The Rebbe’s Opinion On: Why Women Shouldn’t Be Rabbis




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    The Rebbe’s Opinion On: Why Women Shouldn’t Be Rabbis

    Inside of Orthodox Synagogue with open book in the Hebrew language in the foreground. selective focus.

    Chabadinfo in collaboration with Beis Moshiach Magazine presents: The Rebbe’s Opinion On, a series featuring the Rebbe’s opinion and directive on various subjects The following are several letters of the Rebbe on the topic of “woman rabbis” which has become an issue in the past generation • Full Article

    The following are several letters of the Rebbe on the topic of “woman rabbis” which has become an issue in the past generation.

    The first letter was wrriten on 30 Tishrei 5718 (1958) to Miss Joyce Litvin of Boston:

    This is in reply to your several questions: …  (3) You asked, finally, why isn’t a lady a Rebbi?

    You surely know that there were Jewish women who were leaders of all our people, such as the prophetess Deborah, and others. But these were exceptional cases. For, when G-d created the world, He gave each creature something special to do, and to the woman He gave the most wonderful of all things – to be a mother and raise children, and bring them up in the true Jewish way, so that among these children many will grow up to be leaders of our people Israel. This is a full-time and life-time responsibility, and it leaves no room for other responsibilities which take up all one’s time for the rest of one’s life.

    In conclusion, it should be remembered that in trying to increase one’s knowledge one should try to have one’s mind on such things that will help him, in daily conduct to serve G-d all the better. Things of immediate importance should come first, and things which are not of immediate importance should come later, at their proper time. The thing which is of immediate importance to you is to try to improve your daily conduct, for there is always room for improvement, and to show a good example to your friends by devoting yourself to your studies and conduct, and G-d will surely bless you with success.

    (Schmukler-Levin Teshura, 4 Shevat 5782)

    Social Service: No Less Important of a Rabbi.

    The following letter from 5726 (1966) was written to woman from Winnipeg, Canada who was aspiring to receive rabbinic ordination:

    I am in receipt of your latest letter. It surprises me somewhat that you ask my opinion on a question concerning which I have already given a response to you long ago. However, inasmuch as you press the subject, I will again give you my unequivocal opinion. It is this:

    The primary function of the Jewish woman is to be the akeret habayit, (foundation of the Jewish home), namely, to establish and conduct her home in accordance with the Torah — Torat Chaim — and the mitzvot, by which Jews live. And to the extent that it does not conflict with the Jewish sense of tzniut, (modesty), the Jewish woman is also expected to participate in social and charitable activities, in support of worthy institutions, and the like. It is altogether not within her sphere, nor should it be her aspiration, to be (G-d forbid) a rabbi.

    This stand has been firmly established by various authoritative Jewish sources. As a matter of fact, the more a Jewish woman is familiar with the Torah outlook, and the more competent is her knowledge of the Torah in this area, the better should she be able to grasp the fact that it is not her province to be a rabbi. The very aspiration to be one is in itself proof of the lack of adequate knowledge of and feeling for the true Jewish outlook on life.

    As mentioned above, I have already indicated to you my views on this subject, though perhaps in different words. I repeated them here only at your insistence.

    Similarly, I want to reiterate that this stand is no reflection (G-d forbid) upon a woman’s worthiness or intelligence, etc. It has to do only with the particular function which particular things in the world have had divinely assigned to them, and the function of a woman, as noted above, is to be the akeret habayit and to make her contribution in the areas of philanthropy and social service, this being no less important than the functions of a rabbi.

    I trust that the above will once and for all resolve your question, so that there will be no point in any further discussion of this matter.

    (The Letter and The Spirit, Vol. 1 #379)

    “I Was Astonished That You Sign as ‘Rabbi’”

    In another letter, from 1979 the Rebbe offers wishes of speedy recovery to a woman who went through a car accident and then added this:

    9 Kislev, 5740
    Winnipeg 9, Man., Canada

    … P.S. I was greatly astonished at your question about Rabbinic ordination for a woman, since it is well known that this is contrary to Jewish Law (Halachah) and Jewish tradition. Needless to say, I was equally astonished that you sign your name as “Rabbi.”

    I can only see it as a test whereby Divine Providence gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your strength of character and true Jewish pride and commitment by disclaiming publicly any such notions of “women Rabbis,” which is so completely alien to the spirit and sanctity of the Torah. I trust, therefore, that you will not only renounce the use of the title “Rabbi” personally, but urge other women who may not be aware of the seriousness of the matter, to follow your example.

    To emphasize the urgency of this matter, this letter is sent to you via special delivery.

    (The Letter and The Spirit, Vol. 4, #438)



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