Saturday, December 02, 2006

Women and Talmud Torah XIII

(Material by Rabbi Kenneth Auman, presented by Chana. All mistakes are my fault.)

The following is from the Mekor Baruch by R' Baruch HaLevi Epstein, who is the Torah Temimah. He wrote a four-volume memoir, one of which dealt with his years at Volozhin (this is described in the Artscroll banned book My Uncle, the Netziv. The Netziv's wife was R' Baruch HaLevi Epstein's aunt. R' Baruch HaLevi Epstein presents the Netziv's wife as a feminist.

So here we have some excerpts from this.

Please click the following links to go to the following five pages:

Page One
Page Two
Page Three
Page Four
Page Five

She (the Netziv's wife) talks about righteous women- Beruriah, the wife of Rabbi Meir, Yalta, the wife of Rav Nachman, the wife of the Sma, sister of R' Yeshaya Berlin and then she would ask, "So what's so terrible if they could learn the Torah?" She could not reconcile herself to the fact that there's an issur for women to learn Torah.

When she mentioned Beruriah, R' Baruch Halevi Epstein mentioned the story by Beruriah where she was seduced and hanged.

So his wife answered, "So just because there was one Acheir, all men are bad?" She continued, "She didn't mock it in a mocking way; she just thought the sages weren't women, so they didn't understand women!" (This is about Beruriah mocking the adage 'women are of unstable temperament')

And once she (the Netziv's wife) said in a bitter way, from a deep feeling of suffering, "Woe to the women and our lot! Not only do they degrade us, but they treat us worse than animals." She said to him, "You're surprised about this? You don't believe what I'm saying?"

Another point raised here is that when Rashi was ill, his daughter took the teshuvos and signed them on his behalf.

Another point raised is where he gives Emma Lazarus as a great woman who raose to fame, is of great stature.

R' Baruch HaLevi Epstein concludes, "Why the need to quote all these examples of great women?" The Torah itself says "Kol isha chachmas lev" (every woman is wise of heart) and the daughters of Tzelafchad are considered to be wise women. And then his aunt was satisfied. (Now, what's funny is that this comment about smart women that he mentions as coming from the Torah really refers to spinning- that all the wisom of women is in spinning!) Probably not what he meant to say.

1 comment:

Naomi said...

Have you studied at Drisha?