L. Rabinovitch, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hesder Birkat Moshe, Israel, has also ruled in accordance with this view.213, 213* These rabbis express no difficulty with the objections raised in the previous section by R. Schachter and his colleagues.
R. Feinstein’s position finds expression in a series of responsa and letters spanning a decade. The first of these was a responsum written on 18 Elul 5736 (August 18, 1976) to R. Yehuda Kelemer, then rabbi of the Young Israel of Brookline, Massachusetts. R. Kelemer has shared with us214 that his question, as posed to R. Feinstein dealt, in reality, with women’s hakafot. R. Kelemer had initially turned to R. Soloveitchik, but after expressing his own negative opinion on the subject,215 R. Soloveitchik encouraged R. Kelemer to discuss the matter with R. Feinstein as well. In their conversation, R. Feinstein related specifically to women’s hakafot, clearly discouraging R. Kelemer from allowing the practice in his synagogue.215* In his written—and later published216—responsum, however, R. Feinstein chose to address the broader issue of the Women’s Liberation movement. Inter alia, R. Feinstein writes:
Indeed, all women are permitted to perform even those commandments which the Torah did not obligate them [to do], and they have fulfilled a mitsvah and [receive] reward for the performance of these commandments. . . . Nevertheless, it is obvious that this is so only if her soul desires to fulfill mitsvot even though she is not commanded [to do so]. However, since her intention is not such, but rather, she is motivated by her grievance with God and His Torah, her deed is not to be considered a mitsvah-action at all, but on the contrary, a forbidden action. For she is violating the prohibition of heresy—since she thinks that the laws of the Torah are subject to change—[not only in thought, but] also in deed, which is [all the more] serious.
Although this responsum was written in 1975, as noted above, it appeared in print only in 1982. It did not take long thereafter for various rabbis to request that R. Feinstein further clarify his position. The first such clarification was, unfortunately, not written by R. Feinstein himself, but by his secretary and grandson, R. Mordechai Tendler, on R. Moshe Feinstein’s stationery. The May 1983 teshuva, though, is based upon R. Tendler’s discussions with his grandfather.217 A full translation of this unpublished—although by now famous—responsum follows:
14 Sivan 5743