Henkin was born in Pennsylvania in 1945 and raised in Stamford, CT. His father was Hillel Henkin, a Jewish educator in New Haven, CT. After graduating from the Yeshivah of Flatbush High School in 1962, he studied six years with his famous grandfather, Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, from whom he received semichah, and served as the Rabbi of the Beit She'an valley before moving to Jerusalem.
He lives in Jerusalem, with his wife, Chana Henkin, founder and head of Nishmat, the Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies for Women. His son, Rabbi Eitam Henkin, and his daughter-in-law were murdered by Palestinian terrorists on 01-Oct-2015.
He cites his grandfather R. Yosef Eliyahu Henkin that hearing Shofar and Megillah cannot be done by radio, and that therefore Kol Isha does not apply over the radio. R. Yehudah Henkin was unsure whether this applies to hearing a woman’s voice on television.
He permits dancing on the Sabbath.
He permits a man to shake a woman's hand when offered, and vice versa.
Deferring to the Arukh HaShulkan
- It is a more recent authority relative to the Mishnah Brurah. Although Aruch haShulchan on Choshen Mishpat preceded the Mishnah Berurah, the part on Orach Chayim was published up to 10 years after Mishnah Berurah.
- He covers all of the Shulkhan Arukh
- More importantly, the Arukh HaShulchan reflects the minhagim of the time, while the Mishna Berurah is much more precedent/text-based.
He has written the major objection to the concept of a partnership minyan, particularly the issue of calling women to the Torah. In an article in the EDAH journal article on the subject, he provided point-by-point halakhic counterarguments, and also said:
- Regardless of the arguments that can be proffered to permit women’s aliyyot [Torah-reading] today— that kevod ha-tsibbur can be waived, that it does not apply today when everyone is literate, that it does not apply when the olim rely on the (male) ba`al qeri’ah and do not themselves read—women’s aliyyot remain outside the consensus, and a congregation that institutes them is not Orthodox in name and will not long remain Orthodox in practice. In my judgment, this is an accurate statement now and for the foreseeable future, and I see no point in arguing about it.
- "Names of Parents Killed in Attack Released". Channel 7.
- Bnei Banim 4:26
- Bnei Banim 2:211 and 3:127
- Bnei Banim 3:12
- Bnei Banim 1:12
- Hakirah.org, see Negiah, section entitled "Shaking hands in Halacha."
- 2, p31
- Yehuda Herzl Henkin, “Qeri’at ha-Torah by Women: Where We Stand Today.” Edah 1:2, 2001 (pdf)
- Responsa Benei Vanim, 4 volumes
- A Biblical commentary, Hibah Yeteirah (Brooklyn: Lambda Publishers)
- Equality Lost: Essays in Torah Commentary, Halacha and Jewish Thought (Urim Publications, 1999)
- New Interpretations on the Parsha (Ktav, 2001)
- Qeri’at ha-Torah by Women: Where We Stand Today.
- Responsa on Contemporary Jewish Women’s Issues (Ktav, 2003)
- Understanding Tzniut: Modern Controversies in the Jewish Community (Urim Publications, 2008)
- Is Handshaking a Torah Violation?