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Ore and let davven.™

Mail: lippomano@gmail.com

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Disappointing lecture

I'm coming back from a talk about Women and Leadership. The local Bes medresh had invited a major expert on this, a dayyen of international repute or even fame, who has published books and article on the topic.

To make it short, it was disappointing. The public was a general one, not just "learned" people, so I fully understand he wasn't talking hardcore heloche. I also take into account that Americans have a style that is different from the European one. But he was very repetitive, very general, and evaded the more delicate issues. All that might be explained by circumstances etc., but what really irrated me was that he might (!) not have known the more detailed facts.

Among the few more concrete things, he explained the helochic concept that the requirements for "rulers" such as being a man, a born Jew etc. are only for rulers that are forced upon the people from above, for instance by a king. (He insensibly compared this to job applications where applicants might be good but "not A1".)

In the Q&A part, I asked something like "You said that according to Rav Uzziel, it might be that a woman cannot be appointed from above, but if she's elected and so chosen by the people that she's 'governing', it would be allowed. What does this approval have to be like? A simple majority? Or unanimous? The whole idea is that this way, the people can't claim their ruler is being forced upon them, so what happens if a single person doesn't agree? Can't (s)he say 'I'm being forced'? And is this different in places where there is only one community, and places where the person might simply join another shul to his likes?"

I think this is a very central question.

I had lerned this tshuve, among others, recently with my chevruse, but only started, and that was a question to which we hadn't yet found an answer. Even after his talk, I thought if anyone can answer it in within a radius of 500 miles, he can. I was a bit afraid that he'd answer it was a difficult question, or that there were contradicting opinions.

He answered: "Hm, I find a simple majority would not be much. Maybe more would be better."