[Avodah] partnership minyanim

Chana Luntz Chana at kolsassoon.org.uk
Fri Mar 8 07:07:35 PST 2013

RMB writes:
>I wonder, though, if the comparison is valid. Perhaps rather than there
>being no kavod hatzibur issue in giving a qatan the amud for Pesuqei
>deZimra, the conclusion was reached that chinukh was a higher priority
>than kavod. And then, a situation like nidon didan where the is no
>chinukh element, there would be no parallel matir.

In order to possibly have this discussion, you need to have some
understanding of what kovod hatzibbur is.

Not that that is easy, because the meforshim appear to differ in
their understanding. It seems to me that there are in essence three
understandings of kovod hatzibbur:

a) the Bach's understanding (in Orech Chaim siman 53) -- which is the
things that are required or assured mipnei kovod hatzibbur are just
ordinary takanos or gezeros of the hachachamim, except that they were done
for this reason -- the same way that the chachamim required or assured
mipnei darchei shalom or eiva or other reasons. Ie these are rabbinical
requirements that cannot (generally) be waived -- although when faced with
the extremely common minhag of rolling the sefer torah when one only has
one sefer torah in order to read the various maftirim on rosh chodesh or
yom tov or the like -- the Bach tries to say that when the Chachamim made
the gezera of not rolling the sefer torah, they only meant where it was
possible to fulfil the obligation to read these passages in another way,
as in, there was another sefer torah, but when there wasn't the Chachamim
never made their takana (see Orech Chaim siman 144).

b) the idea that kovod hatzibbur is like kovod haRav or kovod haAv or
alternatively like kovod haMelech. Therefore you get into the question of
whether one is permitted to waive one's kovod -- the general rule being
that a Rav or a parent is permitted to waive their kovod, while a king
is not. There is some discussion about whether there is a distinction
between a small tzibbur and the entirety of the people in this regard
-- some suggest that the entirety of the people or the majority of all
Israel at least is like the king, and cannot waive, but that what we
generally think of as a tzibbur can. Thus the Beis Yosef quotes the
Rambam and the Rashba as permitting the tzibbur to waive their kavod
(see Orech Chaim siman 53 and also 144) -- as well as the Mordechai and
Rabbanu Yerucham -- while he quotes the Rosh as holding that it cannot.

c) There are two different kinds of kovod hatzibbur -- one that is really
about tircha d'zibbura -- what we might define as the hassle of the
tzibbur, which the tzibbur is allowed to waive, and one that is really
about kovod Shamayim, which the tzibbur is not. While this also really
comes from the Bach in Orech Chaim siman 53, it is brought particularly
by the Taz (Orech Chaim siman 53 si'if katan 2). There he brings the
Bach regarding having a shaliach tzibbur whose beard has not filled out
"since indeed the kavod of the tzibbur in this is really the kavod of
Shamayim that he is intending to honour HaShem may he be blessed with
a Shatz that is fitting to be an advocate on behalf of the community
opposite HaShem... [and so rather learn] that indeed there is no mechila
in matters that concern kavod Shamayim." The actual language of the Bach
is as follows: "rather the explanation is that this is not kavod of the
tzibbur that they send before them to go up one who does not have beauty
of face [meaning a beard -- Shabbat 152a -- the beauty of the face is
the beard] to be an advocate for the tzibbur that even before a king
of flesh and blood we do not send to advocate for the community even if
he is a great chacham unless he is also of goodly stature and there is
to him a beauty of face that he has a full beard and all the more so
before the king of kings the Holy One Blessed be He and according to
this there is no place at all to say that they can appoint whomever the
tzibbur wants so as to be mochol on their kavod". One of the clearest
articulations of this twofold position I have found is in Shut Tzedek
u'Mishpat chelek Orech Chaim siman 4 (Rabbi Tzadkah ben Saadiah Chutzein
was a Rav in Syria 1699-1773) in the context of discussing the common
Sephardi custom of having more than seven aliyot when there is a simcha --
he raises the question as to whether the (interminable) shabbas morning
services thereby violates kovod hatzibbur if. And his comment is --
"but in our case that we multiply the readings [in the Torah] where it
is not necessary there is no blemish on the kavod of HaShem since what
blemish is it to HaShem if they remain in the synagogue one more hour,
but there is in this a trouble of the tzibbur while it does not touch
the matter of the kavod of HaShem..."

Now on that basis you might be able to try and analyse the question you
asked. But you have something of a problem -- because nowhere does anybody
apply kovod hatzibbur regarding psukei d'zimra. So if you follow the
first approach you have to postulate a takana that nobody knows about
which was then waived for Chinuch reasons without any comment in the
sources, so it is all castles upon castles in the air, and I personally
think we can safely discount it.

If you hold that the tzibbur can waive it kavod when it feels like it,
well it can waive it when it feels like it whether for chinuch or other
reasons, and if it cannot, it cannot -- but without specific instructions
that kavod that is otherwise unwaivable (like for a king) can be waived
when chinuch comes into play, then I don't think you can get off the
starting blocks using this approach either.

And if the question is whether or not there is any kavod shamayim there --
if there is kavod shamayim in the issue, then I can't see chinuch as a
heter to allow the honour of HaShem to be impugned for chinuch purposes
(nor can anybody else, the whole point is not to send somebody who is
not grown up enough to have a full beard). If the test is, as the Bach
suggests, whether or not you would send such a person before a king of
flesh and blood -- I think we would all agree that if President Obama
were to sent a child, or even a teenager, to negotiate a sensitive
diplomatic matter, a modern day king or authority would most likely send
such ambassador packing and ask for somebody with a bit more gravitas and
authority. On the other hand, if President Obama were to send Hillary
Clinton or Condoleezza Rice -- would anybody today dare say, "send me
somebody with more authority, like a man ...?" On the other hand, it is
certainly true that this has only been the case at most for the last
50 to 100 years. Before that, I can well such a diplomatic authority
refusing to take the ambassadorial services of a woman. So rather this
appears to play the other way -- if the question is really about kavod
shamayim, not about kavod hatzibbur itself -- then the question becomes
is HaShem's kavod impugned by sending a woman, or a child -- and does
this change if the mores of kings of flesh and blood in the world change?

> Also, I'm wondering if the following paradox holds: Chinukh is a
> derabbanan. What about the chinukh of teaching a qatan that he must
> grow up to conform to minhag? Could it be that according to the Rashba
> the qatan has a greater chiyuv (derabannan of chinukh) to say PdZ than
> the men do (minhag Yisrael)?

I can't see how the Rashba can hold that a chiyuv on a child due to
chinuch could be greater than his ultimate chiyuv on becoming a gadol -
that would mean that he was moridin b'kodesh and not ma'alin. Surely the
rabbinic obligation in chinuch is to fulfil rabbinic and d'orisa mitzvos,
and the one is mechanech in minhagim based in minhag only.

[Email #2. -micha]

RMB says
> I see [R/D Barry Freundel] makes this point in his latest
> installment <http://torahmusings.com/2013/02/partnership-minyanim-v>:

>> Second, many of the commenters have it completely backwards. By
>> all accounts that is a relatively recent (no more than a decade or
>> two) innovation. What halakhic sources allow it? I have indicated that
>> I was always uncomfortable with the practice precisely because
>> it seemed to diminish the importance of significant parts of the
>> service.

So now we have a global Sephardi conspiracy to institute the saying of
psukei d'zimra by katanim amongst their shuls - a practice that according
to RBF is only a decade or two old!

This is a practice that can be found by the Moroccans in England, by
the Moroccans in France, by the Gibraltarians, by the Iraqis who came
to England via India, by the Iraqis that came to England straight from
Iraq, by Iraqis that came via Israel, by Syrian Egyptians and I believe
amongst the Lebanese.

We have also heard on here this is the practice in the minyan in Rav
Ovadiah's home (which minhag does he daven - Yerushalmi?).

Please others out there - can you post (and ask your Sephardi friends)
where around the world you have seen this practice, and amongst which
communities. I am fully confident we will get an extraordinarily wide
spectrum of Sephardi practice, one that makes a conspiracy theory to
bring in a new halachic innovation over the last decade or two almost

Now, I totally agree, the practice of *women* saying psukei d'zimra is
extremely new, and I guarantee it was not occurring in Sephardi communities
around the globe.  On that basis this is legitimate:

> That is also true for those who continue to raise the fact that in some
> communities young boys lead Kabbalat Shabbat and Pesukei  De-Zimrah.

First that fact alone does not mean that women can lead even if the
practice is halakhically fine. One needs to  do some work to make that
connection and no one that I have seen has.

That is a fair enough.  What is NOT fine is to come out halachically against
common Sephardi minhag.

>New practices are almost always subject to challenges like this that
>must be met. Again, such is the way of Torah. As such the  defenders of
>this practice have the burden of proof. If you change things you need to
>find support for the innovation.

Agreed, and this applies as much to assuring common Sephardi minhag as to
allowing partnership minyanim.  More so, here because we have a widespread
and established minhag Yisrael - and if RMF want to go assuring that, he
needs to have solid halachic grounds on which to do so.

>In my review of the literature I found only Rav Uziel's hesitant
>defense. Again, he bases the practice on the mitzvah of chinukh  (which as
I have shown is weak here), and which cannot be used to justify women
leading that service.

No, what he does is assurs katanim doing other things, like leading Shachrit
from Yishtabach, and understands that what is left from a chinuch point of
view is psukei d'zimra.

Again, you cannot divorce this from the reality of common Sephardi minhag
across the globe, which it is completely impossible is a new innovation.
Too many people from too many very diverse communities are practicing this
minhag for this conspiracy theory to work.

And NOBODY in the Sephardi line of psak raises this as problem - even a
problem that needs chinuch as a reason to permit.  Now either you need to
take the patronising view - and I think that is part of what is so irksome
about RMF's piece, is its implication - that the Sephardim poskim
throughout the generations had this dubious practice going on under their
noses (including Rav Ovadiah who on the testimony of this list has this
practice going on in his very own house, and in his very own minyan), and
yet were too stupid to realise the halachic implications and assur it, or
even discuss it.  If there really is a kovod hatzibbur issue, or a kovod
shamayim issue or whatever other halachic issue one might identify which
perhaps can be waived due to a chinuch justification, then this is something
that any competent halachic authority who permits such a practice to occur
in his minyan might be expected to write about - even if after bringing both
sides he says that chinuch is docheh whatever other issue it is that he
identifies.  Rav Ovadiah has many many teshuvos about these kinds of
questions. Silence in the face of common minhag, including that of minyanim
under one's direct supervision, does have implications.  And the implication
that actually there are serious halachic problems, but that those problems
are pushed aside by chinuch without as much as a nod from leading halachic
authorities, is not one of them.  I really seriously do not see how anybody
can conclude other than that having katanim lead psukei d'zimra is perfectly
mutar halachically.

> Also, I had a chance to talk to R' Jack Love, my rebbe-chaver who is
> the Chair of the Dept of Halakha at YCT. He said his recurring theme
> talking to talmidim out in the field is that "halakhah has to be
> evolutionary, not revolutionary." You need to have this back and forth,
> rather than charge ahead with changes even ones you are convinced are
> correct ideologically, or appropriate heterim because they are the only
> way to get most of the people into the shul and davening, learning
> about Shabbos, etc... (He said the latter is the more common
> motivation.)

This is of course a completely different discussion. Innovating things
that feel new to people is an issue. You can also get into questions
of minhag. The minhag amongst Ashkenazim is not to have katanim say
psukei d'zimra. Should Ashkenazim innovate this for chinuch purposes?
Maybe yes, maybe no. Chinuch might be a good reason to innovate it,
but it is not something that has been commonly done. Even if it is not a
matter of pushing aside any halachic consideration one can still consider
precisely this evolutionary issue about changing things that may bother
people, and whether it will get more or less people into shul, and whether
they are the right sort of people. That is very different to trying to
halachically trash existing widespread minhagim that differ from yours.

You can have the same sort of debate about the innovations of partnership
minyanim. I don't have a problem with that. You can also have the same
debate about having women as presidents of shuls, or machgichim or (a
generation ago) whether a woman doctor could be allowed to practice in
a Jewish community - since this involves wielding a level of authority
that originally was the province only of men. It is not clear to me
how many women are not learning about shabbas because there are no women
presidents or women machgichim. I suspect there are far more women who
do not go to shul because they don't feel involved, and therefore get
a far more limited halachic education including learning about shabbas
(halavai that the average Rabbinical drasha in shul involved teaching
some real tachlis halacha - it generally doesn't) than don't go to shul
because there is no woman president and certainly because there is no
woman mashgiach in the OU.

> I didn't think to ask him what he would have said to Rn Sarah Schenirer
> (who was certainly revolutionary, not waiting for evolution) until
> after I got out of his car. Sorry.

Once you start invoking eis la'asos you are into different territory.
Basically the Chaftez Chaim equated the Beis Yaa'kov movement with Eliyahu
haNavi on Har Carmel offering a korban outside of the beis hamikdash
because of the drastic needs of the people, or of writing down the torah
shebaal peh.

I don't think that most people are prepared to assume that the needs
are quite that great. As far as I can see, partnership minyanim are
in fact grass roots, rather than being put in place by an individual
with revolutionary fervour such as Sarah Schenirer. Part of what is
frustrating RMF with his "halacha as the silent partner" objection is
precisely that these seem to be being put into practice by lay people,
without the reasoned halachic debate that one might expect from halachic
heavyweights. When I was living in Jerusalem around 15 years ago, I
was vaguely aware that there existed one minyan there that was espousing
these principles - suddenly they are all over. I have been told they are
here in England (although I don't know where) and also that they are in
my home town of Melbourne (hardly a bastion of revolutionary fervour -
they never even managed to get a Conservative movement off the ground).
These are, as best I can tell, not about existing shuls allowing things,
these are about people going off and forming their own, new shuls, with
tenuous links to existing shuls - and the question then becomes, do you
let them just go off into the ether, or try to and bring them within your
existing shul as a valid separate minyan. I don't know what R' Jack Love
would say about things such as women saying kaddish and bat mitzvahs -
both of which are closer to this debate over partnership minyanim - -
except that they involve bringing (or not bringing) women to existing
minyanim. If anything the issue with these partnership minyanim is that
once you start raising this as question of a tzibbur being mochel on
its kavod you are suggesting a secessionist tzibbur, one that no longer
wants to have anything to do with existing communities which is not
prepared to be mochel on their kavod. That is why I am not sure that
this is a totally ideal line of reasoning. But I don't think this is
being generated by the psukei d'zimra issue, but by the reading from the
Torah one. The psukei d'zimra discussion really seems to be a sideshow.

Shabbat Shalom

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