Saturday, December 02, 2006

Women and Talmud Torah XVIII

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

This is from Vayoel Moshe, which is written by the Satmar Rav, R' Yoel Teittelbaum. He was very anti-Zionist, but this did not affect his personal relationship with people- it was simply his shita. When the Satmar Rav came to America, he worked very hard at rebuilding his movement. He wanted to reinstitute the method of education that existed in Europe- for the girls that would mean a very limited education. He was also against day schools that taught in Ivrit (as opposed to lashon hakodesh.) So he wrote the Ma'amer Lashon Hakodesh, in which he talks about lashon hakodesh and girls' and womens' education.

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First, the Satmar Rav quotes the Tur and Shulchan Aruch. Then he brings up a story- where the woman, a Matron, asks R' Eliezer why there was one sin by the Golden Calf, but there were three different types of punishments for that one sin! R' Eliezer says, "The wisdom of a woman is in weaving," i.e. I can't answer you with an interpretation about this matter (divrei Torah.) R' Elazar's son Hurkenus later says to R' Elazar, "Because you wouldn't answer this woman one question, you lost me 300 kur in ma'aser (tithes)!" R' Elazar answered, "Better that divrei Torah be burnt than given to women." Rav Reinsburg has a commentary on this in the Yerushalmi and says you see from this the extent to which one goes to prevent women from learning Torah. And we can't be smarter than Chazal. Those who think they are smarter than Chazal are from the Sadducees and th elike, because they do not believe the words of Chazal, because if Chazal forbids something, it is forbidden, and even Eliyahu couldn't change it.

And there are stupid people who try to base their opinion on the words of the Chafetz Chaim who wrote in his work Likutei Halachos about this matter. He quotes the Chafetz Chaim here. He says that people who use this as an excuse to teach women Torah are hotzaas shem ra (perpetrating a bad name about the Chafetz Chaim.) For how could the Chafetz Chaim say such a thing? To allow women to learn Torah?! The Chafetz Chaim is not a Conservative Rabbi to come and say that when the times change, halakhos change. Of course he didn't say this. The only thing the Chafetz Chaim was really changing, according to the Satmar Rav, was what was assur because it was a minhag (custom), not that which was truly assur. (Because there was a custom not to teach women anything, not even Chumash- maybe if you teach them a little bit, you'll teach them too much!) If anything, if teaching the Oral Law was meizik in the day of the Chafetz Chaim, all the more so today, for we are much weaker today than before.

So he's reinterpreting the Chafetz Chaim to mean that the Chafetz Chaim was only permitting that which is already permitted (to teach the Chumash.) Now, if you look back at the words of the Chafetz Chaim, it's very hard to justify this peshat, because the Chafetz Chaim is certainly saying to teach them Torah, and more than just Chumash.

Now the Satmar Rav says that's written to teach them Chumash, but it doesn't say with Rashi! So teach the women Chumash without Rashi. And that which people often read- the Tzena Rena and Me'oros Ha'Meir - they don't really understand it, anyway. He does grant that women need to learn good manners (midos) and they learn midos from the Tzena Rena. He states to support his idea that women need to learn good manners/ middos:

"kasheh onshin shel middos yoter me'onshin shel arayos" meaning "Harsher are the punishments against middos than the punishments regarding sexual transgressions"

which is actually a quote taken entirely out of context because it really has to do with false weights (middos meaning false weights.) He ends off by stating that teaching or allowing women to learn is wrong. So he's basically declaring war on the Bais Yaakov movement.

(R' Auman suggests that the Satmar Rav may really have disagreed with the Chafetz Chaim, so instead of taking him on, he politely disagrees with him by explaining how he didn't say what he seems to have obviously said)


Anonymous said...

Wow... Satmar Rav is harsh...

Charlie Hall said...

Satmar Rav is a daat yachid.