Simchas Torah and women

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    Lior Your concert example is silly.

    I’m fairly certain you would leave a concert in the middle if half the audience was allowed on stage to participate and join in the concert while you were told you can stand on chair and peer through at everybody else through a partition. No ammount of convincing you that you are more special than the others thats why you dont need to participate in the concert would convince you to stay.

    I’m not saying you’re worng, just that your comparison is silly


    “The fact that they hold a Torah while doing so doesn’t make it more or less enjoyable.”

    And herein remains a problem. Yes; emphatically yes! The heilige Torah – the Torah HaKedosha is being danced with in front of you. Such should make your heart sing in great joy! Just seeing it! People dancing with it! You should feel like running to it and heartily kissing it! Much much more than you would want to shake the hand of the singer at the concert or get his autograph.

    “If some group decided to celebrate simchas torah by twiddling their thumbs do you think that people should enjoy watching it simply because they are twiddling their thumbs in celebration of the Torah?”

    No, they’re not dancing WITH the TORAH!

    🐵 ⌨ Gamanit

    Lior- the chumra you were mentioning doesn’t allow looking at a sefer torah either. According to what you were saying, there would be no difference between a woman watching hakafos or dancing them.


    Hey, Lior, why don’t you try sitting in a chair this year and watching the other men dance? I’m sure you’ll see for yourself how your “heart will sing” from “just seeing people dancing with the heilige Torah”.


    Umm, jf02, I have had an occasion where I for whatever reason wasn’t able to participate in the dancing, and believe you me, my heart most certainly did sing with great joy from just being in the presence and watching the people dancing with the Torah HaKedosha.

    BTW, why do thousands upon thousands of people who didn’t do Daf Yomi attend the Siyum HaShas considering that they hadn’t participated in its completion? It is a joyous celebration of Torah and everyone wants to attend the celebration even if they’re not directly up there saying hadran alach.


    “Just seeing it! People dancing with it! You should feel like running to it and heartily kissing it!”

    Exactly. But you can’t. You can only watch others do what you wish you could.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Gamanit, only if the sefer Torah is open.


    And to take DY’s last point to wit, the curtains to the Ezras Noshim are closed before they lein from the Torah (or hold it up for Hagbah).

    CG: You missed the point. The point is that joy should emanate merely being in its presence. Sure we can’t do all we wish to do. I would love to spend my entire day in the Beis Medrash yet I don’t have that opportunity. But I certainly sing in joy seeing others do so.


    In that case, good for you, Lior, but it doesn’t work that way for me, and as I said earlier, I won’t be made to feel guilty for that. I don’t enjoy being a spectator and there’s no reason why I should HAVE to enjoy being a spectator. It doesn’t mean that I love the Torah any less, only that I don’t, personally, find spiritual fulfillment in standing by and watching men dance. Apparently you do, and some women do, too, and that’s great, but it’s not for me.


    JF, you don’t have to want to go to shul to watch the men dance. It does not make you a better or worse Jew, whether or not you want to go to shul to watch the men dance.

    I don’t go because it makes me feel like an spectator to Judaism. This day is supposed to be the happiest day in a Jew’s life and being stuck on the ‘other’ side, makes me feel like an afterthought at best.

    If it was the learning itself that we are trying to show the chashivus of, then the day would be spent like Shavuos with people learning until all hours of the morning. However, apparently dancing is a way to express happiness in kedusha (eg. the men dance) so everyone should dance. I believe that if simchas torah is a day that we’re celebrating that we have the torah or that we get to learn Torah then everyone should be dancing, the men who do learn as well as the women who give everything to their husbands and children so that they can learn.

    If it is the ‘wanting to be like the men’ that bothers people, there should be a kumzitz on Simchas Torah or something so at least we feel part of it. But staring at other people express their happiness while people tell us we are feminists (it’s a dirty word in yeshivisha shprach) because we also want to express our happiness, kind of makes the day less happy.

    Lior, I think a better thing to ask would be if hypothetically there was a shul that legislates that only men over 40 were able to dance on simchas torah and the rest have to stand squished together on the other side of a curtain, how many men/boys under 40 do you think would be there? I would then ask the same question about a shul that doesn’t allow any men over 40 to dance.

    🐵 ⌨ Gamanit

    DaasYochid- and on Simchas Torah, they open the Torah for aliyos every fifteen minutes or so. While the women are watching.


    You think it’s unfulfilling being a mere “spectator” at the Siyum HaShas, sitting in the bleachers watching the event, and that you’re not participating in the happiness?


    Lior: Have you every actually seen a Shul that closes curtains to the Ezras Nashim for Leining and Hagbah? I don’t believe that you have. Do Shuls with balconies drop a curtain over the balcony then?

    “Such should make your heart sing in great joy! Just seeing it! People dancing with it! You should feel like running to it and heartily kissing it!”

    You are honestly saying that someone should have the greatest joy in seeing something and want to run to kiss it–but can’t? Something tells me you have a very flawed perception of human nature.


    I’ve never been to a Siyum HaShas and have no desire to go. I expect I would be bored to death. Daf Yomi is a wonderful thing, I’m very glad it’s around, and I would consider sponsoring a daf, but don’t expect me to show up for the siyum itself.

    If you want another example, though, I have felt like a spectator at a hachnasas sefer Torah and I did not find it fulfilling.


    I want to empathize with all those who feel left out of the dancing. When I was a kid and life was so much more colorful and richer, it was an absolute torture for me to be stuck behind bars (literally, in some shuls), straining my eager eyes and neck and standing on tippy-toes or calculating which position to crouch in or which eye to close so I could just about see through the tiny hole- just to catch a glimpse of the beauty beyond. It was always a “pass the screaming baby” situation, a gantze matzav with one mother urging Shloimy to “take Duvi to Tatty”, and another mouthing comically to Moshe to ask the candy man for another pekele cuz Gitty didn’t get one. All this was in my ear, on my toes, in my face, with the pushing and shoving and sticky fingers on my new yom tov outfit. I’d stand for hours watching, and wish wish wish wish that I could join. I loved it!!! Simchas Torah was the time when I was convinced with all the power of my pure and (then still) innocent little bursting heart, that nothing in the world is more beautiful and true than Torah and that way of life. I’d wish SOOO badly then, to be a boy (and also when my brothers would sing zemiros and it’s really nerdy when girls do- they sing too girlyish…ao I comforted myself that one day iy”H I’ll have a husband and sons and they’ll be an extension of me…)

    (Wow- can’t believe I wrote all that!)


    The last time I went to a siyum hashas was almost a decade ago so I don’t remember what I felt.


    Sam: I’ve been to more than a handful of shuls on Simchas Torah, and all of them close the Ezras Noshim prior to leining and Hagbah.

    To those that think going to the Siyum HaShas is a bore I have nothing more to add other than that you are a very distinct minority in the frum community. (And that I can then see why you are bored to come to shul on S”T and watch the festivities. You might be more at home watching a ballgame rather than being in shul. Hey, wait, you’re only being a “spectator” at the ballgame — you must hate being behind the ballpark with a security partition there rather than playing ball – where all the action is. I guess reading a book is your cup of tea.)


    As already pointed out in the concert example, 50% of baseball fans don’t get to come out onto the field with the ball players. The ball players/singer/whichever you like aren’t analogous to the MEN, they’re analogous to the TORAH. The entire point of a concert or ball game is that you want to support/celebrate/cheer on your favorite team/singer. Those venues are not designed for ANYONE to get up and join the “action” (here is where your metaphors break down, because the Torah can’t carry itself).

    I do not agree that the majority of frum people enjoy going to the Siyum HaShas. You can start, for example, with the fact that only a minority of frum people within the tri-state area show up for it. I know it does draw a big crowd, but certainly not a majority of all local frum people. (I’m being generous and assuming that there are others who might enjoy it, but are not able or willing to travel that far.)


    Lior: I find the Siyum HaShas boring. Sure, it’s awesome to hear the Hadran and see all the people there. And usually at least one of the speeches is good. But the whole production, overall, is way too much. I’d much rather learn for that time and hear the Hadran from the live hook-up.

    And you ignored my point about balconies (the fact that I don’t believe you about closing the Ezras Nashim aside).


    “50% of baseball fans don’t get to come out onto the field with the ball players”

    Aha! So it’s all about “It’s unfair! If the men get to do it, then the women should to.” If 50% can do it, then the other 50% should to. If the men don’t do it, then it’s okay if the women don’t.

    So to a ballgame or concert you’d be happy to merely cheer along in the crowd. After all they don’t “discriminate”. If the concert would allow the men in the audience — and only the men — unto the stage with the singers, would that change alone make the concert more boring? No, but it would make it “unfair”. But a Simchas Torah event in shul is a bore? Even if the system was that only the rabbi(s) danced with the Torah (similar to a concert or ballgame where only the singers or ballplayers participate) and everyone else, men and women, just watched the rabbis dance with the Torah, it would be no less objectively boring to you than if all the men danced. (It could even be strongly argued it would be more boring for the women if only the rabbis danced and the entire shul of other men [including the women’s husbands and fathers] did not dance.) So in reality what bothers you is the discrimination.

    So why would singers dancing on stage in a concert hall make you joyful yet ehliche yidden singing and dancing in shul with the Torah “doesn’t make me joyful”, as you said? The discrimination not the lack of participation.

    The Siyum HaShas is a sellout every time with there not being sufficient seating for all wishing to attend, even though each cycle they keep renting out the newest largest available venue in the Tri-State area.


    Sam: Most frum shuls don’t have a balcony for the Ezras Noshim. Those that do that I know of are typically large yeshivos. And all the balconies that I know have close to ceiling-to-floor mechitzas on the balcony with blocking windows that can be opened and closed; and they are always closed any time there is davening or leining and aliyos going on. In fact the mechitzas (whether balcony or other) are closed between each hakafa when the Rov (or whomever) is saying the Uno Hashem… (Ozer Dalim… etc.) at the beginning of each hakafa just before the singing (when it is then reopened). This is how it is done in all the many shuls and yeshivos I’ve been in over many years on Simchas Torah.


    Um, no. You’re putting words in my mouth. Concerts and ball games are entertaining because there is a lot of sensory stimulation. I don’t feel the need to get up and “do” something because there is so much noise and excitement going on (no, sorry, the “noise and excitement” of men dancing doesn’t cut it). But you know, fans at a baseball game are not really passive. They wear their team jerseys and colors, they stand up, they cheer and boo loudly, they mug for the cameras, they try to catch balls. Concertgoers likewise stand up, sing along, mug for the camera, and hold up signs. Can you imagine the women literally jumping up and down and cheering on their husbands and sons in shul? That would be really bizarre.

    And actually, yes, allowing male audience members onstage at a concert WOULD make the concert more boring, because it would block my view of the singer and generally take the focus off the singer. (Again, since the Torah can’t perform on its own…not a great comparison.)

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that most Siyum HaShas attendees don’t show up to be entertained.

    no nonsense

    I personally find this topic very intriguing. Lior, you have made some excellent points as have many others who disagree with you.

    As a musician, I have played at many weddings (Baruch Hashem) and I have observed the following scene many times. During the dancing, the kalla will go over to the men’s side and sit next to chassan. Most of the time that she is there, most of the people watch, clap, and are genuinely happy at that moment. Yet, all they are doing is observing. The joy on Simchos Torah, should be at least as great as that time. Those observing, should be thrilled to witness such a joy. In today’s society, unfortunately many do not feel such a love and connection to Hashem and the Torah, that they can not feel the true spirit of the day. May we all be Zoche to feel the Simcha together in Yerushalayim Bikarov.


    Wedding shtick is exciting. I do go over and see what the men are doing at weddings, because most of the time they are doing something really cool that I want to watch. Doesn’t bother me that I can’t jump into the men’s circle, because a) I can do whatever I want on the women’s side, and b) it’s really fun to watch. If the men would do wedding shtick on Simchas Torah, I wouldn’t mind half as much being a spectator. (I’m not saying it wouldn’t bother me at all, only that it would bother me significantly less.)

    Lior, I don’t know where you’re getting this “most shuls this” and “most shuls that”. My shul has a balcony with no curtains or windows and a relatively low mechitzah on the balcony. And it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a “modern” shul. I also know of several other shuls with balconies that, by design, cannot be closed. Not to mention shuls with ezras noshim behind or to the side of the men with no curtains or anything, such that it can’t be closed off any more than the mechitza itself does.

    no nonsense, I don’t understand the leap from “some women don’t enjoy watching men dance” to “those women don’t feel a love and connection to Hashem and the Torah”. Where’s the logic?

    Patur Aval Assur


    I don’t see why the Torah being present affects anything. It neither adds to nor detracts from the fact that the celebration is a celebration of Torah. Sure, it’s nice to have a Torah present if that is what you are celebrating, but from a spectator’s point of view it doesn’t make the action any more or less enjoyable. Your various examples are not quite comparable to this situation. If the program for the siyum hashas was that those who completed daf yomi will dance around for three hours, and if you didn’t finish daf yomi, you can’t dance, I would show up for five minutes and leave. (On Simchas Torah too, I wouldn’t mind watching others dance if it was only for a few minutes.) At a baseball game or a concert or any professional performance, I am not going in order for me to do something. I am going to watch something which is inherently enjoyable for me to watch. Unlike the Simchas Torah proceedings which are not. In fact I probably would not go to a baseball game, precisely because it is too boring for me to watch for three hours.


    jf02: The primary point I am making is simply that the mechitza is fully up in its regular position on Simchas Torah during leining and aliyos in the same position that the mechitza is up during davening and leining on any regular Shabbos. The mechitza is only lowered for the singing and dancing on S”T. (As an aside, I’ve only seen the type of mechitza-less/low-mechitza balcony that you’ve described in non-chareidi shuls.)

    “Concerts and ball games are entertaining because there is a lot of sensory stimulation. I don’t feel the need to get up and “do” something because there is so much noise and excitement going on… most Siyum HaShas attendees don’t show up to be entertained.”

    I hope none do. We attend the Siyum HaShas for Kovod HaTorah, Ahavas HaTorah and Ahavas Hashem. Certainly not to be “entertained”. And on the same token you should not be attending shul on Simchas Torah to be “entertained”. It should be for the same reasons I just outlined why we attend the Siyum HaShas.


    I personally don’t go to concerts because I think concerts are boring. I do enjoy ball games but in any event it’s not the same thing as (besides for the obvious) I’m in a comfortable seat and my presence actually matters because without fans, the team is worth nothing.

    The only think I remember enjoying from the siyum hashas were the stories in the speeches and the powerful amen yehei shmei rabba with thousands of people. I do remember being bored the rest if the time.

    However I don’t see how any of this is a comparison to simchas Torah. On simchas Torah either 1) everyone deserves to celebrate equally because we’re all celebrating the same thing or 2) only men are supposed to celebrate because only men earned simchas Torah so the women should be happy that the men let us stand squashed and claustrophobic against each other while we get to watch what they earned knowing that we didn’t earn anything or 3) since a woman’s job is to be the encourager of Torah while not actually doing anything herself, also today she is supposed to watch the men do the ‘we are proud to be Jewish’ dance but shes not actually allowed to do anything other than watch the true heros express their feelings bec her role is to be an enabler but not to be Jewish.

    Btw to satisfy number 1 I would be happy if there were a kumsitz. It doesn’t have to be the same as the men nor does it have to be in the same place as the men.


    So let me get this straight. If I don’t enjoy standing around in a corner with women and crying babies and watching men run in circles for hours at a time, that means I don’t have Kovod HaTorah, Ahavas HaTorah and Ahavas Hashem? Likewise if I write a check, but don’t show up for Siyum HaShas?

    I think you may be inadvertently proving my point here. It is precisely because I DO have Kovod HaTorah, Ahavas HaTorah and Ahavas Hashem that I’m not content to stand in a corner on Simchas Torah. I feel like I have something to celebrate (a tremendous thing, in fact) but no way to celebrate it. Passive observation is NOT a celebration in my book, and it’s certainly not joyous. No one gets involved just by watching. I’ve never seen women clap or cheer. Most just stand around minding the kids, or shmoozing. I don’t have kids and I don’t want to shmooze, I want to celebrate! I’m so excited that we completed the cycle! It’s pretty anti-climactic to get all hyped up and then have nothing to do with that energy.

    Incidentally, how many people have attended a shul dinner honoring Mr and Mrs So and So and felt bored by the speeches? Does that mean one doesn’t, chas v’shalom, respect Mr and Mrs So and So? No…it means one felt it was important that they be honored, but like most people, doesn’t enjoy listening to long boring speeches.


    Just wanted to correct what I wrote yesterday. It’s the last pasuk in Haazinu, but the words used El Haaretz, the Ohr HaChaim asks why we need that, it’s alluding to the times of Moshiach, Moshe will be part of Techiyas Hamaisim, I didn’t look up but i think that is it.

    The issue of Eretz Yisroel being Chaviva to Moshe is said by Rashi as to why HaShem shows him the land. I don’t recall the exact Pasuk but it;s in the Maftir.

    Regarding the topic, in my Shule the women have their own program in S/T.

    They have a guest speaker or 2 during the time the men are having the Hakafos. They then dance behind a Mechitza with no Torah. I know that many of them want to dance with the Torah but the Rav will not allow.

    There is also in the town an occassional women’s minyan and they are planning dancing with the Torah.

    I think that those women who want to dance with the Torah should do so. I have no problem with it. I don’t see why it bothers anyone.

    Depending on the community, they would be in the main room or their own room, Seems like their own room, is the consensus.

    Saying it’s not Mesorah is fine but so many things that are done today are also not Mesorah. and also what exactly is the harm if they dance with the Torah.


    “It is precisely because I DO have Kovod HaTorah, Ahavas HaTorah and Ahavas Hashem that I’m not content to stand in a corner on Simchas Torah.”

    The implication being the large majority of frum women who are not clamoring to dance like the men do on S”T and ARE content to do on S”T what Jewish women have been doing for over 1000 years, lack Kovod HaTorah, Ahavas HaTorah and Ahavas Hashem?

    “Incidentally, how many people have attended a shul dinner honoring Mr and Mrs So and So and felt bored by the speeches? Does that mean one doesn’t, chas v’shalom, respect Mr and Mrs So and So?”

    No. Unless they start advocating that THEY TOO should get speakers praising them from the podium, to reduce their boredom. Then it would indeed indicate a lack of respect.

    Patur Aval Assur


    I don’t think you saw my last post so I’ll just make my point here succinctly: Some people find watching men dance around in circles to be an enjoyable experience. Some people don’t. It doesn’t matter what it is that they are celebrating if it is not an enjoyable celebration. You can’t expect someone to enjoy something that they don’t enjoy just because it represents something nice.


    “The implication being the large majority of frum women who are not clamoring to dance like the men do on S”T and ARE content to do on S”T what Jewish women have been doing for over 1000 years, lack Kovod HaTorah, Ahavas HaTorah and Ahavas Hashem?”

    No…that’s not the implication at all. (Thank you for putting words in my mouth again.) You’re the one who brought up the question of who does or doesn’t have Kovod HaTorah, Ahavas HaTorah and Ahavas Hashem.

    Let me make this clear: I only speak for myself, not any other women. I, personally, do not find spiritual fulfillment in playing the role of observer on Simchas Torah. When I, personally, choose to attend a shul that allows women to dance, my dancing is an expression of Kovod HaTorah, Ahavas HaTorah and Ahavas Hashem. I am sure that other women feel and act differently, and my intention was never to disparage anyone else.


    jf: “Spiritual fulfillment” in Judaism is not based upon personal feelings.

    Sam: I figured out late what kind of shul “balconies” you were referring to. The ones I’m used to seeing are almost fully enclosed and don’t have an opening allowing the women to peek into the men’s section unless it is deliberately opened during appropriate times. (Hence it is opened on S”T for the hakafos but closed between each hakafa at the beginning and closed for leining.) I did see the open kind you’re referring to a few times in, if I recall, old American shuls (on weekdays when there were no women in attendance, hence the lack of a major impression). I’ve not often seen them, though I’ve been around the block and seen quite a few Orthodox shuls, and the few I’ve seen seem to generally be old big shuls whose membership declined with shifting demographics and certainly are more ‘modern’ oriented congregations. So, yes,the kind you refer to would allow the ladies to see the open Torah and obviously those shuls have no objection to that. But the shuls with such open balconies are a very small percent of Orthodox shuls (counting by number of shuls or by number of congregants).


    I ay ne mistaken but I have never heard of women not being allowed to look at the open Torah. And Ihave never been in a shul where women’s views are blocked during krias hatorah.


    First, Sam you never responded to what I said about feelings being right or wrong.

    Feeling “spiritual” or not should NOT be a measuring stick for right and wrong.

    Second, did anyone actually ask a rabbi what the right perspective is on this.

    Third, we are here to be marbeh kvod shamayim, and our neshamos should be filled with joy when that is happening. Examples of that happening would be the siyum hashas and simchas Torah (places I’ve been to, anyway)

    However you’re participating, the joy is there for all those who wish to experience it.

    In general, I find this thread disturbing, but I can’t put my finger on why.


    Lior, how then would you define “spiritual fulfillment”?


    What percent, if any at all, of the well known Litvishe yeshivos can you name that have an open Ezras Noshim easily allowing viewing of Krias HaTorah? (Forget the chasidishe – where they likely have a brick wall between the Ezras Noshim.)


    jf: Fulfilling ones spiritual duties.


    Many chadidishe shuls have a window looking down into the men’s section where women can clearly see the Torah.


    Ha! I’m sorry but that is not how anyone uses the term, ever.

    I’ll rephrase, if you like. I, personally, do not feel an outpouring of joy and pride when I sit in a corner and watch men dance with the Torah. I *do* feel an outpouring of joy and pride when I dance with other women with the Torah. It’s very simple. The shuls where I have danced in the past are led by rabbis who do not pasken that there is any kind of halachic issue with women dancing with the Torah, so long as we are well separated from the men (and no I do not go “shul hopping” for this purpose; it’s just that I’ve moved a lot in the past several years). So halachic arguments aren’t going to work here, and telling me what I *should* feel makes no sense, since there is absolutely no reason why I need to change the way I feel, even if I thought I was capable of doing that.


    I feel an outpouring of joy and pride when I dance with my teddy bear in shul on S”T. So my “spiritual fulfillment” comes from dancing with my teddy bear.


    I feel an outpouring of spiritual joy and pride when I get in a fight with people who want the women to dance with the torah.

    just sayin’


    Lior, that is actually true for many children and can be a good chinuch tool.

    I meant joy and pride in Am Yisroel and the Torah, which should have been abundantly clear. It should also be abundantly clear, but I’ll say it anyway, that no normal, well-adjusted adult is going to find spiritual fulfillment in dancing with a teddy bear. (Of course, it’s not assur to do so, as long as you aren’t worshiping the teddy bear.)


    Lior, I am not a statistician (if I was, I’d be busy right now compiling data for or against the NASI people). So I won’t answer your question with regard to the percent of well known Litvishe yeshivos… But I will tell you that at least one has a wooden lattice mechitza through which the women can clearly see the Torah during Krias HaTorah. Not naming names, though. And of course it’s your prerogative to find out which yeshiva I’m referring to, and put the members in cheirem.

    (Does a cheirem declared on the CR actually work?)


    Without names you could easily be referring to the well known yeshiva d’creedmor 😉

    Patur Aval Assur


    The shul that you davened in today presumably will give the women a Sefer Torah on Simchas Torah as well. Maybe you should tell us which shul it was. Or not.


    I love to go to shul on Simchat Torah though I don’t watch the men dance unless it’s my husband or children. But I love the singing and I follow along in the machzor and find this spiritually uplifting. I also dance with women and we enjoy ourselves very much. A Sefer Torah with the women? Crazy idea and unnecessary.


    agutyar, why is it a “crazy idea”? And why does it have to be “necessary”– why can’t women dance with the Torah just because they want to?


    I did tahaluchah this simchas torah. Walked 8 miles. But not to a shul.


    ” I am not a statistician (if I was, I’d be busy right now compiling data for or against the NASI people).”

    I am a statistician. Who is NASI?

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