Posts Along The Way

I read this book by Rabbi Gil Student over Shabbos.

I don’t know much, but the book to me has a yeshivish feel, a Litvish feel, a right-wing Modern Orthodox sensibility. It feels like it was written by a baal teshuva (penitent).

This section on women’s prayer groups (pg. 141-142) grabbed my attention (it is based on the teachings of Rav Hershel Schachter):

Since, as the past thirty-five years have taught us, the drive towards egalitarianism includes — in practice if not inherently — a push toward promiscuity, significant steps toward egalitarianism are prohibited as a forbidden imitation of Gentile practice…

Yet the reader will certainly ask, what could be promiscuous about an all-woman prayer service? Quite the opposite. There might be less of a “social scene” at a WPG than at some regular synagogues. This, howeve,r is taking a very limited view of the phenomenon. “Women’s Liberation” and the “Sexual Revolution” are inherently tied together. The correspondence need not be direct for it to be entirely real. WPGs, as a facet of “Women’s Liberation”, are fundamentally linked to promiscuity.

Should you be happy during prayer? Not that it happens much in my experience, but I always took it for granted that being happy during prayer was good.

Rabbi Student writes:

While it may surprise many of us in today’s world, most of those writing against the organ pointed out that there is no mitzvah to be happy during prayer. Granted there was music in the Temple in Jerusalem, but the Chasam Sofer (Responsa 6:84) points out that this was not continued in synagogues and there was certainly a good reason for that: after the destruction of the Temple there can be no happiness in a house of worship. It certainly, he argues, is not a mitzvah to be happy during prayer.

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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