would not come to synagogue. When they come because of kaddish, they also come a bit closer to Judaism the rest of the year; and for that reason itself, one should not rebuff the na’arot either, since it fosters closeness to Judaism.” On questions of policy, others may legitimately disagree. We should support any rabbi who declares, “While such a practice may be technically according to Halakha, in my opinion it would have dangerous consequences in my community and so I will not permit it”—although I would urge careful consideration of my grandfather’s approach even in the white heat of current controversy; also see Benei Vanim, I, no. 37, sec. 12. What must be avoided is the confusion of Halakha with polemics.283
In the same vein, the door always remains open for a public-policy reevaluation of women’s prayer groups by Torah authorities.284 The significance of the reality that the majority of prominent Torah personalities have to date opposed women’s prayer groups for one reason or another cannot be overlooked. Nonetheless, a significant number of community rabbis—those who have ongoing direct contact with the members of women’s tefilla groups—contend that greater rabbinic involvement and direction can serve to allay the legitimate motivational, hashkafic, Torah-value and public policy concerns articulated by the gedolei Yisrael cited above.
How our generation, or any of the generations of the future, may ultimately decide in this important issue is uncertain.285 Indeed, a half a century ago, the great halakhic authority, R. Jehiel Jacob Weinberg, wisely observed that in questions regarding the role of women in society, time is often the final arbiter.286 Yet, until that time when a clear consensus is reached, and in light of the growth and apparent vitality of women’s prayer groups, the Torah community as a whole must openly and honestly address the real issues—both halakhic and public policy—raised in this article. We pray that our Torah leadership will be blessed with divine guidance, inspiration and Solomonic wisdom to find the appropriate answers for our generation. And we pray as well that the community will allow itself to be led.
Part 1: General Applications of Rabbeinu Tam’s Patur ve-Ose Me-vareikh Principle.
As mentioned above, text at note 35, the halakhic literature is replete with applications of