Different Roles-by Rabbi Hyim Shafner

I came across THIS ARTICLE by Rabbi Avi Shafran, my old 10th grade Rebbe.  There is a lot he writes in the public arena that I do not agree with, but this one I really did.  I articulated a similar notion in my post in this blog about Maharats HERE.  Indeed when our Maharat here at Bais Abraham asked me if she was expected to go to the weekday Schacharit minyan, I told her that of course she could but it was not expected, and perhaps she would like praying at home better and spending the time with her young children or learning.  


Men and women have different halachic obligations and as Orthodox Jews we believe that men and women are different.  Because the genders bring very different voices and points of view to the table is precisely why we must empower women to be Jewish leaders, to be learned, but we must take care not to push them to be the same as men.  This could send  observant Judaism down a dangerous path of erasing the distinctions between the genders, much as has happened in some more liberal Jewish movements.  Ultimately such a path does not honor women and their leadership, their power, and uniqueness nor does it honor men’s, but rather takes something precious away and creates fewer opportunities for both genders to bring their strengths to the community.  

3 Responses to Different Roles-by Rabbi Hyim Shafner

  1. Mr. Cohen says:

    Rabbi Ari Z. Zivotofsky said:

    FACT: There is no evidence that Rashi’s daughters wore tefillin.”

    SOURCE 1:

    SOURCE 2:

  2. Um, maybe I missed something but isn’t this post competely opposed to one of Morethodoxy’s big beliefs?
    After all, you want to get rid of one of the morning berachos because you find it offensive to women, you want to ordain women as rabbis, you want to give them aliyos and let them lead services but you’re all in favour of keeping the genders separate?

  3. Benjamin E. says:

    If the comment about women’s “leadership, power, and uniqueness” is intended to be substantive and meaningful, then we should ensure that when we talk about gender distinctions and erasing them that we are focused on where a gender distinction is substantive and where it is not.

    There are many mitzvot that both men and women do where we are not concerned that either gender is being too much like the other. We are not concerned, for example, that because men keep kosher, women should not keep kosher lest they become too much like men. Kashrut, like many, many mitzvot, is incumbent upon women just as much as men, and that does not and should not bother anybody – refraining from eating milk and meat together is not seen to operate in any way on the wavelength of gender.

    This is not to say that women may not have a unique perspective on kashrut – indeed, they may! – and the existence of that perspective seems not be precluded by the fact that men also perform the mitzvah.

    If we’re going to insist that there are areas where a woman performing a particular mitzvah would in some concrete way rob her of her power, leadership, or uniqueness, or “takes something precious away” from her or creates fewer opportunities for her to bring her strengths to the community, we should be able to clearly discuss why we think that and how it differs from a mitzvah like kashrut, Shabbat, or making berachot over food, where we do not believe gender-identical observance detracts from a woman’s ability to provide such things or even to have a unique, even gendered, perspective on them.

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