Wednesday, June 4, 2008

women & gemara

ok, so as you can tell, I'm a fan of Frum Satire's site. Here's another post of his that got me itching to type away at my keyboard: http://www.frumsatire.net/2008/05/29/why-women-dont-learn-gemara/
at the modOrth high school i went to, gemara/talmud was just another one of the million subjects that we had to take, just as many times a week as Jewish History and Navi and all of the other Jewish classes. I never thought about learning gemara as something that was 'ground-breaking' or 'controversial'. Heck, I never even knew there was a controversy about it! (i know, I just said 'heck', but let's stay on track). I only learned that it was controversial when I was studying for exams with my Artscroll version of Masechet Megillah (also known as the cheater's guide to gemara) and my yeshivish neighbor happened to come over.
I remember color-coding my highlighters for the different sections of the daf, and reading about different rabbis (i'll never forget the story with Rabbi Eleazar ben Dordaya) and the different machlokets that came up. I'll admit some dafs were a little dry (did we really have to go into such detail calculating the time from the middle of the night to the last part of the night) and some of the things we learned didnt really apply to us (how to make tzitzis). But overall, it was a pretty enjoyable educational experience.
But I don't see what all the fuss is about. Why not let girls learn gemara? It's not like the gemara holds some mystical secrets that would make any of us blush or faint. Should we prohibit math from being taught to girls in school too? Knowledge is power, isn't it? Or is that the problem....
I love Rabbi Orlofsky (especially his shiur on shomer negiah), but maybe he should try teaching a girl's gemara class. The girls I know are definitely not named Suzy and our debates are a lot more heated than the conversation described in Frum Satire's post. My friends are smart, educated girls (also gorgeous and single) and are definitely not afraid to voice their opinions. We all have very different backgrounds and somewhat different outlooks, and there is nothing we love more than a good debate on a controversial topic. If only Hillary had us on her side!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's the story of Rabbi Eleazar ben Dordaya?

Let's see your high school teach Kesubos. Not exactly Megillah.

Chani said...

Why do you love Rabbi Orlovsky? He's the most close-minded bigot I had the misfortune of being taught by in seminary.

Maidel said...

click here for THE story: http://www.aish.com/torahportion/moray/-_Rabbi_Eleazar_ben_Dordaya_A_Story_of_Teshuva_-.asp

And why I love Rabbi Orlofsky? He delivers comedy + a meaningful message!

Dave said...

So, you colour-coded your text too? That’s totally awesome. It’s actually not so uncommon amongst us obsessive types. What was your system?

Regarding women and Talmud-study, we need to step back a bit and look at the logical structure of the “against” argument:

R (“Rabbi”): You may not study Talmud.
W (“Woman”): Why?
R: Because the Talmud says so.
W: I’d like to read the Talmud to verify what you are saying.
R: That would be forbidden.
W: Then how am I supposed to know?
R: You must take my word for it.
W: Why?
R: Because the Talmud says so.
W: I better check the Talmud to verify this.
R: You may not study Talmud.

As one can see, it’s quite a circular argument, and a classic catch-22. Amazingly, if the woman would simply step out of this infinite loop and—gasp—study Talmudic literature, she will discover that neither of R’s claims are faithful representations of the Talmudic material.

Maidel said...

you're onto something Dave! How can women understand Halacha if they aren't allowed to look at the source?

Dave said...

Maidel: I know that’s a rhetorical question, but, since so many seem not to get it, I will answer anyway. They cannot. In fact, those very Sources would deem blindly following Rabbis a grave misunderstanding of the commandment to follow the Rabbis. (And they were talking about the ancient rabbis, not the modern pseudo-rabbis that have no real legal power.) Of course, one has no way to know this without actually studying the Sources. It’s that darn catch-22 again!