would seem to indicate that such Torah readings are not completely without precedent.183** Furthermore, as noted in section B.2 above, the private reading from a Torah scroll with trop by a woman is not prohibited per se. As in the case of the reading of the Megilla, the fact that women rarely, if ever, did so stemmed from lack of education and related sociological issues rather than halakhic ones. In such a case, too, one can well argue lo ra’inu eino ra’aya.
5. Following in the Ways of the Gentiles: The fifth argument of the stringent school184 is that women’s services violate the biblical injunction, “U-be-hukoteihem lo te-leikhu”—“After the doings of the land of Egypt . . . and the land of Cana’an . . . shall you not do; nor shall you walk in their statutes.”185 As understood by the codifiers, this verse admonishes Jews against emulating not only the religious ways of non-Jews, but also their immodest mores.186 Women’s prayer services, argues the stringent school, are prohibited on both grounds. First, women’s prayer services run counter to normative Jewish religious practice, since women do not lead public ritual. Unfortunately, lament these scholars, non-Jewish influence has had its effect on the Reform and Conservative movements, and from there it has passed to these Orthodox women’s groups. What is worse, however, is that the clamor for such women’s services is a direct result of the influence of “Women’s Lib,” a movement based on non-Jewish values and priorities foreign to halakhic Judaism. The primary goals of the Women’s Liberation movement are immodest, for it attempts to obfuscate, if not obliterate, male-female sex roles.
On the other hand, as R. Y. Henkin has noted,187 the prohibition of “U-be-hukoteihem lo te-leikhu” is directed towards actions and modes of behavior which imitate established non-Jewish patterns,188 not merely ideas which have parallels in gentile circles.189 In R. Henkin’s words: “The Torah does not forbid movements, but actions” (pun intended). Significantly, we would note, the very language of the biblical verse refers explicitly to gentile doings (“ma’ase”) and statutes (“hukot”).190 The tana’im of Torat Kohanim underscore this very point when they write, “‘And in their statutes you shall not walk’—I refer only to statutes which were legislated for them and for their fathers and for their fathers’ fathers.”191 Only once it has been clearly determined that the practice under scrutiny is a well-established and long-standing gentile custom could it be prohibited for Jews as a violation of “U-be-hukoteihem.”
Not surprisingly, therefore, all of the sources mustered by R. Schachter discuss immodest behavior or religious modes with direct parallels in non-Jewish custom or practice.