Rav Aryeh Zev Ginzberg Stands Up for Torah in Blasting ‘Rabba’ Five Towns Appearance


rav_aryeh_zev_ginzbergThe Jewish Week reports: Rabba Sara Hurwitz of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, who was invited to speak at the Young Israel of Hewlett on a Shabbat several weeks ago, has come and gone. But a flare-up over her title continues to reverberate in the Five Towns community, prompting rabbis and others there to lash out at each other.Writing in the Five Towns Jewish Times the week after her appearance, Rabbi Aryeh Z. Ginzberg of the Chofetz Chaim Torah Center in Cedarhurst repeatedly described the invitation to Rabba Hurwitz as a “great bizayon haTorah [disgrace to the Torah], the degradation of the gedolei Torah [rabbinic sages] that took place in our community.”

Noting that some may be angry at him for “stirring the pot,” the rabbi said he was speaking out because leading Torah scholars have condemned the appointment of a woman to a rabbinic position as “a breach of tzniyus [modesty] and mesorah [tradition].”

Rabba Hurwitz was given her title, seen as an upgrade from maharat, earlier this year by Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Riverdale congregation. In a subsequent agreement with the Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi Weiss consented not to give anyone else the title of “rabba.”

Rabbi Ginzberg wrote that his criticism was not personally directed at Rabba Hurwitz, who he referred to as “Ms.” But he noted that while she may be an expert in Talmudic studies, “I am highly doubtful.”

Rabbi Ginzberg concluded his essay by asserting that as a result of this breach of Jewish law, “we will have something else to cry about” on Tisha b’Av, the upcoming fast day which marks the destruction of the Holy Temple.

That final comment was too much for Rabbi Hershel Billet of the Young Israel of Woodmere, who says he was “particularly taken aback by the last line. At a time of civil strife between brothers in Israel and blood libels against Israel, this is what we should be mourning about?”

In a sermon to his congregation, Rabbi Billet described the Ginzberg essay as “trash.”

Even Rabbi Heshy Blumstein, whose Hewlett congregation hosted Rabba Hurwitz, would not call her by her title in introducing her, according to attendees at the Shabbat lectures, though he praised her scholarship and potential.

Read the full report at The Jewish Week.

Read our earlier report on the Maharat’s visit to the Five Towns here.

{The Jewish Week}

{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Shame on those who allowed this. We have called the Young Israel offices and let our voice be heard. We do not welcome this Rabbah as part of our Rabbinic stablishment.

  2. kudos to rabbi ginzberg for having a spine and backbone to speak out against this violation of the torah

    this woman can be given no credence i dont care if she knows shas and poskim by heart
    she caused a breach in yahdus that will affect many generations to come and those who invite her are participants in this and will have to answer for it

  3. Kol Hakavod to Harav Ginzberg Shlit”a. at least there is one “Pinchas” in the 5 towns willing to stand up for Kovod Hatorah. the fact that R. Hershel Billet said it was trash – well the shvotim said Pinchas was wrong also, but Hashem agreeed with Pinchas, and called him an “Ish Sholom”.

  4. Anyone who does not see the tragedy in this, isd simply uninformed!!! Does anyone know that when Avi Weiss conferred upon her the title Maharat, He said “There was a MAHARAl, A MAHARAM, now there is a MAHARAT” What a disgrace to those true jewish leaders. Besides for the obvious breach in Judaic custom, it would be one thing if an erlich women was appointed. Has anyone heard her speak?? Seen her speak?? I have!! Her hair exposed (that not covered by her hat. You can see this here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYzUJrPTm8M

    In addition , every speech she gives, she discusses her appointment and the supreme time and value of women leadership in Rabbinic fields. So haughty!! see this here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esv-O6bKTpE&feature=related
    Hashem Yishmor!!!

  5. She also mentions that despite the fact that women cannot be aidim, shlichei tzibur… they AT LEAST….
    WHAT??? She is complaining on TORAH LAW!!!!
    She is a heretic!!!

  6. Rav Reisman is usually the one defending kovod shomayim in the 5 Towns. What did he say about her visit?

  7. “‘Rabbi’ Weiss has a lot to answer for.”

    “Who does he have to answer to, you?”

    No, to Hashem. It’s the beginning of Haskalah, Reform, Conservatism all over again. We should not only mourn but reis kriah. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

  8. kudos to Rabbi Ginzberg for not cowering in the face his eruv rav critics. its not easy being a nirdaf – thank you Rabbi G for doing the heavy lifting that no one else wants to do. there is nothing more serious than an assault on our mesorah & manhigei hador. yasher koach

  9. R’ Billet needs to ask Mechila before he begins to feel the Charon Af of Hashem. He has a right to disagree but has no right to refer to the words of a respected Talmud Chochom as trash.

  10. Yasher Koach to Rav Ginzberg for steadfastly upholding the mesorah. (Not that he needs my haskamah). Halevai there shoul dbe more like him. I agree with #17 as well.

  11. just coming to lend my support for rabbi ginzberg’s Kiddush Shem Shomayim. It is a tremendous desire to not confront but just look the other way.One Torah for everybody.

    The Torah is above the times and will not change no matter who is doing the mocking.

    chazak ve’emotz rabbi ginzberg.
    keep it Up!

  12. just one more thing:

    i remember meeting rabbi heshy blumstein many years ago. he seemed like a talmid chochom and a true ben torah. i note that he was not too happy in having her speak as he did not call her up by title.it troubles me to think, though, as to what degree he was to show his disapproval…apparently, if he would have opened his mouth it could have cost him his job.

    can i criticize him?

    i plan on calling the national council of young israel (anybody have their number?)to voice my opinion. no compromises on mesorah!

  13. first of all, please read Rav Ginzberg’s article in its entirety-published in the Five Towns Jewish Times.
    one thing is for sure, in a time when we constantly hear the call for achdus, those who were involved in inviting her were very short sighted-aizehu chacham, horoeh es hanolad; look at the results!

  14. The invitation to Sara Hurwitz was made after seeking out the guidance of respected poskim and following the clear guidelines set forth by them for the Rav and that Kehila. The invitation to Sara Hurwitz was extended with the clear position that the Rav does not, and will not, ever accept the proposition of female ordination, or, the title of Rabbah as suggested by Rabbi Avi Weiss. Sarah Hurwitz graciously accepted the invitation upon that understanding. Furthermore, the Rav specifically enumerated his position to the entire Kehila, both prior to her attendance and during the course of the visit. So to all the people out there who forgot that we are in middle of mourning for the beis hamikdash and have time to bash rabbonim and shuls and a whole neighborhood, please take a moment to think of the destruction you are doing to kllal yisroel!! May we see the coming of mashiach bkarov!!!

  15. The Rambam disscuses the problem a RABBAH OR MAHRAT. the problem is that a woman can not have a position called “Sh’rorah” eiyin shum…

  16. She claims that “while modesty is important so is the need…..” etc. etc.

    We Must Stand Firm Against This Avi Weiss. He Is Very Active And know How To Cause Problems. He used To be seen as Plain Activist But, Now He’s Become A Radical Jew’dist!

  17. 22, if he is your rav, or you have a connection to YI, why not try to speak to him first. Maybe do that even if he’s not.
    This is one of those things I really regret having read the comments on. This sounds completely unreal and hard to be mekabel. That the followers or peanut gallery would engage in “trash” talk is one thing. Not good, but not unexpected.

  18. What world and planet are you people living in?
    At the end of the day women are learning at the highest levels. Is this a tragedy that must be mourned or is this a milestone to be encouraged and elebrated? Those of you who are threatened need not be. These women are more commited to Torah and Torah values.

    The only place whee the Rabba might be considered as a breach of tzniyut is in a Moslem environment. Is this what you want?

  19. Sheldon,

    Do you have any clue what learning at the highest levels even means? Sara Hurwitz with her three hours a day for four years is the highest level? Regular poshite yungerleit are learning for 10 and more hours a day, without vacations, for years on end. She may have some book knowledge, but what she is learning is far from the highest levels. To say so is to cheapen what real learning , hasmadah and horovanyah is. It is an attempt to cheapen real torah learning on par with secular studies.

  20. Dear Rabbi Ginzburg,

    The only Bizayon HaTorah is from the words that come from your mouth and pen. Women are learning in greater numbers than in any time in history. Not only is the quantity of Torah increased but also the level of depth and complexity is at an all time high. Added to this is that we are at an epoch where women are taking part in the highest echelons of society. How can you rely on Mesorah at such a time when such a period never existed in history. Kavod Bas Melech is no longer Pnimah.
    Rather than condeming Rabba Hurwitz, Rabbi Ginzburg, you should be welcome her and set her on the podium as the shining example of the combination of Torah, leadership and femininity. This is no threat. This is the Kiddush Hashem that the world needs. Men got us into the mess that we are in. Maybe women will extricate us and save us.
    As far as Tzniyut, your perspective is welcome in a Moslem society.

    So Rabbi Ginzburg,

    SaLaam Aleykum, and for us in the Western world , Shabbat Shalom

    Sheldon Kupferman, Riverdale, NY

  21. Regarding Comment#32 alias “THE TRUTH”,

    How small your world is. I would invite you to visit the Beit Midrash of Midreshet Migdal Oz in the Gush or Nishmat in Yerushalayim. These are Institutions that I have witnessed first hand . Women learning 8-12 hours per day for many years. There are others, but these I have witnessed with my own eyes. Most are supported by their husbandsand parents. I would stack up their lomdus, hasmodah,misirat nefesh commitment to honesty, integrity, and above all Ahavat Yisrael with anybody. You are dealing with women who are commited to Torat Yisrael, Am Yisrael and Midinat Yisrael.