“OTS” Begins To Certify Orthodox “Moraot Hora’ah” In Wake of AG’s Decision Allowing Women To Be Rabbis


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Following the controversial decision by Israel’s Attorney General that stated that the Rabbanut must allow women to take the Smicha test, Ohr Torah Stone (OTS) certified Rabbanit Shira Sapir as a “morat hora’ah” and spiritual leader.

According to a statement made by the OTS, Rabbanit Sapir is the ninth woman to have completed the five-year course of studies in OTS’ Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute of Halakhic Leadership (WIHL). In addition to being tested on the regular material in order to attain “semicha”, Sapir took an additional examination on the laws of Geirus. She is the first woman in the program to embrace that track.

In a statement to the press, Ohr Torah Stone’s President and Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Kenneth Brander congratulated Rabbanit Sapir on her accomplishment. Ohr Torah Stone’s President and Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Kenneth Brander congratulated Rabbanit Sapir: “Just one week ago we received the good news that Israel will have to open a parallel course of testing halakhic knowledge specifically for women. I hope that these tests will be equal in seriousness to the examinations administered today for men and that they will prove to be the final opening of the gates to spiritual and halakhic leadership by qualified women. The time has come for national recognition of your learning and your labor, for a public seal of approval on your knowledge and skills, and an acknowledgement of your rights to equal pay and employment opportunities.”

Due to coronavirus restrictions, Rabbanit Sapir accepted her certification at a small ceremony in Jerusalem attended by her family, teachers and fellow students. The mother of six from Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion told Arutz Sheva news outlet that the key to developing an attachment to Torah observance is based on being passionate about the subject matter. “When people are not involved and do not feel that the Torah is part of their lives or relevant to them, then apathy develops. The activity, the involvement, the discourse and the shared learning of the public with the Torah is what best preserves it and establishes the strongest connection to our heritage and observance. The privilege of women in our generation to be able to spend our days on the benches of the beit midrash and take part in the ongoing Torah discourse is a central part of the redemption process.”

“We’ve shattered the glass ceiling, but in order to tread on it we still have a lot to accomplish,” Rabbi Brander said. “Women Torah scholars should be better integrated into halakhically-appropriate roles in our study halls and synagogues. We need to continue to push forward to create valuable positions in the IDF, hospitals, and the public sector where they can illustrate and convey the relevance and sensitivity of halakha to greater numbers of people. And perhaps more than anything, the contribution of women scholars is needed in the world of halakhic literature; this is one of the reasons that the WIHL also concentrates on writing, we await the day on which we will be able to fill the bookshelves with the words of women Torah scholars.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


  1. I’m not sure what a “morat hora’ah” is meant to be, but if it’s not pretending to be equivalent to a smicha, then it’s no different to the university ‘Torah’ qualifications that are offered to both genders. In which case, they didn’t need to wait for this travesty declaration from the government to give their certificate.

    And if it is trying to be on the level of a halachic smicha d’zmaneinu, then the first question they should ask when testing is “Should women be allowed to be given smicha?” If they answer “Yes”, they fail. If they answer “No”, then don’t give them ‘smicha’.

    Mah nafshach, there’s no problem.

  2. And her halachickly unacceptable dress code? OXYMORON!
    ‘Rabbanit’ means the wife of a rabbi. ‘Rebbetzen’ also means wife of a rabbi. The ONLY correct grammatical term for a woman who is a rabbi is: “Rabbit”……….

  3. Rabbi Brander transformed Boca Raton to a bastion of torah for the modern orthodox. His work continues to blossom under current leadership. You don’t like it, don’t live there. What does it bother you if it gives them more job opportunities (which if you read what the AG said is actually the main push for this) Who cares if people rather ask their questions to a lady. Oh because you didn’t grow up that way. I’m sorry

  4. Fraidygee wrote: “Does she know the halachos of dressing modestly?”
    Fraidygee, yes, I understand that the way she dresses is different than the way you were taught.

    But Fraidygee, have you considered that the way you were taught, while right for your community is not necessarily the ONLY approach to these laws?

    And that to some extent, they are somewhat dependent on community standards, just as what’s considered “modest” in Williamsburg or Meah Shearim is very different than what’s considered “modest” in Lakewood or Efrat?

    Think about it.
    Rabbanit Sapir has certainly studied these laws intensively, starting from the gemara. all the way through the poskim.
    Have you?

    And BTW, modesty extends to being modest enough to recognize one’s own limitations (in learning) before attacking other people publicly.

  5. I think her role as a Rabbanit is to answer halachic questions (based on halachic sources, of course, which she has clearly studied) and to refer any questions requiring psak to a Musmach. Given her breadth and depth of knowledge, she can likely provide spiritual and halachic guidance as well. Given that she must “prove” herself in a man’s world, she probably has worked harder and knows more than most musmachim, but also knows that she is not allowed to paskin in questionable cases. Often, a woman will feel more comfortable asking questions to another woman than to a man. As such, her role as a Rabbanit will surely lead to greater harbatzas Torah. And it’s really not proper to throw any shade at Rabbi Brander. 17 Tamuz tomorrow. C’mon.

  6. To all modern orthodox who are commenting here. There is something called authentic torah. Dressing modestly is part of it. If she wants to be a rabbi, she has to pasken shailos. Basically she is Hshem’s shaliach. First- women can’t be rabbis. Second-she does need to dress the part. It’s called confusng. How can a rabbi advise her congregants on the proper halachos if she isn’t following one of the basic halachos? Dressing modestly.
    Sorry if you all want to stand up for those women who’ve made a siyum hashas. They aren’t getting all those zechuyos from learning shas anyways, because they aren’t supposed to be learning it-and for sure not to be paskening on it.
    This thing of women wanting to have semicha confuses the unaffiliated, who want to look up to their rabbis.
    How can you look up to a rabbi who isn’t covered(among other things)?
    So confusing……..

  7. Shlomo2 “have you considered that the way you were taught, while right for your community is not necessarily the ONLY approach to these laws?”
    You are unfortunately incorrect. Moshe Rabbeinu gave the AUTHENTIC torah on har sinai. Do you really think Moshe Rabbeinu would be happy about the immodest way some women dress? And It IS the ONLY RIGHT approach to these laws!
    You as a man have no say in the matter. I am a women and I consider it offensive.
    And just so you know- I am not close minded. I am very good friends with many who don’t dress modestly. I don’t hold it against them and I don’t judge them.
    BUT to want semicha while dressed like that is totally wrong!

  8. Shlomo 2
    And no I haven’t studied all that this lady has studied. As a women, I know there are parts of the torah for men only- and therefore I don’t study them.
    I am happy to be a women and concentrate on the 3 mitzvos given just to women. I don’t need to spend more time trying to be a man wannabe.
    Best wishes

  9. There goes yeshiva world, going against everything being a frum yid is all about.Its no shock they would do this being they have no regard for our gedolim in general they give reshaim like Ken Brander and his cronies a platform. Klal Yisroel has been around for thousands of years and now all the sudden these fools want to change everything about yiddishkeit because it offends them.
    Give us all a break and stop publishing these ridiculous articles

  10. to Shlomo, There are certain basic halachos to dressing according to halocho no matter which derech you choose, Chassidish, Litvish, “Modern Orthodox” etc. and this woman is not dressed accordingly. At the very least the neckline should be higher and assuming she is married because she is wearing a tichel, it should cover all her hair. As an orthodox woman myself, I have no problem with the role I play in Yiddishkeit and I don’t see why women think they have to take a men’s role in becoming ordained or certified or whatever. In Mitzrayim the people did avodas perach which meant that the men were given women’s work and the women were given men’s work. Therefore it is not an issue that men are the rabbonim and women are the family caretakers. Any other way is not derech Hatorah.

  11. I’m not sure if this is wrong or not. If she becomes a rov or spiritual leader, then it’s ossur. But if she’s merely becoming a posek, and the tests are just there to show that she has the required knowledge so that one can trust here, I don’t see whats wrong. In fact many women would be more comfortable going to a fellow woman than to a man to ask her halacha shaylos. This isn’t so common in yeshivish communities, but in more Modern communities, I can understand why there’s a need.

    In regards to her tzniyus, read Rav Yehuda Henkin’s Understanding Tzniyus, where he addresses this topic. Suffice it to say she is tzniyus for the more maykel shitos.

  12. fraidygee, I actually feel sorry for you. Why are you so closed-minded? Why is it such an affront for a women to be more. You can’t speak for Hashem, or Moshe or anyone for that matter. As for sticking to your 3 mitzvos- congrats on that – maybe that’s why you seem so resentful of her accomplishments. And when you laud all of our “gedolim” you sound like you’re living in a fantasy world. There is so much corruption with in our structure of answering questions, beis din, hechsher, etc… please- it’s sickening – maybe, just maybe Hashem would like to see a change in how we do things. But you know if we stop thinking our version of yiddishkeit is “the best” and we embrace our fellow jew just for the fact that they ARE A JEW, maybe we can bring in Moshiach a little faster. Stop hating – the outside world does that enough.

  13. tzipster Don’t feel sorry for me. And I said I am not close minded!
    Sorry if it’s sounds to you like I hate untzniyus women.
    That is exactly the opposite of what I said- I said I have close friends who don’t dress modestly. And that I DON’T judge them! I do think it is totally unacceptable for a women who is immodestly dressed, to be a rabbi or rabbanit.

    And don’t worry, there are 613 mitzvos. I keep more than just three of them.
    I don’t think Hshem wants to see a change in this direction. He created the world a certain way, and is happy to leave it unchanged.
    If you need help you can speak to a rabbi on aish.com who can direct you away from those so called corrupted rabbanim. I am so sorry for your bad experiences.
    But authentic torah is the one given on har sinai.
    You wrote, “we embrace our fellow jew just for the fact that they ARE A JEW, maybe we can bring in Moshiach a little faster. Stop hating – the outside world does that enough.” Again, this has zero to do with sinas chinam. I don’t understand where you’re getting that impression.
    I am eagerly awaiting moshiachs arrival. I’m assuming moshiach is not a lady?

  14. fraidyge- you’re closed-minded because you think that the way she is dressing is immodest. There are many ways to interpret the laws and guidelines of tzniut. She happens to interpret them differently than you do. That doesn’t make her unfit to be a leader within her community.

  15. pekak – I guess your daughters never learned Ramban Al HaTorah in their Beis Yaakovs’s since he often quotes from Gemara’s and Midrashim.