Monday, January 27, 2014

"Gender&tefillin:Possibilities&consequences"(R. Tucker, writing in the "Times of Israel")

With all the discussion written about the fact that SAR Academy in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York City, and Ramaz in Manhattan, both Modern Orthodox day schools, now allow female students to wear tefillin, this is one of the best-reasoned discussions that I've read on the subject.  Hat-tip.

Mechon Hadar, where Rav Tucker teaches, has now added a PDF of this presentation of halachah, for those who'd like to download and print and/or save it.  See here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read the SAR Rabbi's comments closely and critically. He did not "allow female students to wear tefillin". It was not a fundamental change in policy and is being routinely mischaracterized. He permitted two girls, who have adopted the practice apparently since bat mitzvah, to put on tefillin at an all-girls tefillah. The two girls in question come from observant Conservative households; I know from personnel knowledge that at least one of them is the daughter of Rabbis (both mom & dad). And he specifically took those special circumstances into consideration. This is by no means a substantial or meaningful changes of any kind.

Tue Jan 28, 01:56:00 PM 2014  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Granted that there may have been special circumstances. That said, such circunstances might not have been "accommodated" a decade ago.

Tue Jan 28, 05:59:00 PM 2014  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

And Ramaz has not imposed any limitation--“head of school Paul Shaviv . . . . stated he “would be happy to allow any female student who wants to observe the mitzvah of tefillin to do so.”

Tue Jan 28, 06:19:00 PM 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't schools let people who are under bar/bat mitzvah wear tefilin? True they are not obligated, but neither are women so shouldn't it be their "right" to do so if they wish?

Mon Feb 03, 12:50:00 PM 2014  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Anon., sorry it took me a week or so to notice this comment.

From my own perspective, this is a halachic issue, but not the one you have in mind--in my opinion, the problem is that halachah often puts women in the same halachic category as children, and perpetual children, at that, since women never outgrow those halachic categories.

I strongly recommend that you read Judith Hauptman's "Rereading The Rabbis: A Woman's Voice." Her premise is that halachic obligation has little to do with family obligations and much more to do with social status--the higher one's social status, the more halachic obligations apply. This would account for the fact that children, slaves and women are exempt from some time-bound mitzot/commandments. The difference is that children (or, from a halachic perspective, boys) grow up and slaves can be freed, but females are female for life.

Wed Feb 12, 04:00:00 PM 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shira, there are a few problems with your argument that traditional Judaism treats women as children.
1 you are overlooking the fact that even in Orthodox Judaism, adult women (that is 12 or older) ARE obligated to some timebound mitzvot. For example, eating matzah on the first night of Pesach, lighting Shabbos candles, etc. So in that sense they are different from children since children are not obligated in these actions. In most cases, when children perform time bound miztvot it is for the sake of chinuch but technically, they don't really have to.
#2, Even in cases in which women are not obligated, most poskim say that women can and in some cases probably even should perform most time bound mitzvot.
For example, in Orthodox circles, it is very common for women to shake the lulav even thought they might not be obligated.
#3 Even in Conservative Judaism, pretty much no one says that women are actually obligated to tefillin simply that it is optional. If even Conservative Judaism agrees with O that tefilin are otional then putting them on is very problematic, because pretty much 99% of traditional halachic sources say that even tefillin should only be put on by those that are obligated. That is why tefillin are treated differently from some other time bound mitzvot that children might do for chinuch purposes. IE children eat matzah and hear the shofar but they don't put on tefillin.
I'm not really clear on Judith Hauptman's hyphothesis, is she claiming that women are 100% obligated in all time bound mitzvot? And if so, does that mean that every posek before her who said they are not is wrong?

Tue Feb 18, 03:51:00 PM 2014  

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