Say It Already: Avi Weiss is Not Orthodox

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rabbi-lipschutzBy Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

What makes one Jewish person Orthodox, another Conservative, and a third Reform? What is it that has defined Orthodoxy ever since that term was formulated to describe our way of life?

When the Reform movement began, its proponents claimed that they were simply interested in reorganizing davening to make it more orderly and beautiful. They shortened the tefillah by removing parts that they claimed were no longer understood, relevant or necessary. There was absolutely no attempt to tamper with the fundamental underpinnings of Yiddishkeit or make any readjustment to the doctrines which are at the foundation of our religion. Nor did they amend any halachos or observances.

That all came later. It was in 1885 that the Reform rabbis, meeting in Pittsburgh, issued their proclamation to do away with all the “rituals” that they deemed to be “relative” and “dispensable.” They discarded the Torah and removed it as an influence in their lives. They did away with awaiting a return to Eretz Yisroel and established, for all intents and purposes, a new secular religion.

The Conservatives also began as a seemingly harmless group devoted to maintaining halacha but concerned with tweaking a few observances here and there so that they would conform with the times. Everything else came later. At their founding, they referred to themselves as “Historical Judaism,” as they sought to counter the radical inroads of the Reform.

Conservatives sought to implement certain minor changes and amendments, and promoted them all as being consistent with biblical and rabbinic precedent. They maintained fidelity to the traditional form and precepts of Judaism and did not deviate by changing any of the laws, not even the language of prayer.

Eventually, the Conservative movement also degenerated and became a religion without a God, constantly seeking to amend its observances and conforming with the prevailing notions in style at the moment. To them, the mitzvos of the Torah, which we cherish and observe as the word of Hashem, as we seek to draw closer to Him, are the stuff of legend which are followed in order to feel good and feel part of some glorious ancient tribe with fabulous customs and recipes.

The Conservative yeshivos and rabbinic organizations became tools of the secularists. Although they may have been founded with good intentions and employed Talmudic scholars, they became pedestrian-level institutes of sophistry, doing little more than providing a cynical religious cover to a meandering, secular, assimilationist organization.

Orthodoxy was the term given by the Maskilim to those who remained loyal to the Torah,halacha and minhagim as handed down through the generations. According to the Encyclopedia Judaica, “Orthodoxy looks upon attempts to adjust Judaism to the ‘spirit of the time’ as utterly incompatible with the entire thrust of normative Judaism which holds that the revealed word of G-d rather than the values of any given age are the ultimate standard.

“The Orthodox community, institutively realizing that liturgical reforms were only the beginning of a long-range process designed to change the tenets and practices of Judaism… reacted with an all-out effort to preserve the status quo.”

Orthodoxy regards with great alarm even the slightest tampering of any part of the tradition. It refuses to recognize or participate in any united collective religious organization that deviates from – or reforms in any way – traditional halachic Judaism, which is based upon observance of the Shulchan Aruch.

We have repeatedly written about Rabbi Avi Weiss and his innovations. We have written exposés about his yeshiva, Chovevei Torah, and its graduates. He is at it again and authentic halachic Orthodoxy is once again sleeping at the wheel. We feel that it is about time that he be considered outside of Orthodoxy. Once and for all, the collective bodies of Orthodoxy should declare that he has driven himself out of the camp.

One can’t help but detect the gleeful tone of The Jewish Week’s report last week, that opened with the breathless lead, “The Orthodox world is one letter – the letter “i” – away from calling a woman ‘rabbi.'”

The report continues:

“Sara Hurwitz, who has for almost a year filled rabbinic roles at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale alongside the Orthodox shul’s longtime rabbi, Avi Weiss, recently took on the new title ‘Rabbah'(pronounced ra-BAH).”

A similar report on the same matter was issued by the JTA: “Sara Hurwitz, who has been performing rabbinical duties at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in New York City, last year had been given the title of Maharat – a Hebrew acronym that stands for a leader in legal, spiritual and Torah matters.”

The report goes on to state that, “Rabbi Avi Weiss, spiritual leader of the Hebrew Institute and Hurwitz’s mentor, said the acronym had failed to take hold and that Hurwitz would henceforth be called ‘rabbah,’ a feminized version of the title ‘rabbi.’

“‘This will make it clear to everyone that Sara Hurwitz is a full member of our rabbinic staff, a rabbi with the additional quality of a distinct woman’s voice,’ said the statement issued by Weiss’ office.

“Hurwitz, who has served at the Hebrew Institute for nearly seven years, has completed the same course of training and examination as male Orthodox rabbinical students.”

Her curriculum was modeled after that of the male students at the liberal rabbinical school Yeshiva Chovevei Torah (YCT) in Riverdale, which Weiss founded and leads.

It must be noted that the rabbinic training program that this woman and her male colleagues undergo at YCT is not close to the level of scholarship required to become anything that even resembles a rabbi who is a competent religious leader and halachic decisor. Chovevei Torah students learn an approximate average of 67 minutes of Gemara per day. Contrast that with Yeshiva University’s Undergraduate Yeshiva College Mazer Yeshiva Program, which requires a minimum of approximately 4.5 hours per day of Gemara, or a yeshiva like Bais Medrash Govoah in Lakewood, which has a minimum of some 8 hours a day, and you start to realize what the extent of Ms. Hurwitz’s “same…training and examination as male Orthodox rabbinical students” really is.

What is really important is that even if she would truly be qualified, the title is an oxymoron. The word “Orthodox” cannot possibly be joined with the terms “female rabbi,” “rabbah,” “maharat,” or whatever one chooses to call the position, because authentic halacha does not permit such an arrangement, period.

The concept of an “Orthodox female rabbi,” which both Rabbi Weiss and Ms. Hurwitz claim to be legitimate within Orthodoxy, is actually anything but Orthodox. Indeed, it follows that not only is Ms. Hurwitz not an Orthodox rabbi or rabbah, but Weiss himself, by setting her forward, behaves in a clearly un-Orthodox manner and should no longer be called an Orthodox rabbi.

The sad truth is that we are not surprised by this new development, and, if things continue with little reaction from authentic Orthodoxy, we will not be surprised when Weiss releases his future press release saying that they have decided to do away with the “rabbah” title and have chosen to make things simpler by calling her “rabbi.”

Avi Weiss has a long history. He kept on pushing the envelope as far as he could and waited to see if anyone pushed back. When there was none, he took the next step, and the next and the next. By now he has clearly stepped off the cliff of Orthodoxy and descended into a different realm.

His establishment of his so-called “Open Orthodox yeshiva,” Chovevei Torah, and the “maharat” title are ways of testing the waters. He waited to see if anyone would cry out and protest. No one did, so he advanced to the next step.

The truth is that there was one solitary cry of protest – by this newspaper. Over the years, Yated Ne’eman has been consistently chronicling Weiss’ aberrations and raising its voice in protest, but it has been a lone voice in the wilderness. Orthodoxy in general – right, left and center – has been deafeningly silent on all of this. Weiss has heard the silence as one hears a thunderbolt. He has determined that if the only one who really cares is the Yated, then certainly he can move forward with his agenda. And he has.

We cannot allow someone whose guide is 20th century feminism, rather than halacha as codified by Chazal and practiced by religious Jews throughout the ages, to continue to hijack and attempt to redefine Orthodoxy. The rabbinic ordination of Sara Hurwitz was the culmination of a clever campaign which surreptitiously sought to synthesize feminism with normative Judaism through a series of incremental steps.

Weiss’ actions are even more brazen than those of the original reformers, yet he has succeeded in evading the eye of scrutiny and is permitted to parade as an Orthodox rabbi.

Why should we care? For the same reason Jews cared for the past three hundred years when reformers of all stripes advanced their agendas. We fought back and repelled them out of the normative community. There is no reason that Weiss should be permitted to speak in our name. There is no reason that students of his rabbinic institute should be allowed to label themselves as Orthodox and compete against frum candidates for open pulpits in synagogues across the country.

Having learnt from the Maskilim of previous centuries, the students of that movement in this century demonstrate that they have learned from the mistakes of the former. Without seeking to entrap the masses on an individual level and convert them to their beliefs, they concentrate their efforts on a communal level, aiming to conquer pulpits in communities across the United States and Canada in their bid to corrupt Orthodoxy.

Zacharias Frankel, referred to as the Conservative movement’s intellectual ancestor, wrote that, “The means [of transformation] must be grasped with such care, thought through with such discretion, created always with such awareness of the moment in time, that the goal will be reached unnoticed, that the forward progress will seem inconsequential to the average eye.”

If Weiss is not condemned, he will not stop with “maharat,” or “rabbah,” or whatever other silly name he comes up with. Pretty soon it won’t be considered silly, and there will be more and more aberrations, if the phenomenon is permitted to take hold.

Yes, it is late. We should have dealt with this earlier. But it is not too late.

This is not a time to remain silent.

Weiss is succeeding in trampling, with impunity, on our most prized possession. We can not just stand on the sidelines and watch.

{ Newscenter}


  1. i wonder if Yated Ne’eman (no .. i am not a yated subscriber .. i am stil a NY Times subscriber) screamed as loudly about fanatics that steal bodies, attack policemen and burn garbage.

    rabbi weiss is not my cup of tea. My kids did not attend his schools. I don’t daven in his shul nor do I attend his shiurim. (I do remember well his mesiras nefesh and sacrifices on behalf of klal yisrael during the 70’s)

    i dont question the need to determine where rabbi weiss & YCT stand in the spectrum of halacha (notably missing from the piece above are cogent, reasonable HALACHICK arguments) I do question the hysterical outbursts regarding him and his institutions.

    is it just that he is an easy – safe – target ?? circulation ??

    lets try to show the same moral outrage towards those that continue to create a chilul hashem.

  2. The Yated is right on top of things once agaion
    Expose Hurwitz, Weiss and Chovevei Torah for what they are, adulterating Yiddishkeit

    • Sara Hurwitz should not be in the same paragraph as Weiss. He is an opportunist and even greater ignoramass. Sara knows her material as well or may I say 50xx better than the wimps at YCT.

  3. Why can’t we all get together in a single giant protest. Having all groups, litvish chassidish,sefardi,young israel etc join. That would show a great sign of achdus against this modern day haskala movement.

  4. All the left wingers will now come to Matzav and write their stupid comments about how the Yated is dumb etc. etc. Of course this article is right on the mark. It is 100% true and the lefties know it. Avi Weiss is a fraud and the people who are now going to call Rabbi Lipschutz an anti-feminist are also frauds. The Yated – let’s say it – is the only vehicle standing up for kevod Shomayim in our time.

    R’ Pinchos, don’t read the dumb comments here or anywhere. You are going straight to Gan Eden. The battle for what is right isn’t without opposition. Don’t lose faith. You are doing the right thing.

  5. I recently received a flier from the feminist rabbi movement seeking to attract me to their forum with speeches like ‘Why The Rambam Was Wrong’. Needless to say these are not people interested in molding themselves to what HKBH wants but instead to ‘fix’ Yidishkeit into what they want.

    Thank you, Rabbi Lipschutz for clarifying the difference between Conservative and Reform, but I will soon forget the definition which is only meaningful to themselves. These are people who have a self-centered view of the world and the purpose HKBH put us here. Mr. Weiss has long forfeited the accolade ‘Rabbi’ and the description ‘Orthodox’.

    So, Rabbi Lipschutz, what do we do next?

  6. This is fundamentally ridiculous. We have no semicha now. There’s no such thing as a rabbi. This is pashut. So when you can point out the issur in calling someone a name that has no Halakhic significance, then perhaps you can call this “a new realm.”

    The Yated is the only paper brazen enough to blatantly lie and misinform. But it shouldn’t be proud of it.

  7. Rabbi Lipschutz is of course correct. But he seems to be implying that we are guilty for not doing enough about this previously.
    So,what should those of us who do not own newspapers do, Rabbi Lipshitz? Make hafganos outside Weiss’s house?

  8. The author here is just scared. Women who aren’t confined to the kitchen freak him out and change the dynamics of his world. There’s therapy for that.

  9. The fact that the account of the history of the Reform movement and the Conservative movement are not as described detracts from the credibility of the argument.

  10. “It must be noted that the rabbinic training program that this woman and her male colleagues undergo at YCT is not close to the level of scholarship required to become anything that even resembles a rabbi who is a competent religious leader and halachic decisor. Chovevei Torah students learn an approximate average of 67 minutes of Gemara per day. Contrast that with Yeshiva University’s Undergraduate Yeshiva College Mazer Yeshiva Program, which requires a minimum of approximately 4.5 hours per day of Gemara, or a yeshiva like Bais Medrash Govoah in Lakewood, which has a minimum of some 8 hours a day, and you start to realize what the extent of Ms. Hurwitz’s “same…training and examination as male Orthodox rabbinical students” really is.”

    I agree with the thrust of this statement but would like to set the record straight. Someone who has not attended YU and reads the above statement might take away from it that talmidim on a semicha track in YU only need learn 4.5 hours of gemara per day. That is not true. It is the talmidim who are not on a semicha track and are still in college who must learn a minimum of 4.5 hours per day. Those who are in semicha full time in REITS (Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elochonon) must learn significantly longer hours each day.

  11. I dare to say, Avi Weiss does a heck of alot more for the future of yiddishkeit and humanity in a single day than Rabbi Lipshutz will in a lifetime
    the truth hurts eh ? fueling the fires of sinas chinam for no reason…glad you have already solved all of klal yisroels real problems … hows your friend the hate monger rush limbaugh?
    avi weiss and his talmidim are ensuing the safety of the future of klal yisroel, they are the ones going out and rescuing all the lost souls. WHAT ARE YOU DOING???
    we hope it brings meaning to your pathetic life.
    of course the taliban biased media editors of matzav wont publish this comment.

  12. Lsst Shabbos we read Shiras Devorah.

    I have a question for the good Rabbi Lifschutz,

    If he had lived in the time of The Shoftim and came before Devroah Haneviah, how would he address her?

  13. What in the world are you talking about? Look out of your daled amos and why don’t you take notice of the “taliban” run organizations like Lev L’Achim, Oorah, Nechamas Yisroel, Shuvu, Partners in Torah, Gateways, etc… that do wonderful kiruv.
    How about Tomchei Shabbos, SCHI, Chush, Bonei Oilem, PCS, Chai Lifeline, Hatzoloh etc… all organizations run by “taliban.”
    Stop asking, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” and ask yourself why you have such a narrow minded view and hatred for those who are “yeshivish” and more to the right of you.
    Don’t mistake R’ Lipshutz’s passion for defending authentic Torah Judism as a callousness and intolerance for people not like him. It’s the same Torah principals that lead to the black hatters/taliban/rightists/yeshivish having the above organizations in the first place.

  14. It is disingenious to compare YU students in college to BMG and Chovevei students who are not. Obviously YU students who are in semicha have to learn 8 hours a day. They have two sedarim like any other yeshiva (and bein hasedarim is even shorter).

  15. No. 14, your hatred is quite clear. You can’t fargin the frum community. You hate chareidim. Just say it. And when someone tries to stand up for mesorah, it kills you, it bothers you. Give it up and get off this site.

  16. This is a non-issue as it will not catch on – and pales in comparison to some of the other chilullei H’

    The utter hypocrisy by the author and his selective outrage is really telling.

  17. Hey Mandy (#10). There is an object called a mirror. Stand in front of one and look at what you see. Tell us please is there a difference between a man and a women? (your first instinct is to say no because your thinking along the equal rights line but you realize that is foolish and) Of course there is a difference. So if the Almighty in his infinite wisdom saw that men and ladies should not be created equal then why do women want to be men? It is such an insecurity with women that they need to be equal to men. In our Torah they are not. As a matter of fact the word Torah itself is Loshon Nekayva (female) as is the word Shechina also Loshon Nekayva. Hashem created ladies with a feature that resembles G-D that men do not have and that is the ability to create. Women can be like Hashem as they can create and carry a baby where as a man does not have any G-d like abilities naturally. He needs to work on himself. Women are spiritually on a higher level then men and thank Hashem for that each morning by saying the Bracha of Sheosani Kirtzono. Men on the other hand thank Hashem for not making them a lady meaning they are blessing the Almighty for creating them with the opportunity to have to work harder to reach their goal. Women say no thank you to the hard work but yes thank you for bringing me into this world closer to you already.

    So why do women feel a need to be men? Be happy with who you are and you won’t feel a need to be someone else. Hasomayach Bechelko is the way to go.

    One last thing. 2 people agree to diet together to bring their weight down to 125 lbs. One wieghs 130 the other 150. They both have the same goal and yes one will need to work much harder to get there and may feel a stronger satisfaction when they reach their goal – but tell us the truth – which one would you rather be?

    Men and ladies share the common goal of serving Hashem. We both need to work at it. But I ask you who would you rahter be? The man who needs to Daven 3 times a day with a Minyan, do all these Mitzvos, learn Torah etc. all to reach his goal? Or the lady who because she already is so close to her goal doesn’t need to do all this work to reach the level?

    Be proud of who you are and stop trying to be who you are not.

    Neither Avi Weiss or Hurwitz are to be called Rabbi. It is an insult to the title and to those who are.

    Rabbi Lipschitz – the world needs more like you and we need to respond and not put you out there alone representing us. Let me know what to do and I am on my way!

  18. It’s about time the orthodox community came to terms with, and opened their minds to, the notion that there is some flexibility within the parameters of halacha. We should encourage our wives, sisters and daughters to recognize their strengths and abilities and maximize that potential.

    Our nation has had female leaders and role models since the biblical era. The idea was part of our culture long before the (relatively) modern concept of ‘chassidus’ was invented. Yet, although not without its own challenges, that movement flourished and became part of our mainstream culture.

    We need to fully understand what the issues really are before we judge and criticize our brothers and sisters for actions that are “wrong” only because they our outside of our comfort zone.

    Also, as a side note, if the yated was so concerned with the sanctity and purity of our community it would have reported and denounced the atrocities that were committed by a “respected Rabbi” in their own back yard!

  19. Now I’m hooked…

    It is for articles like this that i am a Yated subscriber.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with this point, I get the Yated for the entertainment value it provides. I look forward to every shabbos when i flip through and check out this weeks “center-fold” pictures, then the comedy of the readers write and everything else in between.
    I was considering canceling my subscription, but I now realize that I would miss all the fun!!

  20. This article is a joke and a farce. It is this type of reactionary attitude that could drive people away from being shomer shabbat, shomer kashrut, shomer taharat mishpachah and shomer mitzvot in general.

    To this author, Orthodoxy and halachic observance seem to be synonymous, while anything other than Orthodoxy, something he accuses Rav Weiss of, is non-halachic. This article runs dangerously close to if not crossing the boundaries of a level of disrespect and flagrant disregard for the reputation of a Rav that would lead one to be ostracized from the community.

  21. to #15. He would probably address her exactly as kisvei Kodesh does: UDevorah isha neviah, eishes Lapidos. And all the significant female figures throughout Torah hisrtory, such as Beruria, wife of R’ Meir and daughter of R’ Chanina ben Tradyon, Yalsa, wife of Rav Nachman the dayan and daughter of the Reish Gelusa, and numerous others whose daas was recognized by Torah leaders in their time, but never aspired to be a Rabbi.

  22. A much needed article, far from a masterpiece.
    Rabbi Lipschitz thinks that the Yated is THE ultimate Daas Torah, and that major Halochkly Psak should be born from the pages of the holy Yated. Rabbi Lipschitz please don’t insult the Olam HaTorah by trying to convince us that just because you have pictures of Gedolim in your newspaper it becomes automatically Daas Torah, We still have a Shulchan Aruch and fine poskim in our Kehilos HaKodesh. The Yated is just a newspaper-nothing more, period. Try writting Lshmo and with authentic passion, perhaps people will listen more.
    The gedolei Israel will act when the time is right, not when you decide the time is right.

  23. Rabbi Lipschutz – I agree with you 100% but quite frankly what you and I (and the rest of the yeshiva world) think is not relevant. The people who accept Avi as orthodox, particularly the left wing modern orthodox, don’t really care what we think. If you want to make in-roads on limiting Avi and his beliefs, then you must get the leaders of the non-fringe modern orthodox crowd to denounce his way as on non-orthodox. Only then will those who are truly affected by this stop supporting Avi.

    As a side point, Rabbi Lipshutz – your articles would be much more powerful if you did not mischaracter certain facts to make your point. I understand that you are pandering to your constituency but since when does number of minutes spent on Gemora dictate who can pasken shailos. True one needs to be able to learn gemora – but halacha is learned from shulchan aruch. The bechinah is based upon shulchan aruch and commentaries. Further, there was no need to make Lakewood seem superior to YU. The YU/REITS boys learn less gemora than the Lakewood counterparts (this is addition to the fact that the guys learning 4.5 hours are not in the semicha program, not because they learn less, but because they are focused on halacha le’maseh, whereas Lakewood spends more time on Bekios of gemara. For the uninformed, this is why YU puts out more Rabbi’s than Lakewood – because that is their focus.

  24. What is your most prized possession? The exclusion of women? Oh, we’re talking about your ego, your masculinity. If women are rabbis, what exactly is destroyed? What? Nothing… just your sense of power. Men…. all about power…

  25. There is another faction of K’lal Yisroel who are doing /believing much worse things. They are spreading genuine kefirah through K’lal Yisroel.

    They have much more of an effect on us than YCT.

    So, why is R’ Pinchos quiet about them?

  26. What is important to note and is often ignored is the difference between and individual’s actions and establishment of a movement.

    There are instances where people have done wrong , however if they are aware that what they are doing is wrtong and are not convincing others to do so, there is not such a neccesity for public outcry.

    However, where a leader proclaims that what is wrong is right, then it is our duty to decry the situation. It is not at all the same as an individuals wrongdoing, no matter how terrible.

    Those who complain that there should have public outcries about a certain individual’s misdeeds are either trying to misdirect the issue or as likely, do not have the basic powers of logic to see the obvious difference.

    I doubt anyone is applauding the actions of the individual is alleged to have done, however many are proud and hold up as correct and a model to follow Avi Weiss’s corruption of Torah and Halacha.


  27. Reply to #20 who wrote

    “Women are spiritually on a higher level then men and thank Hashem for that each morning by saying the Bracha of Sheosani Kirtzono.”

    Not true. Please stop with that modern apologetics baloney. That is a modern invention put together to answer the feminists – but we need to stick to old-fashioned Toras emes, not make up clever new arguments, no matter how tempting it may be to do so.

  28. Rabbi Lipschutz:

    Why don’t you challenge those who have strange
    messianic doctrines according to which
    the false belief in the messiaship of its
    previous leader is proclaimed?

    Is that mainstream Orthodoxy? I say
    it is not. Remenber Shabsai Tzvi?
    This is really a serous matter.

    What about those whose propaganda challenges
    Israel’s exitence as a nation?
    Is such ideology in sinc with
    conventional Torah Judaism? It is

    Frankly, I also disagree with
    Rabbi Weiss’ innovation to grant
    rabbinical status to women.

  29. Mkarpas, number 15. You need to review the gemora in Megilla which discusses Devora and her authority. She was listened to because she was a Neviya and was wise, not because she grabbed a silly title for herself.

    I am not a Cohen, and would be severely punished if I tried to do the Avodah. Leviim have their responsibilities which they may not shirk, as do men and as do women.

    These women will not be rewarded for moving out of their ranks. In fact, they are better off trying to convince their husbands to learn and become rabonnim (and maybe start wearing tefillin?)

  30. Is it too much to ask that the Yated article provide a single marei makom in Shulchan Aruch showing exactly what halacha is being violated here that renders this arrangement not Orthodox? Is this just a matter of opinion of Rabbi Weiss vs. Rabbi Lipschutz, like is Chinese food better than Italian food? I always thought the Orthodox first consulted Shas and Shulchan Aruch before discussing a halachic issue, yet I don’t see one source brought down. That itself doesn’t sound very Orthodox.

    Also note that there was no mesorah for girls to go to school, and that Sarah Schnirer broke with the mesorah. Also note that there were other nevios such a Chuldah, and Talmidos Chachamos such as Bruriah and even the wife of a Chassidishe Rebbe hundreds of years ago who would say shiurim for men behind a mechitzah. I think even the wife of Reb Isser Zalman Meltzer wrote his verbal tshuvos down, but I need to check on that.

    Until we have sources we can debate and understand exactly what this woman is actually doing, and acknowledge that times may change and mandate new approaches like Bais Yaakov, we are just all spouting opinions.

  31. #26 – your words are Kefira at the highest level. In Torah there is NO compromise and no room for opinions. There is plenty of room for any Machlokes Lshaym Shomayim. Plenty of room for sensitivity and plenty of room for discussion. However we cannot, will not and should not ever in any way shape or form compromise even a hair for the authenticity of Torah. If that does not work for you then find a part of the religion that does but don’t try to change ours.

    Tanach is full of ladies who are role models. Mama Rochel is our key to the ears of hashem. Yet, nowhere does it ever give any lady a title of Rabbi or Rov. And ALL of those ladies mentioned were much greater then this Hurwitz clown. Last week we learned about Miriam singing Shira with the ladies. Did they put up a Mechitza? Did the men listen to Kol Isha? No, of course not. The ladies on their own were inspired and wanted to sing Shira so they went off to the side and in their own Tzniusdigga way sang Shira that we read in our Torah about every year. Women can make a difference and can be role models but not if it means compromising Torah in any way.

  32. Rabbi Lipschitz: please see and what R Hershcel Shcachter said quite a few years ago about the types of innovations yct/R. Weiss are implementing. I point it out because you say you are the only one who has protested

  33. Why not spend five minutes with this extraordinary Rabbi and then perhaps even you’ll question your own lofty status.
    BTW please replace that file photo of yourself it makes you look like Rham is describing YOU.

  34. Midwesterner.

    There were no Rabbis in the time of the Shoftim. Pirke Avos states that the mesora was handed down to the Shoftim. In other words Devorah was the ‘Gadol Hador’ in her time.
    Do you agrre or disagree?

    Seecondly, R LiPschutz would have difficulty using Devorah’s biblical appelation that you quote if he used the Isreali Yated’s habit of never referring to a woman by her given/first name.

  35. Here is something for Yated to digest… I received this email and wanted to share the marvelous point made by N.B. of Boro Park

    In your last weeks edition of your newspaper I observed at least 12 advertisements for hotels for Pesach. It is interesting to note that almost all advertised that they were totally non-gebrokts, used chassidishe shechita, cholov yisroel, and hand shmura matza only. However, I observed that only three ads even mentioned who was giving the hechsher. Even those that did mention who was their hashgocha, you needed a magnifying glass to find or even read the wording. On the other hand, the entertainment, singers, and speakers were so proudly displayed and pronounced, and the pools, gorgeous landscaping, rooms, and even splendid food dishes were the major focus and theme of the ads.

    Is not Pesach the time of year when we are most makpid about kashrus? So why is that the least important to the people that the ads are directed at?

    Is not the central theme of Yetzias Mitzrayim, that the Yidden threw off the yoke of Pharoah, that represented the opposite of kedusha? Then why the detailed attention to opulence, gashmiyus, and good times?

    Is Chol Hamoed designated for swimming, golf, tennis, fitness centers, and other forms of entertainment and excitement? Does that not border r”l on what Chazal meant by “Hemevaze es Hamoados….”?

    Sure there are people that can not make Yom Tov for many reasons, and have no choice but to go to hotels. But should not the Olam Hazeh part be played down somewhat, and the Kedushas Hamoed be highlighted – especially the kashrus? One would think that the fiercest competition would be over who has a better hashgocha!

    I think that while these catering establishments review their culinary and kashrus plans, that they should “kasher” their ads too.

  36. Don’t be so frightened of change. Women are just as intelligent and qualified as men in this capacity. Why are you so scared? Are you afraid that it’ll turn out that your wives might become better at understanding and explaining Judaism than you? You should be proud of women for having these aspirations, for putting Torah and Judaism first.

    Rabbi Weiss is fantastic.

  37. #45,

    As a woman, I’m proud of my status, and feel perhaps it is you who are so frightened of exploring your true roles in life.

    We have no need or interest in a man’s role: we are quite proud of our own, and plenty of work to do to accomplish a woman’s goals!

  38. Rabbi Lipschutz once again has been a lone voice in the darkness:

    Metzitzah B’peh
    bris milah
    Rabbi FIscher
    Open ORthodoxy

    et al

    When no one is home, when no one has a voice, we have Rabbi Lipschuzt and the Yateed


  39. “I have a question for the good Rabbi Lifschutz,

    If he had lived in the time of The Shoftim and came before Devroah Haneviah, how would he address her?”

    I don’t know that, but I do know what Dvorah would have answered: “Call me Madam!”

  40. This unfortunately is a natural result of some factions of modern orthodoxy receiving legitamecy despite holding views counter to Torah and mesorah this was the invetable next step.will the Rabbinical Council of America denounce this break with the mesorah.

  41. 37 (anonymous): one difference – Sarah Schneirer got haskamos from the gedolei hador, and had a broad tent of people working with her (from Rabbi Orlean to Rebbetzin Grunfeld, etc.).

  42. Sadly this was an invetible next step once you start changing the mesorah there is sometimes no stoping. Hopefully some in the modern Orthodox world will stop making comprimises with Halacha and stop embracing the idea that we can disagree with Chazal R”L.

  43. first maharat, then rabbah, soon the women will be paskening. to those who say “What’s the big deal?” I’ll tell you what the big deal is. the big deal is that Avi Weiss and his cronies are slowly destroying klal yisroel. Maharat Hurwitz?! Puleeez. don’t make me puke.

  44. #48,

    Did I say I was a woman?

    As far as “true rules in life” I hope that people have the intelligence and drive to discover their true roles, and to thrive in those roles.

    But good for you in being proud of being a woman. You should be!

  45. i would like to comment THAT IN YU THERE AREn’t PEOPLE IN THE COFFE ROOM


  47. Rabbi (sic) Avi Weiss is not a person who should be deciding anything. “Helping” people doesn;t make one a decisor on halacha or hashkafa matters. I don’t care how many people he helped. He is a churban

  48. The problem with Rabbi Lifschutz [deleted by moderator]. If he had any real desire to promote Torah values, instead of going on a campaign to get Weiss de-othodoxized, he would take the attitude of the Chofetz Chaim: Avi Weiss is an Ohev Yisroel, he has been Mekarev many liberal and nonaffiliated Jews to Shmiras HaMitzvos and has had some valuable accomplishments through Jewish activism. However, in some issues, although not actual Kefira, he has adopted views and actions which seem antithetical to all streams of normative Orthodox Judaism. I want to sit down with him, perhaps with Rav Schachter, Rav Dovid Cohen, The Noviminsker, et al, to talk about where he is headed. Perhaps together we can come up with ideas that accommodate the positive things he is now trying to accomplish for Klal Yisroel, yet conform with normative Orthodoxy, balance changing needs and promote Shalom Al Yisroel.

  49. This needs to be condemned by the Rabbinical Coucil of America.This is a natural result of factions of Modern Orthodoxy which promote haskafos of evolution and other Non Torah ideas as well as critique Chazal R”L.

  50. Although I do not advocate granting rabbinical status to women, I have no objection to those in the ultra-Orthodox community who refer to certain righteous ladies a “Rebbetzin”. (This
    assertion should not be miscontrued as a “Psak”. I write only in a philosophical
    vein.) Certainly the commonplace use of this honorific is likewise not intended in any
    halachic sense. It is often used to denote the
    rabbi’s wife. As a philosophical innovation, perhaps, such a title might be granted to those righteous and learned ladies who teach and officiate in communal positions. It should in no way be equated with the rabbinate in a
    halachic sense.

    In my opinion, the aforementioned
    title is traditional and appropriate in certain circumstances.

  51. I am a daughter of a kollel-learner, and I am married to a kollel student for over a decade (BMG, no less). I am not asking factiously, but would really like to know, what exactly, is anti-halachah about a woman rabbi in this context – will she be leading davening, leining from the Torah in shul? Other than that, what is anti-halacha about this?

  52. There are so many historical errors in this essay that I don’t know where to begin. Just to give one example, the Reform movement had tossed out just about every important Jewish principle except belief in God by the 1840s, many decades before the famous “treif banquet”. If this is the best argument people can come up with against Rabbi Weiss, he has nothing to worry about. Note that there is not a single halachic source presented here. This is NOT an Orthodox argument.

  53. Unfortunately this is the result of the lack of kavod some in The Modern Orthodox world have for the words of Chazal and there willingness to “disagree” with Chazal.

  54. the fact that this matter is even being discussed is absurd. this Weiss guy has gone off the deep ened. He is adulterating our Orthodoxy. Why must he do that? Let ,him go to the COnservative and we’ll be done with him. ad kan.

  55. Thank you to Matzav for publishing this article. Shows where small comprimises in Haskafah and The Mesorah could lead to. Despite the fact that some people learn in YU as one person commented that does not excuse being lax in Halacha. On Israeli Independence Day in YU there is music during Sefira and some minyanim make a Bracha and say Halel. Small changes can lead to big ones.


    Dear Editor,
    In the United States, the rabbinic response
    to the phenomenon of yo’atsot has been varied.
    There are many Orthodox rabbis who fully
    support the concept and practice of utilizing
    this cadre of seriously educated and rigorously
    trained women for their communities’ needs,
    but others have opted out of giving their imprimatur
    and have even gone as far as to limit
    these women’s access to their communities.
    This, I believe, is a sad and unfortunate failure
    amongst parts of the American rabbinate.
    Sharing authority is not something that
    any system based on a hierarchical structure
    embraces easily. The halakhic framework
    within Orthodoxy clearly places power and authority
    in the hands of those with extensive Talmudic
    knowledge. Women’s access to that
    knowledge has long been a point of contention
    within Orthodoxy. It has even evolved, in certain
    institutions, into the absurdity of allowing
    only photocopied materials into class, as opposed
    to bound books; somehow, the information
    studied while contained in an actual book
    is perceived as more unsafe or subject to
    scrutiny than when it is simply selected and
    However, things have certainly improved.
    Women at Stern College are given support to
    pursue rigorous Talmud study, and, most importantly,
    women’s intellectual interest in
    Torah is deeply respected. How shocking it
    was for me, after graduating from Stern over
    twenty years ago, to read in this paper [“An Interview
    with Rabbi Yaakov Neuberger,” Kol
    Hamevaser 3,2 (November 2009): 11-13, at p.
    12] that the Yo’atsot Program represents a barrier
    in the relationship between a female congregant
    and her rabbi!
    It is ironic that when rabbis are told that
    women are more comfortable discussing intimate
    areas of their lives with another woman
    than with a man, they respond with extreme
    defensiveness: how can it be that just by nature
    of who they are, namely male, they are not as
    equipped to handle the hypersensitive areas of
    Taharat ha-Mishpahah? Many rabbis are, in
    fact, quite sensitive, and, in their own minds,
    fully cognizant of the psychological and emotional
    factors that come into play in rendering
    a pesak Halakhah in these areas. However, reality
    rears its ugly head and screams, “Alas,
    you are not a woman! In addition to many
    other obvious differences, you have never
    physically experienced a monthly menses!”
    Although personal experience is not a necessity
    in halakhic decision-making, it certainly
    does not hurt. As Mrs. Shani Taragin stated in
    her recent interview in the same issue, “As
    many rabbanim have attested and as we see in
    the end of the Perishah’s introduction to Yoreh
    De’ah, women understand the metsi’ut (realia)
    of these halakhic phenomena a little more
    clearly than men do, and they can explain them
    to other women more easily.”i Every day of a
    religious woman’s life, she is confronted with
    and must accept the fact of her limitations
    based on gender. Orthodox women have been
    doing this with tremendous dignity for generations.
    The rabbis can and should learn from
    their female congregants what it means to hold
    yourself back from something that you feel you
    are qualified for and deserve to be a part of.
    Hopefully, the objective or fundamental
    organizing principle of every rabbinic leader is
    to make shemirat mitsvot a meaningful and
    necessary part of every congregant’s experience.
    Access to yo’atsot has increased the
    number of women who are asking questions
    and getting answers. This is a reality that anxiety
    about change will not cause to disappear.
    Having a halakhic relationship with someone
    other than the rav of one’s shul does not discount
    or dilute many other opportunities for
    connection with him as a posek. It is imperative,
    I believe, for rabbis to review the notion
    of healthy relationships in this context. In our
    most significant experiences and connections
    with other people, we must always allow for
    learning and access to information from other
    sources. Ultimately, this strengthens and validates
    those relationships. This is true for parents
    and children, teachers and students, and
    rabbis and congregants.
    I am writing this to the young readers of
    this paper. Do not be afraid to accept the appropriate
    halakhic innovations that many rabbanim
    in Erets Yisrael have already fully
    endorsed. Change in any system is scary and
    threatening. However, a healthy system incorporates
    new information and people’s real-life
    experiences to allow for proper development.
    The presence of yo’atsot in our communities
    is a model of growth and opportunities for
    women to study within a serious halakhic
    framework. Celebrate the chance for yourselves,
    your spouses, and your sisters to seize
    this moment in Jewish history and to be full
    contributors to the wondrous and beautiful experience
    of living a life immersed in Torah values
    and study. This is not a radicalization of
    Orthodoxy. It is merely a response to the reallife
    experience and spiritual yearnings of many
    women. The student body at Yeshiva University
    represents the future of Orthodoxy in this
    country. Be brave, and remember: “In a place
    where there are no men, strive to be a man.”ii
    Suri Halpern, SCW ’86, CSL ’89
    i “An Interview with Mrs. Shani Taragin: Part
    One,” Kol Hamevaser 3,2 (November 2009):
    14-17, at p. 15.
    ii Avot 2:5.

  57. By the way, to those that are saying that those in the YU Smicha program learn more then 4-5 hours. Kol Hakovod. As a weekly subscriber to the Yated for the last 14 years (about), I can assure you that Rabbi Lipshutz is very glad to hear that. Now, what you guys have to do is get control of the left of Modern Orthodoxy as unfortunately they are dangling at the fringe of a dangerous cliff.

  58. As a left-wing modern orthodox Jew, I must decry Avi Weiss who has once again gone too far. He makes a mockery out of Judaism and we must condemn his actions.

  59. To #53:

    Instead of being so quick to judge an entire community based on a letter written by a single person and published on a known anti-Semetic website, why don’t you speak to/read the comments of those who were there at the time, and find out what REALLY happened?

    (I’m sorry – I know this is off topic – but the holier-than-thou attitude that many of the anti-Torah commenters have bothers me. If #53 is going to bring in a completely irrelevant, and inaccurate, point, I feel compelled to respond.)

  60. this missive is so full of practical holes it is mind bogling. it is remeniscient of that five towns article a terribly written and very general article full of hles where he tried to blast the concept of the “yoetzet halacha” due to a couple’ visit to a local shul as scholars in residence.

  61. Mrs. Hurwitz, are you a mohel too? I need a mesader kiddushin, mohel, posek, and rov. How much do you charge? are you a shochet too?

  62. The position of some in YU leadership is not far off look at the journal Kol Mevaser online its from YU and based on their interview conducted with a senior YU official there is not a clear opposition to the idea of Women Marits or whatever its called

  63. 74: Why do we have to “get control of the left of Modern Orthodoxy as unfortunately they are dangling at the fringe of a dangerous cliff”?

    It’s just as much the yeshivish world’s problem as the right-wing MO. We’re all Jews. Why is the rest of Modern Orthodoxy responsible for these few? When there were stories of abuse in the yeshiva system, did the MO ignore it, and tell the yeshivish world to take care of it? No, we looked into our own systems as well, and made sure everything was ok. ALL Jews are responsible for each other.

  64. Rabbi simply means learning the required coursework for the rabbinate. It doesn’t mean that the person will become a posek or rosh yeshiva. She passed her courses and is now called a ‘rabbi’. As long as she is not doing congregational rabbinic responsibilities, who cares. It’s not Conservative or Reform, rather it’s an Orthodox person who fulfilled the requirements.

  65. #80 – you are 100% right. I just meant to say that people should not think that the yeshiva world is upset if we are challenged that in YU the learning program is more intense then mentioned. We are actually very happy about that. In one way though it would be appropriate fo the right wing MO world to take action – because the left wing MO world have unfortunately reached the point where they have very little respect for the yeshiva world – due to their slow assimilation. In addition it would help other MO jews for drifting left.

  66. Dear Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz,

    WIth all due respect, what are you so afraid of? Why don’t you let Hashem worry about this one? He is the ultimate Judge, why do you care so much what another human being does – why don’t you worry less about judging others and worry more about why you feel the need to tell other adults how to live their lives.

    Why do you have the right to live according to your beliefs and Avi Weiss does not?

    It is a risky road to travel when you believe you speak for God. Who is the Ruler? Has He appointed you personally?

    I think it’s a chillul Hashem to denigrate other Jews, and rob them of their status, almost saying that because of his beliefs, he is not worthy of the same rights that you enjoy, such as living life in accordance with your beliefs and serving God the way you see fit. How would you like it if someone went on a rampage about you and told you how wrong and bad you are?

    What an embarrassment and shame that a well-educated leader such as yourself does not recognize that putting others down is not a sign of strength, it is mean and a sign of weakness. I ask you to think twice before writing such hurtful remarks that are inciting your followers to wish to make life horrible for a fellow human being.

  67. #85:

    We all, Rabbi Lipschutz included, are required to publicly protest when someone like Avi Weiss makes a public Chillul Hashem like this.

    Thank You Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz.

  68. We have no need or interest in a man’s role: we are quite proud of our own, and plenty of work to do to accomplish a woman’s goals!

    Now, get back in the kitchen and bake me a pie!

  69. #72, what is your point exactly? I heard there are shteiblach that begin davening after sof zman krias shma or even after sof zman tefillah! some even eat before davening!

    please note as well, most rabbeim at yu have already spoken against yct – it broke off because it was too far left. yu and lander’s college have no need to attack weiss – as much as they have no need to attack huc – it has nothing to do with them.


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