Women as rabbis

Posted By: Fayge

Women as rabbis - 05/15/08 03:16 PM

Forget about defining who is a Jew. Let's define, who is a rabbi ;-)
Quite seriously, what is a rabbi? Teacher, pastoral duties, halachic decisor...?
Posted By: Lady J

Re: Women as rabbis - 05/15/08 03:54 PM

The literal meaning of Rabbi is teacher.

From JewFaq (which can sometimes explain things better than I in simpler language):

A rabbi is simply a teacher, a person sufficiently educated in halakhah and tradition to instruct the community and to answer questions and resolve disputes regarding halakhah. When a person has completed the necessary course of study, he is given a written document known as a semikhah, which confirms his authority to make such decisions.
Posted By: Fayge

Re: Women as rabbis - 05/15/08 05:22 PM

Hi, Jase.
That's a useful definition. But I wonder, if you would go to any given congregation, if that would be their mission statement. Please note, I'm not trying to get any sort of flame going, just asking for clarity. Halachic decider is just one aspect. It might be a primary aspect, it might not be.
Posted By: Lisa - Moms

Re: Women as rabbis - 05/15/08 05:37 PM

How do you define "rabbi", Fayge? Jase, I like your definition too... and then when I think about leaders in other religions, I wonder how the definition changes. Even within the different sects of Judaism, do you think the definition changes?

It is another instance in Judaism where I have to believe the dilemma is there for a reason... all part of the Plan.

There are many rabbis who never lead a congregation - that wasn't their intent when seeking smicha. But they all have to have some element of offering halachic advice, no?

I'd have to think that all rabbis are comfortable with halachic decisions. Their beliefs may differ on Jewish Law, but they've got to be comfortable with "their sect's rules", right? (for lack of a better way of stating that)

Truthfully, I'm not exactly sure where the decision that women cannot be rabbis originates from. I'm still looking for an answer from the Torah or Talmud(before I go to my rabbi and ask him). smile What I've found has been very vague and not necessarily ruling women OUT but just indicating that men SHOULD.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Women as rabbis - 05/15/08 06:13 PM

I am not Jewish but may I ask a question please? Is it written in the Torah that women are not allowed to be Rabbis? Is it written in the Catholic Bible that women can not be priests? When I was young I learned how to spin on a spinning wheel. my dad said,"That is for women", you need to do men's stuff." Who makes up this stuff???????????
Posted By: Elleise - Clairvoyance

Re: Women as rabbis - 05/15/08 06:23 PM

I grew up with a Catholic background and I remember it took forever for them to actually let a woman administer communion as a minister.

My personal feeling is that politics played a hand in whether or not a woman could lead as the head of anything really.
For awhile women couldnt' even vote and that we can investigate for ourselves.

When someone feels the calling to minister, it is not gender biased. If a man or woman feels the need to head, I feel they should explore the option to do that.

Clairvoyance Editor
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Women as rabbis - 05/15/08 06:27 PM

Thank you Eleise!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted By: Fayge

Re: Women as rabbis - 05/16/08 01:49 AM

How do I define rabbi? That is a good question. The rabbis we go to for halachic decisions are not our congregational rabbis. (We're regulars in several shuls.) Not because we don't trust the rabbis, but because they don't do that. As our community's spread out, new minyanim pop up and the neighborhood's look for rabbis who are scholarly, can teach, and worthy of looking up to.

Not all rabbis are comfortable making halachic decisions, and even among those who are, certain questions might require further consultation. The process of getting to the point of being able to make decisions is a lengthy one, requiring years of study and apprenticeship. Not very practical for women.

This has never been a conflict for me personally. Part of it may be the conditioning of a traditional upbringing, but over the years I've come to realize that more than that is the fact that I'm not wired for Talmudic study. I don't have an interest in it, don't feel that I've been deprived by the limitations of my education. I do try to put myself in the shoes of the women who do feel conflicted (and they'd better be 9 1/2, with good arch support ;-).
Posted By: Lisa - Moms

Re: Women as rabbis - 05/16/08 05:16 AM

I definitely think there is a misleading perception of mens' and women's roles within Judaism and, perhaps, other religions as well. There is a strong movement of women's rights believers who think that women are getting slighted, are not being treated as equal.

My initial response to that is - if you want to wrap tefillin, go ahead - and get circumcised while you're at it. (j/k)

But, it's really much deeper. Fayge, I think that's what you were getting at. Men and women - in all aspects of life - have different roles. Even in homes where men and women decide to share responsibilities, the women is still - most often - the primary caregiver of the children. She is the one who has to miss work, arrange for sitters, etc.

In Judaism, as well, men and women are given different roles. On the very basic level, women are born with innate intuition and a deeper spiritual connection. The things men "have to do" assist them to create that same spiritual connection and to stay focused on that goal.

I recently discovered an organization called JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance)
I haven't had the opportunity to explore it or read their information yet but the jist is - advancing the role of women within halachic guidelines.

If that's the case, what's the argument? Well, what one person defines as 'halachically' acceptable is not agreed upon by others.

And, if we're arguing over the definition of the halachic guidelines, then how absolute can they be? Unfortunately, even among orthodox authorities, there are differences.

I agree with you, Fayge, I like staying home on Shabbos morning. I like sitting by MYSELF when I do go to shul (the women talk too much).... etc.

Posted By: Lady J

Re: Women as rabbis - 05/16/08 05:32 AM

then there is also the queer jewish movement where many gay men and women jews feel they are twice or triple blessed depending on if they are a convert or not.

I agree there are femanine and masculine roles, but you don't have to be a woman to have femanine roles or understanding or inclings.

I am a gay man. I am the caregiver in my home. I care for all the animals and my roommate (who is a woman and disabled). I make sure she goes to all her appountments, do all the shopping, prep of meals, budgeting, etc. I also am the breadwinner of the family. So my roles are both male and female. I am a burturing person, even in my profession. This is a very femanine role.

What I am saying is the role of the man and woman is fluid. It is neither one or the other but a combination on the spectrum.
Posted By: Lisa - Moms

Re: Women as rabbis - 05/16/08 06:57 AM

very true. I hope I wasn't offensive. I was definitely speaking stereotypically... is that, also, how the Torah was written? stereotypically?

my husband - a straight man (at least as far as I know)- is also very nurturing, sensitive, intuitive.... cares about his clothes (I don't), would get his nails done (I don't), etc. smile

the world and its people are fascinating and I don't think that's any coincidence or mistake.
Posted By: Lisa LowCarb

Re: Women as rabbis - 05/19/08 03:15 AM

Originally Posted By: Fayge
The process of getting to the point of being able to make decisions is a lengthy one, requiring years of study and apprenticeship. Not very practical for women.

I'm very curious why you would feel that way. A majority of college degrees are being earned by women - 60%. For masters degrees women are currently in the majority. Current estimates say that in another 10 years, the majority of *doctoral* degrees will be earned by women.

So if women are outstripping men in college, in master's degrees and soon in doctorates, that is a lot of time they have to invest - time men are NOT investing in education. So if anything it seems to indicate it is women - not men - who have the ability to spend that time in study.
Posted By: Lisa - Moms

Re: Women as rabbis - 05/19/08 03:56 AM

I believe people can make time for whatever it is that's important to them. I often wonder how so many people on this site can spend so much time posting. smile

When friends ask me how I have time to "get it all done" with four young children - I ask them "How do you have time to get your nails done?" "How do you have time for tennis lessons?"

We all set priorities and if learning and studying to become a rabbi was important to a particular woman - even one with seven children - she would be able to find time to do it!

Posted By: Fayge

Re: Women as rabbis - 05/19/08 03:07 PM

One rabbi I know wanted to become very attached in a personal way to a certain great rabbi. He moved his young family across the ocean. And as I said, he became very close, working very closely with that rabbi. This could be a whole new thread, but that kind of apprenticeship has traditionally been single sex.
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