One of the tenets of Morethodoxy as I see it is finding as many and as wide a range of opportunities as possible within halacha for all Jews to engage in Judaism and connect to God. In the case of women this means finding greater room for women’s leadership, women’s learning, women’s expression, and women’s teaching within Orthodoxy. My collogue Rabbi Kanefsky has written that not finding enough room for women’s voices makes orthodoxy not only less palatable but less inspiring http://morethodoxy.org/2009/11/25/can-orthodoxy-get-better-market-share-part-2/ .
I would like to go a bit farther. I think it’s important we have women’s voices expressed in Jewish leadership, Jewish teaching and in guiding the Jewish people because women have a unique voice. Over half of the human population is female. Isn’t it possible that if we only hear the voice of men in Torah and in leadership that perhaps we are missing something very basic? Perhaps the way that Devorah led the Jewish people was not the same as the way Moses led the Jewish People? Maybe both voices are essential in order to have a complete whole.
If such an approach requires leniencies then those are the places that leniency is appropriate. As my colleague Barry Gelman has written http://morethodoxy.org/2009/11/10/being-machmir-stringent-about-being-meikil-lenient-%E2%80%93-rabbi-barry-gelman/ and as I have written http://morethodoxy.org/2009/07/31/the-importance-of-leniency-and-the-leniencies-that-come-from-being-strict-by-rabbi-hyim-shafner/ leniency can be a very important halachic factor and indeed a stronger one than strictness. Indeed, often stricture creates leniencies we have not intended.
Another reason that it is important we make room for women in Jewish leadership is that it is just not fair to say to 50% of the population, your talents cannot be used for holiness in every way. In fact, we find this argument of “It is not fair” in the Torah itself. “It is not fair” is a valid concern that was addressed by the highest levels of Jewish leadership.
When the Jewish people are told of the mitzvah of Passover some come to Moses and say “We are impure. Our relative has passed away and we have had to bury them, and so cannot bring the Passover offering. It is not fair! Why should we miss out?” Moses doesn’t know what to do when “it is not fair” is in conflict with the law that God has given. So Moses turns to God and God responds –Let’s find a way; let’s make a second Passover for them.