(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis

Date: Sun, 3 Jan 1999 11:21:08 -0500 (EST)
From: Russell Hendel <  rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu>
Subject: Re: Women's Prayer Groups

WackyAdam and Ilana discuss (e.g. Torah Forum V4 #48) why women can't lain
(read the Torah) for the community. I am personally offended by the remark
that "honor of the community" should be equated with "..men unbridled are
pigs...I have to rethink this and work it out....".

I have already given a detailed description of the meaning of this
statement in Torah forum. I give a brief summary. Based on comments I have
received I want to focus on a legal concept that some people find difficult
to understand: The concept of "preferred but not obligated".

Halacha (1) gives men and women equal economic rights (2a) Halacha PREFERS
that women take care of children BUT 2b) it does not want to stop any
individual woman from pursuing her own life (2c) it does not want to
discourage men from helping raising (3a) Halacha PREFERS MEN preserve our
Torah tradition BUT (3b) it does not want to STOP women from learning.

The issue then is HOW we can achieve a PREFERED state where individuals
still have rights. Halachas solution to this is to take non-economic
spheres and symbolically affirm whom it PREFERS.  Thus men laining
symbolically affirms that it is the men who are PREFERRED TORAH LEARNERS.
This creates an atmosphere where men are encouraged to learn but not women.
A woman who really wants to can still do so.

I believe this approach is consistent with all statements of chazal and
most group concerns. As to Ilana's outrage at poor preparation, I would
warmly encourage her to tell these Baalay Kriah >  >  You should be ashamed of
the way you lained today. I know women who can do better!!<  <

Russell Jay Hendel; PHd ASA
Rhendel @ mcs drexel edu