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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Women Rabbis...לפי הלכה ?

I just read an article linked on the Am Echad weblog (www.amechad.blogspot.com) which blew me away. A woman has just received smicha - rabbinical ordination - from Modern Orthodox Rabbi Aryeh Strikovsky, after having received her Ph.D in Jewish Studies from Bar-Ilan University! Her name is Haviva Ner-David, and although she is not the first Orthodox woman to gain the status of ordination, she apparently is the first to use the title 'Rabbi' openly. I am fine with using the term 'Rabbanit'. I think it's a good idea that woman can achieve the status and recognition of scholarship and learning. I welcome your comments.



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17 comments:

Anonymous said...

The story is much more complicated than you have written. In fact, it's a non-story.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I think rabbanit usually means "rebbetzin", so it might not be quite the proper title for a woman rabbi. If i remember correctly, I think the Conservative and Reform women rabbis in Israel use rav without any gender change, while the Reconstructionists use rabba.

Lady-Light said...

Anon:
Please, enlighten me.

Lady-Light said...

Steg:
As far as I am aware, רבנית DOES mean 'rebbetzin', which implies 'the wife of the rabbi'. I personally am not comfortable with the term 'rav' for a woman, probably merely because I am not accustomed to hearing it; to me it is the masculine form of 'teacher'. I wasn't aware that the Reform use 'rabba': Do you mean רבא as in the ארמית ? I suppose that would be acceptable, although it means 'great' and not 'teacher'. Either way, it's recognition, n'est pas?

Nemo said...

There are many problems with women Rabbis and the topic requires a thorough discussion.

As I heard Rabbi Yonah Metzger answer someone at a recent speaking engagement, there are many roles that women CAN play as advisers to the Beit Dinim and even as Halachik advisers to women on issues pertaining to women, i.e. Niddah.

It is certainly a bold step to ordain an "orthodox" woman as a Rabbi, but I don't see potential for a trend. It will most certainly become so radical, as these feminist movements become, and will slowly slip out of the framework of orthodoxy.

Lady-Light said...

Nemo, just the opposite; the trend BEGAN in the feminist, Reform movement of Judaism, and it is now just on the cusp of mainstream Judaism, meaning Orthodox Judaism. Time will tell whether or not it will be officially accepted in Halacha...I agree, though: It is an important topic which requires much discussion by halachic scholars and gedolim, before it is incorporated into halachic Judaism. But I believe it can and will be done. It is the future of Judasim, inclusive of a large, formerly 'disenfranchised' portion of the Jewish population. I strongly believe that by enabling qualified women to be recognized judges and scholars, e.g. Dvorah, Bruriah, and in our times, Nechama Leibowitz (a"h)we will hasten the coming of Moshiach.

Nemo said...

Um, call me traditional, but women most certainly cannot be judges. Anyone who is not permitted to be a witness in monetary affairs cannot sit a judge.

Look, whether we like it or not, or whether it's humanistic or not, Halacha is Halacha.

Nemo said...

It is clear cut that women cannot serve as judges in this day and age. See Shulchan Oruch Choshen Mishpat, Laws of Judges 7:4. Three words there Isha P'sula Ladon.

Although, as you mention, there is ample precedent for women judging based on the account of Devorah:

1} It's not so simple that Devorah judged, rather it is very likely that she advised.

2} Even if it's true that she judged, it is by a Divine exception and cannot necessarily be learned out for the entire Torah.

3} Those opinions which were lenient in letting a woman judge, limited her abilities as a judge. She had no real jurisdiction and would only be acceptable if all parties were willing.

4} Because of the fact that women have not judged in many generations, this vitiates any legitimacy to judging now {Similar to the laws of Shechitah}.

Lady-Light said...

Nemo, sorry I didn't get back to you for a while. What is the reason, since you know more about this than do I - that women are not permitted to be witnesses? And, how do you know Dvorah did not judge, but 'advised'? As far as I am aware, she made judicial decisions sitting under her 'tomer'- and people came to her for these decisions.

Nemo said...

It is a particularly complex topic, one that I would have to do a lot of research on to give you a clear answer as to WHY, i.e. the Talmudic reasoning. Frankly, I'm too busy these days.

To answer in short though it says in Shulchan Oruch Choshen Mishpat Chapter 35. See relevant Meforshim there where this is taken as a given.

I should mention that there are many instances where a woman is believed to say what she knows.

I'll get back to you regarding Devorah. My Tanach isn't as sharp as it used to be!

Nemo said...

Tosafos at the bottom of Yevamos 45:2 suggest the three possibilities to resolve how Devorah, a woman, could have Judged.

1} Devorah merely advised the Judges properly because of her immense wisdom.
2} This was a Divine exception to the rule
3} She was only permitted to Judge because she was accepted by everyone. {This is only according to the minority opinion that women can judge}

Lady-Light said...

Bli neder, I will look up your sources. The key word in your argument is "possibilities". You mention "3 possibilities to resolve how Devorah, a woman, could have judged". Think about what you said. It boils down to a machloket of opinions; opinion - not fact. If Devorah could have immense wisdom, other women can as well. Were you aware that some rabbis called Nechama Leibowitz (z"l) a witch, merely because she was a woman? I refuse to believe that THAT is Judaism.
I am sure that you are aware that in our time, women in Israel are being trained to be 'to'anot' on halachic matters pertaining to women. I believe, also because of the 'crack in the cement' of not permitting women to be 'rabbanim', that '[halachic] times they are a changin'.
I think it's a wonderful idea whose time has come. And who knows, if this is also what will hasten the coming of Moshiach?

Nemo said...

Lady-light, with all due respect, the Halachik issue DOES NOT boil down to a difference of opinion. Shulchan Oruch said that women can't be Judges and no one argues that in this day and age. That's is quite clear.

The only reason why I mentioned possibilities is because the Tosafos does give rise to this and therefore it is obviously a respectable query. However, Tosafos answers itself.

The To'anot issue is a long-coming and worthy cause. While it is revolutionary, it is respectable as long as it remains in line of decided Halacha. However, realize that there is a difference between being a solicitor and being a Judge.

Like I said before, this is Halacha and Judaism has to stick to the rules, even if we'd think otherwise.

Nemo said...

And I don't see the connection between purported {I haven't researched it} Rabbinical berating of Nechama Leibowitz {not a Rabbi} and any sort of legitimacy to a female judge.

From what I read, it would make more logical sense to assume that she got Rabbinical critisism because of he opposition to the settlements.

Lady-Light said...

Wow, I'm impressed that you are still commenting with me on this post. It might be easier to continue this dialogue by emailing me (see my profile). I don't always check all my previous posts, and now that I am 'out of state' I have much less time to do so. The way I understand it, the Rabbis who called Ms. Leibowitz (she never called herself a 'rav')a witch, did so because she was a woman teaching Torah. I did not research this, so I could be wrong on that.
I agree with you in general, that Judaism to a great degree 'has to stick to the rules'. Look what has happened with bending the rules to the point of breaking, with the Reform and Reconstructionist movements. Conservatives wanted to keep to basic Halacha, but tweaked the 'rules' to enable them to drive to shul (and shul only - in theory). The problem is that Jews are so spread out in America.
But as Hashem told Moshe Rabbenu that b'not Tzlafchad could get his inheritance because there were no banim, we need a Sanhedrin to discuss issues within Halacha that may be subject to change. Only a Sanhedrin recognized by all (most) Jews would have that authority.

Nemo said...

In short we need Moshiach.

Lady-Light said...

YOU GOT IT - "TEIKU"!

 
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