Friday, May 23, 2008

DovBear argues in favor of women's aliyot

See his "Why the Meron pilgrimage [*] is an argument in favor of calling women for aliyot."

Orthodox blogger DB's argument in favor of women's aliyot*:

"My question to those who would berate women for attempting to find spiritual fulfilment the only way they know how -by copying the only things they see - is this: How do you justify yourselves? If Meron (and countless other rituals and observances) could be taken from other cultures and added for the sake of pleasing men, what is the justification for continuing to frustrate women?"

Yehudi Hilchati, also Orthodox, who agrees with DB, plays devil's advocate, and makes the most reasonable case for opponents of aliyot that I, a hard-core egalitarian, can think of:

I agree totally that women should have expanded ritual roles in tefilla [prayer] and kriat hatorah [[reading from a scroll of the biblical Five Books of Moses (Hebrew)]. But your analogy is not a great one.

The minhag [custom] of going to Meron on Lag BaOmer is just that - a minhag. Those who go don't claim it's halacha [Jewish religious law]. While I think that women's laining [reading from a scroll of the biblical Five Books of Moses (Yiddish)] is not assur [forbidden] today, there have been numerous halachic objections over the centuries that have great force in certain communities and things aren't going to change overnight.

Furthermore, those who don't go to Meron don't have to see the people who do. [Bolding added.] It's something that some people do but doesn't become a issue for most of klal yisrael [the community of Israel/The Jewish People]. Out of sight, out of mind.

Yehudi Hilchati Homepage 05.22.08 - 1:45 pm #

I have personal experience with this way of looking at things. In my own local synagogue, the traditionalists, none of whom come to weekday morning minyan anymore (due to age and/or illness), are perfectly content to let women serve as gabbai, lein Torah, and even lead services at the weekday morning minyanim, but heaven help us if we ask for the same privileges on a Shabbat (Sabbath) or Yom Tov (Festival), when they're there to see it.

*Explanation of the "Meron pilgrimage" mentioned in DB's post.)

*"Aliyah," plural "aliyot" (from here):
Aliyah – Literally means “to go up”. Used when referring to when someone emigrates to Israel, or when someone is called up to read or say a blessing on the torah. Also when someone passes away, we say their neshama/soul goes “up” to shamayim/gan eden/heaven.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about regardless of what the gemara means and the explanation of the gemara--if it says dont do it--we dont do it?brad

Mon May 26, 07:43:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate hearing these things from your perspective. It is thrilling to me each and every time women of a certain generation are called to Torah in our shul and it is clear that it is the very first time they have been in such close proximity to the Sefer Torah.

Mon May 26, 11:22:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Anon, my admittedly-limited understanding is that the objection to women having aliyot is that it reflects poorly on kavod ha-tzibbur, the honor of the congregation, by implying that the men are too ignorant to get aliyot. The problem that a man might not be able to read his own portion was solved centuries ago, with the development of the position of baal koreh ("master of reading"), who reads all the aliyot so as not to embarrass those unable to read for themselves. And I hardly think that the existence of woman's learning casts aspersions on men's learning in this day and age. As the saying goes, I saw you at Sinai--we women were there, too.

Rivster, it never ceases to amaze--and upset--me that a woman could observe every last mitzvah commanded in the Torah and go to her grave without ever have seen the inside of a Torah scroll from sufficiently close up to be able to read it. I consider it a tremendous honor to be called to the Torah, and wish that everyone, male or female, who wished to have such an honor could do so.

Tue May 27, 12:54:00 PM 2008  

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