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Rav’s P’sak Puts Elon Moreh Elections in the News

HaRav Elyakim Levanon Shlita is the rav of the Shomron community of Elon Moreh. The rav ruled that females may not run for an elected position in upcoming elections, leading the head of the nation’s women’s rights lobby, Nurit Tzur, to send an urgent letter to Interior Minister Eli Yishai, demanding the rabbi’s immediate dismissal and a ministry order to halt the election until such time the matter may be addressed.

Tzur wrote that elections for the municipality’s ruling council are supposed to be held on Wednesday, May 26th, but the rabbi has issued a ruling that a woman may not hold such a position of authority, seeking to postpone elections.  She quotes the rav as saying that “a woman can have an impact via her husband”, and that “this is a women’s nature and this cannot be changed”.

The women’s lobby accuses the rav of trampling the rights of women and the value of equality in Israel in the 21st century.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

2 Responses

  1. Depending on the type of organization or group, many prominent and chasuva women have held seats of authority & importance.

  2. Zionflag, the issue is not “importance” but “authority”. It is pretty basic halacha that a woman or a ger may not hold a position of authority. At least this is the Rambam’s opinion, and though no other rishon seems to say so, nor does any other rishon seem to dispute it, so it’s generally accepted as halacha, or at least as something one must be חושש for.

    The terms the Rambam uses for such positions, for which women and gerim are ineligible are משימות, שררות, and מינויין. These terms seem to be interchangeable, and lead to a lot of debate among modern poskim as to exactly which positions are included in this term and which are not. For instance, there is a widespread debate over whether a woman or a ger can be a shul president; those who permit it hold that it is not a position of authority as defined by halacha. It’s generally accepted that a shul rabbonus is a position of authority, which is why R Avi Weiss hired a woman only as an assistant rabbi, not as the main rabbi of the shul. Another doubtful position is that of mashgiach; R Moshe Feinstein ruled that a woman can be a mashgiach for a rav hamachshir, but she may not give her own hechsher. So there’s a lot of wiggle room.

    Also, the gemoro says that there can be exceptions to this rule. If a woman or a ger is not just slightly more qualified, but vastly more qualified than all other candidates, so that one can say that the public needs him or her and there is no born-Jewish man who will do instead, then s/he is allowed to take the position. This was why Shmaya and Avtalyon were allowed to be Nosi and Av Bes Din. Here too, there is a lot of wiggle room for allowing a woman into any position.

    However, what R Levanon paskened remains the basic halacha. If he holds that the position of council secretary is a משימה within the meaning of the halacha, and that there are men who can do the job well enough that there is no need for a woman, then he’s right to rule that she should not run.

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