the most common of which is reading from it. Admittedly, the text - while indicative - is no conclusive proof either. However, what clear is that R. Messas felt that no one would be offended by the notion that these women prayed together and took out a Torah scroll.
184.R. Schachter, supra, note 61 at pp. 131-132, and R. David Cohen, supra, note 65; and R. Zalman Nehemiah Goldberg, supra, note 73.
185.Leviticus 18:3. See also Leviticus 20:23.
186.See sources cited in Encyclopedia Talmudit, XVII, “Hukot haGoy,” p. 305; R. Isaac Kaufman, Resp. Yevakesh Torah - al haShulhan Arukh, sec. 44.
187.Supra, note 129.
188.Cf. R. Zalman Nehemiah Goldberg: supra, note 73; beMar’e haBazak, V, addendum to sec. 113, p. 227, s.v. “Amnam”; and Resp. Binyan Ariel, E.H., “Birkat Hatanim biSe’udat Sheva Berakhot al yedei Isha,” pp. 135-141, sec. 8. R. Goldberg cites a responsum of R. David Zevi Hoffman, Resp. MeLamed leHo’il, I, sec. 16, which discusses the use of an organ in the synagogue. R. Hoffman contends that the prohibition of u-be-hukoteihem applies also to actions and modes of behavior which imitate the practices of Jewish heretics (e.g., Reform Jews). R. Hoffman finds support for his argument in Mishna Hullin 2:9, which forbids slaughtering an animal in the marketplace and allowing the blood to drain into a hole. The mishna explains that such behavior is not allowed since it appears “to imitate the ways of the minim.” Rashi, Hullin 41b, s.v. “Ye-hake,” comments that through imitation “one will strengthen their hand in their ways.” The Talmud, ibid., proceeds to quote a beraita which explicitly bases this prohibition upon the biblical text of u-be-hukoteihem. See Encyclopedia Talmudit, supra, note 186, at 316-317. R. Goldberg accordingly argues that inasmuch as women’s participation in the prayer service finds its source in Reform practice, following suit would transgress u-be-hukoteihem.
With all due respect, however, R. Goldberg’s reliance upon R. Hoffman’s responsum is quite problematic. As noted by the various commentaries, the activities of the minim prohibited by the above Mishna Hullin are idolatry-related practices. See, for example, Rabbeinu Gershom, ad loc.; Rashi, Hullin 41a, s.v. “Aval.” In fact, R. Jehiel Jacob Weinberg, Resp. Seridei Eish, III, sec. 93 (end), underscores this very point in his discussion of R. Hoffman’s responsum. R. Weinberg therefore takes pains to note that the use of the organ in the synagogue was initially instituted by the Reform movement