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WOMEN-----learning torah VI

dasi Posted - 12 August 2004 7:56

"The Prisha does not say that every girl has a right to determine if they are sincere enough to learn Torah, nor does nay father, nor does anyone. What he does say is that if there is solid evidence that a woman is an exception, we may rely on it. And the only proof he has that he considers useable here is the proof that if a woman learns on her own that proves she is exceptional."

But you also say that a woman can't learn on her own. If that's true, the p'risha is saying that women who are oyver the halacho are demonstrating that they have exceptional yiras shomayim!

The Rambam says that a woman who does receives s'char - how can she if she is over a tzivuy chachomim by so doing? Why doesn't he also mention that she is going to receive onesh for going against tzivuy chachomim?

MODERATOR Posted - 12 August 2004 8:12

To the Prisha, the fact that a woman wants to learn Gemora, and in fact does sit down and learn Gemora, shows in and of itself that she is head and shoulders above the majority of women, an exception to the rule.

Because of that, there was no Halachah that prohibited women to learn on their own, for the Halachah already says that any woman who learns on her own proves herself an exception.

Therefore, if a woman learns on her own she is not violating anything.

A woman does not have to become a Talmid Chacham to be an "exception"; she does not have to be successful in her learning; she does not even have to learn for any given amount of time. All she has to do in order to prove herself an exception, is learn.

The reason for this was because there really is no reason for the average G-d-fearing, Tehillim-saying, Torah-keeping, Yiras-Shamayim possessed woman to want to learn Gemora in the first place. In the days of Chizkiyah, Chazal say, even all the women and girls were all experts in the complex laws of Tumah and Tahara.

Women's lives, including their spiritual and intellectual lives, are fulfilled, fruitful, productive, and just perfect without any Gemora learning. And in those days, there was no social or fad reasons that would motivate girls to learn Gemora. The whole thing was completely unnecessary to them.

Therefore, if a woman decided that she needs to learn Gemora that showed she was an exception to the rule. Because she is taking upon herself a grueling, difficult, unnecessary, task, with nothing to gain in this world and something to lose (learning Gemora is very time and energy consuming, plus it would make her different from all of her peers), we respect her commitment and recognize her as someone who stands out among the crowd. An exception to the rule.

But today, clearly, that is not the case. Women of all calibers learn Gemora, and there are so many motivations, and in certain communities its so accepted as to be commonplace, the idea that a woman who decides to learn Gemora shows herself to be an exception is clearly just not the case.

The Rambam only says that women get schar for Torah shebiksav, which they were never prohibited to learn in the first place. A woman learning torah shebiksav is like a women shaking a lulav or sitting in a sukkah - its not necessary, but they do get some reward for it.

But Torah shebal peh is prohibited for them to learn, and the Rambam never said that for that they get schar.

dasi Posted - 11 October 2005 19:23

This is a very interesting article, which contains a vort from R Klonymos Kalman of Piacezna ba'al chovos hatalmidim on the z'chus of Miriam that provided the be'er, and an excerpt from a letter he wrote about his wife.

In the letter about his wife (page 12), he specifies that she learned every day, Tanach, *zohar*, midrash, kabala, and chassidus, and of the effort she made to stand and listen to his divrei torah. He praises her for this, and in other documents cited in the article, he again praises her for learning torah nearly every day.

See also his discussion of the z'chus of Miriam (page 3, 5) on the special tshuka of women who are not metzuve v'ose, to learn and do mitzvos that they aren't metzuve in, and the z'chus this was for bnei yisroel and the tshuka it inspired in them.

In light of the discussion here, which has ranged to even whether women should learn korbonos, I would be grateful if you would post this link. While his wife is not described as learning Gemora, there is no question that the ba'al chovos hatalmidim viewed his wife's efforts to learn - including or especially kabala and chassidus - as highly praiseworthy.
To the best of my knowledge, the author of chovos hatalmidim was not "Modern Orthodox."

MODERATOR Posted - 11 October 2005 19:42

You are confused. The issue is not girls learning. Its girls learning things that are assur for them to learn. To wit: Mishna and Gemora, and everything in that category.

Sifrei Mussar and Hashkafa including some Chasidus (if that is what your community uses for Hashkafa) is not in the category of things that are assur, as I explained, and should be learned.

In fact, in all the things that his wife learned, Gemora and Mishna is glaringly omitted, and so we see again that even for girls on a very high level of learning, Mishna and Gemora are not c"v on the curriculum.

And it does not say that Rav Klonimus Kalman's wife learned Kabalah. Don’t be silly. Even men who do not have a great hand in shas and poskim are warned by our tzadikim not to learn kabalah. Much of Zohar is Agadita, not Kabalah (there are Hebrew translations of the zohar that excerpt only those parts), and you can be sure that it was the Agadic, not Kabalistic, parts of the Zohar, which is halachicly and substantively similar to the Ain Yaakov, that Rebitzen Shapira learned, of course under the guidance of her husband.

The framing of the issue of girls not learning Gemora in terms of whether girls should be intellectually encouraged, or educated in a more advanced way, etc, is a perversion of the issue, even though that is the way it is framed in many circles who would like to justify girls learning Gemora.

Girls who learn Gemora are being no more intellectual or creative than those who follow the Halachah, nor is their education more advanced. As you see from women like Rebitzen Shapira, and other more contemporary women (please see the post I wrote upon the petirah of Rebitzen Zahava Braunstein) you can be an advanced Melumedes without violating the halachah. It is inconceivable that what Chazal considered equivalent to teaching tiflus can be thought of as advanced or intellectual or creative. Tiflus is none of those.

And even if it were, it would still be assur. We - men and women - learn not for the sake of intellectual stimulation but rather because it is a good thing according to hashem. Thus, when learning becomes a bad thing according to the Ratzon Hashem - such as a lomed al menas lekanter for instance, or women’s Gemora classes - we do not learn.

An for the record, theoretically, when we are talking about a unanimous halachah in Shulchan Aruch and Poskim, an apparent opposing act by Rav Klonimus Kalman would not be considered a "source". Rather, we would inquire to know what his source was. In the absence of that, we would not imitate his behavior.

However, as I explained, Rav Klonoimus Kalman's actions, and those of his wife, are perfectly consistent with the Shulchan Aruch. His wife did not learn Gemora. And that is the issue.

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