Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Does your Gadol understand you?

Someone reading my posts may think I am against the gedolim. They would be wrong. I admire everyone who dedicates their life to learning Torah, teaching others, spending their time in leadership positions of our people, and making difficult decisions about what Hashem wants from us, and what path He wants us to take. As I have noted previously, Halachic decision making often requires balancing competing views and values. I think the people usually identified as gedolim dont have the same values as I do. Now, they may claim that my values are not consonant with Torah, while I would have to bring proof that they are. Lets take a specific example:

The role of women in learning and society. I encourage my daughters to learn mishna and gemara. All the fairy tales in our house end with the princess getting an advanced degree in something before she gets married to the prince. Since it was published in Yated, I assume many gedolim agree with this . For those who dont want to read the whole thing, it is an article about careers that are appropriate for Jewish women, the emphasis being on those that can avoid problems of yichud(being alone with another man) and maintain tzniut(modesty). I am certainly in favor of modesty, but my definition of modesty is different than that of the author of this article.

In my previous post I mentioned a poster(I cant find my copy, if anyone has it, or a link, please let me know) requesting women to leave shul before adon olam so as not to have mixing of the sexes after shul. This was signed by some identified as gedolim. Again, they are balancing the need for seperation with the desire of women to daven.

The Gedolim in these situations decided that tzniut(modesty) is more important that career aspirations for women-indeed, that there is no way around the tzniut issues in most careers, and that it is better to eliminate even a small chance of mixing, rather than have women stay in shul for the entire davening. From a strictly halachic point of view, it is an easy decision to make. Career aspirations or a desire to stay in shul and daven are subjective things, difficult to quantify. There isn't anything in Shulchan Aruch that says to let women have a career or have them stay in shul. However, there is lots in Shas and Poskim about tzniut and keeping women and men apart. So, one would have to put a significant amount of halachic value on what the women want to counterbalance the lessening of observence of tzniut, and in order to come out in favor of women staying in shul, or being allowed to have different careers.

My challenge to those who say we have to follow the gedolim, or those that say the gedolim understand women's issues: Do you(for a woman) or your wife leave shul before adon olam to avoid mixing? do you(for a woman) or your wife have a job that goes against the yated article? If you do, contact R. Elyashiv or one of the other gedolim and ask if it is ok.

If you are going to claim that the article or the poster applies only to women in the chareidi community, then the logical inference is that the gedolim only understand the women in that community, and dont understand that a lot of frum women want to daven, and want to have a wide variety of jobs. And they really dont understand that a lot of frum women want to learn more than a few halachot and stories of our forefathers. So, either the gedolim understand you, and pasken for you, or they dont understand you. If they dont understand you, are they still going to pasken for you?

(Sorry for the loss of the last sentence)

Note: the gedolim in this article refer to the eidah hacharedi type that sign posters. I am not referring to RHS, or other "modern orthodox" type of gedolim.

Comments-[ comments.]


Anonymous DZ said...

What happened to the end of the last sentence?

9:22 PM  
Blogger Yehudha said...

I get the impression that you are not haredhi, yet you speak of gedholim meaning only haredhi gedholim. If you don't follow their ways, why do you consider them gedholim? Do haredhim consider MO gedholim gdoilim?

They may know a lot of shas, but I find their ideas a perversion of Judaism, so I don't even seriously consider their opinions, just as I don't consider Reform opinions on Tora.

I find it strange that many MO seem to let the haredhi minority decide who our gedholim are.

7:03 AM  

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