Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rabbi bans women from public office


Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, chief rabbi of the Elon Moreh settlement in Samaria, has prohibited female residents from running for the office of community secretary. The elections for the position are scheduled for Wednesday, but so far not a single woman of the 750 eligible adult residents of the settlement has announced candidacy. One woman, who remains anonymous, sent a letter to Rabbi Levanon asking whether she could run for the position. "I am a young woman and I think I have the desire and energy to do things. I also believe there is a benefit to making a woman secretary, because it's not right for men to be the only ones deciding how to run the community," she wrote to the rabbi, asking his opinion. But in his weekly column in the settlement's newspaper Levanon wrote that the position of secretary was not fit for a woman, according to the teachings of the Rav Kook. He said women could participate in various councils, but not as secretaries. "The first problem is giving women authority, and being a secretary means having authority," he wrote. "The second problem is mixing men and women. Secretary meetings are held at night and sometimes end very late. It is not proper to be in mixed company in such situations." The rabbi added that women who desired to affect public opinion should do so through their husbands. "Within the family certain debates are held and when opinions are united the husband presents the family's opinion," he wrote. "This is the proper way to prevent a situation in which the woman votes one way and her husband votes another."


  1. What's the surprise here to warrant this as being news? Rav Kook zt'l was always strictly enforcing proper tznius. Rav Kook zt'l was completely against woman running (or even voting!) for public office.

  2. Rav Kook zt'l, in his Sefer Mamarei HaRe’ayah (pp. 189–191) he writes that allowing women to vote might disrupt domestic harmony, “since domestic peace would be destroyed by the storm of opinions and disagreements” (Mamarei HaRe’ayah pp. 189–191). Since women would be permitted to express their political views on a par with men, political arguments could break out between the couple, undermining domestic harmony (Ibid. pp. 192–194). Therefore women should not be given the right to express their political opinions in elections.

    The second point is that “This will teach her... which will impact negatively on both her morality and her inner freedom.” Therefore the appropriate method is “to listen to women’s opinion in every household, even on general social and political subjects, but the agreed-upon opinion must go forth from the home.… and the one who has the duty to bring it out into the public domain is the man, the father of the family.” Rav Kook adds, “Even if those people who maintain that the idea of what is termed equal rights for women and their participation in the public sphere according to modern ideas... nevertheless it is ugly and unacceptable.”

    In a declaration on this matter by the Rabbinical conference, on which Rav Kook signed, he ruled decisively: “Resolved: that the item concerning the participation of women in the elections, as adopted by the provisional committee, is contrary to Mosaic law and Jewish law and contrary to the national spirit in general, and until this innovation is abolished, no eligible Jew shall participate in the constituent assembly.”

    Rabbi Elyakim Levanon is perfectly aligned with Rav Kook on this issue.

  3. The rabbi is preposterous, If he follows Rav Kook to the letter he should prohibit her from voting as well.

  4. Ideally he would. But it isn't practical. So he came as close to Rav Kook's position as attainable.


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