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WOMEN-----public speaking


For those who were not following the beginning of this discussion, the prohibition for women to speak for men can be derived from the Din that prohibits women who are obligated to Bentch gomel to do so in front of men due to Tznius reasons. There are many customs as to what a woman who needs to Bentsch Gomel does, but everyone agrees it is improper for her to do so in front of men. If the Halachah is so regarding an obligatory statement of hers, certainly it would be so regarding a plain speech or Dvar Torah.


Where can I look up the Din forbidding women to bentch gomel?


So what about high school graduations? at most graduations the girls each say something short and the valedictorians etc make speeches in front of men who are there, how is this permissible? and if its not, how is it possible that so many frum schools do this?when I am graduating, should I refuse to say anything, and everyone else will give a speech but me?

Also if a female speaker comes to a girl’s high school to speak to the students and the principal sits in and hears it, is this permissible?



Mishna Brura, 219:4. It’s not a prohibition, it is the Minhag that they do not, because it is considered unseemly for women to do so in front of men.


Graduations: Good question. I don’t know why it is permissible. I used to teach in one such HS and I asked the principal why it was permitted and she said "Everyone does it."

My prediction is that in 20 years from now it will not be done, and our grandchildren will look at this behavior the way we look at the "olden days" of America when Orthodoxy wasn’t so strong and certain things were accepted even though they should not have been.

As for what to do, you should respectfully ask your school what their reason is for allowing something clearly not Tzniusdik, and take it from there.
A principal is only one man, and so it is not a problem. The problem is women speaking in public for men.


What is your source that public speaking for women is assur? I learned from my Rabbi that both Mishna Brura (75:3), Shevet Halevi (4:14-orach chaim), and Kaf HaChayim (Orach Chayim 689:13) state that it is permissible for a man to listen to a woman speak publicly, because there is no difference between hearing her in public or in private.

Interestingly, in the Reponsa of Maharshal (3), it is reported that Rebbetzin Miriam (his grandmother) lectured from behind a curtain. I also know that Bruria did the same thing, but I don't know the source.So is it only mutar for a man to listen to a woman speak, but a woman may not speak?


I do not have the Shevet HaLevi with me now (it's 2:37 AM and I am not home) but the Mihsna Brura and Kaf HaCHaim that you cite say merely that there is no prohibition of Kol Isha if the woman is not singing. That’s' fine, but Kol Isha isn’t the problem here. The problem here is the lack of Tznius involved when a woman gets up and speaks in front of a multitude of men, being the center of attention while doing so.

You’re Maharshal serves to support this. There were a number of instances when women spoke for a group of men in the "olden days" but it was through a Mechitzah. That would not be problematic. in fact, the source I cited for prohibiting was the fact that we do not allow women to bentch gomel in front of men in Shul for Tznius reasons. Yet there is a legitimate Minhag that women bentch from behind the Mechitzah.


if a man is giving a shiur to a group of both men and women, and he asks for questions, would it be considered assur for a woman to ask a question if it would be heard by a group of men?


I don’t know about Assur, since in this case the woman is not the center of attention where all the men are looking at her, but it is definitely more in the interest of Tznius to have the women pass their questions up on a sheet of paper or something like that. Rabbi Avigdor Miller ZTL used to do that and it worked quite well. I've seen others do it too.


According to the vast majority of poskim, only the singing voice of a woman is prohibited as Kol Isha. A plain speaking voice, such as what you would be using in your dvar Torah, is not included in the prohibition.

However, women speaking in public for men is certainly frowned upon, and may be Halachicly prohibited. The source would be the Halachah that a woman who has to bentch gomel may not do it in public in full sight of men because it is not Tzniusdik to do so. Speaking in public would involve the exact same lack of Tznius.

However, with great effort, (b'dochek) a distinction can be made in that with bentching gomel an alternative is available - she can bentch gomel from behind the mechitzah, or even in the privacy of her own home in front of her husband. If there is no alternative speaker to deliver the message that the woman would, we have no proof to prohibit.

HOWEVER, prohibited or not, we certainly see that it is considered not Tzniusdik.
If you are Chassidish, you may want to point out to your father that in Chassidish tradition, there were women, rebetzens, who occasionally said divrei Torah for men, but invariably did so only from behind the mechitzah.

But Halachah aside, if you are uncomfortable speaking for the men, it is certainly a good trait of booshah, and Halachah or not, Chassidish tradition or not, you should ask your father to please not force you to do something that makes you uncomfortable, especially since the discomfort is coming from a good place.

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