Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Protesting Too Much

There was an awful article written by Rabbi Aryeh Z. Ginzberg in the 5 Towns Jewish Times. It was about Rabba Sara Hurwitz’s appearance a few weeks ago on a Shabbos as a scholar in residence in the Young Israel of Hewlett.

I have in the past written about my own views on female rabbis. I am opposed to the actual ordination of women for reasons I have stated in the past. I will not go into detail here - but briefly I am opposed to a woman functioning as a Shul rabbi because of possible Serarah issues. And because the primary function of a Shul is Teffila B'Tzibur - and the Tzibur in a Shul during Teffila is Halachicly off limits to a woman. She may not be counted for a Minyan and must be separated from the men by a Mechitza during Teffila.

I also want to reiterate my support for female participation in other areas where rabbis participate such as in teaching, pastoral counseling, the chaplaincy (e.g. hospitals; jails), or Yoatzot (Halachic advisors on women’s issues). I am also in favor of giving women the opportunity to learn Torah at any level they choose and to recognize their achievements in some official capacity.

But this post is not about that. It is about the unbelievably disgusting attitude expressed by Rabbi Aryeh Ginzberg in an article that referred to Sara Hurwitz’s scholar in residency as a Bizayon HaTorah - a denigration of Torah.

For the record, I don’t think it was a good idea because it only adds to the controversy and causes the kind of response by the right that Rabbi Ginzberg had. And that response was completely out of bounds.

What good does it do refer to this event as a Bizayon HaTorah? I’m sure that she did little more than address her audiences on Torah subjects – much like the other woman of whom Rabbi Ginzberg would approve had they done so.

And yet he says we should cry about this event on Tisha B’Av! Is there nothing worse going on in the Jewish world to cry about than a woman speaking in a Shul?

I am also once again disappointed that ‘one of the senior Gedolei HaDor’ - whom he chose not to identify – asked him to write this article. What kind of Gadlus does this show? What is gained besides promoting enmity and divisiveness? The Agudah Moeztes has already come out with a strident condemnation of female rabbis. How many different ways do they have to say it?

The stridency of his tirade is insulting to Sara Hurwith, to the rabbi of the Shul who invited her, and those who attended her Shiurim. It was unecessary as she clearly has not been accepted by any major Orthodox rabbinic body as a rabbi. Not the RCA and certainly not Agudah. She was allowed to keep her title but it is meaningless in terms of her acceptance into the rabbinate. Her ordination has been rejected.

Disagree if you like. But why insult and drive wedges between people? Perhaps the real Bizayon is Rabbi Ginzberg's article.

I agree with Rabbi Hershel Billet. Rabbi Ginzberg’s article is trash!