[Avodah] OU paper

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Tue Oct 10 08:18:49 PDT 2017

On Mon, Oct 09, 2017 at 08:26:41PM -0500, Noam Stadlan via Avodah wrote:
: R. Micha- thank you for taking the time to read the paper.  Having read
: your list of criticisms, I think that in your search for reasons to oppose,
: you missed many of the points completely...

As I wrote, the reply was delayed by my attempt to put down the paper
every time I thought I was reading solely for the sake of finding points
to oppose. "Fisking", as it's called. Admittedly, I could still have failed.

:                                            Poskim are certainly entitled to
: their opinions. They are not entitled to their own facts.

Which is why I didn't dispute claims of fact, such as whether women
were shochetim in Italy. I did dispute your use of a fact turning that
Rama's point into a hypothetical to deny his whole "[if] we [hadn't]
ever seen women as shochetim, we have a mesorah that woman aren't to
serve as shochetim". Yes, his given is false, but we do see the
implication statement in the Agur and the Rama. So, how do you dismiss
applying the parallel syllogism here -- since we do not have a history
of women rabbis, wouldn't the Rama's methodology mean that there is
a mesorah not to ordain women?

At least -- doesn't this topic need addressing, rather than writing that
one can ignore the whole flow of logic because the antecedent is false?

:                           Furthermore, I illustrated that what poskim hold
: regarding these issues isn't always or exclusively a result of all their
: learning and shimmush.  It is a demonstrable fact that many attitudes
: reflect what they grew up with and were indoctrinated with early on, not
: the list of influences that they write about.

But you gave up on the question of which new values pass the resonance
test mention early in the paperr and which do not. My argument is that

: You dismiss my quote regarding REB, and claim that it is my responsibility
: to prove what the motives are or aren't.

I dismiss the quote as necessarily applying to anyone but REB. It is
not like he's the communal leader or primary poseiq of the people in

In particular because of the word "feminism" in JOFA's name. To which you

: I suggest that if you think that an organization with 'feminism' in its
: name is inherently problematic, we may be starting from basic assumptions
: far to wide apart  to see any common ground.

RCS summarized REB's position (on your pg 10), as being of "moral
ends derive from internal Jewish sources.... dissatisfaction with
mainstream Halakhah regarding women is rooted, not in the pressures of
contemporary egalitarianism, in his judgment about biblical conceptions
of justice." (ellision yours)

But JOFA's name is taken from "contemporary egalitarianism".

I am not saying it's inherently problematic. I am saying it creates
the likelihood of a gap between REB's position and JOFA's attitude,
one that then creates a burden of proof you didn't take up.

In short I am saying that:

1- Feminism assumes egalitarianism, not only equality, as it assumes that
roles historically closed to women as "men's roles" should be open to all.
Equality only assumes that everyone should be eligible for roles of equal
value. (For some measure of value.)

2- Feminism assumes Locke's language of rights and priviledge. Why should
someone *be deprived* of the opportunity to be an .... -- in our case, to
serve as rabbi?

But halachic values aren't framed in these terms. (At least not in
general; I can think of notions like geneivas da'as, gezel shinah or
tovas han'ah as exceptions.)

Rather, the rabbinate is supposed to be a burden. Even if it is really
being treated as an honor, the value which would differentiate between
a positive halachic change and one that is anti-mesoretic would be that
of duty, not opportunity.

3- Making the argument that feminist egalitarian opportunity is or is not
resonant with mesoretic values requires those guys with shimush, as it is
an art. Your counter-argument is on the wrong plane for discussing the
topic of the first section of your paper -- "mesorah".

... And we don't even agree on how RIETS-trained rabbis are most likely
to use the word "mesorah" to agree on what we're debating!

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Man is equipped with such far-reaching vision,
micha at aishdas.org        yet the smallest coin can obstruct his view.
http://www.aishdas.org                         - Rav Yisrael Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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