Friday, February 1, 2013

Female Orthodox Rabbis? We Already Have Them

Guest Post by Rabbi Dan Friedman
The pressure on Orthodoxy for the ordination of women has been mounting for many years. Nowhere in the Torah does it say that women cannot be teachers of the Law; halacha merely precludes women’s judicial roles. Why is traditional Judaism so steadfastly opposed to women’s rabbinic leadership roles?
The job of a pulpit rabbi is multifaceted. He is a teacher, a pastor, a counselor, a preacher, a political advocate, a halachic advisor, a marketing executive, a shul director, a fundraiser, a life coach. Which of these roles would be a halachic obstacle to women’s involvement?  Many women could fulfill these roles just as successfully as men, if not better. The only role that stands out as a potential cause for concern is perhaps the halachic advisor. And interestingly, Orthodox women have already begun to enter this sphere with relatively minor opposition. The positions of toenet (advocate) and yoetzet (advisor) are fast achieving widespread approval and approbation.
While there are clearly rabbinic roles that are judicial in nature and problematic for women from a Torah perspective, the average pulpit rabbi rarely acts in such a capacity. He is not a dayan (judge), almost never attending to Beth Din (legal) matters. He is not a posek (halachic authority), posing most major questions to experts in the field, or referring the inquirer to the expert. For most rabbis, their halachic rulings extend only so far as the knowledge of basic everyday decisions, the likes of which are accessible to any learned individual with the capacity to open up and understand a Mishna Berura.
Given the apparent lack of halachic difficulty with women serving in a rabbinic capacity, why then has mainstream Orthodoxy not opened the doors of the rabbinate to women? 
The answer is that it already has. Orthodox women have served in the rabbinate for centuries, if not millennia. They have a unique title – rebbetzin, or rabbanit. The role of rebbetzin has traditionally encompassed many of these duties – pastoring, counseling, teaching, advising. In traditional Judaism, the rabbinic role has both masculine and feminine aspects. And that is why no serious shul will employ a rabbi without a rebbetzin. In fact, most shuls today insist on the rebbetzin being present throughout the interviewing and hiring process. She is not merely the first lady; she is an integral part of the spiritual leadership of the community. 
Contemporary viewpoints calling for the complete equality of men’s and women’s roles in every facet of life fail to recognize the unique contributions that women and men have to make. The problem lies not in women’s lack of traditional involvement in the rabbinate; the issue is that many of her traditional roles have been taken over by men.  Women, as nurturers, often have a greater capacity as pastors and counselors. And yet, the institutionalization of the rabbinic role and the contemporary mistaken view that only one person is the rabbi of the shul have pushed men into roles that they may be less capable of performing than women spiritual leaders. This does not mean that men should not be involved in pastoral work. Rather, it means that we must recognize the important contributions that women have to make in this area and never take them for granted.
Which aspects of the rabbinate are closed to women? Not even preaching – most Modern Orthodox shuls today invite female guest lecturers to address the congregation. True, they do not speak in the middle of the service, but that is a minor amendment that could be made – how about both men and women speak at the end of the service to avoid differentiation?  As it turns out, most rabbinic duties not only may hypothetically be performed by women; indeed, they already are.
The big question is how a woman may pursue a rabbinic career, short of marrying an ordained man? There are a number of ways to remedy this issue. One is to extend the limits of the title ‘rabbi’ and recognize that it is not synonymous with rov. A rov is someone who paskens, or determines halacha. While certainly there are some outstanding rabbonim and for certain shuls that is an absolute prerequisite for the position, it is not the realm of most contemporary Orthodox rabbis. A rabbi is not a rov.
The thought of an Orthodox woman ‘rabbi’ probably remains an inadequate solution, given the longstanding association with the title. In addition, despite the usage of the term ‘rov’ since Talmudic times, the fact is that we do find earlier in our history – during the Mishnaic era – that ‘rabbi’ was the title of preference. Thus, a second solution would be to elevate the title of ‘rebbetzin’ and recognize that this has always been a rabbinic designation. The rebbetzin already serves in a rabbinic capacity; she is essentially a female rabbi. If that is the case, then following a period of study and examination, why not qualify women as certified rebbetzins or rabbanits? In a similar vein, a yeshiva day-school first-grade male teacher magically earns the title ‘rabbi,’ independent of ordination status. In contrast, the female teacher is known as ‘morah’ (teacher). Why does she not become ‘rebbetzin’ by virtue of her role? 
Proponents of women’s ordination would probably find the ‘rebbetzin’ solution unsatisfying, given the longstanding association with that title. Thus, the only solution remaining is to invent a new term for women serving in the Orthodox rabbinate. That term might be maharat, it might be rabba, or it might be something else. The point is current opponents to Orthodox female clergy have failed to understand that women have always served in the rabbinate, albeit primarily in partnership roles together with their husbands. In an age when women are encouraged to pursue all manner of career path, independent of marital status, there is no good reason to deny them an independent role in the rabbinic field. We are only depriving ourselves of the potential leadership roles of a significant percentage of our community. 
Would Orthodox communities accept women rabbis, even if they were officially called rebbetzins or an alternative title? Some would, some would not. Many female graduates might end up in more pastoral lines of rabbinic work, such as chaplaincy.   But the first step is that we, as a community, recognize the important contribution that women have to make, and allow them the opportunity to qualify to serve in a rabbinic capacity.
For starters, shuls must openly acknowledge that they are hiring a rabbinic couple, and let the couple determine – in consultation with the synagogue leadership – who is to fulfill which rabbinic duties.  
There is nothing in halacha that excludes women from the rabbinate. Ultimately, however, we need both sides to compromise.  Opponents of women’s ordination must accept that women have always served in the rabbinate; and proponents of women’s ordination need to be sensitive to the psychological, sociological, and historical implications of the rabbinic title. Most importantly, it is high time we recognized the spiritual partnership that leads Jewish communal life and allow rabbinic couples to decide whether he or she will play the more active role.
(This article was inspired by my wife, Rabbanit Batya’s recent participation in the Rebbetzin Esther Rosenblatt Yarchei Kallah, under the guidance of Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter and Rebbetzin Meira Davis of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future.)
Daniel Friedman is rabbi of the Beth Israel Synagogue in Edmonton, Canada.

35 comments:

  1. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit
    and sources back to your webpage? My blog is in the exact same niche as yours and
    my visitors would certainly benefit from a lot of the information
    you provide here. Please let me know if this
    ok with you. Many thanks!

    my blog post play along ukulele

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment but after I
    clicked submit my comment didn't appear. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over again.

    Regardless, just wanted to say great blog!

    Visit my homepage ... Vocal course

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article.
    I'll make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I'll certainly
    return.

    Have a look at my web blog; Gold Guide guild wars 2

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, superb blog format! How lengthy have you been blogging for?
    you make blogging glance easy. The entire
    look of your site is great, as smartly as the content material!


    my blog post ... violin master Pro review

    ReplyDelete
  5. Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Thank you for providing this information.


    Visit my blog post ... Cord Piano

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good day! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from
    an established blog. Is it hard to set up your own blog?
    I'm not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I'm
    thinking about creating my own but I'm not sure where to begin. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Thanks

    Feel free to surf to my website how to tattoo uv ink

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An cư lập nghiệp là bắt buộc trước tiên đối vối mỗi còn người trong chúng ta đặc biệt tại thời đại khoa học gia tăng như vũ bão yêu cầu trang tri noi that căn hộ hay noi that van phong , noi that phong ngu , noi that phong khach , noi that nha bep cần được chú ý bậc nhất. Tại siêu thị việc lắp đặt lap dat camera , lap dat bao chay , lap dat bao trom , lap dat may cham cong , camera giam sat hay camera quan sat bạn cũng cần bận tâm trường hợp. showroom chúng tôi đã thiet ke noi that cho nhiều gia đình trên toàn đất nước và được đánh giá là doanh nghiệp đi đầu trong lãnh vực phân bổ đồ đạc nha dep 2016 . Bạn có thể tham khảo thêm một số mẫu xếp đặt vật dụng trong nhà benh vien yanhee , phòng phau thuat chuyen gioi tại thái lan hay trung tâm thương mại cung cấp ruou ngoai cao cap , ruou ngoai gia si , ruou whisky , ruou vodka , ruou macallan

      Delete
  7. Hello! This is my first comment here so I just wanted
    to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading your blog posts.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same topics?

    Thank you so much!

    Here is my blog post :: Asbestos Lawyers Baltimore

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's difficult to find well-informed people on this topic, however, you sound like you know what you're
    talking about! Thanks

    my web-site - tattoo Removal techniques

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm gone to convey my little brother, that he should also pay a quick visit this web site on regular basis to get updated from most recent news update.

    my site - how belly dancing kboing

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wonderful blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I've been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks

    Feel free to surf to my weblog how to pick Lock Car door

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hello! This post couldn't be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

    Have a look at my blog post tattoo Cover Up

    ReplyDelete
  12. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.

    I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to
    a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

    Have a look at my web site :: How To Play 45 Guitar

    ReplyDelete
  13. It's a pity you don't have a donate button! I'd definitely donate to this superb blog! I suppose for now i'll settle for book-marking and
    adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and will talk about this
    site with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

    Here is my webpage ... we buy houses mercerville nj

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm gone to tell my little brother, that he should also go to see this weblog on regular basis to take updated from hottest reports.

    Also visit my web-site: how to cook yams paleo

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hello, і thijk that i saw you visited my web site thus i came tto “return the favor”.I'm attempting to find things to еnhance my weƄsite!I suppose its οk
    to use ѕome of your ideɑs!!

    My blog ... how to get rid of old acne scars home remedies

    ReplyDelete
  16. Generally, the system needs to be pumped out for every 1 to 3 years.
    This oil can also transfer into the transport pipes, solidify, and cause excessive buildup that
    can cause blockage of the drainfield. As water and waste material are drained from your home into the
    septic system the water level in the tank rises to the level of the overflow.


    Feel free to surf to my website ... jscaritas.org []

    ReplyDelete
  17. Telstrat has taken the core of the Engage Suite and configured it onto a single
    server. When you blog effectively you can attract leads from all sorts of angles.
    This software is licensed under Shareware and released
    on 30th of October 2008.

    Feel free to visit my homepage: Desktop screen recorder (desktopscreenrecorder.blogspot.com)

    ReplyDelete
  18. hello there and thank you for your info – I have certainly
    picked up something new from right here. I did however
    expertise several technical issues using this web
    site, as I experienced to reload the web site a lot of times
    previous to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web host is OK?
    Not that I'm complaining, but slow loading instances times will very
    frequently affect your placement in google and can damage your quality score if
    ads and marketing with Adwords. Well I am adding this RSS to my e-mail and
    could look out for much more of your respective interesting content.
    Ensure that you update this again soon.

    my webpage - phen 375

    ReplyDelete
  19. Good blog you have here.. It's hard to find high
    quality writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate people like you!
    Take care!!

    My page phen 375

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great blog here! Also your site loads up fast!
    Whatt web host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to yoour host?
    I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

    my blog pokst ... my free zoo hack no survey

    ReplyDelete
  21. minnesota vikings jerseys, http://www.minnesotavikingsjersey.us/
    new england patriots jerseys, http://www.newenglandpatriotsjerseys.us/
    new york giants jerseys, http://www.newyorkgiants.us/
    new york jets jerseys, http://www.newyorkjetsjersey.us/
    pittsburgh steelers jersey, http://www.pittsburghsteelersjersey.com/
    seattle seahawks jerseys, http://www.seattleseahawksjersey.us/
    washington redskins jerseys, http://www.washingtonredskinsjersey.com/
    arizona cardinals jerseys, http://www.arizonacardinalsjersey.us/
    baltimore ravens jerseys, http://www.baltimoreravensjerseys.us/
    denver broncos jerseys, http://www.denverbroncos.org/
    chicago bulls jersey, http://www.chicagobullsjerseys.net/
    cleveland cavaliers jersey, http://www.cavaliersjerseys.net/
    golden state warriors jerseys, http://www.warriorsjersey.com/
    los angeles lakers jerseys, http://www.lakersjerseys.us/
    oklahoma city thunder jerseys, http://www.thunderjerseystore.com/
    san antonio spurs jerseys, http://www.sanantoniospursjersey.com/
    new york knicks jersey, http://www.newyorkknicksjerseys.com/
    miami heat jersey, http://www.miamiheatjerseys.net/
    boston celtics jersey, http://www.celticsjersey.com/
    los angeles clippers jerseys, http://www.clippersjerseystore.com/
    real madrid jersey, http://www.realmadridjerseystore.com/
    1010

    ReplyDelete
  22. Replies
    1. Một số thiết kế thông minh của sat thep inox dành cho những người thích sự cầu kì cẩn thận với các sản phẩm gia cong sat, gia cong inox, sat my thuat hàng đầu. Mỗi khi bạn cần sản phẩm nội thất chất lượng cao mà giá cả phải chăng thì hãy liên hệ với chúng tôi. Với hơn 500 mẫu sản phẩm có sẵn và nhận gia cong sat, gia cong inox theo yeu cau. An Trúc tin rằng sẽ cung cấp cho khách hàng những sản phẩm ghe inox, cua inox, cua sat, giuong inox,ban ghe sat my thuat...Nhận thiet ke bang hieu quang cao, cong chao su kien, poster, gian hang hoi cho cũng hết sức phong phú và hấp dẫn các doanh nghiệp cũng như cá nhân khi có nhu cầu thiết kế thi công su kien quang cao. Trang tri noi that đang có nhu cầu tuyển dụng: Tyen tho moc noi that, tho sofa, tuyen tho sat-tho inox, tuyen tho ho- thơ thach cao- tho son nuoc

      Delete
  23. Khoa học nghiên cứu bài bài thuốc chữa đau dạ dày cực tốt nhé , cách làm sao chữa bệnh viêm loét hành tá tràng , Không cắt mà nên chữa bệnh viêm amidan bằng thuốc nam nhé , và chữa viêm amidan hốc mủ cũng như vậy ,Làm sao để có cách chữa bệnh mề đay hả các bạn thuốc trị gan nhiễm mỡ , tôi thường xuyên mắc bệnh viêm phế quản mãn tính có chữa được cho tôi không , Liệu pháp hay chữa bệnh ho khan và có đờm ,Thuốc nam chữa viêm mũi dị ứng mãn tính ,và bài thuốc chữa viêm xoang hiệu quả nhất có thể, nào mời tham khảo chữa đau dạ dày bằng mọi cách , Giaỉ pháp mới chữa trào ngược thực quản để tốt nhất ,Cần biết thêm về bệnh trào ngược dạ dày hàng ngày ra sao , thông tin về những thuốc chống rụng tóc nhất hiện nay , Rụng chứng thường bị bệnh rối loạn kinh nguyệt nữ giới , bạn tôi mắc chứng thoái hóa đốt sống cổ có chữa được không

    ReplyDelete
  24. tôi và bạn làm cách giảm đau dạ dày ở nhà chỉ có hiệu quả .nghe nói nhiều về bài thuốc điều trị viêm gan b bằng đông y , tình trạng thuốc chữa viêm amidan hiện nay, đặc trị bệnh viêm amidan cấp tính và mãn tính thuốc đông y chữa viêm đại tràng đặc biệt ? giải pháp cho việc bị đau dạ dày cần kiêng ăn gì cho hiệu quả . Cùng chuyên khoa tìm hiểu triệu chứng của bệnh dạ dày Và bệnh viêm dạ dày . Bệnh viêm đau họng hạt có hạt trong họng , Ho nhiều và đau rát cổ là bệnh viêm amidan ở trẻ nhỏ cần chú ý ? ,Cần biết về sau cắt viêm amidan cần kiêng ăn gì .
    Dân gian có vị thuốc chữa đau dạ dày bằng đậu rồng .
    Viêm mũi và những triệu chứng của bệnh viêm mũi xoang có nhiều điểm giống nhau lắm chữa đau dạ dày bằng thuốc dân gian Cùng tham khảo thêm những cách chữa bệnh mề đay mẩn ngứa ở trẻ em hay bị ban đỏ .

    ReplyDelete