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Are you pro-choice?

women wearing tefilinSAR is the first Modern Orthodox high school in New York to allow girls to put on tefillin and of course it’s created a huge debate on the internet between people who believe it’s a woman’s right to choose and those who believe it’s the man’s right to choose for her. Although there are cases of holy women in the past who have donned tefillin, it has been argued that women these days may be on a higher spiritual level, but it’s obviously not high enough to put on tefillin. Luckily for the pro-choice crowd, halacha doesn’t exactly say that women can’t put on tefillin, it merely says that if men go beyond the letter of the law they are praiseworthy, but that if women take on extra mitzvos – they will become whores.

To be honest, I see how women become loose from taking on mitzvos they are not required to do. If you go to any left wing modern orthodox shul or community, you will notice signs and all sorts of warnings about the serious breaches in tznius. In a real frum community, the women are tzanua because they aren’t constantly exposing their arms and elbows while putting on tefillin.

The problem with allowing women to put on tefillin is that they aren’t doing it for the right reasons anymore. It used to be that women wanted to be like men in their Jewishness, but women have actually embraced the “higher spiritual level” BS that has been drilled into them and the backlash of that is that they need constant maintenance in their Yiddishkeit. For many women, cooking, cleaning, supporting deadbeat kollel husbands, and being incubators isn’t enough to foster their relationship with Hashem. Some women simply need more tangible spiritual connections. Hence, the reason there are frum women who want to learn gemara and put on tefillin, even at the risk of becoming whores due to their feeble mindedness.

In reality we have to look at the pro-choice movement on a macro level. Imagine how many girls would still be frum, if they hadn’t been treated like second class citizens. Regardless of how you personally feel about your personal treatment within frum society, some girls actually want to take on things for personal reasons. Not everything is about the wolf we call feminism. Personally, I wish that more frum girls would have put on tefillin when I was dating, because according to the mesorah that would have made it easier for me to get some action on a shidduch date.

However, we cannot forget the mesorah. We cannot forget that Judaism has survived in it’s authentic form as it was given to us on Sinai because we have followed everything the men have said. Judaism has never evolved and evolution will kill the religion. Will those girls who want to put on tefillin marry Jews? Maybe, but their kids probably won’t, so it’s up to them if they want to continue out time honored mesorah.

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{ 41 comments… add one }
  • Anon January 20, 2014, 9:20 PM

    “For many women, cooking, cleaning, supporting deadbeat kollel husbands, and being incubators isnt enough to foster their relationship with Hashem. Some women simply need more tangible spiritual connections.”

    Round of applause gif.

    • Andonymous January 21, 2014, 7:18 AM


  • Yosef Shomron January 21, 2014, 4:05 AM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR3ZhT5TI7U Here is a link to an excellent shiur by Rabbi David Bar Hayim of Machon Shilo who deals with the halachic question of women wearing tefillin – no satire here just Torah scholarship.

    • Ksil January 22, 2014, 8:39 PM

      Un freakin watchable. Im so glad i am part of a religion that looks back to 12 th and 13 th century bearded men to decide TODAY if women can do this or that. So proud. Eye roll

      • Paskuniak January 23, 2014, 6:46 AM

        Sorry man but that’s the halachic system. We follow past rulings unless there’s compelling halachic reasoning to make modifications, and even then, only rabbis who have earned their reputation as poskim can make such decisions (others can try, but the observant world wouldn’t pay any attention to them).
        And the latest social trend isn’t considered a relevant factor in halachic decision-making. If it were, you could be sure that Judaism would have vanished as a religion many, many years ago (which you can choose to see as a good or bad thing).

        • Abe January 24, 2014, 12:00 AM

          Funny how Judaism was meant to be forward thinking and adaptable yet has become stuck. They tell you the whole point of Oral Tradition is so that it can grow and change to the needs of the people and yet we don’t change because of tradition. You talk of this “observant world”. Can I ask you who these observant people are? If Rabbi Julia Neuberger paskened something and someone followed her wouldn’t that person be observant?

          • Paskuniak January 24, 2014, 7:26 AM

            Sure, you can call that person an observant reform jew if you want.
            But the “observant world” that im referring to is the communities of jews who believe in the halachic system. The observant world is generally knowledgeable enough in halacha to tell the difference between a psak that is within the halachic framework and one that is not (Ie, it wouldnt make a difference if R’ Julia Neuberger or Rav Moshe Feinstein would pasken, let’s say, that driving on shabbos is muttar – the observant world would recognize on their own that the psak is not halachically acceptable, and whoever the rabbi is would lose any respect they ever had).
            My point: There is no authority in the world that can ever change the way Orthodox Jewry understands the halachic system – it stands on its own. So there’s no point in even discussing changes to the system.

            • Abe January 26, 2014, 11:26 PM

              Orthodox, Reform, Progressive, Hasidic, Ashkenazi, Sephardi… are just names. Very modern at that. In reality those closer to the giving of the Torah wouldn’t have fallen into any category. Funnily enough they lived a life closer to that of a sammaritan or a karaite. Rabbinism grew from one minority (and still is a minority). Strange how things change and yet it all came from Har Sinai. Halacha and it’s system is also modern in comparison. They tell you that the Oral Law is just as important as the written. It is all Torah and came from Har Sinai yet it is better to break a rabbinic law then a Torah law. But if it all came from Har Sinai and they are one and the same thing then why should this be so? I was watching a movie last night and sometimes you hear more sense from people outside of Judaism than within. An elderly man was teaching a kid some wisdom and he said… “What is tradition? Everyday I take the same path home from work. A routine. A tradition of mine. But if one day there should be a snake on my path should I take the same path home because of tradition and risk death or do I alter my route and live”? In all my years of growing up within Judaism I have never heard as much sense as this.

              • Paskuniak January 27, 2014, 7:27 AM

                I think you’re incorrectly lumping different parts of “oral law” together. On the one hand, there are those halachos which are called “halacha l’moshe misinai” (ex: most of the laws of tefillin, or the laws of treifos). And then there are “rabinic” mitzvas, such as gezeiros (ex: don’t touch muktza items on shabbos) and takanos (ex: lighting the chanuka candles). All of the above are considered “oral torah”, but the “l’moshe misinai” laws do not have the same lenient status as the “rabbinic” laws. Furthermore, im pretty sure its a machlokes among the rabbis as to whether rabbinic mitzvos were taught at har sinai. I would think the mainstream view is that they were not.
                But either way, one can answer that its the oral law itself that sets the priority rules, so theres no inconsistency.
                And as to how jews lived at the time of moshe and directly after, we werent there, so it’s all speculation.

  • Alvy Singer January 21, 2014, 5:31 AM

    Heshy, tell me you haven’t had a fantasy about sleeping with a hot Chani with tefillin on?! You know you have.

    • Heshy Fried January 21, 2014, 11:08 AM

      Hot Chanis are super gross in my book and most of them aren’t even hot.

      • Alter Cocker January 21, 2014, 9:41 PM

        You’ve made an awful lot of posts about hot chanis, though.

        In fact, I had never even heard of the term before reading this blog.

        • Heshy Fried January 22, 2014, 9:51 AM

          It’s good for google, it’s raunchy, it’s funny, and it’s sexualy related.

          I’ve also made a lot of posts about gays, lecha dodi, and saying good shabbos…

          • Alter Cocker January 23, 2014, 7:55 AM

            I guess the logical conclusion is that you find gays, lecha dodi, and saying good shabbos gross as well.

  • Anonymous January 21, 2014, 7:41 AM

    Strange how at the same time they are protesting against haredi male mysogny, these women now want to take on another form of ‘bondage’ !

  • Talia bat Pessi January 21, 2014, 9:43 AM

    The pro-choice reproductive rights parallel is really fascinating. I’m not sure I agree it’s fair to make such a parallel, nor do I even know what I make of the situation at large yet, but it’s an interesting way to frame the conversation.

  • dave January 21, 2014, 12:03 PM

    Woman CANNOT put on Teffilin. Woman CANNON drive cars. Woman CANNOT have voting rights. Woman are just an object that we make our babies in.

    • Anon January 21, 2014, 12:23 PM

      at least you are honest. don’t let a feminist hear you say that.

    • Anonymous January 27, 2014, 7:11 AM

      Guess you must be joking! Or, do you seriously refer to your mother/sister/wife/daughter as an ‘object’ for men to make babies in? Just remember none of you Jewish males would exist without Jewish women.

      • Abe January 27, 2014, 7:14 AM

        I think he was being sarcastic. And another thing… it takes two to have a baby. Ask your parents. And even without Jewish women, as along as our fathers were Jewish, we’d all be Jewish.

        • Anonymous January 28, 2014, 11:11 AM

          The other way round. Nowadays as long as mother is Jewish, the child is technically Jewish.

          • Abe January 28, 2014, 11:26 AM

            Complete and utter garbage made up by rabbis with no basis in the Torah. I do not follow rabbinism, I follow Judaism.

            • Anonymous January 28, 2014, 12:16 PM

              Liberal / reform Judaism might agree with you as long as the child identifies himself as Jewish. No orthodox Rabbis would agree – it may be easier for the child to convert however when he /she is older, should they wish to.

              • Abe January 28, 2014, 11:16 PM

                Couldn’t care for the liberal or reform agreeing with me. What’s important is the Torah agrees with me. Or to put it more accurately, I agree with the Torah. To tell a good lie one must include some truth. When the rabbis went against the Torah and “changed” it from the father to the mother they could’ve been clever and admitted an ounce of truth by telling us when and why they did this. But instead of admitting the truth they had the chutzpah to backdate it to Matan Torah when infact this was not so. Judaism came down through the father long after Matan Torah. The rabbis actually changed this (and how they can do this no one knows) post 2nd Beis Hamikdash.

  • Anonymous January 21, 2014, 2:01 PM

    If a high school yeshiva boy would start doing unusual mitzvos, it would make you doubt his motivation (and would be a fair target on this blog).

    For better or for worse, it’s unusual for women to wear tefillin. Be equal opportunity and doubt their motivation as well.

    It would be something entirely different if mature, spiritually-established women would put on tefillin out of the limelight.

    • Heshy Fried January 22, 2014, 9:59 AM

      I don’t care about motivation, all I care about is the fact that girls who are likely to intermarry are trying their darndest to figure out their path.

  • Shragi January 21, 2014, 2:35 PM

    If an OTD guy – who doesn’t wear tefilin a anymore – has an overnight date with a girl who does wear tefilin, is it a tefilin date?

    • Anonymous January 22, 2014, 9:51 AM

      Only if they stay over at his place. Brings new meaning to the walk of shame…

    • ConvertibleJew January 22, 2014, 9:52 AM

      Only if they stay over at his place. Brings new meaning to the walk of shame…

  • SDK January 21, 2014, 7:23 PM

    I’ve always though that tefillin look better on men, but that’s really a fashion statement, not a halachic position.

    • Shragi January 21, 2014, 7:25 PM

      The only halachic position there is is missionary.

  • Alter Cocker January 21, 2014, 9:39 PM

    I always detested the usage of “pro-choice” as it relates to abortion. I am pro-choice. I do not support women having abortions, though, except in extreme circumstances.

    There’s a difference between being ‘pro-choice’ and supporting abortions without limitation.

  • Moshe January 22, 2014, 3:45 AM

    Went to SAR for middle school. The menahel docked me from Gemara for being less serious about my secular studies.

  • Paskuniak January 22, 2014, 9:47 AM

    Reminds me of a recent story I heard from the principal of my city’s local MO highschool: A girl asked to be allowed to wear tzitzis. After the principal replied that it would not be appropriate, the girls mother got involved and insisted she be allowed. So finally, the principal agreed that she could wear tzitzis to school on one condition: that for the first 5 months, she would have to keep them tucked in. Subsequently, she would be allowed to wear them out. She immediately lost interest and dropped her request.
    Let’s be honest, who actually feels a “closer connection to hashem” by wearing tefillin? Those of us who wear tefillin do it because it’s a mitzvas asei and would feel guilty if we didn’t.

    • Heshy Fried January 22, 2014, 9:49 AM

      You’ve just proved my point, men are on a lower spiritual level and they don’t understand women and their connection. Who are we to say what brings someone closer to hashem. The big question is, what is your motive in not allowing women to wear tefillin?

      • Paskuniak January 22, 2014, 10:27 AM

        Oh, in a general sense, I dont believe women should be forbidden from wearing tefillin. I just think it looks weird – like the guy who wears a big white cowboy hat to shul on shabbos.
        That said, a highschool is different. The admin could have understandable motivation for not allowing it (unwanted publicity, social reasons, uniformity).

        • Audrey T Benjamin January 26, 2014, 6:51 AM

          “The big question is, what is your motive in not allowing women to wear tefillin?” They’ll get their cooties all over the tefillin?

      • Paskuniak January 22, 2014, 11:21 AM

        Also, i think the motivation is the typical traditionalist’s desire to maintain the stats quo.
        Originally, women were exempt from the mitzvos asei sh”z”g., because of their other gender-specific responsibilities. It was for practical reasons – it wasnt about forbidding anything. For centuries, this was a non-issue because traditional family roles were standard and unquestioned, and the exemptions were appreciated. Then came feminism, with it’s apparent goal of undoing these standards, and this of course didnt shtim with Orthodox Judaism which values the traditional family structure. Not surprising, therefore, that orthodox jews, who are traditionalists by nature, feel threatened by perceived manifestations of feminism. That’s what this is all about – not the desire to dominate women. At least thats my opinion.
        Thanks for letting me rant on your site.

      • Anon January 22, 2014, 1:09 PM
    • Isak January 22, 2014, 3:51 PM

      “Lets be honest, who actually feels a closer connection to hashem by wearing tefillin?”

      I do! But then again, I’m not Orthodox…

      • Anon January 22, 2014, 5:03 PM

        Closer in what way? Physically, mentally or that other thing that has to do with spirits.

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