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The Ordination of Women and Orthodoxy

Drew Kaplan has an interesting post on modern orthodoxy and the ordination of women rabbis. Also see the insightful post here at Ancient Hebrew Poetry. For me the ordination of women as rabbis was decided long ago in favor, but it is interesting to see how others struggle with the issue. My son’s wonderful Talmud and humash teacher also happens to be among the pioneers of women in religious leadership roles in orthodoxy.

As the following quote from John F. Hobbins shows, there are still issues to be addressed, even by those who support the ordination of women as rabbis which aren’t necessarily connected to the actual question of the ordination of women.

It is well-known that our culture has not found an adequate solution to the difficulties parents face in raising a family and holding down two demanding, full-time jobs at the same time. In reality, outside the realm of high-sounding theory, the model works well in practice far less often than it ends in failure.

Complementarianism addresses real problems. Insofar as it is counter-cultural in our age, it also creates new ones. In any case, the problems to be addressed are not specific to families in which a parent is a rabbi or pastor. The same problems obtain in families in which the parent is, for example, a doctor or a lawyer.

7 Responses to “The Ordination of Women and Orthodoxy”

  1. 1

    I think this simply adds to the general perception that YCT is in practice a Traditionalist, not Orthodox, yeshiva. If anything YCT has simply pushed REITS to the right. As JTSA moves to the left, YCT (if it can financially survive) “fills the gap”, but YCT has quickly moved from the left of the modern orthodox community to being outside modern orthodoxy.

    The quote by Hobbins (and a casual glance at his posts reveals his misogyny) is simply a non-sequitur — it really has no special bearing on the real issues here.

  2. 2

    An important question that is rarely considered is the role of tsnius in everyday religious life. For those modern orthodox communities who have long left this concern behind, a woman rabbi on the pulpit is not an issue that they cannot even relate to as a tsnius vilation. However, for the right-wing communities in which it is a major value, taught in schools and practiced in everyday life, women rabbis are inconceivable. If women are not pictured in circulars or newpapers, or featured as dinner honorees etc, how could they be accepted standing in front a congregation, being intently observed, even if not intently listened to. Nothing will provoke a schism sooner than women rabbis who will make their congregations something that will be so foreign as to become places into which a man cannot even enter. What defines a schismatic religion is that its houses of worship cannot be entered into. The coming schism will come over these kinds of issues, not over secular education or zionistic affiliations.

    The following is strong but to the point. The converse of Tznius is pritzus:

    Jeremiah 7:11

    הַמְעָרַת פָּרִצִים, הָיָה הַבַּיִת הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר-נִקְרָא-שְׁמִי עָלָיו–בְּעֵינֵיכֶם; גַּם אָנֹכִי ×”Ö´× Ö¼Öµ×” רָאִיתִי, נְאֻם-יְהוָה

  3. 3

    I agree with the previous two posts. However, even in a more modern synagogue where women are part of the board or are honorees, I think it is still possible that they understand the need for male Rabbis. Throughout most of the more modern religious world, it is still more accepted that the woman’s role is that of the mother and that the man’s role is that of the learner and supporter. True, some in this community may not understand why they hold of these values, but this is the lifestyle that makes sense to them. As long as they hold that the man should be the learner and supporter then they will always have to admit that men should be the Rabbis since they are the learned ones.

  4. 4
    John Hobbins:

    Sweet of you, Theophrastus, to say outlandish things about me. It piques people’s interest. As was the case when you did this in a former pseudonymous incarnation, the no longer public Iyov, you bring readers my way. For that I am grateful.

  5. 5
    Michael P.:

    The misogyny of John Hobbins? I guess that I missed it.


    “Nothing will provoke a schism sooner than women rabbis who will make their congregations something that will be so foreign as to become places into which a man cannot even enter. What defines a schismatic religion is that its houses of worship cannot be entered into.”

    If these communities are not able to have a woman rabbi b/c of issues of modesty, no one is forcing them to do so. If it is so problematic for a man to enter a synagogue which has a female rabbi, let him find somewhere else to pray, no one is forcing him to attend a certain synagogue. There are plenty of Jews who won’t pray in someone else’s synagogue (“This is the synagogue that I don’t attend.”), whether because of a religious, political, or liturgical issue.

  6. 6

    I haven’t much to say about the ordination of women. However, John speaks warmly of the “love-obey” marriage. The wife obeys and the husband loves. For many Christian men, their first interest is the subordination of women in the home.

  7. 7

    Hi!. Thanks for the info. I’ve been digging around looking some info up for shool, but i think i’m getting lost!. Yahoo lead me here – good for you i guess! Keep up the great information. I will be coming back in a few days to see if there is any more info.




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