X hits on this document

Word document






40 / 157

women’s service at any time, lest it turn into a spectator event.)253

Upon further reflection, though, the Rav withdrew his support for a women’s tefilla group, even in an educational framework, for fear that his halakhic ruling would be misunderstood, misused and misapplied—that people would fail to distinguish between educational settings and communal ones. Interestingly, the issue arose at Maimonides a second time in 1974. The Rav again informed the teachers and administration that the services were permitted on strictly halakhic grounds—he even gave them the aforementioned guidelines—but indicated that he was not happy with the entire idea. Thus, the move never gained momentum and died.254

R. Soloveitchik’s view on women’s hakafot was in keeping with his general position on women’s prayer groups. Here, too, the Rav did not, as a rule, find clear halakhic objections to the practice. He did forbid taking the Torah scrolls outside the synagogue because of the prohibition of tiltul sefer Torah—the halakhically unnecessary transfer of a Torah scroll outside the synagogue or to another building.255 This is a sign of disrespect to the Torah, for people should come to the Torah, not vice versa.256 However, as R. Aharon Lichtenstein has noted, if the women’s hakafot were in the synagogue, but in the women’s section, tiltul sefer Torah per se would not be of issue.257 The Rav also stated that there was no problem with women’s holding a sefer Torah, even when they were niddot (menstruants).258 Yet, for all the hashkafic and public- policy reasons indicated above, the Rav was clearly not in favor of the practice—whether the hakafot took place in the synagogue or some other venue.259 To a certain extent, R. Soloveitchik was more opposed to women’s hakafot than he was to women’s services. After all, women were obligated in prayer—and, according to R. Soloveitchik, they were obligated thrice daily.260 Therefore, the Rav was more understanding of the desire to enhance the experience of tefilla. There is, however, no such parallel obligation or mitsvah of hakafot for women; consequently, the Rav saw little reason to be accommodating in this area.261

It appears that during the early 1970’s, R. Soloveitchik was less emphatic about his objection to women’s hakafot, despite his displeasure with them. Nonetheless, as the years passed and the Rav’s discomfort with the direction things were taking grew, he would unequivocally express his opposition to women’s hakafot, even in an educational setting, to anyone who came to ask his opinion on the subject.262 In fact, in one instance, the Rav even volunteered to appear before a shul board to personally convey his objections to such

Document info
Document views251
Page views252
Page last viewedTue Oct 25 13:03:25 UTC 2016