The Roles of Women: An Exchange

When I wrote about my Yom Kippur experience in Stockholm I got some interesting responses, but none more so than the exchange of messages with Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, who was the brilliant and inspiring spiritual leader of Beth Jacob (Orthodox) Synagogue for four decades, who writes often for The Jerusalem Post, who was for years the editor of the distinguised Orthodox journal Tradition, and whose diary of the Six-Day War I have written about. Our messages touched on many things, but the focus of this exchange was the role of women in synagogue services. We do disagree on this and other issues, but there are few people in this world I admire as much as I do Rabbi Feldman. To put it simply, if the word “character” (in the moral sense) appeared in the dictionary next to a photograph, it could easily be a photograph of him. Rarely have I known a man of such high character. (His sense of humor is a bonus.) We both edited the exchange a bit, and the version below has his approval:

 

Dear Mel,

Your Stockholm experience was most interesting. Three quick reactions:

  a) Sobering and humbling, was it not, to know that a teen-age girl took your Levi aliyah in front of the Torah. I hope she realizes whom she replaced. Was she a Levi-ette?

  b)  Regarding Neilah and the gates of prayer and heaven closing: A rabbi very close to me told his congregation this year that, yes, the gates were closing, but that we were all inside those gates, not outside…

  c) Something nags at me: that Stockholm synagogue about to go full mixed seating: how do they answer to the ghosts of all their forebears who constructed a shul that was in keeping with full Jewish tradition: separate seating for men and women. With all their intelligence, learning, sensitivity, etc., what happened to these present-day good people and their sensitivity to the feelings of those who built the place from the ground up? Is there not a touch of arrogance in their implied statement that they know better than their predecessors how to pray to our Maker? I have always been troubled by the cavalier attitude with which synagogue boards change the orientation of their synagogues. It displays a certain misunderstanding about the role of a shul – which is to help us reach out to Gd and not simply to be a social occasion.

   And one question:  I am curious: how many people come to that synaogue on ordinary Shabbat mornings? (Not that any Shabbat can be ordinary.)

    Have a meaningful Succos.

            Emanuel F.

 

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Dear Rav,

As always, I am honored that you take notice of my dithering. I love your point in b. It resembles the point made in the essay here, which I sent to my kids: http://www.meaningfullife.com/torah/holidays/1b/Vistas.php

You, being who you are, can cut to the chase and read the last three paragraphs.

On your points a and c, we are dealing with a very difficult matter, and I do not minimize its difficulty. I vividly remember your account of your arrival in Atlanta three days before Rosh Hashanah and finding that they had taken down the mechitza without consulting you. As I recall, you asked your wife to prepare for the possibility of returning to Baltimore. You stood your ground and you won, and I have always completely respected your position despite my different views of the role of women.

I doubt that the young lady who took my aliyah knew of it, and I hope she didn't. I was inspired to be replaced by her; it made me feel connected to the future. Nevertheless, I take your point about the expectations of their ancestors, although it so happens that the Stockholm shul was Reform before it was Conservative. Yet, go another century back (a short time in my calculations or yours) and you will find Jews who respected Torah law about roles of men and women. I have no illusions about that, and to an important extent I follow your lead in respecting the wishes of our ancestors. Had I any say in the matter, I would recommend that they leave the balcony to women only and set off a smaller section downstairs for men. As it was, the mixed seating was overcrowded and the other sections thinly populated, but I know that Halakhah is not a popularity contest.

Yet my own reading of Jewish history and the history of Halakhah suggests that there have been changes. I am sure you are aware of egalitarian groups who claim to be Orthodox–who deeply desire to be Orthodox– with the exception of the separation and separate roles for men and women. I know that your choice is to keep within the Law, and I respect that. But is there no possibility that Halakhah will one day in the future change on this matter? Some other things appear to have changed over the centuries.

If we have to choose between the continuity of Jewish religion and tradition and the preservation of different treatment of men and women, would you not consider a compromise? Must we go on relegating the intellectual and spiritual gifts of half of the Jewish people to roles in the private sphere of the family only? I would bet that you have ideas about how to give gifted women a larger role, even within Halakhah.

In any case, I would love to hear your thoughts about this difficult and sometimes painful issue. Perhaps it is simple in terms of law, but you know as well as I it is no longer simple in human terms. I know that many in the Orthodox community turn to you for guidance on this most important question. Can you pioneer a compromise within Halakhah?

With warm regards for Sukkot and beyond,

Mel

 

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Dear Prof.,

A quick non-edited reply to your note– and not proof read…

You assume that the mechitza in shul is a statement that woman's place is not in the public but the private sphere. Not necessarily so. Mechitza is strictly for the purpose of kavannah in prayer. A man is distracted by women in all areas of life. In the area of prayer, this distraction can destroy the essence of prayer, which has as its fundamental goal a full identification with Gd. Which requires, ideally, total concentration – kavannah – upon the object of prayer, which is the Creator.

This sounds strange to modern ears (even Orthodox ones), for we are accustomed to a relaxed social atmosphere in shul. But ideal prayer of course is not social. It is serious business. If it were social, sure, let men and women sit together. But if it is really serious, and my goal is to concentrate on Him Who made me and holds me in the palm of His hand, then all possible distractions must be removed. And women are a primary distraction. This has therefore nothing to do with the different roles that women play in Jewish life.

Women are gifted, women are insightful, women are perceptive, women are caring, women are (often)  lovely to look at– but because they possess a certain magnetism that men cannot resist, a magnetism that is often sexual, they become, willy-nilly, a distraction to men during prayer. Although sex plays a major role in Jewish life, it is nevertheless physical enough for it to be out of place in prayer. Look at the orgies which accompanied Canaanite prayer, a pattern completely rejected by our ancestors in ancient Israel. To avoid even a hint of this, and to distance ourselves from such things, Jewish men and women do not sit together during prayer.

Full disclosure: the comment that the closing of the gates finds us inside the gates, not outside was spoken by my son, Rabbi Ilan Feldman, to the congregation in Atlanta during Neilah last week.

Be well, and have a gutten Shabbes and a gutten simchas toirah.

ef

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Rav,

I appreciate all that you say. If I accept your argument (one of the standard ones) against mixed seating in the interest of men's kavannah–although I could argue that this is men's problem, not women's–do we not still have something to discuss about women's roles?

If I grant you the mechitza, I still have to ask why women's role as scholars, interpreters of Jewish law, and spiritual leaders is minimal compared to what they could contribute. Why not a woman rabbi for an all-female congregation–there would be no effect on men's kavannah–with women reading the Torah, etc? In fact this would improve men's kavannah by reducing the number of women in their shul.

But where are the intellectual and spiritual descendants of Berurya today? Why no female Soloveitchik? Theoretically, with the huge recent increase in women's education, we should long since have had many women among the greatest Torah scholars–but there are too many barriers in the Orthodox interpretation of Jewish law. Is there no way to elevate women as scholars to the very highest heights without distracting men?

Good shabbos, and chag sameach, Mel

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Melvin:

Thanks for your response, In the outside world where there are no barriers to women, why are there few female physicists or mathematicians of great note? Why are men overwhelmingly dominant in certain fields, ( this is well known,is it not), while women are not? I know it flies in the face of feminist ideology, and it is not politically correct. (Look what happened to Larry Summers at Harvard when he dared to mention such things!), but could it not be that women are structurally not endowed with the intellectual means to be physicists or mathematicians (I would phrase this more elegantly if I were not rushing to shul this Friday afternoon). I don’t want to get into areas in which you are far more expert than I and in which I am not even a rank amateur, but is it not possible that there is an innate ability that men possess which enables them to excel in certain skills, and that women possess to excel in other skills?  Could this possibly be one reason there is no female Soloveitchik? (By the way, there was one female Soloveitchik in terms of Biblical interpretation — though not Talmud and Halacha – and that was the late Prof. Nechama Leibowitz of Jerusalem- who was personally very Orthodox.) With respect to the "huge increase in women’s education" that you mention, why are there not more great Torah scholars in the non-Orthodox movements, who do not have "many barriers" that you claim the Orthodox put down?

I would see no problem with a female rabbi of an all female congregation. (But most women are too smart to want to be pulpit rabbis…)

Have a good shabbos.

Note: I will return to some of the questions in Rabbi Feldman’s last message, and will try to persuade him to continue with the dialog.

8 thoughts on “The Roles of Women: An Exchange

  1. Mel and Rabbi Feldman-
    May I respectfully suggest that the role of women in advanced study has not been without barriers in secular education?  It is evolving, but when I was in college, trying to major in chemistry, the head of the department told me that no girl (we didn’t insist on being called women back then) would ever graduate from HIS department.  We were just going to get married and quit, so we shouldn’t take the place that could be held by a young man. Given that attitude, and it was more prevalent than any of us might wish to remember, what wonder is it that few women excelled in areas thought of as the exclusive domain of men?  Studies still show that teachers show preference for boys in science and math education.
    We often think about Holocaust victims–how many cures for disease, how many great books or symphonies or works of art or inventions never got completed because their makers were killed.  I think you could apply the same thinking to women throughout history–how many contributions died unborn merely because their creators were females who were not deemed worth listening to or educating?  Mel–you can speak better to this matter of brain ability and function than I can.
    I wonder too, historically, how much of the body of tradition separating  men and women in Judaism is the result of the male-dominated society surrounding them in the ancient Middle East  Judaism certainly protected some rights for women–food, clothes, conjugal rights, and other assorted things, but why should MEN’s need to pray force women to step aside?  Don’t men know that women have sexual thoughts too?  Why is our need for kavanah not regarded as important? Rabbi, in all your lovely list of things women are, nowhere do you indicate any role for them in spiritual or prayerful life.  True, tradition separates us with time-bound obligations, but those fade away when children are grown or if a woman is alone, and there is still no place for us.  I don’t personally object to the mechitza, but it saddens me that women are effectively excluded from meaningful involvement in the spiritual aspects of Judaism.  I visited an egalitarian Orthodox shul in Jerusalem last summer, and it was exhilarating. Women leading prayers?  Reading from the Torah?  I can’t judge the mental state of the men, but I was too busy praying to notice who was on the other side of the makeshift mechitza.  
    Rabbi Feldman, I respect you as one of the most educated, most rational men I know (I’ve interviewed you several times for the local Atlanta Jewish paper), but I just can’t agree with you here.  I think there is a valid place for strict adherence to traditions, but first let’s figure out why we have those traditions and if they still serve to further our spiritual lives.
    Suzi

  2. Dear Rabbi Feldman and Mel,

    To be in the presence of an exchange between  you two is a pure joy and a great privilege. I would like to add some personal thoughts for whatever they are worth.

    The separate seating in the synagogue: As a modern and secular Jewess, with education that matches that of many accomplished men, I tend to agree with Rabbi Feldman. For me, the separate seating provides a space supportive of personal reflection and internal dialogue, which one hopes to have in a prayer.

    Strangely enough, David my husband is the one who prefers a family seating and finds being sandwiched between his wife and daughter more satisfying than sitting by himself among the men. Our daughter, now a young, accomplished woman, goes further than my husband. She is offended by a mehitza. Somehow it seems that the idea of separate-but-equal fails to maintain equality when it is in the hands of regular mortals. The mehitza does not partition equally. For women, the bimmah is on the other side; so is the Torah. A symmetry is even broken in Rabbi Feldman’s words, when he says, “And women are a primary distraction.” I agree. But, risking sounding immodest I would say, “Men are a primary distraction too.” Nevertheless, women are allowed to listen to men reading Torah, giving a sermon, or serving as cantors.

    There is still the serious point of respecting the wisdom of our ancestors: With my amateur understanding: Judaism is Rabbinical rather than fundamentalist. It responds to changes in time and makes the Torah Torat Chaim. No disrespect is intended by modifying ancient customs; rather a recognition that different times call for different solutions.

    I lack words to articulate the respect and awe with which I address Rabbi Feldman. One of the greatest privileges in my marriage is that Rabbi Feldman officiated in David’s and my ceremony. Rabbi Feldman stands for all that is exemplary in Judaism; including his consent to participate in a conversation like the one carried out in this blog.

  3. The tensions surrounding women’s changing roles in Orthodox Judaism, a topic about which I am writing a whole book, are only the most socially urgent (for many of us!) manifestation of a set of problems having to do with the advent of modernity. Back when identity was corporate, it made sense that "Israel" as a nation was called on to do certain things to serve its Creator and Sustainer (such as prayer). These duties devolved on the nation as a whole, and part of that nation was quite occupied with childcare and the household duties traditionally filled by women. In the context of public prayer, women really *were* ornamental: their status as honored but inessential guests in the house of worship was symbolized and reinforced by synagogue architecture that offered them (and consigned them to) an aerie in the rafters–a balcony.  

    What has changed is not that the 1960’s and 70’s happened and suddenly women came to want some of the same spiritual and ritual "goodies" as men. Discussions of the vexed relationship between feminism and religious Orthodoxy often assume the problem–or opportunity–began with feminism. In fact, we have to go back to early modernity and the shift from ancient and medieval corporate identity to modern individual identity. The rise of the self, Kant, European Enlightenment, etc. I’m no intellectual historian, but I do know that before women came to demand greater agency in their religious lives, men became individual agents and actors. (Read Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self.) Once that happened (thank you Immanuel, thank you Friedrich), there went the neighborhood, so to speak.

    Once we contextualize the "women question," in this much larger drama, we are able to look at some of the ways *everyone’s* religious lives have changed since the Rambam, not to mention the Sages. Our whole attitude toward that cocktail of privilege and duty that is the performance of the 613 commandments has shifted imperceptibly. The news that women have become people in the fullest sense of the word–beings with agency, desires, desire (hat tip to Ms. Finkelstein above, ambition, spiritual yearning, etc.)–merely follows from the bigger if more recondite news that men have become individual people too.

    What are the implications of this historical awareness? My life–and those of my contemporaries–has been and will continue to be, God-willing, a living laboratory for exploring that question. As the foundational Orthodox feminist Blu Greenberg has said, "*Someone* has to make the salad." That is, we cannot enter an egalitarian utopia instantaneously just because gender egalitarianism is our current vision of utopia. Rabbinic Judaism has proven itself a subtly shifting set of norms–a living, breathing organism, but the most durable aspects of it (including a basic divide in gender roles) are redoubtable, and cannot be waved away within a generation or two of certain frustrations coming to the fore. Having articulated a position of respect for tradition that eschews a wholesale jettisoning of the past, I now say with great vehemence that women HAVE become people (just as men did before) and our feelings and abilities must be addressed by Orthodoxy.

    To sit in a balcony–with its visual insistence that "you are a spectator in shul"–is unpalatable if not abhorrent to me personally. That said, I take no umbrage at a mechitza that runs down the center of the shul and divides women and men during prayer. The latter arrangement makes no presumption about who is distracting or attractive to whom–and implicitly, about who has the "right" to experience desire or distraction. (I regard R. Samson Raphael Hirsch’s formulation that women are intrinsically on a higher spiritual plane than men and thus not subject to such base inclinations as well-meant but untrue apologetics.)

    Case in point: I intended to develop this thought over another two paragraphs, but one of my kids got dropped off early from a birthday party, and the knock at the door woke the other. So to be continued….

    Miriam Udel-Lambert

  4. If my being interrupted at the keyboard was emblematic of what I was writing before, then my resumption of the thread is equally emblematic of what I ‘d like to say next. Just as a great portion of my day today was spent on the satisfying but demanding tasks of caring for my young children, so too a substantial chunk of my life will be dominated to responding to their needs. And just as surely as they eventually go to bed each night, so too do I expect this phase of my life to give way to one less dominated by my role as a mother (insofar as one may "expect" anything having to do with longevity, which one really cannot; by "expect" I mean, "live as if it will happen").

    An extremely important sociological shift that has occurred in modernity is the rise of the nuclear family as the essential social unit. Four hundred years ago, not only would I have married and begun having my own children in mid-adolescence, but before my first child was born, I–as a girl–would likely have devoted most of my time to caretaking roles. And after my children became independent, I would likely have continued to play a *very* siginificant, time-consuming role as a caregiver for children in my extended family. This is still somewhat the case for girls and women in ultra-Orthodox/haredi society, but in *extremely* attenuated form. Women in those circles do tend to marry young and bear children as soon as possible, but there is a thing called adolescence, in which girls today are expected to observe a greater degree of rigor in their ritual lives than will be expected of them as young mothers. "Good Bais Yaakov girls" daven and take pains to hear the shofar blown and fulfill a number of other time-bound positive commandments that will fall by the wayside as their careers as wives and mothers are launched. At the other end of life’s spectrum, a bubby can only spend so much time on bubbying when she lives in Brooklyn and her children live in Me’ah She’arim.

    Those are not the circles in which I move. Before my first child was born, I was fortunate to live in a university-based Jewish community where I was welcomed and made to feel comfortable at public prayer services even when few women were in attendance. Until the dislocations of early pregnancy, my custom was to pray with a quorum three times a day, just as my husband did. Walking to and from synagogue was a shared—and cherished–activity.I was scrupulous in my observance of the traditionally "female" mitzvot (family purity, kashrut, Sabbath candles, etc.), but I also strived to fulfill whatever "male" mitzvot were not actually halakhically problematic for me to undertake (a problematic example would be tefillin). Studying and teaching Torah was also a significant source of satisfaction and identity even though it had little to do with my professional identity as a student of modern literature. I was passionate and driven in my religious life.

    I knew that the birth of my child would erode my ability to perform these religious acts with the same punctiliousness, but I was not prepared for how utterly binary the change would be. As if someone had flipped a switch, my ritual life felt as if it had been turned off. It was not that I no longer wished to fulfill the commandments as I had before. It was simply that public prayer felt very remote from the realities of nursing hormones and bouncing babies. Perhaps even more significantly, there was the claim upon my time. It was as if, having a child, I could now choose ONE "extracurricular activity." My scholarly career was the "extracurricular" that won out. Full-tilt yiddishkeit would simply have to wait for awhile.

    I wonder what will happen at the end of that while. As my children have passed out of infancy, I feel more able and quite eager to resume some of my life as a teacher of classical Jewish texts (although I have also begun to marry my knowledge of midrash to my knowledge of modern Jewish literature, hopefully in ways that are both intellectually rigorous and religiously meaningful). Yet I am far from praying three times a day, let alone doing so with a quorum. Truthfully, it is an effort just to keep up with all the blessings before and after eating–miniscule acts of religious devotion that used to be assumed as an effortless given.

    Now, as a parent, one of the most powerful motivations to preserve and rekindle my passion about ritual observance is my role in educating my sons. We know that education is most compellingly achieved by example. Jewish children are admonished not to forget the teachings of their fathers or to forsake the Torah of their mothers. While in its original wisdom context, this probably had a broad rather than a narrow meaning, I am steeped enough in the midrashic thought process to read the latter phrase as implying that Jewish mothers need to be able to offer their children a robust–and ideally, a personal, idiosyncratic, and thoroughly developed–Torah. Already, from observing how I prioritize my time and activities, my four-year-old has divined messages about gender roles in Judaism that I never imagined or intended. But I cut myself some slack. If he thinks now that "Immas only daven on Shabbat," I hope that this will change someday. When that change occurs, he will be old enough to note it and to discuss the reasons for it.

    Moving from the personal to the professional, I would like to address one other point under discussion here. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a rabbi when I grew up. I came to acknowledge that in an Orthodox context, this is simply not (yet) possible. I see myself as part of a transitional generation (I am in my early thirties), in which more and more women are being educated in the full range of rabbinic literature, including Talmud and halakha. I suspect that had the rabbinate been open to me as a career option, I would have done "well enough" on Talmud and halakha to pass my bekhinot (exams). I would have mastered Yoreh De’ah had that been the golden key to my career of choice. In this, I would have resembled the many young men who are not brilliant Talmudists, but who develop an adequate acquaintance with the legal literature to rule on routine halakhic questions, but whose passion (and reason for entering the rabbinate) lies elsewhere. After all, I am no great lover of French literary theory, but I learned enough of deconstruction to pass my exams on the way to earning my doctorate in literature.  However, with that career foreclosed to me, I had little reason to push myself beyond a basic competence in reading the Talmud and its commentaries. After acquring that basic competence (a mastery solid enough to teach beginning and intermediate adult learners), I have generally husbanded my time for Torah study for the midrashic and biblical-exegetical texts that speak to me more directly.

    I would not have been a female Soloveitchik in any event, but I know several women whose raw talent at parsing Talmudic texts would seem to augur greatness. Most of them turn their talents elsewhere for lack of a path toward greatness. The Orthodox world has, in the past decade alone, gained some absolutely brilliant female lawyers and professors just among my circle of friends; I shiver to think of what it has lost.

    However, change is afoot. There are women whose greatest intellectual and religious satisfaction does lie in Talmud study, and the Orthodox world is beginning–painfully slowly–to create institutional places for them. I can just about tick off the fingers of one hand with their names and positions, but it is exciting nonetheless. In my still-brief career, I have already had to forego one opportunity for communal leadership because my skills as a halakhist were too undeveloped. While the epidsode itself was disappointing, it was also thrilling to see that that position was not foreclosed to me because I am a woman, and that a woman choosing her career path today might educate herself to be prepared to assume such a position. Most satisfying of all, a thoroughly competent female candidate was finally chosen to fill the post.

    At the time when I was making what Samuel Butler’s hero Rasselas calls "the choice of life," my tribe did not welcome the gift of my talents in a rabbinic role. I reached the best accommodation I could, taking the lemons of that disappointment and turning them into the lemonade of a different career doing something else that I love and employing a different set of my equally God-given abilities. My "day job" is as a scholar of modern Jewish literature. Now, when I am asked to speak in shul on a "torani" topic or to serve as a scholar-in-residence somewhere, I feel extremely grateful to have the opportunity to do so. It is not *my knowledge* on display. Hard as I may work to acquire some small share in it, it is *God’s torah,* and the aim, as we say, is to make great and to glorify the Torah. I am certainly no better at doing so for being a woman, but in time, I think it shall be understood that I am also no worse. Rabbi Feldman half jokes that most women are too smart to want to be pulpit rabbis. All jobs have their satisfactions and frustrations. On the whole, I probably would rather deal with faculty meetings and grading exams than with shul board meetings. If being part of a transitional generation is attended by certain frustrations, then I hope that it is also attended by certain rewards–such as teaching Torah without all of the burdens of having to raise money for a new synagogue building. I don’t feel that my generation has to *complete* the task of enabling women to lead passionate, authentic, rigorous Jewish lives within halakha–but neither are we free to desist from it.

  5. The most important thing I can say about Miriam Udel-Lambert’s contribution is that it has brought tears to my eyes. Beyond that, it strikes me as the cri-de-coeur of a brilliant Orthodox woman whose admirable frankness, self-knowledge, and sense of personal responsibility alone would have qualified her to be a pulpit rabbi. Her decision to study comparative literature, where women are far closer to being viewed as equals of men, is literature’s gain but Torah’s loss. I am confident that her contribution to the study, teaching, and nurturance of Jewish secular literature will be a great life’s work for her and for all of us who care about Jewish civilization, and that her passion for Torah will deeply inform that secular work. Yet I long as she does for a day when women with such great gifts will be welcome in all walks of life, including the path of Torah study at the highest possible level. Then those women’s children will grow up in a world where they benefit from twice as many gifts.

  6. I rarely post to blogs but feel compelled to add to MIriam Udell-Lambert’s heartfelt and articulate response. I too have felt the stirrings of "nafshi chashkah batorah" – My heart desires and lusts for Torah. As Rosh Beit Midrash of Drisha Institute, a place of higher Jewish learning for women, for 10 years, (I left the position this June) I have dedicated myself and seen tens of women dedicate themselves to learning Talmud and halakhah. I believe we are not being totally honest if we do not recognize the social and cultural barriers that stand in the way of women who wish to pursue Jewish learning at the highest levels.
    Men in yeshivah are surrounded by cultural supports that help them achieve in their learning. They have older colleagues who serve as resources and role models of what a talmid chacham is. They have a multitude of teachers with different styles of learning to study from. And, most significantly, the "olam" is telling them that their learning is valuable if not downright redemptive.
    Women have none of these things. And we have done pretty well in a very short span of time to accomplish what we have given these limitations. Most women who enter learning are neither encouraged by familiy or community, they do not have jobs they will enter into afterwards that will continue to mold and challenge their torah study and they encounter the same barriers and double standards that women generally encounter.
    Until we encourage our young girls to take Torah seriously, until we encourage our talented young women and let them know in concrete ways that we support a pursuit of deep Torah knowledge, and until our communities reward Torah study by women in the same way, we will not see the great Talmidot Chachamim. It is and continues to be our tragic loss as a community.

  7. Dear Dvorah,

    Thank you for your incisive comment. You might like to see a partial list of great women scientists throughout history:

    http://www.scientificblogging.com/i_can_get_science/yesterday_today_top_women_scientists

    Also, great women philosophers:

    http://www.scientificblogging.com/i_can_get_science/yesterday_today_top_women_scientists

    And of course, great women writers:

    http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/eng384/links.htm

    These women worked against all odds throughout history to make their mark, and they always (like Beruryah) had to gain an exceptional permission to be admitted even a little to a thoroughly man’s world.

    Judging from the brilliance of my women students going into medical and behavioral science, the future will be very different.