Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Rabbi Halevy on New Women's Religious Roles

Rabbi Haim David Halevy was the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv from 1972 until his death in 1998. He was a prominent halakhist, prolific author and a creative thinker. This courageous and innovative decisor, who was very cognizant of the modern condition, had a definite view of expanding public roles for women in Jewish ritual.

Rabbis Marc and Hayyim Angel, Rabbi Haim David Halevy: Gentle Scholar and Courageous Thinker, p. 100:

Rabbi Halevy was asked about the permissibility of women's prayer groups. He was not favorably disposed, arguing that "our religiously proper mothers would never have considered such a thing." He viewed women's prayer groups as being unfaithful to the holy traditions of Israel. When asked whether women may participate in the recitation of the seven wedding blessings, Rabbi Halevy responded that this constituted a breach of modesty and should not be condoned. In these cases, then, he felt that traditional halakhic norms should not be set aside due to changes in the sociological factors relating to the status of women in society.

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