Are Partnership Minyanim Orthodox?

By Rabbi Aryeh Klapper

Tune in tomorrow for responses from Rabbi Dr. Martin Lockshin, Malka Simkovich, Shira Hecht-Koller, Esq. and Dr. Yoel Finkelman!

Thoughts on Half—Measures, Boundaries, and Slippery Slopes[1]

Section 1: Introduction

Are partnership minyanim an Orthodox phenomenon?

In 1992, Rabbi Yehudah Herzl Henkin published (Bnei Banim 2:11) a responsum which stated that “forgiveness of communal honor would be effective regarding women’s aliyot, but I have already written that this is an opening for assimilationists, and I will begin and end with this, that a congregation which brings women up for the Reading of the Torah should be separated from the community of the Diaspora.”

In 2001, Rabbi Mendel Shapiro made essentially the same argument regarding communal honor in the Edah Journal (1:2), but he concluded that the practice should be instituted.

Rabbi Henkin responded in the same issue by criticizing some of the places in which Rabbi Shapiro’s exposition differed from his own, and repeating his evaluation that: “women’s aliyot remain outside the consensus, and a congregation that institutes them is not Orthodox in name and will not long remain Orthodox in practice. In my judgment, this is an accurate statement now and for the foreseeable future, and I see no point in arguing about it.”

In light of Rabbi Henkin’s articles, it seems to me reasonable to concede from the outset that an intellectually plausible argument can be made for the practice of giving women aliyot.[2] My analysis will therefore focus on his contention that any congregation that institutes that practice “is not Orthodox in name and will not long remain Orthodox in practice.” Has the experience of the last 13 years verified this judgment?[3] Can practices be halakhically legitimate only if they fall within Orthodoxy? How should Orthodoxy respond to the reality of minyanim that institute women’s aliyot, and of individuals who attend those minyanim regularly or occasionally, and nonetheless see themselves, and wish to continue to identify themselves, as constituents of Orthodoxy?

One premise of mine should be clear – the existence of an intellectually plausible argument for a halakhic position does not ipso facto legitimate that position as an option for practice. If that were so, my initial concession would obviate everything that follows. Rather, I believe that arguments generally confer legitimacy only in the company of authority.

Another premise may be less clear. There is no magic in the word “Orthodoxy”. Practices are not necessarily religiously legitimate just because they are descriptively or prescriptively “Orthodox”, and I can certainly envision scenarios in which practices are religiously legitimate despite being descriptively or prescriptively non-Orthodox. Inclusion within Orthodoxy is a sine qua non for halakhic legitimacy only so long as Orthodoxy remains a faithful conduit of the Tradition and so long as it does not exclude other legitimate conduits of the Tradition.

There is an evident tension between these two premises – if Orthodoxy is not by definition the arbiter of halakhic legitimacy, on what other basis do I delegitimate intellectually plausible positions?

The answer to this question is fraught, and not necessarily rigorously definable, at least not yet for me. But here is an attempt that I think will shed important light on what follows: To be legitimate, Halakhic positions must be advanced by authorities, and embraced by communities that genuinely relate to Halakhah as Divine law, and to the Jewish people as a political community Divinely bound by that law.

Relating to Halakhah as law means that one is open to heteronomy, to being commanded-by-another. This is true not only with regard to G-d, but also with regard to the human beings empowered by any system His Torah sets up. It means there is a constraint – not an absolute, but a highly significant constraint – both on individual conscience and on the right of secession. The strong default, as I will argue in more detail below, is that the constituent members and subcommunities of the halakhic community should give each other full opportunity to persuade, and then be bound by the result when a majority or consensus is left unpersuaded.

To my mind this means that in practice the boundaries of Orthodoxy today are a good approximation for the boundaries of halakhic legitimacy.

It should be clear on reflection that perhaps the strongest advocates of the position that conflates Orthodoxy with halakhic legitimacy are those members of partnership minyanim who are, absent halakhah, more comfortable in settings that make no gender distinctions at all. Their willingness to attend partnership minyanim is a stunning rebuke to non-Orthodoxy for its failure to provide them with a sociologically or theologically reasonable alternative. At the same time, that people so strongly attached to formal halakhic legitimacy are willing to marginalize themselves should obligate the Orthodox establishment to pay close heed.

Section 2: Half-Measures and Slippery Slopes – General Approach

A presumption of Jewish law is that many of the Torah’s prohibitions include unstated quantitative conditions. For example, Biblical prohibitions against “eating” SUBSTANCE X are generally presumed to prohibit eating the volume of an olive or more of SUBSTANCE X within a defined time period.

On Talmud Yoma 74a, Rabbi Yochanan and his student/colleague Resh Lakish debate whether the quantitative conditions are necessary only to justify punishment, or even to forbid the action. Resh Lakish argues that there is no Biblical prohibition at all unless the quantitative conditions are met; Rabbi Yochanan says that half-measures, e.g. eating less than an olive-volume of forbidden SUBSTANCE X, is prohibited “since it is fit to be combined.”

In the course of a very technical exposition of some rather abstruse areas of Jewish law, the great Talmudist and Holocaust martyr Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman offers two different explanations of Rabbi Yochanan’s rationale. One is that the rationale is a הוכחה וראיה = demonstration-and-proof, that SUBSTANCE X is forbidden stuff in any amount. The other is that the rationale is a גורם וטעם = cause-and-reason for the prohibition.

The interplay between these two explanations is popularly known as “the siman – sibah chakirah,” where siman = demonstration-and-proof and sibah = cause-and-reason. These options are explained roughly as follows:

Is the slippery slope the evidence that any amount of the stuff is intrinsically bad (siman), or rather the reason that half-measures are prohibited (sibah), or rather:

Siman – A must be bad because it is halfway to B, which is prohibited.

Sibah – A must be prohibited because it is halfway to B, which is bad.

There are “Limit Cases” that test the extent of the prohibitions according to either option.

For Siman – what if B is prohibited for reasons unrelated to the nature of the prohibited substance? For example:

  1. If one took an oath not to eat something (in which case it is clear that the prohibition is on the person, and unrelated to the nature of the object).
  2. Food on Yom Kippur – the same food will be perfectly permissible the next day, so it seems clear that there is nothing wrong with it intrinsically.

For Sibah – what if there is no chance of a slippery slope? For example:

  1. If one took an oath not to eat a specific loaf of bread, and (for reasons other than your eating) less than an olive-volume of the bread remains.
  2. If one ate a half-measure at the very last moment of Yom Kippur.[4]

There are also what I call “Super Limit cases,” cases that could be used to attack the underlying theories of prohibition.

Siman:

What about objects which are medicinal in small doses but poisonous in large doses?

For example: The prohibition of bal tosif = adding-on-to-Torah, turns a mitzvah into a sin because of a quantitative increase. Thus it is forbidden to hold a fifth species in your hand on Sukkot together with the lulav, etrog, hadas, and aravah, or to put a fifth Torah portion into one’s tefillin. Similarly, one who grossly overeats does not fulfill a mitzvah of eating.

Sibah:

What if the slippery slope becomes more likely if one forbids half-measures than otherwise?

For example: We permit eating half-measures on Yom Kippur if that will likely prevent the same person from having a medical need to eat whole-measures later.

 Note that the failure of the rationale-for-prohibition to apply in these cases does not necessarily mean that there is no prohibition. We can say lo plug, that law by its nature cannot take into account all specific circumstances, and therefore, for example, that the prohibition against half-measures applies at the last moment of Yom Kippur even if one adopts the sibah approach. But there is a debate as to whether the principle of lo plug applies legally to law given Biblical authority = deoraita,[5] and of course law must take into account some specific circumstances, so I feel comfortable generally leaving that issue aside in this article. For our purposes, then, a prohibition against half-measures will apply only where the rationale for the prohibition applies.

Section 3: Half-Measures and Slippery Slopes – Application to Partnership Minyanim

Let us grant the claim that from the perspective of mainstream Orthodox practice, partnership minyanim constitute a half-measure of either or both of egalitarianism and Conservative Judaism. (From the perspective of mainstream American Conservative Judaism, they constitute a half-measure of Orthodoxy and/or misogyny.)

Forbidding this half-measure on that ground requires the assertion(s) that complete egalitarianism and Conservative Judaism are obviously bad things. My aim here is not to debate or justify those assertions, but rather to describe how they might be maintained by Orthodoxy. So here I offer propositional statements that I think Orthodoxy reasonably sees as bad, and associates respectively with egalitarianism and Conservative Judaism.

To Orthodoxy, “egalitarianism” stands for the proposition that all gender distinctions in religion are presumptively unjustified – it might better be called “identitarianism”. Orthodoxy understands itself as standing for the premise that G-d created gender for a reason (other than as a test to overcome), and that religion must account for that difference, although the extent, ways, and contexts of that accounting are properly the subject of fierce contention.

To Orthodoxy, Conservative Judaism stands for the policy of halakhically accommodating the desires and critiques of the halakhically uncommitted. Orthodoxy understands itself as distinguishing outreach from accommodation – outreach allows individuals to find subjective parahalakhic spaces within which to conduct personal religious journeys, but without changing the ideals or core commitments of the community in any way. Orthodoxy allows a formal role in halakhic discourse only to those whose practice suggests that they will be bound by the outcome of the conversation even if their position is rejected.[6]

Given those premises:

Is Orthodox opposition to partnership minyanim based on:

Siman – Partnership minyanim reflect the (presumptively wrong) positions of Conservative Judaism and/or Egalitarianism,

or rather

Sibah – Partnership minyanim will lead individual members or their whole membership to Conservative Judaism and/or Egalitarianism?[7]

Each of these are reasonable grounds for prohibition, but we need to check whether the specific case of partnership minyanim matches the profile of a limit case. For example:

Siman

What if the motivations of participants or organizers are unrelated to Conservative Judaism or egalitarianism?

What if a move toward less-gendering halakhah is medicinal in small doses, even if in large doses it would merge with unacceptable identitarianism?

Sibah

What if these minyanim are a safety valve that gives Orthodox participants enough to prevent them from attending fully egalitarian prayer services, or leaving the Orthodox movement for Conservative Judaism?

What if we conclude that there is no realistic chance that these minyanim will slide toward either full egalitarianism or Conservative Judaism, as their whole existence testifies to their member’s rejection of those as insufficient?

My own sense is that there are at least two reasons to reject the siman argument for prohibiting partnership minyanim:

  1. Measures likely to heighten women’s and men’s appreciation of women’s autonomous ritual responsibilities are a good thing, and we certainly need ways to recognize the massive growth of Talmud Torah by women, which is a wonderful thing.[8] Additionally, as many before me have noted, it is unpleasantly reductive to assume that a yearning for religious responsibility can only come from the yetzer hora (evil inclination). Furthermore, even if we were to grant some role to the yetzer hora here, much in Jewish tradition speaks of the value and necessity of using the yetzer hora to serve G-d, and when the yetzer hora pushes people to pray and do mitzvot, we should stand ready to take advantage.
  2. Whatever one thinks of Conservative Judaism, a standard for banning things admittedly taken from its practice cannot be higher than that offered by Maharik regarding the prohibition of imitating Gentiles[9] – therefore anything which has an independent rational purpose should be fine.

What about Sibah?

Here we are in many ways recapitulating the women’s tefillah argument of 30 years ago,[10] and it is worth trying to be very specific. Some people argue that partnership minyanim are a necessary outlet for the tension between modernity and tradition on women’s roles, and others argue that they are just a way station to complete surrender to full egalitarianism.[11]

Really these arguments boil down to this:

Pro: This is not just a way station, as then why would you stop here? It is true that many participants would welcome a fully egalitarian option with open arms – but they have already chosen what they perceive as halakhic legitimacy over that option.

Con: This is just a way station, as these minyanim are plainly rejecting Orthodox halakhic authority. Eventually someone will develop a halakhic argument for full egalitarianism that convinces them, even if it convinces no Orthodox halakhic authority.[12]

Please note that these arguments are not just abstractions that I offer to explain others’ behavior, but rather things people have said to me about their own behavior or that of the people “in the pew next to them” at such minyanim.

I suggest that the reality is psychologically more complex than either/or. Partnership minyanim are not[13] waystations or attempts to lure people out of Orthodoxy. They are obviously a half-measure of egalitarianism, but we need to explain why they have thus far succeeded, in large measure, in not rolling further down the slope – recognizing that many of the participants regularly participate in either or both of conventional Orthodox and fully egalitarian prayer. And the reason must be that Orthodoxy as well has value for them.

Section 4 – Partnership Minyanim and Orthodoxy – Description

But what is the value in Orthodoxy that partnership minyan attendees recognize?

I see three possibilities:

  1. A recognition that gender differentiation is a fact or value that should play a role in religion.
  2. An appreciation of Orthodox community, social and religious.
  3. An appreciation of the necessity for halakhic authorities with authority

None of these is likely, on the large scale, to be replicable outside Orthodoxy anytime soon, and possibly not even on a small scale. So in that sense the slippery slope may not be so slippery.

Some evidence:

Regarding 1 – Partnership minyanim certainly do not object to women wearing tallitot. Yet my sense is that few of the women who attend choose to do so, and that if/when such minyanim take place on weekdays, even fewer would choose to wear tefillin.

Regarding 2 – I think each of us has enough personal anecdotes that I need not mention mine. Orthodox community is attractive to many for its communal intimacy even without religion. Furthermore, many partnership minyan attendees, like other aspirational servants of G-d and observers of mitzvot, seek to live in a community that reinforces and supports their religious ideals. Finally, they may believe that Orthodoxy in fact represents the Tradition, and have no interest in leaving it – in other words, they may be frum.

So the core issue is whether there is, or must be, any deep reality to 3. In other words: Do the leadership and membership of partnership minyanim genuinely appreciate the necessity for halakhic authorities with authority, and, absent such an appreciation, is the result necessarily beyond Orthodoxy and/or beyond halakhic legitimacy?

My take is that ultimately there is a need for such appreciation, and the jury is out as to whether it exists in the partnership minyan world. My friend Rabbi Asher Lopatin describes them as an “experiment within Orthodoxy” – I’m not sure that’s wholly accurate. I think the better description is “experiment that may or not may end up being within Orthodoxy” – they’re in a liminal condition – and that the key issue is 3.

I further think that there has been evolution on this issue. When the ‘partnership minyan movement’ started, it was built on the façade of a wholly democratic halakhic process – each layperson should evaluate the halakhic data and decide for themselves – and on taking the judgment of Rabbi Mendel Shapiro over that of Rabbi Yehudah Herzl Henkin. This was hard to justify – the arguments are quite technical, and unlike Rabbi Henkin, Rabbi Shapiro had no record of making hard communal decisions, well or otherwise.[14] Later, others within the movement began writing halakhic justifications for actions far beyond aliyot, such as women serving as shluchot tzibbur for Shacharit and Mussaf, or blowing shofar.

But the practice seems, as best I can tell, to have largely stabilized (although my data is uncertain, and several people have expressed contrary empirical evaluations to me – my hope is that the public discussion of this article will help clarify the situation, which may also differ from minyan to minyan), and now the most frequent justification I hear is Rabbi Sperber’s kevod haberiyot argument. I do not see that argument as compelling, and I have always – since taking his course at YU more than 25 years ago – liked Rabbi Sperber’s “trees” better than his “forests”. But Rabbi Sperber is a great scholar who functions within Orthodoxy, and so when people sincerely rely on his arguments,[15] I have no procedural grounds for deep censure,[16] even if I completely reject those arguments on substantive grounds.

Here, however, are three counterarguments.

First, the valuing of Orthodoxy I have argued exists may not be generationally transferrable; each of my descriptions must be evaluated not only in terms of current participants, but in terms of the children who are being raised as attendees of these minyanim.

Second, it may be that the core ground for valuing Orthodoxy is mere identity politics – people who have been raised as or chosen to identify as Orthodox resent having the label involuntarily pulled from them.

Third, it may be that the kind of sweeping argument Rabbi Sperber makes simply cannot sustain Orthodox loyalty long-term, as it provides no Archimedean point from which to evaluate and perhaps reject positions further down the slope.

My sense is that each of these counterarguments has significant validity, but that there remains room for highly guarded optimism if the leaders – formal and informal – of the partnership minyanim seek to strengthen and maintain the Orthodox affiliations of participants.

Section 5 – Partnership Minyanim and Orthodoxy – Prescription

What holds a community together? In other words, what is necessary for partnership minyanim to become part of the Orthodox community, and/or for their members to remain within the Orthodox community, short of the Orthodox community’s full legitimization of their practices?

Rashi understands the prohibition of Lo Titgodedu = Do-not-form-factions as requiring either a joint, at least theoretical, decision procedure, or – not as good – a recognition that we cannot compel you to accept our decision procedure, and your results are not prima facie illegitimate. (The latter is the current relationship of Sefardim and Ashkenzim, or of Chasidim and Mitnagdim). Do we have that here, or are we likely to have it?

The jury is still out. However, several things can happen that will make it more likely.

  1. Orthodoxy must make clear that legitimate halakhic authority – the joint decision procedure – includes those who see the modern change in women’s religious role and growth in authority as lekhatchilah and laudable, rather than as at best bediavad and tolerable after the fact. (I hasten to add that this group certainly includes Rabbi Henkin, and it was the rejection of his authority by the partnership minyan movement that was perhaps most problematic at the outset.) It must further be clear that legitimate halakhic authority includes women with sufficient Torah learning and experience. If we wish to reintegrate the members of this movement into Orthodoxy, we cannot demand unconditional surrender of their values, even if we would want that surrender – which I don’t. Rather, we should find ways to ensure that their critique of the ways in which contemporary Orthodoxy enacts gender differentiation is fully heard and discussed.
  2. Partnership minyanim must take concrete steps that anchor themselves to Orthodoxy, esp. on issues that are not directly related to their practice. This means, for example, explicitly adopting Orthodox standards for personal status issues, holding the line on recognizing gay marriages, etc. I recognize that it is very difficult for a cutting-edge group to do this[17] – and that it will involve disappointing some members, and eventually having some leave in frustration.

One possible scenario, which I would see as positive, is that partnership minyanim do not become accepted as legitimate halakhic practice, but rather that we (at least temporarily) recreate the status that used to belong to non-mechitzah Orthodox shuls. Orthodoxy may have the confidence to do that again – I don’t know – and of course the outcome may not be the same.[18]

A possible contemporary parallel, which I hope to treat more extensively soon, is the status of Chabad minyanim with particularly egregious Messianist practices.

The alternative I see is that partnership minyanim eventually develop their own authority structure – I don’t believe that even the façade of democracy will continue long. They will hire their own rabbis, align with other institutions, and effectively split off from Modern Orthodoxy. This will in turn relieve much of the pressure for change within MO, and also likely lead to its end as an independent denomination.[19] I would see this result as undesirable. Nor do I think that the new authority structure would long endure – rather, the slippery slope will in fact come rapidly into play.

Section 6 – Two Concluding Notes

  1. The body of this article treated the core halakhic issue as aliyot, and the core ideological issue as ritual egalitarianism. A different perspective, and one less easily bridged procedurally, would focus on voice as a moral category (feminism) and erotic category (halakhah). In other words, partnership minyanim provide women with the chance to be heard in public, but that necessarily creates discomfort for those men who are strict about hearing women’s singing voices – essentially it makes the service off-limits to them, not merely as a matter of personal discomfort but often, if they are honest with themselves, as a matter of law.

 It would, in my opinion, be a real loss for there to be many Orthodox shuls that were not universally accessible halakhically. But issues of tzeniut[20] always require careful navigation when they interfere with other people’s normal life. Often the solution is to maintain two kinds of spaces, but where that is practically impossible, good will is vitally necessary on both sides. Here the opposition to women’s tefillah groups comes back to bite us, as there certainly is a need for women to be able to sing communally in praise of G-d. The price of men’s access cannot be women’s silencing.

  1. Those of us who oppose attendance at partnership minyanim, and use our religious authority to discourage such attendance, must recognize our deep pastoral and moral responsibility to those men and women who willingly heed us despite their moral sympathy with the specific practices of partnership minyanim. This is a group of people who are doing exactly what we tell them halakhah requires, and paying a serious emotional and/or spiritual price for doing so. How are we helping and supporting them?

 [1] My thanks to the many friends and family who read innumerable drafts of this article and whose comments continually improved it. Any remaining errors or infelicities are of course entirely my responsibility, and I forbear to list the readers lest they be held responsible for its content.

I am grateful to Rabbi Dr. Martin Lockshin, Malka Simkovich, Shira Hecht-Koller and Dr. Yoel Finkelman for allowing their response and comments to be published tomorrow (on 11/5/14).

Thank you as well to Harvard Hillel’s Orthodox Minyan for hosting my first articulation of this material last spring, and specifically to Dr. Mike Frank, Rabbi Dani Passow, and Tali Rasooly for inviting me and organizing the event. I was grateful and impressed that many people who regularly attend partnership minyanim came to the shiur and gave it a respectful and constructively critical hearing. That is precisely the kind of conversation that I hope this written version succeeds in creating among and between all those engaged with this issue.

[2] This does not mean that the argument is correct, only that it is not demonstrably wrong, so that someone following it could not be dismissed as making an obvious error = toeh bidvar mishnah. There are of course many who have argued that woman’s aliyot are technically impossible, most recently Rabbis Aryeh and Dov Frimer in a massive article in Tradition. Readers interested in my own past evaluation of the evidence – which precedes the Frimers’ article – are directed to my audio lecture “Aliyot for Women and Kvod Tzibbur”, available at https://archive.org/details/AliyotForWomenAndKvodTzibbur, with the sourcesheet available at http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.torahleadership.org%2Fcategories%2Fwomen__saliyot_1.doc&h=xAQH31veF&s=1&skip_shim_verification=1.

[3] If yes – was this inevitable, or was it the result of self-fulfilling prophecy?

[4] Note that for Yom Kippur the quantitative condition is the volume of a large date.

[5] Some argue that de’oraita law is understood as directly from G-d and therefore, in its perfection, should never apply beyond its rationale. Others assume that even de’oraita law generally requires human interpretation to be put into practice, or that the nature of law prevents it from being so precisely targeted,

[6] One reader noted correctly that Orthodoxy does not necessarily grant a formal role in halakhic discourse to everyone who agrees to be bound by the outcome of the conversation. The role of the laity and of the less-Torah-educated in contemporary Orthodox halakhic discourse deserves extended treatment, which I cannot provide here, but in brief, I believe that even the most innocent and ignorant of lay constituents participates in halakhic discourse by choosing whom to ask their sh’eilot to. It is a given for this author that men and women of equal qualifications participate equally in halakhic discourse.

[7] One might suggest other grounds for opposition, such as pure traditionalism, but my sense is that the deep structure of those grounds will turn out to fit the categories I’m using, which admittedly I have left undefined here.

[8] This does not suggest that there is any ideological or sociological connection between the phenomena of women’s learning and partnership minyanim, respectively – only that we should be careful not to indiscriminately oppose changes on the grounds that they tend to make men’s and women’s religious experiences more alike.

[9] See my https://moderntoraleadership.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/that-idolaters-pray-does-not-mean-that-we-are-forbidden-to-do-so/

[10] One reader argued: Women’s tefillah, on its own, cannot split Orthodoxy because, by definition, the men still need somewhere to daven. Partnership Minyanim, however, create an independent environment where heterodoxy can develop unchecked. In other words, a much slipperier slope.

[11] I should note that I felt that women’s tefillah groups then were a necessary outlet, and was very influenced by the friend who kept a copy of the responsum forbidding those groups in her purse as a constant reminder of why she had chosen to leave Orthodoxy.

[12] In other words, some attendees simply have not yet been convinced that any of the arguments offered for full egalitarianism are intellectually plausible, and they stick to the half-measure because their intellectual integrity requires it. My sense is that this position is not long-term sustainable – in the absence of the constraint of some society, a plausible argument can be found for anything. That is why authority is necessary, and always requires social recognition.

It is also possible that the issue is not intellectual but sociological evaluation – in other words, participants in partnership minyanim do not currently believe that they can remain part of the Orthodox community if they adopt full egalitarianism.

[13] likely as opposed to “independent minyanim” that eschew affiliation with Conservative Judaism but accept no gender-related halakhic constraints.

[14] It is immaterial that Rabbi Henkin considered Rabbi Shapiro’s position intellectually plausible, and had previosuly articulated it himself – in practice, he denied it authority.

One might say that the demos accepted Rabbi Henkin’s intellectual authority, but disagreed with his sociological judgment. This possibility deserves its own theoretical discussion, but here seems to me inaccurate factually and likely inaccurate procedurally. Factually, I think that most readers of Rabbi Shapiro’s article thought that he was offering creative halakhic arguments that were universally rejected by his Orthodox rabbinic colleagues. Procedurally, arguments have different degrees of plausibility – if a posek says that an argument has sufficient plausibility to be relied on in cases of emergency, but that this is not an emergency, and a layperson relies on it anyway, it is possible that they believe it to be an emergency, but as likely that they are imputing to it an unauthorized degree of plausibility.

[15] Of course there is the risk, as one reader argued, that if participants in partnership minyanim were to formally accept Rabbi Sperber or someone else as their overall posek, and he were to accept that role formally, the end result would be the complete delegitimization of both.

[16] Deborah Klapper points out that “deep censure” is a vague term. Deliberately so.

[17] My model is the Yoetzet Halakhah program at Nishmat, a stunningly creative accomplishment that generally succeeds in achieving conventionality on secondary issues.

[18]Deborah Klapper notes that the RCA reneges on our past inclusion of those synagogues within Orthodoxy – within the OU – when it presumptively invalidates conversions that their rabbis – RCA members in good standing – oversaw. This is a moral wrong, and must be opposed strenuously for that reason. It also diminishes the appeal of the status I am suggesting.

[19] But perhaps that leads to more pressure for change within Charedi Orthodoxy – one can never be sure which way is best.

[20] See http://text.rcarabbis.org/reflections-on-tzniut-and-beit-shemesh-by-aryeh-klapper/

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Comments are closed.