Mt. Scopus.

Both officers were evacuated to Sha’are Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Four firefighting teams, including a water vehicle, were required to extinguish the brush fire next to the base that ignited as a result of the attack.

Hana Levi Julian

Communist MK at Committee on the Status of Women: ‘Our Society Lives in Fear’

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

“Israeli society lives in fear, and that is awful,” MK Dov Khenin, whose Communist party is part of the Joint Arab List, told the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality on Monday, adding, “Unfortunately, there are those who build their politics on fear. There are different aspects to the Israeli women’s sense of lack of personal security – physical, sectorial, economic, and social. One of our most important challenges is dealing with this fear and creating a society in which people will feel safer.”

The committee discussed possible courses of action in light of a recent study that showed Israelis in general have a low sense of personal security. The study, conducted by the Knesset’s Research and Information Center, examined various aspects of Israelis’ sense of personal security, ranging from how safe they feel in public spaces to how they rate their employment, health and economic security. The study, commissioned by the Committee on the Status of Women, surveyed a representative sample of 1,028 Israeli adults, more than half of them women.

According to the study, 59% of women and 54% of men said they worried about damaging behavior by state agencies that would negatively affect their personal security. Among Arab women the figure rose to 74%, compared to 59% of Jewish women born in Israel, 51% of ultra-Orthodox women and 49% of female immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

“The national-security discourse allows generals to exclude us from the debate and from many budgets, and only when we realize that cultural and economic security is just as important, the budgets will change accordingly, and the generals will discover that they have a lot to learn,” Committee head MK Touma-Sliman (Joint Arab List) stated.

MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Camp-Labor) said that in Israel the family is not perceived as an “anchor of personal security,” and argued that the Knesset does not address the issue sufficiently. “The study found that there are 27 different types of families in Israel, and when we see that the family is the second most influential factor when it comes to personal security, then it is obvious that we have to deal with this issue and see how we can view the Israeli family in a different way.”

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) addressed Sunday’s assault on an Arab supermarket employee in central Tel Aviv by a group of Border Guard police who refused to identify themselves, and mentioned that the victim’s father is not sure about filing a police complaint. “The study includes data about the fear of turning to the police, which is the body that is supposed to offer solutions to the lack of personal security,” Lavie lamented. “I’m not sure what happened there, but it certainly must be examined, even without a complaint by the father.”

The study indeed showed that, overall, 20% of women and 24% of men said they wouldn’t feel safe calling the police.

MK Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu) said she is very concerned about the fact that more than 20% of Israeli women are afraid to turn to the police. “Last week, the committee chairwoman and I met in Ireland with the local police commissioner, who told us that in the past some 80% of the population did not trust the police, but they managed to turn the situation around. Having 10% of women being afraid is problematic, but let’s start by trying to reach that number and return to examine the situation on a yearly basis.”

Chairwoman Touma-Sliman said the debate was aimed at “trying to figure out how we move forward from here, after being shocked by the study’s findings, which should terrify every man and women who cares about the sense of personal security of all Israeli citizens. This is merely the beginning of the path towards introducing a different discourse to the political arena and towards a conscious change of the concept of security.”

JNi.Media

Ethiopian MK Meets Visiting African Women, Advocates Merging Israeli Tech with ‘Fertile African Soil’

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) on Monday met at the Knesset with a delegation of prominent women from several African countries, including women from academia and education, as well as members of parliament, members of political parties and one journalist.

The African delegation is visiting Israel as part of the UN Women initiative, established in 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. UN Women – Africa, one of the largest branches of this initiative, works to “support regional gender-responsive measures to promote women’s leadership and participation in politics, government, business and society and to influence regional and national legal frameworks and policies to increase women’s leadership and political participation.”

MK Neguise noted that the 20th Knesset includes a record number of women members, and encouraged his guests “as leaders in your countries, to continue with your activity.”

Neguise, an Ethiopian Israeli, told the women that as MK he works to strengthen relations between Israel and Africa. To this end, he recently established the Lobby for Relations between Israel and African Countries, which he heads. Neguise also chairs the parliamentary friendship groups of Israel and Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Rwanda.

“I believe that the meeting between Israeli technology and the fertile African soil can effect change in Africa and strengthen the ties between Israelis and Africans,” Neguise told the delegation members, pointing out Israel’s advanced capabilities in the fields of irrigation, desalination, solar energy, medicine, education and tourism. “If we develop cooperation in these fields, both Israelis and Africans will benefit,” he promised.

Neguise, who serves as chairman of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, noted the importance of Jewish immigration to the strengthening of Israeli society, and said part of the committee’s duty is to advance equal opportunities for recent immigrants in education, employment and housing. He noted that part of the challenge stems from the fact that 90 percent of Ethiopians who immigrated to Israel came from rural areas, “so there are economic, cultural and professional gaps.” In order to narrow these gaps, he said, Israel provides after-school classes for Ethiopian students, vocational training for adults and housing assistance for immigrant families.

While in Israel, the African delegation members are taking part in a leadership course organized by Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, a division of the Foreign Ministry. The course is being held in cooperation with Singapore.

Click here for a list of the African delegation members.

JNi.Media

Ivanka Trump Says NYT Distorted Facts of Father’s Treatment of Women [video]

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Ivanka Trump accuses the New York Times of distorting the facts about her father’s treatment of women in a story she says is “pretty disturbing, based on the facts as I know them.” Trump’s daughter, an Orthodox Jew, spoke to CBS “This Morning” show host Norah O’Donnell in an interview to be shown Wednesday.

“And obviously, I very much know [the facts], both in the capacity as a daughter and in the capacity as an executive who’s worked alongside of him at this company for over a decade . . . I was bothered by [the story],” Ivanka Trump says.

The New York Times Magazine on Sunday reported interviewing dozens of women who had worked with or for Donald Trump over the past four decades, in real estate, modeling and pageants, women who dated him, interacted with him socially — more than 50 interviews over six weeks. “Their accounts,” the report suggests, “reveal unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct.”

Those interactions took place in his offices at Trump Tower, at his homes, at construction sites and backstage at beauty pageants. And even though to him they were probably unimportant moments, the NYT story suggests they left lasting impressions on the women who experienced them.

But the NYT report is not entirely negative, which is often the case with the Republican presidential hopeful. “What emerges from the interviews is a complex, at times contradictory portrait,” it says. “Some women found him gracious and encouraging. He promoted several to the loftiest heights of his company, a daring move for a major real estate developer at the time. … He simultaneously nurtured women’s careers and mocked their physical appearance.”

Shortly after the magazine article had been published, Brewer Lane, one of the central figures being cited, who told of a humiliating episode where Trump displayed her before his guests at a pool party and forced her to put on a bathing suit, said in a Monday interview with Fox & Friends: “The New York Times told us several times that they would make sure my story that I was telling came across, they promised several times that they would do it accurately, they told me several times and my manager several times that it would not be a hit piece and that my story would come across the way that I was telling it and honestly and it absolutely was not.”

Lane said, “They did take quotes from what I said and they put a negative connotation on it. They spun it to where it appeared negative. I did not have a negative experience with Donald Trump.”

The NYT report’s authors, Michael Barbaro and Megan Twohey, told CNN, “We really stand by our story, we believe we quoted her fairly and accurately and that the story really speaks for itself.”

Ivanka Trump told CBS the Times distorted facts about her father to fit its “strong thesis” about him, and cited the “backlash” against the story since it published. “It’s been largely discredited since….Most of the time, when stories are inaccurate, they’re not discredited, and I will be frustrated by that. But in this case, I think they went so far. They had — they had such a strong thesis and created facts to reinforce it…. And, you know, I think that narrative … has been playing out now.”

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ivanka-trump-says-nyt-distorted-facts-of-fathers-treatment-of-women-video/2016/05/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: