The Ordination Of Women As Orthodox Rabbis

I’m told: There are many aspects to this and I do not believe that any one or two people can change things on their own. Orthodox Judaism is a religion of consensus. Sometimes ideas are discussed for decades before they are acted upon (and sometimes more than decades). Even when a new idea is started by a small group and acted upon immediately, the people are scholars of world class, see Rabbi Hildesheimer in Berlin in the 19th Century. For an activist of fourth rank scholarship such as R. Avi Weiss to make this kind of radical change is unheard of.

Now the issues:

What is the job of a rabbi? It is clear that the contemporary “Rabbi” is not the same as the traditional Rav (or Chacham in the Sephardic world). The Rav was primarily a Judge and Posek. Today that is almost never done by the pulpit Rabbi. So the question is what are we having this woman do? Is she being ordained to have all of the functions of a Rabbi or Rav? This has not been spelled out so it is impossible to answer from a halachic point of view. It is clear that there are things that a woman can do and things that she cannot do. Have they worked this out?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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