Friday, October 16, 2009

Ezer or Kinegdo?

I have noted numerous times that I don't have as much time available to write blogs as I used to. Theoretically, this is good. It means business picked up.

But it also means that sometimes there are news items that are discussed in the blogosphere that I would like to address but I miss the train. One major subject pertains to a news item that goes back more than a month to Sept. 10. This hot news item concerned the inauguration of a new "Yeshiva" called Drisha Institute. (I truly suspect that the Rama would call it the "Prisha" Institute.) The charter is to ordain "Orthodox" women as morei horaah with the title "Maharat". With this they will be the equivalent of the male Rabbi.

Harry Maryles brought this item to my attention in a timely post (you can depend on him not to miss a story like this) and later he posted a correspondence with a cousin of his on the issue. His stance is remarkably conservative so, for a change, there is no need to lock horns with him. Perhaps, deep down, he is as much a male chauvinist as we die-hard chareidim are.

I actually even agree with him on the liberal side of the issue. I also believe that a studious Modern Orthodox woman could become as proficient in Halacha and hashkafa and as qualified for the job as any Modern Orthodox rabbi.

In any case, it is now Parshat Breishis and this is why I wanted to talk about it. Parshat Breishis is where we learn that G-d created man and G-d created woman and G-d created man for a purpose and G-d created woman for a purpose. G-d also created birds and fish and horses and cows and snakes and scorpions and He created each one for a distinctive purpose. And the best way to perpetuate the Briah is to focus our energies on fulfilling our distinctive purposes.

This is a very important aspect of true Jewish (i.e. chareidi) hashkafa. So important, that I made sure to include a chapter about it in my book including a seven page segment (161-168) on the role of the female members of the population.

As a public service, I extracted this segment and saved it as an iPaper file and am presenting it right here.

Ezer or Kinegdo?

As for the "Maharat", it is indeed commendable for women to be proficient in relevant bodies of Halacha and Hashkafa. But in terms of official community leadership and the Rabbinate, the Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 1:5) seems to insist that these positions are solely for men. For a woman, no matter how erudite she is, this leaves but one of two complementary roles:

She may either be an ezer or a kinegdo.

כשם שמקבלין שכר על הדרישה כך מקבלין שכר על הפרישה


Susan Yakobi said...

As a member of the "female persuasion" oh, how I know how men like to get compliments. However, I think that in this case (cases, as the word appears 100 times) you mean "complements"......

Yechezkel said...

>>I think that in this case (cases, as the word appears 100 times) you mean "complements"......

Your observation is quite correct. The files that I use to make excerpts are my final Word files that were submitted to the publisher before proofreading. The proofreader indeed caught the mistake and the word(s) are spelled correctly in the actual book.

Thank you all the same.


Shira Salamone said...

Minor correction: The school itself is called Yeshivat Maharat--it is currently housed in the Drisha Institute.