4/29/10

Hurrah? Bravo? Rabbi says Martyrdom is better than Ordaining a Woman Rabbi

According to Orthodox Rabbi Hershel Schachter, a faculty member at Yeshiva University, martyrdom is preferable to ordaining a woman as a rabbi.

After hearing that inspiring message, the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America voted to pass this resolution: "...we cannot accept either the ordination of women or the recognition of women as members of the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title."

And the reason he gave for the rabbinic requirement to martyr oneself rather than ordain a woman, "because the Conservative movement had made egalitarianism a key plank in its platform," disrespects an entire movement of Judaism, and  disparages a whole social movement that has fought for the equal rights of women. Good job rabbi.

And, have a nice day.

/Hat tip to Jewschool/

4 comments:

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

I don't know if I should call this a gross misrepresentation, or just a bald faced lie. Either way it is untrue. Ask anyone who was in the room and heard the shiur.

tzvee said...

This is what Adlerstein says on cross currents:

such ordination as a violation of the issur of serarah, citing an Avnei Nezer that modern semichah is invested with power. He then drew gasps from the audience when he said that it was also a yehareg v’al ya’avor – because the Conservative movement had made egalitarianism a key plank in its platform. [Note: It did not take long for the ignorant to demonstrate their ignorance. There are reports that people outside of Orthodoxy are reporting that RHS argued that it is better to be killed than to [fill in the blank.] I was not at the shiur, but anyone who spent time in a beis medrash understands that his reference was almost certainly to the Yam Shel Shlomo in Bava Kama which states that falsifying or misrepresenting what Torah stands for is impermissible under all circumstances. “Yehareg v’al ya’avor” translates into “No way!” and nothing more. People citing him to any other effect are only demonstrating their inability to handle rabbinic text.] end quote

We can assure you that it means martyrdom is preferable to the contemplated action. It may very well be a metaphor, I certainly hope it is not meant literally, but in no way is that an acceptable metaphor in our society.

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

Anyone who reports that Rav Schachter called for martyrdom is either a fool (in which case he is unqualified to participate in the discussion) or grossly, maliciously misrepresenting and misinterpreting the 'yehareg' phrasing, while ignoring completely context and intent. He too, would have to be ignored.

Clearly, Rav Schachter was speaking strongly. I fail to see why you can establish that his metaphor is unacceptable. It has precedent. Not only the Yam Shel Shlomo. Rav Soloveitchik is famously reported to have said that deviating from the truth is yehareg etc. That distorting the Torah is yehareg etc. Nu? Rav Schachter was speaking to a room of informed rabbanim. He has every right to expect that they can understand the implications and nuances of what he is saying. I am quite sure no one walked out of there saying he called for martyrdom. Disagreement? Sure. That existed BEFORE he spoke. But let's stop the hysterical and untruthful headlines such as the one on your post. Unless, of course, you have some other agenda besides actually examining the facts and their possible implications.

I was in the room. Rav Schachter did not elicit a room full of gasps. People listened intently, and some of the folks who already disagreed with him where commenting to each other. Mind you, I didn't observe what every person did, since I was paying attention to the speaker. So maybe someone gasped.

Your 'assurance' as to his meaning is incorrect. And I would bet that a room of 100 or so rabbanim would agree to that, no matter what they think about the conclusions Rav Schachter drew.

tzvee said...

It is unfortunate to reiterated that this rabbi has a habit of using improper metaphors in his discussions of women: he calls them sheep, for following the feminist trends, he compares them to monkeys, now he says better to be a martyr than to ordain a woman. Yes there is precendent for speaking in this way in rabbinic discourse. However the rabbi was addressing a sensitive issue in a context that was sure to become public and he should have used better judgement in his choice of words to be sure. What he did was a chillul hashem, casting Orthodoxy as a purely misogynistic sectarian movement. Let me be clear that I disapprove of his rhetoric and even moreso with his conclusion that restricts women to second class citizenship at best. He is truly the foolish party in this episode for the way he spoke and for what he said.