Logic, that’s what it is. Rabbi Avi Weiss explains the logic behind his ordination of women to be halachic authorities and leaders. In this post I’m going to expose the flaws in his argument and prove to you why you should never even consider anything Rabbi Avi Weiss says or does, not even for a moment.
Rabbi Weiss’s argument is two-fold. First he claims the halachic system is not stagnant. That Takanot were enacted by the Rabbis to accommodate for the reality of the times. For example, even though the Torah allows for polygamy, slavery, and yefat to’ar, Chazal saw it as an inconsistency with the our sense of dignity and have effectively done away with these practices. Does he think it is logical to suggest we should follow Chazal as a role model? I don’t. If anything he proves why frummies should be allowed to have multiple wives, or at least fool around on the side. And who is he to compare what he’s doing to the gedolim of yesteryear? Doesn’t he know that dead gedolim are the best leaders and that no living gadol could reach the toenail of a dead gadol. When it comes to making halachic decisions based on the needs of the current situation, we only listen to the dead gedolim’s advice. They know better.
His second argument is that Chazal recognize that our smicha is not the traditional Siniatic ordination. Therefore the arguments for or against his ordination of women are merely sociological, not halachic. This is the most outrageous use of logic I have ever heard in my life. Doesn’t he realize that all of frumkeit had already eroded into a sociological form of the prisoner’s dilemma where we spend our time, money, and energy keeping up with the Joneses in religious upsmanship? There is nothing as important to us than making sure that we stay on “the list” (of families that the rabbi of the shul says it’s OK to eat from our kitchen). What does he think religion is all about? God? What God? I’ve never seen God! But I sure know what it’s like to get a tzitzis check and to have the Rabbi send over fake guests to check out my fridge and see if I’m packing any of that I’m sure it must be treif tablet-K lox or some non cholov yisroel almond milk, ChvSh. Who ever thought it wasn’t about sociology?
Probably the best argument I’ve seen that proves Rabbi Avi Weiss totally wrong was by one of the blog commentators who said “All of Avi’s points sound like the arguments the Conservative movement was making 100 years ago.” Shlugged up! See, if your arguments sound like the Conservative moment’s arguments, then you must be part of the Conservative movement. I’d take this proof even further. It seems to me that all of Avi’s points (see how I stripped him of his smicha) sound like the arguments the Protestants made 600 years ago. I think Avi is really a Protestant. Or maybe, his arguments sound like those of the Nizari Ismailis, and he’s Shi’a Muslim too. In fact, his arguments sound like anyone who is arguing for logical change in order to maintain a sense of relevancy. And this means that as long as we can find one failed attempt at that pursuit, we should conclude that 1. he’s going to fail. 2. he’s just like them. and 3. he probably being dishonest about something too. Relevancy is the last thing we need in a religion. We need conformity to traditional irrelevancy, since that will preserve us in the stagnation we desperately need.
All this brings us to the real reason he’s wrong. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He makes the argument that women have the intellectual capacity to be intelligent, the spiritual inclination to be pious, and the character traits to be teachers, leaders, and role models. How could he possibly make that argument? Has he ever met an intelligent, pious, charismatic woman? Have you? Of course not. Frum society does not create such deformities of nature. Rabbi Weiss must believe in unicorns too.
And if he ever does meet such an intelligent, pious, and charismatic women, or worse, should his yeshiva produce such disgraceful beings, he argues that we should declare them to be the leaders they truly are. And I think this is terribly thoughtless. If he did that he’d ruin any chance for that woman’s sister to ever get a decent shidduch. Weiss has no compassion, no feeling for the underdog.
And what does he know about leadership anyways? Look at his character. You would think that a nice Rabbi would sit and learn, while his wife works in a fabric store supporting him. But no, not this guy. He’s out there doing all sorts of things that take him away from learning. He protested in support of Soviet Jewry. What bittul torah, those Russians are not even frum. He protested against foreign and domestic government leaders and organizations in support of Israel. But does he do Daf Yomi? I don’t think so. He created organizations to help special needs kids and poor people in the Bronx. But have you seen the mechitza in his shul? it’s not that high. Sure he built a shul and two yeshivas, wrote books and articles about Torah and leadership, but that just means he’s a decent administrator. But a leader or visionary? Someone with any sincerity? I don’t think you can trust a rabbi like this to understand leadership or community service. Bottom line: I know he’s wrong because I read it in Matzav. And now you know that he’s wrong since you heard it from me.
Learn more about shlugging up at 4Torah.com