[Avodah] partnership minyanim

Barry Freundel Dialectic at xaol.com
Sun Mar 3 13:33:32 PST 2013

[Relayed to the list by the author's request. -micha]

As the discussion has gone on concerning my analysis of Partnership
Minyanim in halakhah I find the critics going further and further afield
to try and challenge what I wrote.

These arguments tend to share some troubling common characteristics.

1. They misstate what I have written

2. The cite me as saying things that others have written

3. They challenge peripheral issues with an approach that seems to say
that any flaw anywhere in my argument means it all falls, when I was at
pains to show multiple arguments that each stand alone

4. They draw parallels where none are warranted

5. They present sources that support what I am saying as if they actually
present a challenge

I do not know Chana Luntz and I don't mean to be unkind, but her post
on Avodah does all of these things and more; while being written in an
English that is often difficult to understand.

Let me begin by again stating the purpose of my article because much of
what she claims that I didn't cite simply is beyond the scope of what
my goal was in my article.

I wrote an article about Partnership Minyanim (a new phenomenon in the
Ashkenazi community where women lead things like Kabbalat Shabbat, Pesukei
Dezimra etc. but not Maariv), and about why I believe that these services
are halakhically unsustainable within our community. I first challenged
those few halakhic defenses of Partnership minyanim that I have read or
heard and then provided many additional sources to challenge the practice.
Inter alia I did discuss the custom of some communities that allow male
children to lead Pesukei Dezimra and Kabbalat Shabbat because that practice
does potentially challenge my conclusion and I then provided answers to
that challenge. That is the totality of what this article required for its
purposes on this last subject, and as such I did not write the definitive
discussion of children leading any and all parts of davening as found in
halakhic literature.

This introduction alone responds to 90% of what she says in a general sense
(I will be more specific below) but I would add one other general point
that takes care of most, if not all of the rest before I get to specifics.

Ms. Luntz cites Sefardi poskim such as R. Ovadiah Yosef and R Untermann in
her presentation. Is she seriously suggesting that if they were asked
whether women could lead Kabbalat Shabbat or Pesukei Dezimra they would say
"yes"? Is the track record of Sephardi poskim on issues such as this one
that suggests they would respond in the affirmative?

I think not and that alone raises some serious questions about the things
that she is claiming in her post.

Turning to specifics I simply don't have the time to keep writing ten page
responses to these types of posts, So I will do so, hopefully for the last
time, to show that what she says creates no problems for me and, in fact,
in several important ways supports what I say which has been true all along
with all of these challenges that have been raised.

 In her very first paragraph there are two serious misstatements

1) She says " He (meaning me) then cites as (sic) Meiri, which he (me)
quotes as " often cited as a critically important source supporting the
arguments of those who see aliyot for women as acceptable", but which, as
he (me) correctly points out, does not discus (sic) prayer services in any
great detail,".

That is not what I said and more importantly, that is not what the Meiri

For at least the 7th or 8th time in my article and in these posts the Meiri
says a) that a male child may get an aliyah b) but may not lead services AT
ALL. Those who support Partnership minyanim have used part a of this
sentence to support aliyot for women but then have ignored part b and in
fact have extrapolated to women leading parts of davening. This is a
serious challenge to those who have defended Partnership Minyanim based on
the articles that defend women getting aliyot, and that is why I discuss it
as I do.

2) She then continues: "although it (Meiri) does deal make reference
to what is the critical halachic question, which is what is the situation
for minors [katanim].(sic)"

With all respect, the status of MINORS is not the critical question, the
status of WOMEN is the critical question. One can accept any and all
participation by male children and still not allow women to lead. I have
already suggested that the Sephardic poskim Ms. Luntz cites who allow
children to lead in some places in the davening all follow that view. This
is true because the permissive argument for children is based on Chinukh
which as I have shown repeatedly does not apply to women. I will have more
to say about this as we go but even at this point the post has already
shown a lack of credible argumentation.

Chana Luntz then goes on: "However it is somewhat astounding, to my mind,
that Rabbi Freundel brings this Meiri, Tosepheta and other sources, but
does (sic) bring what I would consider the more authoritative halachic
literature on the subject. In my view, the key halachic source is rather
this Beis Yosef Orech Chaim Siman 53 (letter 2): (sic)

Once again this is simply egregious. First the source is letter 10 not
letter 2. Second the literature she refers to including this source from
Bet Yosef is about children leading services not about women leading
services and is not "the more authoritative halachic literature on the
subject" unless one changes the subject from women to children which seems
to be her intent here. Third I didn't bring the Meiri, R. Mendel Schapiro
did on p. 7 of his article and I am responding to that fact. Fourth, the
Tosefta which she consistently denigrates is discussed repeatedly in the
sources she cites and specifically in this text from the Bet Yosef where
what the Tosefta says is cited from Tractate Chullin in the paragraphs just
above the one she cites. Therefore, since the Tosefta rejects women from
any possibility of being Chazzanim and R. Yosef Caro both here and in
Shulkhan Arukh accepts the Tosefta's conclusion (that only beard growing
individuals, or potential beard growing individuals, can be chazzanim) and
starts the discussion in both places from that point -- these sources can't
possibly be justifying women leading services. Therefore, her comments here
sadly range from irrelevant to profoundly wrong and in particular her
downplaying of the Tosefta which she returns to at the end of her post
ignores the fact that what the Tosefta says and its interpretation is
codified in the very sources she cites.

The quote from Beit Yosef simply supports what I say, repeatedly, and
really has no place in the conversation about Partnership Minyanim. I will
go through it step by step using Ms. Luntz' own translation and adding
emphasis to illustrate. She writes: "it is derived explicitly that a katan
is NOT permitted to go down before the ark even only on a casual basis and
there is to wonder on that which is the custom that a katan goes down
before the ark on Motzei Shabbatot and prays the prayer of Arvit,"

So the discussion is about Maariv on Saturday nights and at this point in
Bet Yosef no child (despite a custom to the contrary) and certainly no
woman may lead.

Bet Yosef then suggests a view that a child can lead Maariv and not
Shacharit because Schacharit contains things that are chiyuvim (this seems
to be based on the idea that Maariv is a reshut and not a chiyuv discussed
just below), and therefore for Schacharit only one who is hayav may fulfill
the obligation for others. He does not distinguish Pesukei Dezimrah from
the rest of Schacharit (probably because, pace the Rambam as discussed in
my response to Prof Kaplan there is no Chazzan at that point in the
services in Sefardi circles), and tells of two great Rabbis who actively
and forcefully worked against the practice of children leading Maariv.

So at this point again no children and no women.

We then have Bet Yosef bringing Rashba citing Ravad saying what I cite R
Uziel as also saying and going even further that because of the rabbinic
requirement of Hinukh children might lead the davening which is also

So at this point children may lead but not women

But children may lead because their leading fulfills a chiyuv (of chinukh).
This as Ms Luntz herself says is the basis of all the Sefardic allowances
for children. This is not a type 2 Chazzan who just sets the pace and
chooses the tunes. It is actually an extended type 1 chazzan who is there
to fulfill an obligation which women do not have. I have some problems as I
say in my article with this extension of the chinukh chiyuv in this way.
Nonetheless it gets you to male children at most and not to women (more

But Rashba continues, such a plan involves a violation of Kavod hatsibbur
if a child (not a woman) leads.

So at this point no children and no women.

Nonetheless Beit Yosef argues that the community may forego its honor and
so it might be ok for male children to lead Maariv.

In other words it is only because children fit into the category of hinukh
that we might suggest that they lead, but that might impact the tzibbur's
kavod. Yet there may be a way around that concern as well according to Bet

But this dynamic doesn't occur with women because they can't get past the
first obstacle since there is no mitzvah of hinukh when it comes to them
and therefore they cannot lead the services. Hence we need not approach the
issue of kavod hatsibbur at all in their case.

So at this point children may lead but not women.

Bet Yosef then cites Rashi who would not let male children lead because
only those who have a chiyuv (for tefillah) can lead, to which Bet Yosef
responds that Maariv is different since it is a Reshut and not a Chova.

My article spends a great deal of time showing that Kabbalat Shabbat is a
chova (derived from minhag) and the fact that it is recited every week
(essentially). Pesukei dezimrah is, from Talmudic times, a requirement. We
today treat Maariv as a chova in that we do not see Maariv as optional on
any given night and Partnership Minyanim do not allow women to lead Maariv
on Friday nights because certainly on Friday nights since the insertion of
Magen Avot, Maariv is a chiyuv.

So again Partnership Minyanim have no support here.

Further for Ms Luntz, how has a source that discusses male children leading
Maariv which is thought to be a reshut (which means it doesn't reflect our
contemporary halakhic reality), which also includes several authorities who
were absolutely opposed to that practice (or to children leading anything),
in any way a challenge to my position on Partnership Minyanim, even if Bet
Yosef, based on Hinukh, Maariv as a reshut and mechilat kevod hatsibbur
allowed these young boys to lead, there is still no challenge to what I say.

Parenthetically Bet Yosef cites Kavod Hatsibbur here but not from a
Talmudic source. I said that there is no Talmudic source citing Kevod
hatsibbur in relation to prayer services and particularly prayer services
for women and that remains true. Later authorities mention it but I do not
include it in my article so its mention does not touch the points that I

Ms Luntz goes on to cite the Mehaber as saying that we should find a
defense for those communities that allow a Katan to lead Maariv on Motzaei
Shabbat. I again fail to see the relevance (his defense is presumably what
he said in Beit Yosef). Again it is male children not women and Maariv as
reshut and no other prayers. Also I believe no communities follow this
practice today, and Ms Luntz cites none who do. So what part of what I say
is challenged by all of this?

Ms Luntz then cites the Ramo in two places being absolutely opposed to
children as Chazzanim and saying "a katan cannot go down before the ark
EVEN FOR the prayer of Arvit", and apparently for no other prayer either.
Now as I have said several times Partnership Minyanim are an Ashkenazi
phenomenon. As such any challenges to me from children leading Pesukei
Dezimrah or Kabballat Shabbat should end right here and any Ashkenazi shuls
letting kids lead these things should stop right now. Again the sources
support me. They do not challenge me.

We then see two versions of Dagul Mervava both of which speak of Maariv as
a Reshut, which is not how we see it today. Both versions exclude the Katan
from Friday night Maariv but allow him to lead on other nights because
Maariv is a reshut. We have already responded to all of this and despite Ms
Luntz assertions these sources are irrelevant to my discussion.

What follows is Ms Luntz's most disingenuous comment in her entire post.
She writes and I will interject

"as can easily be seen from these sources, that distinctions can and are
made within halacha between those parts of the prayer service in which the
leader needs to exempt the obligations of others (this is only in her
version of the dagul mervava but not in R. Ovadiah's version and not in the
other sources where the issue is only Maariv as reshut verses chova which
Dagul Mervava cites in her version of his text as well), where a katan
cannot fulfill those roles and others where he may (not according to Ramo
et al and only in Maariv when it is seen as a reshut according to others-
there is no wide ranging permissive stance from anyone she cites as she
suggests), but where there may be issues of kovod hatzibbur. It seems to me
that without these sources you cannot have a meaningful discussion about
the topic, and that it is rather odd that they have not been quoted in
favour of a Meiri. "

But Ms Luntz fails to point out that I do distinguish between the role of
the chazzan in chazzarat hashatz etc. where he fulfills the obligation of
others and his role elsewhere where he serves to create the tsibbur for
tefillah betsibbur and she leaves out the part of the Beit Yosef where
citing Ravad and Rashba, the Katan only has a role because the rabbinical
mitzvah of Hinukh applies to him so that he can recite Berahot and tefillot
which are derabannan for others. All of this would preclude women from the

Further please see above regarding the Meiri. He is here because R Schapiro
brought him to the dance -- not me.

Ms Luntz moves on to a discussion of Kavod Hatzibbur but I don't cite that
issue and don't see it as relevant so that even though some of what she
says supports my position I am not moving to embrace that concern. As I
have said before, Aryeh Frimer deals with this in his critique of
Partnership minyanim but it doesn't belong in a discussion of my article. I
would only point out that the Bach which she quotes here and is central to
what she says is also based on the Tosefta that she so denigrates.

Next she, quite unfairly, does what R Farber did previously and uses her
understanding of Kavod Hatsibbur against my position. She says:

"the real issue at (sic) portrayed by this portion of the Bach, and the
part picked up by the Taz and Magen Avraham is that you would not send a
child to represent a community for an important matter. In past times one
would also almost certainly not send a woman, but I doubt that is the case
today -- many countries have female ambassadors -- I doubt there are any that
have children. Whether this changes the nature of this halacha is an
interesting question."

Maybe it is interesting for some, but I never raised this issue in my
article in part to avoid this type of argument and in part because the
gemara doesn't raise kavod hatsibbur in regard to women and tefillah. It is
simply dishonest scholarship to associate me with a position I never
articulated and then to try to score points by challenging that position
which I never presented. Again this raises questions about the seriousness
of her post.

Ms Luntz then offers an ad hominem attack:

"But the real problem with Rabbi Freudel's (sic) analysis is, as I have
mentioned, that in his zeal to write partnership minyanim out of Orthodoxy,
appears to be doing a good job to write the Sephardi Community wholesale
out of Orthodoxy."

Now I have said here and previously that Partnership Minyanim are an
Ashkenazi phenomenon. As such it is the positions of Ashkenazi poskim that
are relevant to them to a far greater degree than Sefardi Poskim. So this
attack is just preposterous. Second I cited and analyzed Rav Uziel on male
children and Pesukei Dezimra in my article. Third is Ms. Luntz suggesting
that Sephardi poskim who do not allow women to recite Kaddish in shul or
say a blessing on mitzvot for which they are exempt would accept
partnership minyanim. Based just on what I have said a woman could not say
Barukh She'amar the berakha that begins pesukeiu dezimra since women have
no chiyuv for pesukei dezimrah.

Her next statement concedes the entire issue. Ms Luntz states:

"Because the Sephardi approach to chinuch (and this may not be true of the
Spanish and Portuguese, who are after all very European, I do not know,
but is very much the case amongst the Gibralterians, Moroccans, Iraqis and
various others of my acquaintance) involves the active participation of
katanim in a way that is flabbergasting to your average Ashkenazi."

But if the rationale is Chinukh as I cite Rav Uziel as saying in my
article, then for the umpteenth time this does not and cannot apply to
women. So again partnership minyanim are illegitimate and that is what I
wrote about and what I said.

Now I did raise a question about Rav Uziel's position but I never suggested
that to follow his opinion puts one outside of Orthodoxy. If this is what
Ms. Luntz is reacting to I suggest she go back and reread what I wrote and
apologize for wasting our time.

Ms. Luntz then says: "Now Rabbi Freudel (sic) does note this, but appears
to treat it as some sort of halachic aberration."

As far as I know, I raised some questions about the practices but never
used terminology like this. And the questions are legitimate. Rav Ovadiah
Yosef, Rav Uziel and the Mehaber (all of whom she cites), all indicate
some trouble with these practices even while defending them.

Ms Luntz then quotes Rav Uzziel who I quoted back at me. This is just
strange. So is the claim that many communities allow children to lead
pesukei dezimrah (a point which I also made though I said "some"). While
this is interesting those communities still need to provide halakhic
rationale for doing so. And if that rationale is chinukh as it appears to
be, that raises the questions which I asked in my article. Even if the
rationale is accepted that does not offer license for Partnership minyanim
which is my subject unless you sidetrack me into this discussion large
parts of which are irrelevant to my point despite her claims to the

The Quote from Rav Yosef is even stranger since he challenges the
leniencies suggested by Ms. Luntz throughout her post in terms similar to
my own concerns and again limits any possible leniency to Maariv which he
sees as a reshut. (how a katan would do this since it includes Barhu and
kaddish is unclear but again his only basis is hinukh which is not
applicable to women).

We then get a series of customs that occur in Sephardi shuls which find
children doing various things that are troubling even to Sephardi poskim.
Again this is all under the rubric if chinukh and doesn't involve women.

Ms Luntz then takes an unconscionable leap and declares that what she
herself has called practices that emerge from chinnuch represent R Farbers
second type of Chazzan who only sets the pace and chooses the tunes, but
again she cites no one who says so. This is the same wishful thinking we
have seen all along in this dialogue. Everything she says about a Kattan is
predicated on the chiyuv of Chinukh. As such if a Kattan leads, he does so
as a sort of type 1 chazzan fulfilling a chiyuv and not as R Farber's type
2 who has no chiyuv at all. I am sorry but this is just not serious
halakhic analysis.

 To allow a male child to lead parts of the service because of the rabbinic
mitzvah of chinnukh, whatever questions I may have (and Rav Ovadiah has)
about that practice is still dramatically different than allowing women
with no halakhic chiyuv or basis to do the same. No sefardi posek makes
that leap and as I have said I seriously doubt anyone would. Also
continuing to distinguish between Maariv which some sefardi poskim are
willing to still see as a reshut other than on Friday nights and Maariv on
other nights does not get you to the practices of Partnership minyanim
which do not deal with weekday Maarivs.

Finally Ms Luntz challenges my use of the Tosefta again despite the fact
that many of the sources she cites especially those from Caro and the Bach
explicitly cite this source and accept it. Again I find this to be very
troubling as a serious halakhic presentation.

In sum, there is no question that sefardi practice, despite some hesitation
from Sephardi poskim allows male children to do things that Ashkenazim do
not. The rationale for this is chinukh which is not applicable to women and
I already mention all of this in my article

Partnership Minyanim are an Ashkenazi phenomenon, so while this is all
interesting it isn't relevant and in any case no Sephardi posek allows
women to lead any part of the services.

No Sephardi posek cites R Farbers second type of chazzan and if it did
exist there would be no need to mention chinukh as the rationale

Maariv is the prototype here because it is still seen as a reshut by some
in the Sephardi world-but not by Ashkenazim

Everyone, including me knows that some parts of the service require a
chazzan who fulfills peoples obligations and some parts do not. My article
spends a good deal of time explaining what this second type of Chazzan is
and I have shown repeatedly that it is not R Farber's type 2 Chazzan and
nothing Ms Luntz writes comes close to changing any of that.

I end with a plea. Can we please be a little more responsible in our
halakhic analysis and save everyone the time and effort of going through
this type of exchange.

Barry Freundel

Addendum: I saw a post on Hirhurim ostensibly from Rav Henkin denigrating
the Hirhurim blog and stating that Ms Luntz has provided a refutation of
what I have written.

Hopefully Rav Henkin was not the author

But if he was and Bemekhilat Kevodo hagadol, I think he needs to rethink
both parts of that comment.

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