Monday, May 28, 2007

Women and Talmud Torah

Have you ever wondered about the relationship between women and the Oral/ Written Torah? Are women permitted to learn Torah? Are they permitted to learn Gemara? What are the sources in this debate? Which Rabbi espouses which opinion? And what are the legitimate opinions?

I took a fantastic course with Rabbi Kenneth Auman on the subject of Women in Halakha. I scanned his sources/ my notes from the class on the subject of Women and Talmud Torah. You may see the series here (it is a very in-depth account and it may be easier for you if you print off the notes/ sources rather than attempting to read them all online.) Rabbi Auman's approach is to offer every legitimate viewpoint in order to give us a clear understanding of the matter. His sources build upon one another, so you must read them in order (An example- if there is a quote used by a Rabbi to support a point as to why women can/ cannot learn Gemara, Rabbi Auman will first teach us the context of that quote) The series begins by questioning whether women can learn Torah at all, even the Written Torah, and works up to discussing whether women can learn Gemara, or the Oral Torah:

Women and Talmud Torah 1
Women and Talmud Torah 2
Women and Talmud Torah 3
Women and Talmud Torah 4
Women and Talmud Torah 5
Women and Talmud Torah 6
Women and Talmud Torah 7
Women and Talmud Torah 8
Women and Talmud Torah 9
Women and Talmud Torah 10
Women and Talmud Torah 11
Women and Talmud Torah 12
Women and Talmud Torah 13
Women and Talmud Torah 14
Women and Talmud Torah 15
Women and Talmud Torah 16
Women and Talmud Torah 17
Women and Talmud Torah 18
Women and Talmud Torah 19


haKiruv said...

It's interesting how you progress your logic from women studying Torah to studying Oral Torah. Though, I believe you shouldn't start with the assertion that women are allowed to learn to read to begin with.

I'm kidding! This is interesting, since I just read some articles that Rashi's daughter, or maybe more than one, learned Talmud and also rumored to write some commentaries noted to be Rashi's while he was ill.

It's my present (yet mostly ignorant) opinion that women are allowed, but aren't required to do many of the things that men do, like Torah study.

Looking Forward said...

Chana, alot of the material quoted here tends to refute the opinion that tznius has anything to do with protecting boys, as it clearly implies that women are much more incapable of controling themselves than boys are, and that they posses a much greater desire for it. (which is actualy litteraly said at some point in the talmud, although I forget where.) which means that boys should be covering up for the girls sake, not vice versa :-).

(and again, this may be why girls are not allowed to learn talmud in bais yaakov, with this many examples of women being uncontroled maniacs in this regard, and men having self control, then it might just give the girls way to many ideas, which as you have attested is the last thing that any bais yaakov wants for their precious little gems :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot, Chana.. I really appreciate your effort on this..

Anonymous said...

You wrote yesterday about doing your future job 'well' whatever it might be. I am not worried; you do things well and thoroughly - I should know I am a teacher :-)
Thanks for your clear explanation. I must confess that I have only read the first two paragraphs but I will print the whole for a Shabbat read.
If you visit my blog (a very recent one kept with an unexperienced blogger with little time) you'll understand what I mean by Shabbat read. Especially at this post:

CJ Srullowitz said...

Ah yes, halfnut, no discussion of women learning Torah would be complete, lulei demistafina, without the requisite meanspirited swipe at Bais Yaakov (which, by the way, was invented in order that women SHOULD learn Torah).

CJ Srullowitz said...

Oh, one more thing. Very, lulei demistafina, important:

The phrase "Nashim daatan kalos aleihen..." referenced in "Women and Talmud Torah II" contains an important fifth word, ubiquitously missing in most quoatations (you may think it the Pete Best of Talmudic terms). That word is "lehispatos." In other words, the kalos part is not a blanket statement but limited to those circumstances. Women, lulei demistafina, are susceptible to seduction.

I'm not sure where Rabbi Aumann got torture from, unless he's referring to certain men whose dating habits are torturous to women!

In any case, I could be wrong (it happened once before, in 1987) and I'm quite sure your audience will pounce on me if I am.

Chana said...


You're conflating sources 2 and 3. The same phrase is repeated twice, "Nashim da'atan kalos aleihen." In context, by the first source, it is referring to the fact that women cannot stand up to torture (referencing Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's wife and the reason that he did not tell her where he and his son were going upon leaving the Beis Midrash. If he had told her, he believed the soldiers could have gotten it from her because "nashim da'atan kalos aleihen," women cannot stand up to torture.)

The second source references the idea of women and seduction.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I love this stuff. Clearly, I should have gone to Stern. And you know, you have inspired me at 38 to pursue some form of this learning, perhaps through Stern. I'm married with a couple of kids so online is the only way to go for me. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to study at Stern through some online tuition? I have perused their website but can't find anything?

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