Monday, August 1, 2022

Women Rabbis?

In the printed notes of Rav Soloveitchik’s shiurim on Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah, 1 prepared for publication by Rabbi Eliyakim Koenigsberg, in the very first essay, the Rav is quoted as having said that a woman may not serve as a rabbi. The Tanna’im understood the pasuk in Chumash as implying that women may not be appointed to the position of King.2 The Talmud points out3 that the repetition of the verb in the pasuk “som tasim alecha melech”4 implies that this principle applies not only to the position of King, but to all positions of serarah and authority. Hence it would follow5 that a woman may not be appointed president of a synagogue or as rabbi, since these are also positions of serarah. 6 The reason the Rav brought up this topic in the beginning of Yoreh De’ah is because the Rama7 quotes the practice of not appointing a woman as the town shochet. The Beis Yosef quotes the Kol Bo who seems to say8 that although a woman may shecht privately, she may not be appointed as the town shochet. If indeed this was the intention of the Kol Bo it could be understood that this appointment would constitute a form of serarah. Indeed in Europe before the war, the town shochet was, in a certain sense, the assistant rabbi. The shochet knew sections of Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah, and often when the rabbi would be on vacation, the shochet would paskin the she’eilos.

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