Talk:Women in Judaism

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Title of the article[edit]

Wouldn't "Status of women in Judaism" be a better title for this article?

I was thinking of Judaism and sexism to go along with the precedent established by Unification Church and anti-Semitism (and the like). Martin

Oh, and by the way, where is Role of men in Judaism? Women aren't the only gender in Judaism, obviously! — Rickyrab | Talk 14:49, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Matrilineal descent[edit]

Wouldn't it make sense, when discussing matrilineal descent, to cite or refer to whatever specific law dictates this, or at the very least give a history of this practice? Has this forever been the rule, or if not when did this tradition develop? Enquiring minds want to know!

  • Hi, why don't you sign your name please.
Hey IZAK, it might help if you signed your name as well. Jayjg 06:43, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Sorry, I was just so excited to provide these two sources. Thanks for keeping an eye on me! IZAK 06:47, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Here are two sources on the web as explanations:

The Torah does not always state every law explicitly. In the case of Matrilineal Descent, the practice is derived from Deuteronomy 7: 4, "Because he will lead astray your son from before Me" To understand this verse, look at the preceding verse, which states: "And you shall not intermarry with them, your daughter you shall not give to his son and his daughter you shall not take for your son". Verse 4 should have stated "Because SHE will lead astray your son", for the non-Jewish girl that your son married ('your' meaning Jewish) should be the one that would lead your son astray. So who is the 'HE'? It might be the girl's father, but in general, women leave their father's house and live in their husband's house; they would then not be living with her father. Hence, it would not make sense for the girl's father to lead "your son" astray if your son doesn't live with him.
The Rabbis concluded that 'HE' is the man that your daughter married, and 'your son' mentioned in verse 4 is your grandchild, meaning Jewish grandchild. Thus, verse 4 is referring back to the middle section of verse 3. It reads like this, "your daughter you shall not give to his son because he will lead astray your son" This shows that the child of a Jewish girl and a non-Jewish boy will be Jewish.
It is not uncommon for the Torah to refer to a grandchild as an actual child. For instance, Kings I 15: 11 states, " And Asa did that which was correct in the eyes of God just like David his father". David was not Asa's father. He was his great-great-grandfather.
Additionally, Leviticus 24:10 speaks of the son of an Israelite woman and an Egyptian man as being "among the community of Israel" (ie, a Jew). On the other hand, in Ezra 10:2-3, the Jews returning to Israel vowed to put aside their non-Jewish wives and the children born to those wives. They could not have put aside those children if those children were Jews.

and

LifeCycle Events: Marriage and Sexuality: Matrilineal Descent: What is the source of the law that a child is Jewish only if its mother is Jewish?
The statement that Jewish identity is determined by the mother is found in the Mishnah (Kiddushin 3:12), which says that the child of a gentile woman is like her. The Talmud derives this from the passage in Deut. 7:3-4: "Do not intermarry with [him], do not give your daughter to his son or take his daughter for your son, for he will turn your son from Me": A child born to your daughter (fathered by a non-Jew) is called "your son", but a child born to your son (by a non-Jewish mother) is not called "your son", but "her son". The Talmud is assuming here that the "he" in Deut.7:4 is your gentile son-in-law, and that "your son" whom "he" will turn away from G-d is your grandson, born to him and to your daughter. The Torah calls that grandson "your son" because he is regarded as Jewish since he had a Jewish mother. In the other case, where a Jewish man marries a gentile woman, the Torah doesn't speak about the woman's influence on her children (i.e., it doesn't say "for she will turn your son from me"), because her children are non-Jewish to begin with since their mother is non-Jewish. Apparently we are more concerned about the influence of a non-Jewish spouse on the children than about the influence of a non-Jewish spouse's parents on their children-in-law. The Talmud (Kiddushin 68b) asks how we know that these laws apply to any non-Jews, since the cited verse refers to the Canaanites. The answer given there is that "he will turn your son [away from Me]" implies that all those who might turn [sons] away are included in the prohibition. IZAK 06:47, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Women's prayer groups[edit]

The text you propose is the following:

Since women are not allowed to lead services or read from the Torah in Orthodox Jewish synagogues, a small number of Orthodox women have begun holding women's tefila (prayer) groups. While no Orthodox legal authorities agree that women can form a prayer quorum for the purpose of regular services, women in these groups read the prayers, and study Torah. The emergence of this phenomenon has enmeshed Orthodox Judaism in a debate which still continues today. Basically there are three schools of Orthodox thought on this issue.
  • The first school of thought rules the while women do not constitute a minyan, they may still carry out full prayer services. The first Jewish authority who ruled this way was Israel's late Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi, Shlomo Goren, in 1974. he reaffimed this view for 15 years; however after receiving harsh criticism from Haredi rabbis, Rabbi Goren stated that his writing was purely a speculative work published against his wishes, and not intended as a practical responsum. This view is still held by some Orthodox rabbis, such as Avi Weiss and many rabbis associated with Edah.
  • The second school of thought includes leading faculty of Modern Orthodox Judaism's Yeshiva University, and almost all Haredi Rabbis. This school of thought holds that all women's prayer groups are absolutely forbidden by Jewish law.
  • A third school of thought maintains that women's prayer groups can be compatiable with halakha, but only if they do not carry out a full prayer service (i.e. do not include certain parts of the service known as "devarim she-bi-kdusha"), and only if services are spiritually and sincerely motivated; they cannot be sanctioned if they are inspired by a desire to rebel against halakha. People in this school of thought include Rabbis Moshe Feinstein, Joseph Soloveitchik, Avraham Elkana Shapiro, former British Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits, and Israel's late Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, among others[1] (http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/english/tfila/frimmer1.htm).
Many Orthodox Jewish feminists have taken umbridge at this view, saying that it is inappropriate for men to publicly judge a women's inner intention's, while women are not allowed to judge men's inner intentions. They reject entirely the claim that their are being judged as "rebelling against halakha".

Points of contention[edit]

"Enmeshed Orthodox Judaism"; While it is true that Rabbi Feinstein ruled in that in theory that women could hold prayer groups, he also ruled in practice that they could not. And indeed, no Haredi women's prayer groups have sprung up, nor is this issue a matter of concern or debate amongst Haredi Jews. In practice, this is only an issue for Modern Orthodox Jews, since only Modern Orthodox women's prayer groups have sprung up (and a tiny number at that).

Be serious; Haredi rabbis are involvd in the debate and issuing psak halakha on this issue. Look, I didn't say that Haredi women have formed Hardi women's prayer groups; you are arguing against a point that I am not making. Obviously this is an issue for the Haredim, or the would not have been continuously involved in this for over 20 years! RK
Your text implies that it is an issue in Hareid Judaism as well. In fact, there is no practical issue, though a (very small) number of Haredi authorities have issued psaks on the matter. I would recommend re-wording your claim to make this point clearer; as it stand it is misleading.Jayjg 18:08, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I'll re-write the text to add in Orthodox Judaism and make your point clearer. Jayjg 19:05, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Well, I looked at your text and you didn't do that. RK 17:33, Aug 10, 2004 (UTC)
Of course I did, here is the text: "A number of leaders from all segments of Orthodox Judaism have commented on this issue, but it has had little impact on Haredi and Sephardi Judaism. However, the emergence of this phenomenon has enmeshed Modern Orthodox Judaism in a debate which still continues today." Jayjg 03:45, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Your statement makes no sense to me. Haredi rabbis are still weighin in on this debate. RK 14:46, Aug 11, 2004 (UTC)
That is possible, though I haven't seen any recent responsa on the issue; are you aware of any? More importantly, though, the issue has had little impact on Haredi and Sephardi Judaism, neither of which have created "women's prayer groups". Jayjg 15:22, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

"first Jewish authority"; As the article you refer to itself states, he is the sole Orthodox authority to do so. While other Orthodox Rabbis may support the position, they are not recognized authorities. Few Rabbis are.

Wrong. You keep removing the mention of other rabbis from this article because you personally do not view them as authorities. No one person can dictate here on Wikipedia what Orthodox rabbis are considered to have authoritative views on this (or any) subject. In point of fact, there are Orthodox rabbis who have this view right near where I live, including Rabbi Avi Weiss, and his without any doubt accepted as an authority on this subject by many Orthodox Jews. Maybe not by you, but by other Orthodox Jews. I am not claiming that such rabbis are respected as authorities by all Orthodox Jews. Please do not disagree with a claim that I am not making. RK 17:48, Aug 9, 2004 (UTC)
Is it your contention that Avi Weiss issues responsas and piskei halacha? Jayjg 18:08, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Of course he issues psak halacha, like many Orthodox rabbis. You have to understand that outside of Haredi Judaism, many Orthodox rabbis are the mara d'atra of their community, and they often give a psak halacha. I cannot imagine how this could be considered surpising. RK
I'd love to see some examples of the above. As for the issue at hand, the article clearly states that Goren is the sole authority, not the first. Jayjg 03:45, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)
(A) Your desire to learn about Orthodox Judaism is wonderful. (B) The article is years out of date. RK 14:46, Aug 11, 2004 (UTC)
I'd love to see examples of Avi Weiss' piskei halacha and responsa. Responsa in particular are important, since every Rabbi provides individual rulings for the memebers of his congregation, but only Rabbinic authorities write responsa. In that vein, I'd be interested in which Rabbinic authorities you think have ruled on the issue subsequent to Frimer's article being published. Jayjg 15:22, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I quote from Frimmer's article: "there is apparently no acknowledged more hora'a-recognized halakhic authority-who condones the recitation of devarim she-bi-kdusha at women's service" Back to you, RK. Jayjg 18:57, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Do you really believe that we disagree on this point? You are again arguing against a point that I never made. My own text states that Goren eventually retracted his permission for women recitedevarim she-bi-kdusha. It is like you are reading the opposite of what I wrote. RK
Excellent. Then we agree that there is currently no acknowledged halakhic authority who condones the recitation of devarim she-bi-kdusha at womens prayer groups. The article reflects that position. Jayjg 03:45, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)
No, we do not agree. There are others who do hold this view. RK 14:46, Aug 11, 2004 (UTC)
Can you name them please, and point to their responsa? Jayjg 15:22, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

"he reaffimed this view for 15 years" In what way did he affirm this view for 15 years? Did he speak out supporting it? Did he write about it? As it stands, it is an unsubstantiated claim.

Yes, he did speak out supporting this view as late as 1989. And people publicly used his psak halakha for 15 years without any complaint from him. In fact, as late as 1989 he publicly discussed this with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat. Stop claiming otherwise. You are again trying to hide Orthodox Jewish views that you disagree with; that is unjustifiable. RK 17:51, Aug 9, 2004 (UTC)
I think you are confusing the issue of women's prayer groups (which he supported) and women's prayer groups acting as minyans (which he did not). He is included in the third group, Rabbis who support women's prayer groups; when did he speak out supporting women as minyans? Jayjg 18:08, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Do you really believe that we disagree on this point? You are again arguing against a point that I never made. You contantly refute statements I never made, and edits that just do not exist. What is with you? Of course he did not agree with the idea that women's prayer groups constitute a minyan; I never claimed otherwise.
Excellent. Then we agree that Rabbi Goren supported women's prayers groups, but not women's minyans. The article reflects that position. Jayjg 03:45, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)


"however after receiving harsh criticism from Haredi rabbis," You are implying a cause and effect here, that Goren, in effect, buckled to Haredi pressure; please provide evidence of both the claim itself, and that it caused him to change his position. As it stands, they are both unsubstantiated claims.

Not in the slightest. You are not helping us create an article; you are merely censorsing it to push your religious point of view. RK
Rather than re-iterating your claims (along with making various ad hominem statements), please provide evidence for them. Jayjg 18:58, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

"Many Orthodox Jewish feminists etc."; Please provide a source for this claim, coming from Orthodox Jewish feminists. Your personal views may differ from theirs. Thanks, Jayjg 17:26, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Stop your nonsense. You know darn well that this is a mainstream modern Orthodox Jewish point of view, and your claims that I am dishonestly pushing my views onto them are grossly insulting. I will thank you very much to stop lying about some liberal Orthodox Jewish women and about me. You are simply deleting all Orthodox Jewish points of view that make you uncomfortable, and that is censorship, and a violation of Wikipedia protocol that could eventually get you banned. RK 17:54, Aug 9, 2004 (UTC)
"Many Orthodox Jewish feminists etc."; Please provide a source for this claim, coming from Orthodox Jewish feminists. Your personal views may differ from theirs. Thanks, Jayjg 18:08, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Have you ever read the feminist Jewish journal Nashim, or read the conference proceedings of JOFA? They represent a modern Orthodox Jewish point of view (a view, not the view). RK
"Many Orthodox Jewish feminists etc."; Please provide a source for this specific claim, coming from Orthodox Jewish feminists. Your personal views may differ from theirs. Thanks, Jayjg 03:45, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Obviously it's unclear whether Rabbi Goren retracted. This is becoming almost talmudical (chazar bah?) I am unfamiliar with the discussion, but I must remind RK that: Please only use indents for quotes. Please restrict your sources to the ones you actually quote in the text. Just dumping your bookshelf here is counterproductive. A compromise is a section titled "further reading", but I doubt this is helpful. JFW | T@lk 17:28, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I did give the source for my quote; it is in Frimmer's article in Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought, and it says that Goren never retracted the permssion for women to have tefila groups. Anyone who claims otherwise is lying. Please follow the link and read it for yourself. Don' take my word for it. And here is a direct quote from the article:
We close this section by noting that in 1989, R. Goren wrote a clarification of his 1974 responsum.57 In a lengthy letter to former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, R. Goren reiterates that his 1974 correspondence was a personal one, which was publicized against his specific instructions. The original letter contained some purely speculative material, which he certainly never intended to serve as the basis of action (halakha le-ma'ase). On the contrary, it is clear that women cannot form a minyan for public prayer and, hence, cannot alone perform those rituals requiring such a quorum. In light of this retraction, there is apparently no acknowledged more hora'a-recognized halakhic authority-who condones the recitation of devarim she-bi-kdusha at women's services.58 It is noteworthy, however, that at issue in R. Goren's retraction is the recitation of devarim she-bi-kdusha; the late Chief Rabbi does not withdraw his fundamental support from those women's prayer groups which refrain from reciting devarim she-bi-kdusha.

This section of the article doesn't seem accurate if we're coming from NPOV...according to R' Gil Student:

"What can be clearly seen, from three separate and even antagonistic reports of R. Soloveitchik's view, is that he was firmly set against the practice for a whole host of reasons. This has been confirmed from dozens of interviews and from the testimony of his close students and relatives. While he did not agree with everything that R. Hershel Schachter wrote on this subject, he agreed with his conclusion that WPGs are not allowed." I suspect that the other rabbis in this point haven't been verified, but I'm only removing the point about The Rav for now. --Yodamace1 11:45, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

I agree. Even just from reading the main reference source, D. and A. Frimer's article, it is clear that the Rav does not fall into that category. Perhaps some content should be devoted to the nuanced and influential position of R. Soloveitchik.
P.S. Sign your name with 4 tildes (~~~~) -- DLandTALK 14:50, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Thx. Anyways, someone might want to research some of the names on that list, seems a bit fishy to me (Rav Jakobovits especially). --Yodamace1 20:50, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
The names indicated are found in a source I supplied, Women's Prayer Services Theory and Practice, Tradition, 1998, which is cited directly in the article. Please review this very scholarly and well-regarded source and its comprehensive list of authorities and arguments on both sides of this issue. It addresses the point you raised and should answer your concerns. Thank you. --Shirahadasha 16:54, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for putting the source down. It seems to be extremely reliable. A cursory scanning of the source reveals that certain positions seem quite complex. For example, Rav Tendler says in the name of Reb Moshe that "realistically speaking, he doesn't commend or actually condone the establishment of women's prayer groups." Later, the authors assert that elsewhere "R. Feinstein, as cited by R. Tendler in his May 1983 responsum, leaves the door open for acknowledged halakhic decisors (ba'alei hora'a) to make the final determination as to whether this motivational condition can and will be met." But if he allows for ba'alei hora'a under his jurisdiction to allow such a thing, isn't that a de fact condonement? I'm definately going to read this more in depth tonight b"n. --Yodamace1 13:44, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, I see you were the person who brought up the Frimer brothers originally, and your concern regards the accuracy of their account. You are likely far more versed on this than I do, I don't claim to have enough in-depth knowledge to assess where the Frimers statements about contemporary Poskim hold up and where they don't. It seems to me it would be better for the article to report their conclusions as they state them, and then find another source which criticizes or contradicts them. Can you find another source to contradict the Frimer article? Conducting ones own critical review of their analysis to reach a conclusion that their claims are incorrect might be original eesearch. Best, --Shirahadasha 19:55, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
My concern is not the accuracy of their account, but the complications that arise from the way Wiki was used to cite it. It sounded as if Rabbi Feinstein gave a de facto condonement; from even a cursory reading of the Frimers as cited above, it actually seems to contradict the Wiki's language. This isn't just my conclusion, as you can see from DLand's comment just beneath mine. I'd like to expand on this point, but with the evidence to back me up; unfortunately, for some odd reason, I can't find the historical Wiki page when Ravs Feinstein and Soloveitchik were listed (maybe someone can help).
As for my original questioning on the issue of Rav Soloveitchik, I should have stated that it came from a reading of Rabbi Gil Student's blog, on online source (mentioned on the Wiki) by the owner of a publishing house, an author, and a respected Orthodox rabbi; therefore I don't believe WP:OR apply to my deletions, but WP:NPOV applies to your insertions, and I was forced to remove the mention of Rav Soloveitchik. --Yodamace1 12:23, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
The Frimer article says "As noted in our introductory comments, there also exists a middle position on this issue which argues that, in theory at least, assuming that all devarim she-bi-kdusha are omitted,211 women's prayer groups can be run in accordance with halakha. This school includes R. Moshe Feinstein, America's preeminent posek; R. Avraham Elkana Shapiro, former Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Israel and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Merkaz haRav, Jerusalem; former British Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits, together with the London Beit Din; and, as noted at the end of Section A, the late Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren.212 R. Nachum L. Rabinovitch, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hesder Birkat Moshe, Israel, has also ruled in accordance with this view." You may disagree with the Firmer article in this regard, but is a published article in a reputable journal and you can't remove its content because you disagree with it, even if you have other evidence that says otherwise. You have to add content that provides your contrary evidence. Also, a blog is generally not considered a reliable source, even if you personally vouch for the blogger. In fact vouching is a problem -- Wikipedia policy is there to ensure that "reliable" is defined in a way that doesn't depend on vouching. There are exceptions, but I wouldn't remove content as "incorrect" based on what a blog says, particularly if a published article says otherwise. --Shirahadasha 00:18, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Also, agree the Frimer article indicates Rav Soloveitchik objected to women's prayer groups (although on haskaphic rather than halakhic grounds) and does not list him in the list of notable rabbis supporting the "Middle Position". --Shirahadasha 00:28, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
The blog's a side-point, let's leave it aside; I'm not conceeding and I think I could argue for my justification in posting about it, but it doesn't really have to do with the article. Let's focus on the article: Rav Soloveitchik's not listed and he was one of two I took off the list here on the Wiki. So we actually agree on that point. So let's ignore that too.
Let's focus on Reb Moshe, where we disagree. (Again,) the article in at least one place quotes Rav Tendler about Reb Moshe: "realistically speaking, he doesn't commend or actually condone the establishment of women's prayer groups." So, you want to say that in theory, under certain prerequisites that are extremely unlikely--perhaps even impossible--that may be fitting for the Wiki article. But, to just include him in a list of rabbis who believe Women prayer groups are permitted is misleading, because it makes it seem as if he believes the idea can now be practically implemented. --Yodamace1 10:44, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

R. Goren's view on women and minyans[edit]

Exactly; Goren never retracted anything about allowing women's prayer groups. Rather, Goren always supported women's prayer groups, but stated that his support for womens minyans was a speculative work, and not intended as a p'sak halacha. Jayjg 18:08, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

That said, I'll add the "retracted" statement to the text. Jayjg 19:05, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

You are still disagreeing with words that no one has written! Frimmer (and I) only wrote that Rabbi Goren approved of women's prayer groups, and that in his latest statements he did not let them say certain prayers. No one claimed that Goren wrote that ten women constitute a minyan. Frimmer's article clearly states "After reaffirming that ten women do not constitute a quorum for communal public prayer, R. Goren proceeds to contend that ten women may nevertheless carry out a full service, including all those rituals and texts which normally require a minyan." RK 18:53, Aug 10, 2004 (UTC)
Excellent. Then we agree that Rabbi Goren supported women's prayers groups, but not women's minyans. The article reflects that position. Jayjg 03:45, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)


Goren wrote a clarification of his views a number of years afterwards, which says that his writing was intended as a speculative work, not for publication, and certainly not as a p'sak halacha. RK contends that Goren is dissembling, that he retracted his views under pressure from Haredi Rabbis. What Goren said is clear, but RK's claims about what was "really going on" need evidence to support them. Jayjg 17:33, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I did not write that Rabbi Goren was dissembling. Again, you are refuting a point of view that I do not have. Still, I will remove this point from the article. RK 18:53, Aug 10, 2004 (UTC)
If you claim that Rabbi Goren had a different reason for his actions than the one he explicitly stated, then you are accusing him of dissembling. Jayjg 03:45, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Request for information[edit]

Can a few comments on this subject be put on the page Women as theological figures either section. This is meant to be a general overview (ditto when divided into two pages as indicated).

Jackiespeel 10:08, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

Including the matriarchs in prayer[edit]

This is a controversial topic, particularly in conservative congregations. On the one hand, women should be included when mentioning the patriarchs, on the other hand, does it diminish the role of women to mention them solely because they were married to the partriarchs? Neil Fein 14:57, 19 October 2005 (UTC)

If these women really were being included solely for this reason, then yes, adding them to the Imahot would be patronizing, and would tend to diminish their worth. Unfortunately, some people want to add them to the first bracha of the Amidah out of a sense of PC driven secular values, while others refuse to consider the idea of adding them, out of a sense that the Amidah cannot change (a historically false proposition) or that the Imahot aren't as important as the Avot ("Patriacrhs") were. In fact, classical rabbinic texts on the Imahot are extremely honorific and favorable, and it is unfortunate that this isn't well known or studied. In the 1990s the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative Judaism) issued a responsa saying that it is permissible (but not mandatory) add the Imahot to the Avot in the first bracha of the Amidah. One of the reasons has to do with the facts described in the groundbreaking article Who knows Four? The Imahot in rabbinic Judaism - the Matriarchs, Judaism, Winter, 1995 by Alan Kaunfer. This article is now available online:
Who knows Four? The Imahot in rabbinic Judaism

How Do we Get the "w" in "Women" to be Capitalized?[edit]

Hmm, most of Wikipedia is editable. But I think the simple typo here in the title is its own kind of commentary and is not trivial. How can we change it? Sam* 03:17, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

Why should it be capitalized? Jayjg (talk) 21:44, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

It can be done at requested moves, but it would be in violation of naming conventions so this is unlikely to succeed. JFW | T@lk 17:37, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Women as theological figures[edit]

While the above page is linked to this article page, any further comments are welcome. Jackiespeel 17:25, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Merge request from Minyan Shivyoni Hilchati[edit]

Hullo. Most of the content of the article needs to be severely pared back, as it presently reads like a position paper rather than an encyclopedia article. I think the phenom is worth noting, but not that it's sufficiently influential to warrant an independent article, both of which are presently being cited as reasons for deleting it, actually... Tomertalk 07:31, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

nm. the article's been deleted. Tomertalk 06:04, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

Orthodox view[edit]

Orthodox Judaism views men and women as having different obligations. But disagree that there is a single consistent reason for this throughout Orthodox Judaism in all its variants. Views about e.g. the fundamental nature of men and women vary. Suggest either ommitting reasons entirely, or giving the different approaches. --71.235.95.87 04:26, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

The article says that the "different roles" approach is the general view of Orthodoxy. Obviously there is no monolithic consensus among Orthodox religious leaders, but my impression is that the statement, as is, is true. If someone would like to search the relevant literature and find dissenting voices, then I agree that it should be included, but until then I think the section is fine. --DLandTALK 05:44, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
Although the article's tone at present concerning Orthodox and Haredi views cannot be considered incorrect, however the editing has removed an essential understanding of the underpinnings of the outlook. Torah Judaism does not view itself in "religious" terms, but as a G-d given system that is spiritual reality in perfect consonance with physical reality. It therefore seems more correct to say that Judaism views it's halachos and beliefs concerning men and women as complimenting and reflecting a psychological, emotional and physical reality that is part of the divine plan. Let's attempt to edit the article to encompass this idea. Shykee 23:37, 1 May 2006 (UTC)shykee
I'm not sure what you mean by "'religious' terms," so I don't know if I agree with that part or not. I do agree that the divine plan (as manifested in the role and obligations of women) reflects reality, but I don't see what the issue is in the article - the introductory sentence cites this very perspective:
This idea stems from the belief that men and women are inherently different in nature, with different respective strengths and weaknesses.
What are you suggesting should be changed/added? --DLandTALK 00:26, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
I had wanted "different natures" toned down to "different roles", but this has already been done. --Shirahadasha 01:41, 23 May 2006 (UTC)


When I said that Judaism does not view itself in religious terms, I meant that it views itself as much more than a religion. R'Hirsch:
"Religion in general relates to the thoughts of man which find their expression in symbolic actions: in any system of religion, therefore, the thought is the original, important and essential element, whilst the external, symbolical expression of it is of secondary importance. But unlike "religion" the Torah is not the thought of man, but the thought of G-d, expressed in Divine Laws which are to be carried out by man as symbolic actions. It is by these symbolic actions ordained in the Torah that the divine thought is first implanted in man."
The argument of feminism, that in fairness woman should be able to assume the same religious roles as men, is negated if one understands that Judaism views itself as a system of external actions perfectly created and balanced by G-d to "implant the divine thought in man". Judaism does not see itself as essentially relating to our thoughts as the original element, but rather as originating as an external force upon our inward selves, forcing us to attain spiritual perfection regardless of the current mindset or sociological fad. Judaism is saying that the real reality lies within it Shykee 13:03, 23 June 2006 (UTC)shykee.

Shavua Tov, Shykee. I gather you're interested in using this page for a discussion of the issue and you don't have any particular edits objecting to. Very well. I don't think Orthodox feminists take the same road that Conservative and Reform folks have taken that complete elimination of all differences between men and women is even desirable, let alone that external beliefs should trump sound halachic argument. Accepting that halacha trumps what one personally thinks is fundamental to being Orthodox. And unlike Conservative and Reform, we believe in dealing with halakhic issues on a case by case basis, on their individual merits. And we're very patient people. But let me mention just one small but not unimportant thing, something a Reform or Conservative Jews, who reject continuity with the world of the Avodah, could find of little consequence. The 3rd of the four gates on the North side of the Beit Hamikdash -- between Shaar Hakorban where the Kohanim entered with the kodshei kadashim offerings and Shaar Hashir where the levi'im came in with their musical instruments -- was Shaar Hanashim, the Womens' Gate where women entered to offer korbanot. (The other north-side gates were the Yechonyah gate, where kings of the Davidic line enter, Yechonyah being the last one to have done so, Shaar Hakorban, where Kohanim enter with Kodosh Kedoshim karbonot, and Shaar Hashir, where Lev'im enter with their musical instruments to sing) On the other hand, the Nikanor Gate, between the Ezrat Nashim and the main Temple Courtyard, was on the east side of the Beit Hamikdash. In other words, women entering the Beit Hamikdash to offer Korbanot did not so much as pass through the Ezrat Nashim, let alone remain there. They entered the same place men did -- the heart of the complex -- to do the same thing men did. They merely entered through a different gate. It is true that women weren't involved in all the korbanot men were -- not the tamid offerings, for example. But although their roles were somewhat different, the existence of the women's gate, and its prominent location on the north side, the more kodesh side where cohanim, levi'im, and kings entered, is evidence that women's roles in the period of the Beit Hamikdash simply weren't as diminished as they came to be later, and hence claims that halacha must always be read strictly in favor of reduced women's roles, or that strong female roles are inconsistent with the basic structure of Judaism, simply doesn't jibe with the fundamental nature of the avodah that public tefillah emulates. The shaar nashim wasn't built by foreignors. It was built by Jews. Why is it unJewish to suggest that an Orthodox synagogue -- a synagogue that maintains continuity with the avodah -- should have something equivalent? It it's also worth mentioning that a woman could be a neviah -- with full powers, including not only the power to teach and transmit Torah but the power to crown kings, or to offer psak verifying the validity of scrolls of Torah -- see Huldah . --Shirahadasha 03:50, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

Shavua Tov, Shirahadasha. To me, the very heart and soul of Judaism is a focus on inwardness as the true essential person. Recognition by others, or public roles, is only important in the sense that it could lead to inner growth. Imagine a person who is truly spiritual, a person with a pure nature, who receives no recognition at all and quietly conducts their inner symphony to a G-dly tune that only they can hear. This nature, this personality, is the Jewish woman. From this outlook, Devorah was indeed a niviah, but all her spiritual growth, all her greatness and closeness to G-d which were the precursors to her being chosen as the leader, were certainly in her private and inner life. It is only men, who are driven by other things, who require the outward Mitzvot and the external public roles to attain their spiritual perfection. Shykee 14:37, 25 June 2006 (UTC)shykee
Shykee, this is an interesting theory and a haskaphic perspective that I understand is held in many circles these days. But how do you explain the Shaar Nashim? How do you explain the existence of a gate whose very purpose was to enable women to enter public life? It was, after all, not a theory, not a piece of philosophy. It was a gate, a gate that totally bypassed the Ezrat Nashim and led directly in. --Shirahadasha 18:20, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
The existence of Shaar Nashim, its very purpose, was to enable the Bais Hamikdosh to serve its objective- as the beating heart and center of the Jewish nation. All members of the nation, all the different elements that made up "Klal Yisroel", needed to come to the source of Kedusha. This entering to bring Karbanos, this entering to reaffirm a personal relationship with the Shechina, cannot be characterized (and diminished) as entering public life. It was entering the internal source of Judaism that had been almost magically externalized in the Bais Hamikdosh. Shykee 20:24, 26 June 2006 (UTC)shykee

Role of men in Judaism[edit]

The page "Role of women..." is lacking without a good idea of the role of the male of the species. Thus, we ought to point out Jewish ideas of the male role in a separate page. Alternatively, we could entitle a page Gender roles in Judaism and redirect this page over there. — Rickyrab | Talk 14:52, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

I think that is a great idea. However in order to change the article to gender roles in Judaism much of the article will have to be revised. In any event, you should hold off on any changes until there is a consensusJon513 21:58, 4 June 2006 (UTC)
I would be inclined to take a different approach. Although the article has a broad title, it actually has a narrow focus. The article as it appears today is about (1) women as presented in biblical and rabbinic texts, and (2) the positions taken by modern Jewish movements on the role of women in ritual life.
How about either narrowing the title (Role of Women in Jewish Law), or broadening the article. To broaden the article, I would note (1) the high level of educational attainment and occupational achievement of Jewish women, (2) the prominence of Jewish women among the women who became, in the 20th century (the first century in which women have won suffrage and legal emancipation in western nations), legislators, jurists, political activists, and so forth, and (3) the significant role that modern Jewish women have played as leaders, intellectuals, critics, commentators, and so forth in the women's or feminist movements in general, broadly speaking. Is there perhaps a broader Wikipedia article such as Women and Judaism? --Metzenberg 09:02, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

women's prayer groups[edit]

Jewish women's prayer groups have been documented since at least the Middle Ages

I placed a {{fact}} tag by this sentence (added by Shirahadasha). Even if a source is found, the sentence implies that this was common and mainstream, which I very much doubt was the case. 21:56, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

Sourced. --Shirahadasha 03:13, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Anyone familiar with the English Talmud?[edit]

I'm tempted to add in an overview of the whole "קול באשה ערווה" issue, but I'm having a bit of trouble finding English sources to cite. I can't even get consensus on what the English translation of the phrase is. 82.166.53.176 17:33, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Try this on-line English reference:

This source presents both strict and lenient views and gives some background and history. The Talmud itself contains only a few brief comments about this issue. Most of the contemporary arguments are based on the opinions of subsequent commentators and decision-makers.

Also, Kol Isha may deserve its own article if you'd like to start one. There is currently a short paragraph on it in Tzniut, which you might want to expand. Good luck. --Shirahadasha 20:01, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

No halakhic support for egalitarian innovations in Orthodoxy[edit]

Centralized discussion at Talk:Partnership minyan#No halakhic support for egalitarian innovations in Orthodoxy. Thank you, IZAK 10:06, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

Recent edits[edit]

I made a number of minor edits throughout this page. My goal was to improve the formatting and readability; among other things, I adopted the spelling "Halakha" throughout, in keeping with the title of the Wikipedia page. I removed several phrases and sentences that were misleading, unnecessary, or blatantly unsourced. --Khaim 15:12, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Hi, I'd suggest refining a few details. One thing I noticed is that you removed "proposed" from Pidyon HabBat. So far as I know this ceremony does not actually exist anywhere. --Shirahadasha 15:33, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Reform position on patrilineal descent/the politics of necessity[edit]

I would like to take "gender equality" out of the lead. Gender equality was its effect but not its proximate cause. Although I think many people have come to view it as the justification, that is a later view point. It wasn't the original reason for the decision (cf. the link to the actual resolution) and is unsupported by the citation.

On a more personal (and uncitable) note, at the time I don't actually recall gender being raised as an issue, but I do remember an awful lot of deep concern about assimilation. The reform movement knew it was changing something deeply fundamental and only a reason rooted in the very survival of Israel would be good enough.

The above comment also raises another issue that seems to have gone unaddressed in the article, namely the role of necessity. Traditional halakhah is considerably more open to women's involvement in moments of necessity (e.g. the opinion of some that a woman may not count in a minyan except as the "10th" man - alas source currently buried in boxes). In many cases, these decisions of necessity have been used as the foundation of halakhic arguments in favor of an expanded role for women. Interesting, necessity has also played a role on the right as well. One of my good friends follows a rabbi who agrees in principle that women may read the torah, but has advised him to refuse to listen to a woman reading on the grounds that it make look like he is endorsing a certain wider and deeply-destructive approach to Judaism associated with such practices. Egfrank 05:14, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

You mentioned the issue of Orthodox views of women and Torah reading. The issue of lenient opinions on this issue and groups within (or depending on ones viewpoint, claiming to be within) Orthodoxy is discussed in detail the Partnership minyan article (See also the article on Shira Hadasha, the first congregation to attempt to implement them.) Although some role-of-women argments are based on necessity, these are not. Best, --Shirahadasha 08:27, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
Of course. I didn't mean to imply that it was the only logic Egfrank 08:52, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

Reform position on halakhah[edit]

I've corrected a statement that says that Reform Judaism rejects Halakhah. This is not strictly true. Halakha does continue to play an important advisory role in Reform decisions. The resolutions of the Central Conference of American Rabbis have consistently cited historic Jewish precedents, often taken from halakhic literature. The Reform movement also has a developing responsa literature: the work of Solomon B. Freehof (USA), Moshe Zemer (Israel) are but two examples. In addition, there are active betei midrash studying halakic issues on both the New York and Jerusalem campuses of the Hebrew Union College - the reform rabbinical institute.

The disputes between the Reform movement and Jewish Orthodoxy over the role of women has more to do with the relative weight each movement places on principle vs. precedent. The Reform movement believes that conscience, reason, and story can sui generis provide insight into the meaning of Jewish ethical principles. Principle should guide the interpretation of precedent. Orthodoxy tends to fear that this will destroy community and lead people to "do what they feel, not what is right" and prefers to understand principles by study of precedent. Egfrank 06:01, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

Do you have a source that is the way the Reform movement characterizes Halakha? This a very different concept from what either the Orthodox or the Conservative movements call Halakha. It might be worth explaining and sourcing the conceptual differences. Right now, there is a Conservative Halakha article but no Reform Halakha one. Perhaps such an article should be started. Best, --Shirahadasha 08:19, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
Hmmm... this is something I'm going to have to think about a bit. Perhaps Eugene Borowitz might have something in his book "Renewing the covenant".
There are also lots of sources that can be used to illustrate the above statement without actually saying it explicitly. Unfortunately, using those sources means treading the fine line between original research and the need to provide a narrative that puts citations in context. For example, I recall seeing a booklet of responsa on abortion that the Jerusalem bet midrash put together a few years ago. It is probably somewhere in the Jerusalem school library stacks, but it is unlikely to have an English translation or be on line. Same problem with the work of Moshe Zemer and Solomon Freehof. Freehof is at least in English, but not easily available on line (though one can at least google some e-book services selling access to a copy). Some of the CCAR pronouncements are on line, but I don't know if there is a repository somewhere or just a few key ones.
In other cases, just finding the sources would take some significant research. For example, in the late 1800's the Reform movement was actively involved in labor reform. It is my understanding that the mishnah of Peah and the talmudic and rabbinic tradition that grew out of it played a key role in shaping the Reform belief that it was a mitzvah to support those movements. Much later (and this I have on my shelf!) Richard Hirsch wrote a monograph "There shall be no poor..." (c. 1965) where he argues that the participation in the War on Poverty is a moral imperative (i.e. command/mitzvah). To make this argument he draws on a wide range of sources taken from the bible, mishnah, talmud - among Brachot, Betza, Nedarim, Eruvin, Baba Batra, Ketubot, Sanhedrin, and Taanit. Both aggadic and halakhic sources are used.
Another challenge is that the reform/progressive movement itself has a lot of ambivalence about the word Halakhah. For example, I don't believe Solomon Freehof would have called his work halakhic even though he wrote reams of responsot (and called them such - one of his books is even titled "A treasury of Responsa"). All the same, he had an active correspondence with several orthodox halakhists of his time (see About solomon-b-freehof). At the time he wrote, the term halakha was being used as something of an us/them differentiator and had extremely negative connotations in the American movement. On the other hand you have Moshe Zemer who is widely recognized in Israel as the pre-eminent modern reform halakhist - and arguably helped restore the use of the term in the reform movement.(see Against Method: Liberal Halakhah Between Theory and Practice, Mark Washofsky, HUC-JIR, Cincinnati, Ohio)
All in all, I think you are right - this is a complex issue and probably requires an article in its own right. I'll have to do some talking around though - it may take some time. Also there are several here (Israel) that are far more qualified than I to write such an article. I would prefer it if I could convince one of them to write something up. Egfrank 10:11, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

Wolowelsky and all-kohen minyanim[edit]

Footnote 6 refers us to Wolowelsky article in tradition that apparently proposes making all-kohen minyan for womens aliyot. I read the article in tradition and this idea appears nowhere. Can someone please tell me what the source for this being wolowelsky's view is? otherwise I'll delete it. YaakovOfNY (talk) 08:42, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Agree footnote content is not supported by this source. Went ahead and removed it. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 02:35, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Woman's Prayer Groups- Question Sources[edit]

The interpretation of the sources provided for the existence of prayer groups in the middle ages is unsourced original research. The Kol Bo is referring specifically to Tisha Baav- hardly a direct source for the inference of "woman's prayer groups" (which implies normative praying- not the dirges of Tisha Baav). Additionally, it was common practice in the synagogues of Europe for a knowledgeable woman to repeat the prayers out loud for woman who did not know how to pray. However- and this is crucial- these were not separate "woman's groups," but were in the womans section praying with the men! Basically, a regular minyan with the addition of a woman helping out less knowledgeable congregants. Therefore, the interpretation of these sources as referring to separate "woman's prayer groups" is unsourced speculative original research. 38.117.213.19 (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 05:16, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

The source is Grossman, Avraham. Pious and Rebellious: Jewish Women in Medieval Europe. Translated from the Hebrew by Jonathan Chapman. Brandeis University Press, 2004. ISBN 1-58465-392-2. The language is not intended to suggest that what happened in the Middle Ages is precisely the same as what occurs in a contemporary "women's prayer group" or that contemporary groups are successors to the Medieval situation. It is intended only to support that in Medieval Europe, (a) Jewish women prayed in groups separately from men on certain occassions, and (b) it was common for women to lead prayers with respect to other women, and such women were identified specifically as prayer leaders. Both propositions are supported by the source, as you note. We can adjust the language if it implies otherwise. Hope this helps. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 19:24, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
We should indeed adjust the language to reflect your above comment. It is worth noting that the term "prayer leader" is loaded. It would imply that a woman led the prayers in a traditional sense i.e. recitation of prayers that require a minyan. I will work on a new draft and post it here for comment before editing the article. 38.117.213.19 (talk) 18:59, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

Role of R Mordechai Kaplan Z'l[edit]

Rabbi Kaplan IIUC conducted the first Bat Mitzvah ceremony, a landmark in Judaism. He did it while he was still associated with JTS, but this is not noted in the Conservative J section, where he is not mentioned at all. In the new Recon section only his actions after founding Recon are mentioned. R Kaplan's career, and its impact on women, started BEFORE he founded Recon, and it seems appropriate to mention it.

Ricardianman (talk) 01:11, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Debates within Orthodoxy essay[edit]

What should we do with the Debates within Orthodoxy essay? I don't think we should keep it as it is. Should we dispose of it entirely? I'm not sure how to "rescue" it. Any thoughts? --GHcool (talk) 22:49, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Editing to Middle Ages[edit]

As part of my course, I re-wrote the section on the Middle Ages. If you would like to see the article before my changes, visit http://web.archive.org/web/20121129094615/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Judaism I was able to address some of the issues talked about, such as the women's prayer groups. rr9842a (talk) 01:53, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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