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women torah shebal peh

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#1 FS613

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 07:02 AM

Is there anything on this web site that a woman should not read or should not listen to (e.g. certain audio Shiurim), because it would be as though she's learning Torah She'B'Al Peh?

Thank you.

#2 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 10:37 AM

Yes. This for example.

Women are allowed to learn all Halachah that is relevant to them, and that includes Hashkafa and Mussar as well. But discussions in Halachah beyond the practical application thereof, women may not learn.

#3 SilverShoes

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 09:02 PM

What if it is practical to her life?

#4 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 10:01 PM

By definition, only Halachic conclusions have a practical relevance to our lives. The discussions of how we reach that conclusion do not.

#5 taon

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 04:52 PM

What about halachos relevant to them when moshiach comes?

#6 Yosef

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 08:04 PM

Can a woman read a Torah She'B'Al Peh topic in an online discussion or in a English book?

#7 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 08:22 AM

There is no difference between English books or articles and Torah in a Sefer. What women cannot learn from a Loshon HaKodesh Sefer they cannot learn in English, online or otherwise.

#8 shaya

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 10:49 AM

is hashkafah included in the relevance for a women to learn?
Start with God - the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.

#9 Yosef

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 04:00 PM

Rav Shapiro: Doesn't what you said essentially mean that all women should always be careful to always avoid reading such Torah topics online (including on this site), in newspapers or in books?

Considering the widespread dissemination of English Torah She'B'Al Peh discussions, articles, phamplets and books, it would seem to be something women easily and frequently can and do come to be oiver almost everyday.

#10 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 09:24 PM

is hashkafah included in the relevance for a women to learn?

Yes.

#11 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 09:30 PM

Rav Shapiro: Doesn't what you said essentially mean that all women should always be careful to always avoid reading such Torah topics online (including on this site), in newspapers or in books?

Considering the widespread dissemination of English Torah She'B'Al Peh discussions, articles, phamplets and books, it would seem to be something women easily and frequently can and do come to be oiver almost everyday.

Only discussions that (a) include non-conclusive shakleh v'taryeh or (b.) are not relevant to the woman, are prohibited. Most Hashkafic discussions are permitted and are as important for women as they are for men, and Q&A in Halachah that are relevant to her are of course permitted as well. This includes Hilchos Shabbos, Yom Tov, Kashrus (home-related, as opposed to Shechitah), Tefilah, Brachos, Avodah Zorah, Kibud Av V'Em, etc. etc., all of Bain Adam L'Chaveiro, including business Halachah, and all relevant Torah Hashkafa, which alone can take a lifetime to master.

So no, there are enough permitted books and articles that she can spend her whole life on and not worry about the prohibited ones. In fact, if women - and men - would focus our reading of articles and books on those that we need to know, we would never run out of reading material, and we would all be stronger Jews.

#12 meirgoldberg

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 12:04 AM

Can you give an approach as to why women cannot learn gemarah?

#13 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 01:55 PM

Can you give an approach as to why women cannot learn gemarah?

See this discussion. And this one too.

The following is excerpted from the second link. The questioner asked something about why can't girls learn Gemora if they are not stupid, and if they can learn medicine and law they are, kal vachomer, capable of learning Gemora.

The halachah has nothing to do with anyone being stupid. The fact is that men and women have two totally differenty types of brains - some differences:

Men are 10x more likely to be ADD

Men are twice as likely to be mentally retarded

Men are twice as likely to contract Alzheimer's disease

A teenage girl's attenton span is 4 times greater than that of a teenage boy.

Yet -- teenage boys are 30 times more liekely to score in the top 10 percentile on the SAT in math.

Men are 100 times more likely to be capable of becoming a chess grandmaster; women are 2.5 times more likely to be successful psychologists.

Women are twice as likely to develop Parkison's Disease.

Women are 3x more likely to remember childhood memories.

Thats just the beginning.

Clearly, men and women are two totally different type of people. And they have two totally different types of minds. If I were to tell you that the Torah says that the job of being a chess grandmaster was relegated to men and not women, you'd object saying "But women are smart, too!" And if I were to tell you that the Torah says that men shoudl be the ones to represent humanity on the Math part of the SATs youd object saying "But teenage girls have 4 times the attention span of teenage boys!"

The Torah surely knows what men and women are suited for, a lot better than us. And the Torah, as stated in the halachah, says that women are not given the job of learnign Torah shebal peh; that was left to men. Women have a different job in this world.

Your "kal vahcomer" about math and science vs. Torah is fallacious --- what does one have to do with the other? Torah is NOT a science --- its a soul-practice. Torah connects your soul to certain powers up on high, and chidushei torah come not merely form the mind but from the neshama itself.

The Shem Mishmuel distinguishes Torah learning from secular knowledge by saying that secular knowledge is "physical", instinctive knowledge --- like a spider's "knowledge" of how to spin a web. Torah knowledge is real, earned, soul-knowledge.

Are you going to tell me that animals, because they are capable of spinnign webs, are "smart" so they would be able to learn Torah too?

But even the scientists and psychologists can see that men and women have different mind-strengths, as stated above. If there is a kal vachomer here it is this: If even in secular sciences there are clear distinctions between men's minds and women's minds, all the more so in spiritual "sciences".

But all this is superfluous -- the Torah says that women are not suited to learn Torah shebal peh. What reason do you have to question that? Because they are "smart"? That was never the point.

As far as Hashem "wanting His Torah ot be leanred" and etc, you are mistaken. If Hashem wanted women to learn Torah she bal peh He would not have prohibited it. Clearly, women "connect" to Hashem NOT through learning but through other means. In fact, the Gemora says explicitly that women merit the reward of Torah NOT by learning, but by assisting their husbands and children in their learning.

In fact, even the Torah that girls are obligated to learn halchah and mussar - does not merit for them the zechus of Torah; for their "obligation" to learn these things is not an obligation to LEARN - it is merely a necessary part of fulfilling their obligation to DO the MItzvos, for if they do nto know, how can they do?

They have no obligation to learn ANYTHING. It is merely that certain things must be learned in order to fulfill their obligation to practice, not because of any obligation ot learn.

We ought not try to rewrite the Halchah the way we think it should be. If women - or men - have a desire for something permitted or obligatory, that's fine, but if they have a desire for something prohibited, then they should resist. Thats what were in this world for - to withstand nisyonos. And that includes women going to Gemora classes.

#14 chocolatemilk

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 10:10 PM

I'm a little confused. I am a teenager in a BAIS YAAKOV high school and i am pretty sure my rabbi teacher when i asked this question told me that a woman is allowed to learn whatever she wants, however a man who teaches her is a fool. It is not her tafkid nor is it her obligation but if she wants to she can. I personally would like to read the article on halachik derivatives because it is intellectually stimulating. should i go do math instead? Is being stimulated by secular subjects better than gamara?? also if torah is so amazing, why am i NOT ALLOWED to see what it is? Especially if i am going to sacrifice some of my purity by going out into a secular world to make a living to support this Torah?

#15 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 05:39 PM

Your rabbi as expressing a certain interpretation of the opinion of the Perishah. He says that if a woman wants to learn Torah on her own, it would show that woman is exceptional and therefore as an exceptional woman she would be permitted to learn Gemora.


In my opinion that Perishah cannot be applied to today's situation since the Perishah's reasoning was based on the fact that if a girl decides to learn Gemora it must be because she has an exceptional amount of Yiras Shamayim or commitment or whatever, that is no longer the case. In those days, why else would a woman want to learn Gemora in the first place? Women were happy in the role the Torah gave them, and besides, there is so much to learn within the parameters of relevant Halachos and Hashkofos that it would make no sense for a girl to learn Gemora. And also, since in those days it was not considered chic or stylish or even "normal" for girls to learn Gemora, a girl who decided to do it on her own would likely do nothgin but raise eyebrows. In any case, for whatever reason, the Perishah observed that a girl who wants to learn Gemora has absolutely no possible motive except the fact that she is exceptionally committed to religion and for whatever reason, has established herself as an exception to the rule.

But today a girl learning Gemora is no longer an exception to the rule. And it no longer proves anything special about that girl. Today we have even Conservative and Reform women learning Gemora. The social observation upon which the Perishah made his statement is no longer the case today. So the Perishah would not apply.

The only possibility to apply the Perishah today would be if he means that the Gezeirah of Chazal not to teach girls Torah was never
made against a girl learning on her own. If that is the case, then we would not be able to prohibit it today, even if the reason to prohibit would apply. We do not add to or make new Gezeiros.

However, even if that were so, and it is open-ended in the Perishah, a girl learning Gemroa today even on her own would still be as if she were learning Tiflus, because that fact is independent of the prohibition of Chazal, and so long as you are not an exception to the rule (and nowadays we have no reason to believe you are) you are only hurting yourself and damaging your soul by learning Gemora. Why would you want to learn Tiflus, even if it permitted?

But even more important than all of the above: It is a mistake to think that you will be "stimulated' by Gemora more than the Torah you are permitted to learn, particularly if you learn on your own. It may be interesting to you, and it may not be, but it is only the Yetzer Horah telling you that nothing else will "stimulate' you except Gemora. There is so much for you to learn that you need to know, and that can increase your Emunah and Bitachon and all your important Middos, that why would you want to learn Gemora?

People are so confused in this world regarding basic Hashkafa and people - men and women both - are running around trying to find "answers' to basic Judaism issues. Every time the Gedolei HaPoskim come out prohibiting some deviant Hashkafa there are people who are blindsided because they cannot fathom why the Hashkafa is wrong, never mind Apikorsus.

How would you justify learning Gemora when you have not even covered the basics of Emunah, Hashgacha, Bechirah, and the ins-and-outs of the 13 Ikarim? The stronger your Emunah, the more reward you get for each and every Mitzvah you do. The more Gemora you learn, the more Tiflus you have in you. Forget Mutar or Assur for now. Because Hashem has exempted you from the hours upon hours it takes to struggle through a Gemora you are free to learn the things that you need to know. The things that will directly benefit you.

And if you do learn Gemora on your own, if you want to experience what your husband in Kollel will have, you will have to learn in depth with Meforshim, on your own. That is not doable. Without Shiurim, without a Rebbi, without pilpul chaveirim, you will not get a taste of what you are supporting your husband in doing, because it is not the subject matter that makes the Gemora-experience, it is the manner in which it is learned. On the contrary - you will not succeed at the stimulation thing (if there is a placebo effect. I don't know), and if anything, you will be misled into thinking that you have indeed "learned Gemora." And that's not the worst possibility. Tiflus - remember?

And if you are looking for material that is intellectually stimulative, there is plenty out there

If it is stimulating logic you are interested in, you can spend your whole life on things that are permitted for you. If you want, become a Melumedes like this woman for example. A real Eishes Chayil, Tzadekes, and more than anything else, a real עקרת הבית, facilitator of her husband and sons' Torah learning. There are others as well.

As far as the fact that you will be supporting your husband learning Gemora, if your husband was a big Mekubal and you were supporting him, would you think you need to learn Kabbalah in order to appreciate your role?

As you say, Torah is "amazing." You can see plenty of it. Gemora is not amazing for you. Like Kabbalah is amazing - but not everyone is allowed to learn it. The Gemora says that even ancient sages who learned things that they were not ready became spiritually damaged by it. I am talking about the peers of Rabi Akiva. Nuclear energy is great, but if you don't know how to use it, you'll get hurt. Hashem told each of us what our role is. It is not in our interest to learn something that we are not supposed to.

We all have our role. It is only the Yetzer Horah that makes us want someone else's.

And one more thing. Please, please do not look at your going to work to support your husband as sacrificing some of your purity. While it is true that the environment at the workplace is not the same as the environment at home, the environment at home where the husband is a big Talmid Chacham is even more different than in a home where he is not.

Look at your going to work to support your husband in learning like someone who invests his money in a stock that will surely go up. it is not that he is sacrificing his money to buy the stock; he is investing his money to get more money. You, too, are making an investment, but you are doing so because the returns, for you and your children, and of course your husband, are so great.

#16 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 06:33 PM

From the Igros Moshe:

To Rav Elya Svei shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Philadelphia,

Regarding the issue that therre are some girls schools that are called Bais Yaakovs and the like, where the administration and the teachers of the school want to teach the girls Mishnayos: Behold, in the Rambam Talmud Torah 1:13 he rules like R. Eliezer in Sotah 20a, that you may not teach girls Torah. Yet he distinguishes between Torah shebal peh, which, if you teach to grirls is as if you taught them tiflus, whereas Torah shebiksav is not as if you taught them tiflus, but l'chatchulah you shouldn't teach it to them anyway. In any case, Mishnayos, which is Torah shebal peh Chazal commanded us not to teach to girls, and if you do, it is as if you taught them Tiflus. Therefore, you should prevent them from doing this [teaching Mishnayos], with the exception of Pirkei Avos, which, because it discusses mussar and good midos you may teach it to them with explanations in order to awaken them to ahavas hatorah and good midos, but not any other Mesechta. And because this issue is simple I will end here with a blessing that you may spread Torah and Yiras Shamayim to the world.

Your friend,

Moshe Feinsten

By the way, this is the only place in all of Igros Moshe where Rav Moshe writes that an issue is so "simple".

And it is.It's silly to even quote Rav Moshe on this because all he did was repeat what it says in Shulchan Aruch and Rambam unanimously, and add that the issue is easy and simple. And Rav Elya Svei ZTL, you can be sure, knew that too. He just needed a letter from Rav Moshe to show those girls' schools.

So again: In Shulchan Aruch and the Rishonim, it states clearly that it is forbidden to teach girls Torah shebal peh, which includes Mishnayos and Gemora, among other things. Furthermore, there is no dissenting or disagreeing opinion anywhere about this. Thus, teaching girls Gemora in class is an open and public violation of a clear Halachah.

#17 FS613

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 05:34 PM

If 2 men are learning Gimora at the dining room table, and the wife of one of them is working in the nearby kitchen:

1) Does she need to leave and go upstairs, if she can hear what they're discussing, if she has no interest in it?

2) Is she allowed to listen if she's interested in what they're discussing;

but they're not discussing the Gimora with her nor teaching it to her, personally?

Thank you.

#18 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 07:01 AM

1) No.

2) No. L'Halachah, women should also not learn Gemora on their own, even with nobody teaching it to them.

#19 matan

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 04:30 PM

Rabbi shapiro,
Why are so many people pushing girls to support their husbands in learning if they have no idea what their husbands are doing all day. What if someone asked you for money to support themselves. You would obviously ask them what they do all day that they deserve your money. He answers that its something really important and special. You then ask more details about what he does but he says you can't know. Would you give this person money?
Another point- Rebbetzin Braunstein was an amazing woman and did so so much for the jewish community. Why is it that you say she was "A real Eishes Chayil, Tzadekes, and more than anything else, a real עקרת הבית, facilitator of her husband and sons' Torah learning.". It seems like she did so much more than facilitate her husbands and sons learning. She facilitated hundreds of peoples learning.

#20 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 11:52 AM

Rabbi shapiro,
Why are so many people pushing girls to support their husbands in learning if they have no idea what their husbands are doing all day. What if someone asked you for money to support themselves. You would obviously ask them what they do all day that they deserve your money. He answers that its something really important and special. You then ask more details about what he does but he says you can't know. Would you give this person money?
Another point- Rebbetzin Braunstein was an amazing woman and did so so much for the jewish community. Why is it that you say she was "A real Eishes Chayil, Tzadekes, and more than anything else, a real עקרת הבית, facilitator of her husband and sons' Torah learning.". It seems like she did so much more than facilitate her husbands and sons learning. She facilitated hundreds of peoples learning.

I'm not sure I understand your question (but I do know where you got it from). Do I need to be a scientist to support cancer research? Do I even need to know how the biologist understands diseases? All I need to know is that these people are fighting disease.

So too our Bnos Yisroel know very well what learning accomplishes. It makes the sun rise and the grass grow; it makes the water drinkable, the air breatheable, and bread edible. It protects us from our enemies, from all sorts of danger and punishment; it connects us to Hashem - and by "us" I mean not only the learner but the entire world - infinitely more than any of the 613 Mitzvos (well, 612 1/2 to be exact - I'm rounding. See the link).

And that's just for starters.

If I were in a position to be a part of that, I would not hesitate.

And please note, you included a false assumption in your question. You phrased it by asking why "people are pushing girls" to support their husbands, rather than asking why girls are supporting their husbands. You want to know what is behind the decision to support a Kollel man, but you do not give the women themselves credit for being owners of that decision. Instead of making a decision you assume they are being pushed into something, and you ask the pushers why they decide the girls should support their husbands.

That's messed up.

I also know that this idea, that women should learn Gemora because then they'll want to support Kollel husband more, was expressed in, if memory serves, '78 or '79 in YU. The reality has shown, then and now, that said idea is nothing but a figment.