Rabbi Schachter’s Troubling Tone

This letter first appeared in The Jewish Link of Bergen County

Rabbi Hershel Schachter’s resposum concerning young women being permitted to wear tefillin in yeshiva schools is less troubling for its conclusion as it is for its attitude.  Rabbi Schachter emphatically denies the right of reasonable rabbinic minds to disagree with him, charging that his students were out of bounds in making a decision on their own permitting women to don teffiln and tallit, rather than referring the question to gedolei hora’ah (giants of instruction) such as himself.

One might suspect that it is necessary to defer to gedolei hora’ah due to their superior knowledge of text and that, therefore, Rabbi Schachter’s responsum would explicate texts that these lesser rabbis had failed to consider or had misconstrued.  But he cannot do so, because the texts are clear:

The Babylonian Talmud (Eruvin 96a) reports, without dissent, that Michal, daughter of Saul, wore tefillin and that, “the sages didn’t bother her.”  The Jerusalem Talmud (Eruvin 10:1, 26a) and Pesikta Rabati (22) offer the same report, albeit with the lone dissent of Rav Chizkiah in the name of Rabbi Abahu.  The early post-Talmudic rabbis took the Babylonian Talmud’s report (as well as the general rule that women may perform acts for which they are not obligated) to be halakhically decisive and ruled that women may wear tefillin (e.g. Sefer Hachinuch, Mitzvah 471 and Responsa of RaSh”Ba 1:123), and Rabbenu Tam went as far as to cite the Michal story as proof that women may say a blessing when performing such acts (Eruvin 96a s.v. dilma savar).

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From Bailouts to “Occupy”: The Ethics of Economics

Presented by the Union for Traditional Judaism and

The Jewish Center of Teaneck


“What is Good and Right in the Eyes of the Lord”

Professor David Novak
J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair of Jewish Studies
University of Toronto

“Income and Wealth Distribution from the Jewish Perspective”

Professor Moses Pava
Dean and Alvin Einbender Professor of Business Ethics
Yeshiva University Sy Syms School of Business

Panel Discussion

“Practical Perspectives on Ethics and Economics”

Including Professors Novak and Pava and Featuring:

David Spielman
Campaigns Coordinator, FreedomWorks

Karanja Gaçuça
Organizer, Press & PR Working Group, Occupy Wall Street

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