[Avodah] partnership minyanim

Chana Luntz Chana at kolsassoon.org.uk
Mon Mar 4 07:18:12 PST 2013

RBJF writes:

>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

Of course not, nor was that what I objected to.

What I objected to in the piece was that, while the article's target was
partnership minyanim, the arguments being raised worked equally well to rule
out a very common Sephardi minhag, that of katanim saying psukei d'zimra.
And in fact that reality was acknowledged, ie there were various portions of
the piece which suggested that the author knew that the arguments that were
being raised to rule out partnership minyanim also ruled out katanim leading
psukei d'zimra - and in fact discomfort was indicated about davening in
minyanim where katanim did psukei d'zimra.

>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.

Why?  I am not objecting to concerns regarding partnership minyanim being
raised that do not, at the same time, argue for the invalidity of a common
Sephardi minhag of katanim saying psukei d'zimra.  It is the objection to
the Sephardi minhag that I find problematic, and I continue to stand by
that.   As I wrote in my original piece - "the real problem with Rabbi
Freudel's 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."  I suspect from
what follows that RBJF has perhaps misunderstood.  He may have jumped to the
conclusion that because I am a woman, I am therefore defending partnership
minyanim, which have to do with women's issues.  The bit about my background
he may have missed is that my husband is Sephardi, and therefore I have (a)
son in the parsha of katanim saying psukei d'zimra (not that he is
interested, he would rather hang round my Ashkenazi shul, but that is
another story).  Thus my focus therefore throughout my piece was on katanim
saying psukei d'zimra.

> 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.

As I said, I am not coming to defend partnership minyanim, and I don't know
why those who defend partnership minyanim would want to quote the Meiri.  To
me the Meiri seems a straw man, because he doesn't add anything to the
argument one way or another.  I do have a problem with RBJF's bringing of
the Meiri *if* this Meiri is then being used to rule out katanim saying
psukei d'zimra - I don't think the Meiri says this - and I don't think any
of the Sephardi poskim think he says this.  I got the impression (and indeed
still get the impression) from RBJF's piece that he was, by saying a male
child may not lead services AT ALL concluding from this that a male child
may not lead psukei d'zimra.  If he does not conclude this from the Meiri,
then the Meiri is irrelevant (both to partnership minyanim and any
discussion about katanim).  If he does conclude this from the Meiri, as I
thought he did, then arguably we have a problem and a challenge to the
Sephardi minhag - although I think that even if there was a challenge a
Meiri would not be enough to unsettle such a custom, the poskim would merely
conclude that there were enough rishonim who held differently for us to
ignore the Meiri.

>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.

To me, and my piece, the status of MINORS is indeed the critical question.
As indicated, I am perfectly happy for RBJF to make a halachic case against
partnership minyanim, and/or against women leading psukei d'zimra.  What I
personally am not happy about is him making a case against minors leading
psukei d'zimra.  The problem that I see at the moment is that the halachic
case he tries to build against women saying psukei d'zimra at the same time
possels the practice of katanim saying psukei d'zimra.

>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.

I don't think it would ever have crossed their mind that women would lead
the davening.  That is not the question.  Indeed, Rav Ovadiah, who agreed is
somewhat extreme on this even amongst Sephardi poskim, forbids women from
saying psukei d'zimra with Shem and Malchut so of course he would not have
them leading, they don't even say the full brochos. 

> This is true because the permissive argument for children is based on

Now, this gets more to the heart of it.  It is indeed true that a logical
rationale to push for katanim to say psukei d'zimra is because of chinuch.
But indeed nobody says this.  It would be extremely interesting to see a
source which says - there is an issur on katanim doing psukei zimra (or
ma'ariv for that matter), but that is pushed aside because of chinuch.  Rav
Uzziel in the Mishpachat Uziel I quoted discusses other parts of the service
- namely birchas krias shema, tephila and musaf and concludes that a katan
cannot do them.  He then says that what is left for a katan who has reached
the age of chinuch to do is psukei d'zimra.  But nowhere does he say that
there is also an issur on a katan doing psukei d'zimra, that is then pushed
aside by the obligation of chinuch.

>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.

No, chinuch doesn't apply to women - so if you can indeed show that the
practice of katanim saying psukei d'zimra is indeed assur but pushed aside
because of chinuch, then you would have a strong argument why there would be
a problem for women doing so.  But since my interest was not in women, it
was in katanim, I don't think this affects my argument one way or the other.

>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.

The lettering in the Beis Yosef is not exactly fixed in stone.  I was trying
to help people find it.

 >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

Indeed it is, as I stated very clearly.  The Meiri, as all can agree, was
being brought regarding katanim leading services, and if you are going to
have a discussion about katanim leading services, the Meiri is not the place
to go, it is this Beis Yosef.  RJFB writes:

>Third I didn't bring the Meiri, R. Mendel Schapiro did on p. 7 of his
article and I am responding to that fact.

I can't explain why R' Mendel Schapiro on p 7 of his article brought the
Meiri and didn't bring the Beis Yosef.  This wasn't specifically a criticism
of RBJF, it was a criticism of anybody having a discussion about katanim and
davening (and the Meiri is only dealing with katanim, so any reference to
the Meiri is perforce dealing with katanim) only citing the Meiri, and not
the Beis Yosef.  Once you start discussing katanim, the thing to do is to
make reference to the major sources on the subject.  It is just bizarre to
have a back and forth on a Meiri, when you have a Beis Yosef quoting a
Rashba and a Ra'avid

> 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.

I am not denigrating the Tosefta. The point is that there is a huge
(including rishonic) literature on this tosephta.  The halachic derech that
I am certainly familiar with does not encourage people to go and look at a
gemora, and certainly not a tosephta, and learn directly out of that gemora
or tosphta without reference to the later halachic literature.  Once Tosphos
and the Rambam and numbers of other rishonim have dealt with a gemora or
tosphta, that is what is key to any proper discussion as to its meaning, not
some derivation learnt out directly from it.  I thus found it very odd to
have a discussion about a tosephta without any even reference to such
rishonim, and that conclusions were learnt out of such tosephta without such

>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.

The issue in question that I was dealing with is katanim.  Given the
tosephta, the gemora in Chullin and the Mishna in Megila the Beis Yosef,
Rashba and Shulchan Aruch deal with the question about katanim being
chazanim for ma'ariv (other than Shabbat) and appear to (grudgingly) allow
this - while generally ruling them out of being regular chazanim.  None of
them raise the question about katanim leading psukei d'zimra, but, as
mentioned, this is an extremely common Sephardi minhag, and the Sephardi
poskim appear clearly to allow katanim to lead psukei d'zimra, even without
having a beard filled out or indeed having reached majority.  Chinuch is
never mentioned as a reason even for doing ma'ariv on motzei Shabbat, and
certainly not for doing psukei d'zimra. 

As far as I can see, the next parts of the analysis are all objections to
the fact that we are dealing with katanim, not women.  There seems very
little point in responding piece by piece, because that indeed was what I
was discussing.  As I said the point of my piece was to argue against a
halachic analysis that while at the same time as arguing against what is
indeed a new innovation, that of partnership minyanim, argued for the
invalidity of common Sephardi custom.

>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

This is where the analysis again starts to touch on katanim.  Because if
indeed kaballat Shabbat and psukei d'zimra are a chova, then there is a
problem with katanim doing them.  RBJF now says that there is an obligation
of chinuch on a katan which allows us to waive this chova.  But the problem
with this is that this only works according to the Rashba and those like him
who hold that a katan has his own personal chova due to chinuch which allows
him to exempt others.  According to the majority opinion that the obligation
of chinnuch falls on the father, then there is no allowance for a katan to
exempt somebody else's chova.  Therefore this analysis for allowing katanim
to say psukei d'zimra does not work (which is precisely what it seemed to me
that the piece said originally).  But that means that either you have to say
that the Sephardim are holding like the Rashba (but that is difficult to
say) or that there is in fact, according to Sephardi psak, no chova, or you
have to rule out the minhag.  I think very clearly the analysis that comes
through is that of no chova - the discomfort with ma'ariv being that it is
understood to be pretty close to chova, and the ruling out of Shachris and
musaf is precisely because it is chova (contrary to the Rashba, who would
seem to allow even this were it not for kovod hatzibbur).  

That it seems to me is the problem.  That the analysis was fundamentally to
show that psukei d'zimra is a chova (I agree because the target was women in
partnership minyanim) but in doing so, it was ruling common Sephardi
practice out of Orthodoxy.  That was my objection.

Now I gather, in an attempt to somehow allow the Sephardim back in a Rashba
like obligation of chinuch has materialised in order to push aside the chova
that is being postulated by this analysis.  But that just isn't how we hold.
There is extensive discussion on the extent to which chinuch impacts in
various ways, and the debates amongst the rishonim as to what sort of
obligation chinuch creates is well known.  It just doesn't work very well,
which seems to mean we are back with the Sephardim being out again.

This is getting over long already - and I have tried to keep it focused on
what I think is the key point (at least for me) denigration of common
Sephardi custom.  I did in my other piece make a couple of side references
to the women's issue, but I think it is probably better not to even mention
that here, because to me they were very much a side piece.  I have a
discussion on the nature of kovod hatzibbur in another piece which is
somewhere in the ether to Avodah - because it is also a fascinating topic,
but I want to keep this focused on this particular question.

>Barry Freundel



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