Rav Yaakov Ariel Calls to Establish an Institute of Higher Limudim for Women

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arielIn an interview with the dati leumi Kippa website, HaGaon HaRav Yaakov Ariel explained that semicha today is only valid if one does it via the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, adding other rabbinical ordinations are not “serious or significant”. Rav Ariel made his remarks in response to the announcement two women were certified as Rabos last week by the Harel Beit Medrash.

Rav Ariel explains that one certified as a rav must realize he is a legacy of the continuity that existed throughout the generations, and it is important that he studied in a place which adhered to tradition handed down over the years. “I don’t know where these women studied but definitely not in an accepted yeshiva. They have not acquired the in-depth knowledge required for the position.

“Women speaking about Torah is a positive trend, but it must be understood that in order to give a psak Halacha continuity and tradition are required. The study of Torah in an academic setting is different from learning in a yeshiva. The appropriate approach is lacking in the former as is the responsibility to continue the legacy. Semicha means beginning with Moshe Rabbeinu and continuing to today.

“It is wonderful that women are studying Torah. Women must study Torah but there is still not a framework permitting them to learn as is done in yeshivos. There is no framework for women to learn the Oral Law like the model we are familiar with. This must still be done towards establishing an organized framework. Such an institute must be headed by our Gedolei Torah. Women must definitely be given the opportunity to specialize in Torah”.

Rabbi Ariel is critical of the ease by which many are given rabbinical ordination today and they are viewed as poskim despite lacking the years of necessary training. Rabbi Ariel does not believe that every male can or should seek ordination instead of continuing in a secular academic path.

“A rav must know how to give a psak, which is a great deal more than studying Torah and being familiar with it. One wishing to become a posek must do shimush at the side of Gedolei Yisrael and Gedolei Torah to learn the Halachos and not just receive semicha”.

The rav adds that at present, there is no place for women to receive Chief Rabbinate ordination. “Women studying Torah seriously can be accepted as Tanach teachers in a school or academia. Why is rabbinical ordination required? Not every male must be posek either. One does not required a Chief Rabbinate exam to study Halacha. On the other hand, the Chief Rabbinate exam should be the same for men and women to ensure equality.

“Women are not disqualified from ruling in Halacha in principle, but the tradition is lacking and therefore the Halachic continuity is lacking. One does not simply receive ordination and then begin ruling in matters of Halacha. A young rabbi is not a posek. In order to become a high-level posek one must study for decades and not every woman requires this. It is a position with great demands and she must also be a mothers. One must know how to combine responsibilities.

“There are professions women should not seek to accept upon themselves. It is not a matter of ability but it is not desired for this will compromise her as a mother. To be a female posek Halacha one must remain dedicated to Torah for decades. It is not for everyone, not all men and not all women”.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


18 COMMENTS

  1. If Hashem wanted woman to learn tora and be able to pasken in tora he would of told Moshe rabeini to gather all the woman daily and learn with them tora as he was told to do with the men .instead Hashem told for Moishe speak to the woman softly and explain them some mitzvahs so they should want to accept the tora . So we clearly see Hashem wanted woman to accept the tora and mitzvahs but not to study the tora like men

  2. Korach wanted the kahuna like aharon what happened. Woman want to pasken like men wonder what will happen…..stick to your position Hashem wants you to be…..

  3. There is no way to explain what’s WRONG with a Woman Rabbi, to all those people who don’t LIVE איידעשקייט. It goes against the fabric and direction of our WHOLE תורה!

  4. #3 see Seifer HaChinuch and Chida quoted by Pischei Teshuva in Yoreh Dei’ah that a knowledgeable woman may rule in areas of halacha. Therefore they are bound by the prohibition of paskening while under the influence of alcohol.

    But this is not the main point. As Rav Ariel shlita mentioned at the end, there is much more to the issue of woman “Rabbis” or “Rabbahs” than just the permissibility of a woman paskening a shai’la. The training necessary is enormous and entails a shift of focus from the traditional role of motherhood and family-centered focus, the “Bayis” of “Bais Ya’akov” to the non-family-centered focus on intense focus on absorbing not only the facts of Torah but the whole “m’halech” of halacha necessary to properly pasken. Rav Ariel was warning against this trend. Hence, the focus on “there is not tradition for it”. Technical arguments for or against women “Rabbis” can be debated and debated — as, unfortunately, has been going on for quite some time in Modern Orthodox circles. But Rav Ariel is making a broader point which is very much at the crux of the issue. Are we willing to modify or perhaps even forego the traditional Jewish family so some women should be able to take on a new role?

    This is similar to the debate against the early Reformers. Some Rabbanim used technical halachic arguments. But these were more likely to lose since some sharp “reformer” might refute the argumentation. The main argument, which was, of course, correct, was that the changes desired were the beginning of the end of Judaism and therefore had to be stopped. I think unfortunately Rav Ariel’s points will be misunderstood.

  5. A correction to my comment. The sources are Chinuch end of 152 and Pischei Teshuva Choshen Mishpat 7:(5). But, as stated, the issue is much greater than whether a woman technically can rule in a matter of halacha.

  6. “Women are not disqualified from ruling in Halacha in principle, but the tradition is lacking and therefore the Halachic continuity is lacking”

    Really?!

    Devarim 17:15

    With sources upon sources throughout the ages

    For the laymen and women :See also J D Bleich for a discussion of the topic

  7. “Yarchei Kallah is a week of intensive learning whether it’s for men or women”

    Eh?!

    We are all conversant with what the term has meant for last 1800 years

  8. Rabbi Ariel is right on this:

    Rabbi Ariel is critical of the ease by which many are given rabbinical ordination today and they are viewed as poskim despite lacking the years of necessary training. Rabbi Ariel does not believe that every male can or should seek ordination instead of continuing in a secular academic path.

    “A rav must know how to give a psak, which is a great deal more than studying Torah and being familiar with it. One wishing to become a posek must do shimush at the side of Gedolei Yisrael and Gedolei Torah to learn the Halachos and not just receive semicha”

    And this:

    “It is wonderful that women are studying Torah. Women must study Torah but there is still not a framework permitting them to learn as is done in yeshivos. There is no framework for women to learn the Oral Law like the model we are familiar with.

    The problem is here:

    This must still be done towards establishing an organized framework. Such an institute must be headed by our Gedolei Torah. Women must definitely be given the opportunity to specialize in Torah”.

  9. The idea that the Chief Rabbinate is the only way to get ordained is as contrary to halachah as the idea that the Chief Rabbinate is the only way to convert to Judaism. It is not consistent with the mesorah, as Chazal and Rishonim permitted any rav to give semicha to anyone else whom he deemed qualified, and for any three rabbis to convert a prospective convert who was prepared to accept the mitzvot. This is pshat gemara and was never questioned until the current generation.

    It isn’t the “open orthodox” movement that has tried to change Judaism. It is the Rabbinate in Medinat Yisrael.

  10. ” It goes against the fabric and direction of our WHOLE תורה! ”

    If your statement were true, then either the Torah itself, or Chazal, would have prohibited it. Neither did.

  11. ‘Rabbi Ariel does not believe that every male can or should seek ordination instead of continuing in a secular academic path.

    “A rav must know how to give a psak, which is a great deal more than studying Torah and being familiar with it. One wishing to become a posek must do shimush at the side of Gedolei Yisrael and Gedolei Torah to learn the Halachos and not just receive semicha”.’

    Rabbi Ariel is almost certainly correct here, but the simple fact is that semicha is now viewed by Klal Yisrael as the completion of a course of study. Rav Ariel’s view would be difficult to implement given that much of the orthodox world objects to the very ideal of secular academics (which itself is a modern deviation from past practice).

  12. “The training necessary is enormous and entails a shift of focus from the traditional role of motherhood and family-centered focus”

    The shift has already occurred in much of the orthodox world, as women are now expected to be the primary breadwinners in the household, supporting their husbands in learning full time.

    It is ironic that many of the women now getting yoreh yoreh have numerous children and see their children and their families as their primary responsibility, while the charedi world has flipped this over. Yet they claim that it is Open Orthodoxy that has changed Jewish tradition!

  13. A far more important issue that women ruling on Halacha, is that Women teachers need to be as knowledgeable as possible.

    I know of women teachers in Bais Yaakov that were asked questions that they couldn’t answer and instead of having the seichel to say , “I’m not sure, I’ll check it and get back to you,” have turned girls off by either giving a foolish answer or denigrating the girl asking the question.

    The old world philosophy of women not needing an education is foolish. The more knowledge the better.

    Also, on women’s issues, where many women may not feel comfortable going to a Rov and may not ask a needed Sheila, what is wrong with having a knowledgeable women to ask? In the old days, women often went to the Rebbitzen, who answered when she could, or asked her husband when she couldn’t.