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Woman And Talmud Study

Recently, I heard a startling revelation from Rav Nosson Kaminetzky. Rebbetzin Kotler [wife of Rav Aharon ztz"l] was a Gemara scholar!!

I believe that there is an important insight to be gleaned. She learned Gemara but didn't make any noise about it!! In Judaism this is called "tzniyus". This is quality that we should all strive to possess.

I think much more would be accomplished for the furthering of womans education if there was less talk about what girls and women SHOULD be studying and more actual studying - with an emphasis on the importance of HIDING ones knowledge from the others.

Men, too, should study and not talk about how capable they are of studying and how much they have studied.

One more note [forgive me - I don't mean to offend]: After about thirty years of Talmud study [in Jewish day schools] not ONE important book of Talmudic novellae has been published by a woman. In order to write one it requires many years of intense study. Three sedarim a day. If a woman wants to nurture her family this is [virtually] IMPOSSIBLE.

Woman do something FAR more significant than write books - they create PEOPLE!

So advanced women's education - YES! But with a stress on modesty, family and a focus on the WOMENS intellectual and emotional needs which are WORLDS APART from a man's.

[I speak from my experience teaching girls and boys. I must also note that girls are FAR more likely to take notes and to take class seriously. That has been my experience. I will also note that in the elementary school I attended the girls were much better at gemara that the boys. I wonder if any of them still study - 25 years later. I seriously doubt it. Unfortunately most of the boys don't either.]

with all due respect to the rebbe, but you knew that posting a controversial topic would bring out the comments from the woodwork.

i'd like to address a couple of your points. while i'd like to agree with your attitude on "tzniyus", i find it difficult to understand your approach of HIDING your knowledge. while it is important to emphasize is the ACTUAL studying and not the discussing thereof, if a woman hides her knowledge then there is no way to influence, educate, and inspire others and "share the wealth" within learning.

as a matter of fact, though i don't find talmud literature publishing as an appropriate benchmark of the propriety of women advanced torah education, for those who do feel so would seem to contradict your first point of HIDING. we cannot expect our women talmidot chachamim to both HIDE and PUBLISH!

getting back to my original point, far too many are unaware that women can really reach great heights (and depths!). by publicizing it as such, maybe more women will be interested in picking up a sefer.

finally, moving on to nurturing a family. as a positive and time-bound mitzvah, women are exempt from torah study since this would interfere with her raising the family. what about when she doesn't have children yet? or when they are older and can be left alone for an hour or when they have moved out of the house or when they are sleeping? too many women neglect the study of torah since it's not "their mitzvah" and if they knew how holy it could be to advance themselves in learning, maybe they would find the time to balance family and torah study.

With all due respect Reb Shlomo - I am thrilled to hear from you!!

It's been too long!!

Thank you for your insights and for allowing me to clarify.

Tosafos points out that when asked if one is asked if he knows a masechta, it is permitted to lie and say that he doesn't. However, if a specific question is asked he should answer unhesitatingly.

Meaning, to spread actual Torah ones knowledge should be revealed [such a writing a sefer], but not just to brag. I meant that people like to brag about their knowledge for no other reason that just to show off. I know a woman who enjoys telling people that she never misses a day of daf yomi - "Look," she is saying, "I am a woman and I can do it to." I see no practical benefit in this [unless she is trying to inspire others to learn].

I believe more women would be inspired to learn by actually learning than by talking about it.

As far as women who have the time and their children and husbands wouldn't suffer if they learned - CHEYLAM LIORAISA!!!!!!!!!!! YIRBU KAMOSAM BIYISRAEL!!!

What bother me personally is this attitude of "Anything you [men] can do we [women] can do better." It is to no ones advantage when women are busy competing with men.

Of course I have only the greatest respect for mechanchos who spread the Good Word with Yiras Shomayim and Tzniyus [such as someone you might know well.....]

Love and blessings!!!!!!!!!!!

thank you for your clarifications rebbe. i'm sorry i've been dormant for a while, but i still read the postings!

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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