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Debate on women learning Gemara s/o
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JoyInTheMorning




 
 
 
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 10:21 am
I am starting this thread so that if anyone wants to debate malki2's question, they can.

I'm not a mod, but I think it is only polite that those who oppose women learning Gemara not disturb that thread, which has become a support thread and resource thread for those of us who would like to learn Daf Yomi, with the question of whether or not women are allowed to learn Gemara.

malki2 wrote:
Hey I’m just curious—

According to most Halachic authorities, women are not supposed/allowed to learn Gemara officially. Are all of you official daf learners from the MO end of the spectrum, or are some of you Chareidi girls doing this clandestinely?


Most Halachic authorities opposed women learning Chumash and Mefarshim one hundred years ago. Then came Sara Schenirer, and things began to change. The vast majority of women on this site have learned Chumash and Mefarshim.

Did Sarah Schenirer receive support from gedolim? She did, some before she started (Belzer Rebbe), and some after she started (Chafetz Chaim). (I know there has been a lot of revisionist history on this point. See https://thelehrhaus.com/schola.....cts/.)

Did institutions that started teaching Gemara to girls have support from Gedolim? Indeed they did. Famously, Rav Joseph B Soloveitchik strongly advocated for girls and women learning Gemara.

Note: I'm Modern Orthodox. I don't considered myself at the "end of the spectrum." We're a strong vibrant movement living lives steeped in Torah.

I am not going to continue in this debate because I'd rather devote my time to other things, but I want if I can to prevent that other thread from being derailed.
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gingertop




 
 
 
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 10:25 am
Not sure of its relevance but Hadran's intro to Berachos 2 reminded me about Devora Romm whose genius made the printing of the Vilna Shas possible.
I've also heard that Artscroll used women editors.
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nanny24/7




 
 
 
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 10:30 am
I would be interested to links on shiurim about this topic so I can be further educated about the halacha and history about this.
JoyInTheMorning thanks for starting this spin off. I agree we shouldn't derail the other thread.
I am curious also if learning sefarim that quote the gemara is any different than learning the gemara directly. I went to a chasidish school and we only learned chumash from photo copies of the chumash due to something related to women not learning like men do although we were never taught any halachic restrictions about learning per se. But teachers quite often mentioned quotes from the gemara in hashkafa classes and I often read on my own sefarim on the parsha (such as pilpul) or yehadut that quoted the gemara quite extensively.
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malki2




 
 
 
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 10:31 am
This is from the previous thread:

gingertop wrote:
I don't know on this site but there is actually a chareidi learning group in Jerusalem.

https://forward.com/life/43768.....lmud/


Interesting, but it’s really not mainstream. Especially women being taught by a man, no matter how long his payos are.

Is this really becoming a thing in right-wing circles?
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amother




Fuchsia
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 10:33 am
It’s Definetly a feminist approach in my opinion! Like if the guys can do it so can I. I really don’t think it’s considered normal at al. I will
Leave this learning to men. Women have so much they can learn without competing with the men.
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ectomorph




 
 
 
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 10:34 am
Ask your own Rav. There is no one right answer.
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malki2




 
 
 
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 10:40 am
nanny24/7 wrote:
I would be interested to links on shiurim about this topic so I can be further educated about the halacha and history about this.
JoyInTheMorning thanks for starting this spin off. I agree we shouldn't derail the other thread.
I am curious also if learning sefarim that quote the gemara is any different than learning the gemara directly. I went to a chasidish school and we only learned chumash from photo copies of the chumash due to something related to women not learning like men do although we were never taught any halachic restrictions about learning per se. But teachers quite often mentioned quotes from the gemara in hashkafa classes and I often read on my own sefarim on the parsha (such as pilpul) or yehadut that quoted the gemara quite extensively.


No matter what circle you're from, there's definitely nothing wrong with learning excerpts or quotes here and there, or even to learn part of a Gemara dealing with a Halacha that is relevant to you. And of course, Ayin Yaakov/Aggada is all from the Gemara. What I'm referring to is the official learning of Gemara in the way that men do.
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FranticFrummie




 
 
 
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 10:41 am
I just finished reading "Learning to Read Midrash" by Simi Peters, who is a teacher at Nishmat. It's a very scholarly book, yet easy to understand. It's a great 101 place to start deeper learning.
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malki2




 
 
 
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 10:44 am
FranticFrummie wrote:
I just finished reading "Learning to Read Midrash" by Simi Peters, who is a teacher at Nishmat. It's a very scholarly book, yet easy to understand. It's a great 101 place to start deeper learning.


How does this answer my question?
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malki2




 
 
 
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 10:51 am
ectomorph wrote:
Ask your own Rav. There is no one right answer.


I can ask my Rav. What I am interested in understand is, in general, is this becoming a “thing” in Frum circles? Did your Rav recommend/permit this? Do others? That’s all I’m trying to find out.
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gingertop




 
 
 
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 10:53 am
malki2 wrote:
This is from the previous thread:

gingertop wrote:
I don't know on this site but there is actually a chareidi learning group in Jerusalem.

https://forward.com/life/43768.....lmud/


Interesting, but it’s really not mainstream. Especially women being taught by a man, no matter how long his payos are.

Is this really becoming a thing in right-wing circles?


I don't think it's becoming a thing. Most frum women are extremely busy and the schools aren't doing real gemara learning yet. It's hard to learn outside of a real framework. Best gemara learning I had was in sem but that was limited to specific pages. It requires motivation and persistence. I don't think I'll manage to do the cycle. I have some time so I want to try.

I don't think the schools will start incorporating gemara. Sarah Schenirer had plenty of opposition to what she did but times were so desperate and so many women were just learning in gymnasiums, that she got support from leading Rabbanim.
There is no similar community-wide problem and without problems, we don't have revolutions. Things will change slowly, if at all.


ETA: -- Awkward phrasing in my post which makes it seem like I don't see community-wide problems. I'm talking about the lack of *communal* awareness of said community-wide problems. Revolution only happens when continuing in same fashion becomes impossible. Too many people think that all's great for anything to change.


Last edited by gingertop on Sun, Jan 05 2020, 2:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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malki2




 
 
 
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 10:56 am
gingertop wrote:
I don't think it's becoming a thing. Most frum women are extremely busy and the schools aren't doing real gemara learning yet. It's hard to learn outside of a real framework. Best gemara learning I had was in sem but that was limited to specific pages. It requires motivation and persistence. I don't think I'll manage to do the cycle. I have some time so I want to try.

I don't think the schools will start incorporating gemara. Sarah Schenirer had plenty of opposition to what she did but times were so desperate and so many women were just learning in gymnasiums, that she got support from leading Rabbanim.
There is no similar community-wide problem and without problems, we don't have revolutions. Things will change slowly, if at all.


I wouldn’t have thought so either. I was just taken aback by the number of Imas looking to start learning Daf Yomi.
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amother




Pearl
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 11:01 am
I just want to make a distinction. I’m not saying anything is right or wrong. But learning daf yomi, listening to a podcast, reading a synopsis, is really not “learning Gemara like the men do”. The learning styles most people were interested in and suggested on the other thread were “learning like bais Yakov girls” in my opinion. I went to a very right wing bais Yakov. We had photo copies, quotes, classes on relevant gemaras all the time. We had a regular Mishnayos avos in our desks and learnt rav etc. just like the men do! In depth, with the original text and layout. So I think that when people complain, they don’t really understand what They’re complaining about - it’s just catch phrases and references they’ve heard thrown about that they’re repeating.
I know chasidim might be very particular about this. But practically speaking - standard right wing bais Yakov believes in lots of learning Torah shebal peh for women.
Also, some people are saying things like “ I don’t have to, leave it to the men.” Well if you’re disinterested, by all means do that! But if you are interested - then why not? Leave it to the men + yourself!
Edit: it’s interesting to note that in very right wing, yeshivish circles, daf yomi isn’t considered “really Ideal learning” its looked at as something for “balebatim”.
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amother




Lime
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 11:27 am
malki2 wrote:
I can ask my Rav. What I am interested in understand is, in general, is this becoming a “thing” in Frum circles? Did your Rav recommend/permit this? Do others? That’s all I’m trying to find out.


It's become a huge thing in Israel, even in quite right wing dati leumi groups (which is not the same as MO). Many organized places for women to learn.
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JoyInTheMorning




 
 
 
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 11:44 am
amother [ Pearl ] wrote:
I just want to make a distinction. I’m not saying anything is right or wrong. But learning daf yomi, listening to a podcast, reading a synopsis, is really not “learning Gemara like the men do”. The learning styles most people were interested in and suggested on the other thread were “learning like bais Yakov girls” in my opinion. I went to a very right wing bais Yakov. We had photo copies, quotes, classes on relevant gemaras all the time. We had a regular Mishnayos avos in our desks and learnt rav etc. just like the men do! In depth, with the original text and layout. So I think that when people complain, they don’t really understand what They’re complaining about - it’s just catch phrases and references they’ve heard thrown about that they’re repeating.
I know chasidim might be very particular about this. But practically speaking - standard right wing bais Yakov believes in lots of learning Torah shebal peh for women.
Also, some people are saying things like “ I don’t have to, leave it to the men.” Well if you’re disinterested, by all means do that! But if you are interested - then why not? Leave it to the men + yourself!


1. I agree. Daf Yomi is a different sort of learning and not at all the sort of learning that is typical of what goes on in a beis medrash. In fact, Daf Yomi was controversial when it was first instituted for this very reason. It prioritizes superficial learning over deep learning.

For that reason, I agree with the Rav in the Forward article that gingertop linked: no one (woman or man) should start with Daf Yomi when they start learning Gemara.

I’ve been learning Gemara off and on for many years, and I’m much more a slow, deep learner than a quick superficial learner. Daf Yomi is really not my style. But I also know that at the rate I’m going, I will never get to even touch many masechtas in my lifetime at the rate I am going. If I want to have even a passing familiarity with the bulk of the Talmud, I need to do something different. Daf Yomi offers me that opportunity.

But yeah, this is not deep learning. There are many other venues where I can do that.

2. Maybe I’m a lot older than you (things have changed a lot over the last couple of decades!) or maybe my school was just very backward, but at my RW school we did not get sheets with photocopies of pages of Gemara. We did get many quotes from Gemara written on the chalkboard.

But as nice as quotes from the Gemara are and as nice as it is to get photocopied sheets from the Gemara, this doesn’t come close to the real experience of learning from a real Gemara with all the supplements in the back. Learning a whole sugya, with Rashi and some tosafos; going to the back and learning Rif and Ran and the supercommentaries— it’s a totally different experience. You don’t get it from being at a Bais Yaakov and getting photocopied sheets. You certainly don’t get it from Daf Yomi. You can get it in Israeli seminaries like Migdal Oz or Brovenders or at American institutions like Drisha, not so much in their individual courses, but if you learn in one of their ongoing programs.
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amother




Brunette
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 1:03 pm
amother [ Fuchsia ] wrote:
It’s Definetly a feminist approach in my opinion! Like if the guys can do it so can I. I really don’t think it’s considered normal at al. I will
Leave this learning to men. Women have so much they can learn without competing with the men.


I am litvish and we do not have a mesorah of girls learning gemara. None of our Bais Yaakovs teach gemara and none of our rabbanim endorse girls learning it either.
If your mesorah follows a path of girls learning gemara - go for it! But otherwise, I agree with amother fuchsia - it sounds like feminism to me. Without our mesorah or rabbanim saying we should it does not have a place in our lives.
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amother




Lime
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 1:11 pm
amother [ Brunette ] wrote:
I am litvish and we do not have a mesorah of girls learning gemara. None of our Bais Yaakovs teach gemara and none of our rabbanim endorse girls learning it either.
If your mesorah follows a path of girls learning gemara - go for it! But otherwise, I agree with amother fuchsia - it sounds like feminism to me. Without our mesorah or rabbanim saying we should it does not have a place in our lives.


Mesorahs change. There was no mesorah of women learning any formal Torah either only a short while ago.
Bais Yaakov is a relatively modern invention.

As for saying 'it sounds like feminism '. Is that supposed to be funny? The whole kollel system rests upon feminism, depends upon it for its very existence.
Or is feminism only 'kosher' when it's used to uplift men?
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Mommyg8




 
 
 
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 1:21 pm
I'm not sure why this topic is up for debate.

This is a halachic question, and everyone follows their own mesorah, or better, their own psak or daas Torah or whatever you want to call it.

What's interesting to me is that the reasons Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik gives for women learning Gemarah nowadays are very similar to the ones I have heard the Litvish schools explaining why we learn inside at all - the fact that the world has changed and women are learning secular studies on a more intellectual level, the fact that women have more time today, the fact women have lost their own mesorah... A quote from Rabbi Soloveitchik from the book written by David Holzer - ".. the main bulk of her knowledge she absorbed by osmosis. Jewish houses were full of knowledge. All you had to do was open your mouth, and drink it down. But now the Jewish home is not knowledgeable - and I mean the Orthodox. The intuition, the feeling, the experience is missing..."

In this book he explains his reasoning for allowing women to learn Gemarah, which is pretty much the same reasoning the litvish have as well.

As someone who is not MO, however, I do understand the difference between learning Gemarah - even perhaps, quickly perusing the daf - and the kind of learning that my husband and sons do and did in yeshiva. It's a completely different level of learning, and to be honest, most of us simply still do not have the time for that level of learning (and if I will be brutally honest, I don't think I have the headspace for that either right now).

As for myself, I decided that I really want to become more knowledgeable in Tanach, but I would love some kind of external motivation like Daf Yomi. I'm still looking...

I also like the idea of learning Ein Yaakov.

ETA: Edited for clarity.


Last edited by Mommyg8 on Sun, Jan 05 2020, 1:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mommyg8




 
 
 
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 1:24 pm
amother [ Brunette ] wrote:
I am litvish and we do not have a mesorah of girls learning gemara. None of our Bais Yaakovs teach gemara and none of our rabbanim endorse girls learning it either.
If your mesorah follows a path of girls learning gemara - go for it! But otherwise, I agree with amother fuchsia - it sounds like feminism to me. Without our mesorah or rabbanim saying we should it does not have a place in our lives.


According to what I read, Rabbi Soloveitchik explains that the commentaries on tanach are pretty much culled from Gemarah. So if we learn tanach with commentaries, we are actually learning gemarah.

I still think this is different than the intense gemarah learning that is done in yeshivos.
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amother




Brunette
 

Post  Sun, Jan 05 2020, 1:26 pm
amother [ Lime ] wrote:
Mesorahs change. There was no mesorah of women learning any formal Torah either only a short while ago.
Bais Yaakov is a relatively modern invention.

As for saying 'it sounds like feminism '. Is that supposed to be funny? The whole kollel system rests upon feminism, depends upon it for its very existence.
Or is feminism only 'kosher' when it's used to uplift men?


I was waiting for this, so I'll explain now. Of course mesorah changes and that is where I mentioned that we need rabbanim to say that this is what we should do. Bais Yaakov was backed by rabbanim. It was a new idea but was only done with the haskama and agreement of gedolei hador.
If our gedolei hador would say that we should learn gemara today - great! But they didn't. At least not in my communities.
And what do you mean by "the kollel system rests upon femenism"? What is the femenism there? Women working? That isn't what I meant by femenism.
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