Women and Tefillin
1 א

.

2 ב

(ח) וּקְשַׁרְתָּ֥ם לְא֖וֹת עַל־יָדֶ֑ךָ וְהָי֥וּ לְטֹטָפֹ֖ת בֵּ֥ין עֵינֶֽיךָ׃

(8) And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be totafot between your eyes.

3 ג

כל מצות עשה שהזמן גרמה אנשים חיבין ונשים פטורות

For all positive, time-bound commandments, men are obligated and women are exempt

4 ד

איזוהי מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא? סוכה ולולב שופר וציצית ותפילין

Which mitzvot are positive time-caused [commandments]? Succah and Lulav, Shofar and Tzitzit and Tefillin

(Last word is actually on 34b)

5 ה

נשים ועבדים וקטנים פטורין מקריאת שמע ומן התפלין, וחיבין בתפלה ובמזוזה ובברכת המזון.

Women, slaves, and minors are exempt from reciting Shema and from [wearing] Tefillin and are obligated in [praying] Shemonah Esrei and in [putting up a] Mezuzah and in [saying] Birkat HaMazon.

6ו

מכילתא דרבי ישמעאל בא - מסכתא דפסחא פרשה יז

"למען תהיה תורת ה' בפיך" למה נאמר? לפי שנאמר "והיה לך לאות": שומע אני אף הנשים במשמע? והדין נותן: הואיל ומזוזה מצות עשה ותפילין מצות עשה, אם למדת על מזוזה שהיא נוהגת בנשים כבאנשים, יכול אף תפילין ינהגו בנשים כבאנשים? ת"ל "למען תהיה תורת ה' בפיך"—לא אמרתי אלא במי שהוא חייב בתלמוד תורה. מכאן אמרו הכל חייבין בתפילין חוץ מנשים ועבדים.

מיכל בת כושי היתה מנחת תפילין, אשתו של יונה היתה עולה לרגלים, טבי עבדו של רבן גמליאל היה מניח תפילין:

"ולזכרון בין עיניך למען תהיה תורת ה' בפיך"—מכאן אמרו כל המניח תפילין כאלו קורא בתורה, וכל הקורא בתורה פטור מן התפילין.

Mekhilta of R. Yishmael, Bo, Massekhta de-Pisha Parashah 17

“So that God’s teaching will be in your mouth.”—Why was this said? From the statement “It shall be for you a sign,” I might have thought that women are included [in the obligation to wear Tefillin]. Indeed, it would be logical: given that mezuzah and Tefillin are both positive commandments, if mezuzah is gender blind [because it applies to anyone who lives in a Jewish home], ought not Tefillin also be gender blind? Therefore, the verse says: “So that God’s teaching will be in your mouth”—[to teach that Tefillin only applies] to one who is obligated in Torah study. This is the basis for saying that all are obligated in Tefillin except for women and slaves.

Michal bat Kushi used to put on Tefillin, Yonah’s wife used to make the festival pilgrimage, Tavi, Rabban Gamliel’s slave used to put on Tefillin.

“As a reminder between your eyes, so that God’s teaching will be in your mouth”—This is the basis for saying that putting on Tefillin is like reading from the Torah and one who reads from the Torah is exempt from Tefillin.

7 ז
אלא האי תנא הוא דתניא מיכל בת כושי היתה מנחת תפילין ולא מיחו בה חכמים

This Tanna taught in a Baraita, "Michal bat Kushi wore Tefillin and the Sages did not protest"

8 ח

נשים מניין (דברים יא) "ולמדתם אותם את בניכם" - ולא את בנותיכם. את שהוא חייב בת"ת חייב בתפילין, נשים, שאינן חייבות בת"ת, אינן חייבין בתפילין. התיבון הרי מיכל בת כושי היתה לובשת תפילין, ואשתו של יונה היתה עולה לרגלים, ולא מיחו בידיה חכמים? ר' חזקיה בשם ר' אבהו "אשתו של יונה הושבה, מיכל בת כושי מיחו בידיה חכמים."

From where do we know that women [are exempt from Tefillin]? [It is written in (Deuteronomy 11)] 'And you should teach it to your sons' - [and this implies] not to your daughters. [So] one who is obligated to learn Torah is obligated [to wear] Tefillin, [but] women, who are not obligated to learn Torah, or not obligated [to wear] Tefillin. Hateivon but [what about] Michal bat Kushi who wore Tefillin, and the wife of Yonah who went on the pilgrimage, and the Sages didn't protest? Rabbi Chizkiyah said, quoting Rabbi Abahu, "Yonah's wife returned and [as for] Michal bat Kushi, the Sages did protest".

9 ט

א"ר ינאי תפילין צריכין גוף נקי כאלישע בעל כנפים

מאי היא? אביי אמר שלא יפיח בהן רבא אמר שלא יישן בהן

Rabbi Yannai said Tefillin need a guf naki [in order to be worn], like Elisha the Winged One [had].

What is it? Abaye says not passing wind with them on, Rava says not sleeping with them on

10י

ירושלמי ברכות ב:ג

תמן אמרין כל שאינו כאלישע בעל כנפים – אל יניח תפילין.

Talmud Yerushalmi, Brachot 2:3, fol. 4c (30)

All who are not like Elisha the Winged One should not wear Tefillin

11 יא

ואמאי קרי ליה 'בעל כנפים'? שפעם אחת גזרה מלכות רומי הרשעה גזירה על ישראל שכל המניח תפילין ינקרו את מוחו והיה אלישע מניחם ויוצא לשוק ראהו קסדור אחד רץ מפניו ורץ אחריו וכיון שהגיע אצלו נטלן מראשו ואחזן בידו אמר לו מה זה בידך אמר לו כנפי יונה פשט את ידו ונמצאו כנפי יונה לפיכך קורין אותו אלישע בעל כנפים ומאי שנא כנפי יונה משאר עופות משום דאמתיל כנסת ישראל ליונה שנאמר (תהלים סח, יד) כנפי יונה נחפה בכסף וגו' מה יונה כנפיה מגינות עליה אף ישראל מצות מגינות עליהן:

And why was he called the 'Winged One'? Because once the wicked Roman government passed a law against Israel that anyone who wears Tefillin would have his brain gouged out. Now, Elisha would wear them and go out into the market. [On one occasion,] an officer saw him, [so] Elisha fled and [the officer] pursued him. As [the officer] caught up, [Elisha] took [the Tefillin] off his head and held them in his hand. [The officer] said to him, "What's in your hand?" [Elisha] answered, "A dove's wings". [He then] opened his hand and they found a dove's wings. Because of this they callled him Elisha the Winged One.

And why the wings of a dove rather than some other bird? Because the community of Israel is compared to a dove, as it says, "like the wings of a dove covered with silver"; just as the wings of a dove protect it, so too the mitzvot of Israel protect [them]

12 יב

'מיכל בת כושי היתה מנחת תפילין'. בפסיקתא [רבתי פכ"ב] דר' חזקיה בשם ר' אבהו אמרו ...מיכל בת כושי מיחו בה חכמים...ונראה לפרש דטעמא למ"ד דלא הוי רשות, משום דתפילין צריכין גוף נקי, ונשים אין זריזות ליזהר...

'Michal bat Kushi wore Tefillin'.

In the Pesikta (Rabbati PC"B) of Rabbi Chizkiyah, they quoted Rabbi Abahu as saying that...[in the case of] Michal bat Kushi, the Sages protested...

It would seem that, according to those [who rule that women] are not allowed [to wear Tefillin], the rationale is that wearing Tefillin requires guf naki, and women are not sufficiently careful [in this respect]....

13יג

כל בו הלכות תפילין סי' כא

כתב הרם נשים פטורות מתפילין מפני שהיא מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא, שהרי אין מניחין אותן שבת ויום טוב. ואם רצו להניח אין שומעין להן מפני שאין יודעו' לשמור עצמן בנקיות

Kol Bo (The Laws of Tefillin, Section 21)

The Maharam writes that women are exempt from Tefillin because it is a positive time-bound commandment, since we don’t wear it on Shabbat and Yom Tov. And if they want to wear it, we don’t allow them to, because they don’t know how to keep themselves in nekiut

14יד

שו"ת הרשב"א חלק א סימן קכג

והסכמתי כדברי מי שאומר שאם רצו עושות כל מצות עשה ומברכות, ממעשה דמיכל בת שאול שהיתה מנחת תפילין. דלא מיחו בידה, אלא כרצון חכמים עבדא, וסתמא דמילתא כיון דמנחת, מברכת.

Rashba, Teshuva 1:123

I agree with those who say that if they desire they can do all such mitzvot and recite the blessings, on the basis of Michal bat Shaul who used to wear Tefillin and they did not protest; indeed she did so in accordance with the will of the Sages and by the nature of the matter since she puts on Tefillin she makes the blessing

15 טו

(ט)...נשים ועבדים וקטנים פטורין מן הציצית מן התורה ומדברי סופרים...ונשים ועבדי' שרצו להתעטף בציצית מתעטפים בלא ברכה וכן שאר מצות עשה שהנשים פטורות מהן אם רצו לעשות אותן בלא ברכה אין ממחין בידן.

...Women, slaves and children are exempt from [the mitzvah of] tzitzit [both] from the Torah and from the Rabbis...but women and slaves who wish to wear tzitzit may wear [them] without a blessing, and so too for other mitzvot where women are exempt, if they wish to do them without a blessing, we do not protest.

16טז

ביאורי הגרא תפילין לח:ד

וי"ל דגם הגמרא ס"ל כן, אלא לא הוצרכו להביאו אלא מ"ד דנשים חייבות, ודחו ליה דס"ל כמ"ד רשות ומותרות.

Biurei HaGra, Tefillin 38:4

And there are those who say that our [Babylonian] Gemara also holds [that we object to women who wear Tefillin], and it only cited [the Baraita about how the Sages didn't object to Michal] according to those who say that women are obligated, and we rejected that [opinion and instead] rule like those that say that women have the option and are allowed [to do positive time-bound mitzvot].

17יז

בית יוסף אח לח:

כתב הכל בו (סי' כא) בשם הר"ם שאם רצו הנשים להניח תפילין אין שומעין להן מפני שאינן יודעות לשמור עצמן בנקיות עכ"ל. ובספר ארחות חיים (הל' תפילין סי' ג) הקשה עליו מדאמרינן בריש פרק המוצא תפילין (שם) דמיכל בת כושי (פירוש בת שאול) היתה מנחת תפילין ולא מיחו בה חכמים. ולי נראה שטעם הר"ם כמו שכתבו התוספות (ד"ה מיכל) דאיתא בפסיקתא (רבתי פרק כב) שמיחו בה חכמים ופירשו הם דטעמא משום דתפילין צריכין גוף נקי ונשים אינן זריזות ליזהר והר"מ רצה לחוש לדברי הפסיקתא:

Beit Yosef OC 38

The Kol Bo (21) writes in the name of the Maharam that if women wish to wear Tefillin, we do not listen to them, since they do not know how to keep themselves clean. The Orchot Chaim (Tefillin 3) challenged this [view] based on the Talmud in Eruvin 96a, where Michal bat Kushi (daughter of Saul) wore Tefillin and the rabbis did not rebuke her. To me, it seems that the view of the Maharam is like that quoted by Tosafot (sv michal), [based on the fact that] in the Pesikta the Sages did rebuke her. And they explained the reason for this is that Tefillin need a guf naki and women are not careful about such matters. And the Maharam [reached his conclusion because] he was concerned for the view of the Pesikta.

18 יח

(ב) מי שברי לו שאינו יכול להתפלל בלא הפחה מוטב שיעבור זמן התפלה ממה שיתפלל בלא גוף נקי. (ועיין לקמן סימן פ'). ואם יראה לו שיוכל להעמיד עצמו בגוף נקי בשעת קריאת שמע יניח תפילין בין אהבה לקריאת שמע ויברך:

(ג) נשים ועבדים פטורים מתפילין מפני שהוא מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא.

הגה: ואם הנשים רוצין להחמיר על עצמן מוחין בידן (כל בו):

(ד) המניח תפילין צריך ליזהר מהרהור תאות אשה.

הגה: ואם אי אפשר לו בלא הרהורים מוטב שלא להניחם (כל בו ואורחות חיים):

(2) For one who is sure that they will not be able to pray without defecating, it is better for them to wait until after the correct time for prayer in order to pray without a guf naki (see below, section 90). And if they think they can maintain a guf naki for the duration of the Shema, they sould wear Tefillin from 'ahavah' [the blessing before the Shema] until the Shema and make the blessings.

(3) Women and slaves are exempt from Tefillin because it is a positive commandment which is caused by time. Rema: And if women want to be stringent for themselves, we protest against it (Kol Bo).

(4) One who wears Tefillin must careful with their thoughts about women.

Rema: And if they find it impossible to do so without such thoughts, it is better for them not to wear [Tefillin] (Kol Bo and Orchot Chaim)

19 יט

(ב) מצותן להיות עליו כל היום אבל מפני שצריכים גוף נקי שלא יפיח בהם ושלא יסיח דעתו מהם ואין כל אדם יכול ליזהר בהם נהגו שלא להניחם כל היום ומכל מקום צריך כל אדם ליזהר בהם להיותם עליו בשעת קריאת שמע ותפלה:

(2) It is a Mitzvah to have it [Tefillin] on all day, but because the body needs to be clean, which Tefillin does not allow one to do, and one is not allowed to distract his mind from them, and people are not able to be careful, so we do not put them on all day. Nevertheless everyone needs to be careful with them, so we put them on during the reciting of Shema and prayer [because we concentrate on holy things at those times anyway].

20כ

חתם סופר, שבת מט.

יש לפרש עובדא הכי, בשים לב מאי טעמא הסיר התפילין מעליו, הלא 'מצוה בעידנא דעסיק בה יותר מגנא ומצלה' (עי' סוטה כא.), ומכל שכן תפילין, דכתיב גביה (דברים כח, י): "וראו כל עמי הארץ כי שם ה' נקרא עליך ויראו ממך" (עי' ברכות ו.) וכו'. והנראה שלפי מש"כ רבינו יונה בשם הרמב"ם הל' תפילין פ"ד הי"ד ט"ו, הובא ברא"ש בהלכות תפילין (סי' כא) שצריכין גוף נקי שלא יקל ראשו בהם...

Chatam Sofer, Shabbat 49a:

This requires explanation: What is the reason that we take Tefillin off [outside of prayers]; why, [Rav Yosef says in the Gemara] "When one is engaged in a mitzvah it protects and saves them" (see Sotah 21a). And even more so for Tefillin, with regards to which it is written (Deuteronomy 28:10): "Then all the nations of the world will see that you are called by the name of God and they will fear you" (see Brachot 6a). And it seems that according to what Rabbeinu Yonah wrote in the name of the Rambam in the Laws of Tefillin 4:14-15, as brought in the Rosh's Laws of Tefillin (Section 21), that they need guf naki, [meaning that] one should not be frivolous (lit. Light-headed) [when they are wearing] them...

21כא

מגן אברהם לח:ג

"מוחין כו'" - מפני שצריכין גוף נקי ונשים אינם זריזות להזהר אבל אם היו חייבים לא היו פטורין מה"ט דהוי רמי אנפשייהו ומזדהרי כנ"ל דלא כע"ת

Magen Avraham 38:3

"We protest": Since they need a clean body and women are not particularly careful with cleanliness; but if they were obligated, they would not be exempt on that basis, since they would accept the mitzvah upon themselves and they would thus be conscientious. Such appears to me to be the rule, and not like the Olat Tamid.

22 כב

(ו) ואם רוצין להחמיר על עצמן – מוחין בידן. ולא דמי לסוכה ולולב שפטורות ועם כל זה מברכות עליהן. דכיון דתפילין צריך זהירות יתירה מגוף נקי, כדאמרינן בשבת (מט א): תפילין צריכין גוף נקי כאלישע בעל כנפים. ובירושלמי ברכות שם אמרו: תמן אמרין "כל שאינו כאלישע בעל כנפים אל יניח תפילין". אך אנשים שמחויבים – בהכרח שיזהרו בהם בשעת קריאת שמע ותפילה. ולכן אין מניחין כל היום, כמו שכתבתי בסימן הקודם. ואם כן נשים שפטורות, למה יכניסו עצמן בחשש גדול כזה? ואצלן בשעת קריאת שמע ותפילה כלאנשים כל היום, לפיכך אין מניחין אותן להניח תפילין. ואף על גב דתניא בעירובין (צו א) דמיכל בת שאול היתה מנחת תפילין, ולא מיחו בה חכמים – אין למידין מזה, דמסתמא ידעו שהיא צדקת גמורה וידעה להזהר...(עיין מגן אברהם סעיף קטן ג' ובית יוסף. ולפי מה שכתבתי אתי שפיר.)

If they want to be strict with themselves we protest. And it's not like Succah and Lulav where [women are also] exempt but they can [do them] and make blessings over them. [By contrast,] because Tefillin need more caution for guf naki, as we say in Shabbat (49a), "Tefillin need a guf naki like Elisha the Winged One". And in the Yerushalmi Brachot there they said: "Everyone who isn't like Elisha the Winged One should not wear Tefillin". But men, [since] they are obligated, are forced to be careful with them during the reading of the Shema and the Amidah. And therefore we don't wear them all day, as I wrote in the previous section. And according to this logic, [since] women are exempt, why would they take on this great risk? [Since] for them, the time [when they are] reading the Shema and the Amidah is comparable to the [rest of] the day for men, therefore they don't wear Tefillin. And even though it was taught in a Baraita in Eiruvin (96a) that Michal bat Shaul wore Tefillin, and the Sages didn't protest, we don't learn [the law] from that, since seemingly they knew that she was a complete tzadeket and knew to be cautious....(See Magen Avraham Section 3 and the Beit Yosef. And according to what I have written here it all makes sense)

23כג

עולת התמיד לח:ד

ואם הנשים רוצין וכו׳: הטעם כתב בכלבו משום שאינו יודעת לשמור את עצמן בנקיות עכ"ל ואני תמה אם כן למאי הצריכו בגמרא פרק מי שמיתו לפרש מפני שהוא מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא הנשים פוטרות מן התפילין ת"ל דאפילו אס רוצים להחמיר אסורין להניח תפילין, שהרי אינן ידעת לשמרם בטהרה! אלא ודאי דליתא להאי טעמא לפי סוגיות הגמרא וכן אמרינן בר"פ המוצא תפילין דמיכל בת כושי היתה מנחת תפילין ולא מיחו בה חכמים אע"ג דבפסיקתא א' להיפך דמיחו בה חכמים מ"מ אנן אגמרא דידן סמכינן. מיהו יש לדחות, הא דלא מפרש גמרא הטעם זה משום שרוצה ליתן טעם גם לעבדים דפטורות ואי משום טעם זה לבד היה נראה דעבדים חייבים שהרי בודאי הם יודעים לשמרם בטהרה ולפיכך מפרש מפני שהוא מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא • דמש"ה גם עבדים פטורים מיהא מהא דאמרנן דלא מיחו בה חכמים משמע דאם האשה זקנה וידעינן בה שיודעת לשמור את עצמה דאין למחות בה ובה"ג מיירי התם:

Olat HaTamid 38:4

The Kolbo writes that the reason is because women do not know how to guard themselves with cleanliness. I was amazed at this, as if that is the case, why does the Talmud in chapter me shemeto need to explain that women are exempt from Tefillin because it is a time-caused positive commandment - Wouldn’t it be true [according to Kolbo] that even if they wish to be strict on themselves, it is prohibited for them to wear Tefillin since they do not know how to keep themselves clean! Rather, it must be that this reason [i.e., that women may not wear Tefillin due to cleanliness issues] is not correct according to the Talmudic text. So too, it says in the beginning of the chapter Hamotzee Tefillin that Michal Bat Shaul donned Tefillin and the Rabbis did not rebuke her; even though one Pesikta says the opposite, that they did rebuke her, nonetheless, we follow our Talmudic source. However, one could rebut the [previous] proof, [because perhaps] our Talmud [in me shemeto] does not give this explanation [cleanliness] since it wants to offer a reason why slaves are also exempt. And if it were for this reason [cleanliness] alone, it would appear that slaves are obligated in donning Tefillin, since they certainly know to keep themselves clean. Therefore the Talmud explains [that women are exempt from Tefillin] because of the principle of time bound positive commandments, since it is for this reason that slaves are also exempt. Nevertheless, the source that says the Rabbis did not rebuke Michal does imply that if a woman is elderly [i.e., post-menopausal] and we know that she is capable of watching herself [to stay clean], one should not rebuke her. And it is such a case that the Talmud has in mind there [i.e. in me shemeto, where women are said to be exempt from wearing Tefillin, not categorically forbidden from doing so].

24כד

פניני הלכה, א:ט:יג:

למעשה, ההוראה שלא תניח, ורבים כתבו שיש למחות ביד הרוצות להניח, וכ"כ הרמ"א ומ"ב לח, יג, וכה"ח לח, ט, ועוד רבים. אלא שכפי שכתבתי, לרוצה להניח יש על מה לסמוך, שכך דעת האורחות חיים ועולת תמיד, ואף מסיום דברי ערוה"ש מבואר שאין למחות במי שמפורסמת כצדקת. ולכן למעשה אין למחות בידה. ובתנאי שתקפיד שלא תניח בשעת וסתה. וכן תקפיד להניח בצנעה, כי רק כך יהיה ברור שהנחתה לשם שמיים, ועוד שצריך להצניע את זמני הטהרה והטומאה.

Peninei Halakha, 1:9:13:

Practically speaking, the law is that they shouldn't wear [Tefillin], and many write that we should object to those who want to wear [Tefillin], and the Rema writes this as well as the M"B 38, 13, KH"C 38, 9, and many more. But as I have written, those who want to wear [Tefillin] have [lenient opinions] to rely upon, since there is the Orchot Chaim and the Olat Tamid, and even the ruling of the Aruch HaShulchaan explains that we don't object to [women wearing Tefillin] where it is known that they are righteous. And therefore, practically speaking, we don't object. But this is on condition that they are careful not to wear it during their period, and [likewise] that they are careful to only wear it in private, since only then will it be clear that they are wearing it for the sake of Heaven, and also because they need to be private with regards to their time of purity and impurity.

25 כה

Bloomberg, No Menstrual Hygiene For Indian Women Holds Back Economy, N. Khan & K. Gokhale, July 24 2013:

Of the 355 million reproductive-age women in India, only 12 percent use absorbent pads or another sanitary method to stem the blood flow during their periods, a report by AC Nielsen and Plan India found in 2010. The rest tend to rely on old fabric, husks, dried leaves and grass, ash, sand or newspapers...

The consequences aren’t just economic. There’s a public health toll. India accounts for 27 percent of the world’s cervical cancer deaths, according to World Health Organization data. The incidence rate there is almost twice the global average, and doctors studying the disease say poor menstrual hygiene is partly to blame.

26 כו
(כג) וּלְמִיכַל֙ בַּת־שָׁא֔וּל לֹֽא־הָ֥יָה לָ֖הּ יָ֑לֶד עַ֖ד י֥וֹם מוֹתָֽהּ׃ (פ)
(23) And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.
27כז

תהילה לדוד לח:א

לדעת הראש ז"ל שיתבאר (סי' פ' דתפילין) הצריכות גוף נקי וכיון דנשים חייבות בתפילה ע"כ דיכולין ליזהר בשעת התפילה מהפחה. וגם להסך הדעת אין לחוש בשעת התפילה. דמטעם זה א"ל למשמש בהם בשעת התפילה כמ"ש המ"א בסי' מ"ד ס"ק ב'. וא"כ יש לעיין אי צריך למחות בנשים כשרוצין להניחן בשעת התפילה דאפשר דהא שכתב רמ"א ז"ל בס"ג דמוחין בידם היינו כשרוצין להניחן כל היום ועיין א"א ס"ק ג'

Tehilla l'David, Orach Chayyim 38:1

According to the Rosh who explains the need for a guf naki, since women are obligated in tefillah they are [clearly] able to be careful at a time of davening mehafacha. And similarly [with regards to the concern for] lacking concentration, there is no concern at a time of davening. From this reasoning, it's possible for them to touch them during prayer like the Magen Avraham says in Section 44, Sub-Section 2. And if so, there is room to investigate if one needs to object to women who want to wear [Tefillin] during prayers, for it is possible that [when] the Rema (Z"L) wrote in Section 3 that we protest, [this is only] when they want to wear [Tefillin] all day. And see AA, Sub-Section 3.

28 כח

R' David Golinkin, The Status of Women in Jewish Law, (pp. 74-75):

[T]here is ample halakhic justification for allowing women to wear Tefillin...the overwhelming halakhic evidence teaches us that women may wear Tefillin like Mikhal bat Shaul and some righteous women in France, Italy, eastern Europe and Israel and we do not protest.

29 כט

R' Shlomo Brody, Women, Tefillin and the Halakhic Process

The notion of abandoning the position of the Rama…to follow Rabbi Karo…is not unprecedented, especially in cases when prominent later figures rejected the Rama. Yet in this case, this seems to be a far-reaching position, because in the subsequent years following the debate between Rabbi Karo and the Rama, almost every known posek has ruled that the law follows the Rama and we protest if women desire to don Tefillin. This includes not only Ashkenazic decisors, but also Sephardic scholars, some of whom agreed to Maharam’s argumentation (Birkey Yosef 38:1) and others who were influenced by later kabbalistic writings which rejected the notion of women donning tefillin for mystical reasons.

30ל

אגרות משה ד:מט

...אבל פשוט שהוא רק בחשקה נפשה לקיים מצות אף כשלא נצטוותה, אבל מכיון שאינו לכוונה זו אלא מצד תורעמותה על השי"ת ועל תורתו אין זה מעשה מצוה כלל אלא אדרבה מעשה איסור שהאיסור דכפירה שחושבת דשייך שיהיה איזה חלוף בדיני התורה היא עושית גם במעשה שחמיר.

Igerot Moshe, 4:49:

...However, it is obvious that this applies only if her soul yearns to perform mitzvot, notwithstanding the fact that she is not commanded to perform them. However, since it is not with this intent, but rather stems from her protest against God and God's Torah, this is not the act of a mitzvah at all; on the contrary, [it is] a forbidden act, since she commits heresy by thinking that it is possible for the laws of the Torah to be changed even in this weighty matter.

31 לא

R' J. H. Henkin, Responsa on Contemporary Jewish Women's Issues p. 33

However, she should not lay Tefillin, as the poskim conclude in Orach Chayyim 38:3. Talmud Torah for women was permitted because it was necessary but Tefillin are not necessary, and she should strengthen her ties to Judaism through other means.

32 לב

Letter from the Principal of SAR High School

Dear Parents,

The issue of women and Tefillin resurfaced this week in light of the Boiling Point article recently published at Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles and circulated on Facebook. It has since become an international topic of discussion. I imagine that many of you have read the articles and have had many conversations on the issue. Over the course of December, I spoke with students and faculty but I did not communicate directly with the parent body on the topic. Given the international publicity of this week, I would like to share my thoughts directly with you.

Two girls who have put on Tefillin since their bat mitzvah approached me months ago to ask permission to put on Tefillin in school. Both students, in their respective ways, have shown real commitment to this mitzvah. Since their bat mitzvah, they have been taught, in accordance with their family practice, to daven each day with Tefillin. For me, this was a question of whether I could allow a young woman to practice as she had been taught – to daven each and every day in a meaningful way wearing Tefillin as an expression of her עבודת השם. I felt that my responsibility was to consider the person before me and the halakha, before considering the political fallout of the decision.

In my opinion, the practice of these families has support in halakha. It has basis in the Rishonim (רמב״ם, רשב״א וספר החינוך) – and R. Yosef Karo, the מחבר שולחן ערוך, seems to follow that opinion. I felt it appropriate to see this as a legitimate practice albeit different than our communal practice – but one that has halakhic justification. As such, I granted the two girls permission in the context – in a tefilah setting – of a group of girls who were supportive of their practice. I felt it appropriate to create space at SAR for them to daven meaningfully. I explained this to our students in this way: it is a halakhically legitimate position despite it not being our common communal practice. But since there is support for it, I would be willing to create such space in the school. I did not, in so doing, create new policy nor invite any female student who wanted to don tefillin to do so. These are girls who, I believe, have been מוסר נפש (for a teen to get up at 6:20 each morning is meaningful commitment) for this מצוה. At its core, women donning Tefillin is a discretionary act in Jewish law. While our community has adopted as normative the view that women refrain from this act, I see the range of rishonim who allow women to don tefillin as support to give space to that practice within our community. One can disagree with this decision on halakhic and public policy grounds. But the position is a coherent one and deserves careful consideration.

But why? What was so important about this? As the weeks passed and I heard the various reactions and responses, my feelings on the issue became increasingly clear to me. Perhaps this is best expressed by way of a story. I daven in R. Yosef Adler’s shul, Congregation Rinat Yisrael, in Teaneck. Many of you know Rabbi Adler as the principal of TABC. On that day back in December when I emailed the faculty, I met Rabbi Adler at a community event. He crossed the room and came over to me, took my hand in his two hands and said, “yasher koach, you made the right decision. In a world where there are so many things that distract our teens from focusing on mitzvot, we should support teenagers who seek to strengthen their connection to Hashem and to a life of mitzvot. If I taught girls in my school, I would make the same decision.” In fact, as he subsequently shared with me, he had made the same decision. A few years back, a woman from the community asked if she could daven at the morning minyan at Rinat – but, she said, I wear tallis and tefillin when I daven. Rabbi Adler permitted her to daven in shul. A number of men in the community came over to him and said that they refused to daven in such a minyan. That story crystallized it all for me. I told my students (and I went to each of our four grades for a community meeting to explain the decision – as well as giving two faculty shiurim for staff) that I am not committed to the idea of SAR girls putting on tefillin. I am not encouraging our girls to do so. But I am committed to having our boys and girls be able to daven in the same shul where a woman might be doing so. That when they see something different, even controversial, before deciding in which denomination it belongs, they must first take a serious look at the halakha and ask their Rabbi whether there is basis for such practice. I suspect that I would not differ much regarding normative halakha with most people in our community. But I would differ strongly with someone who thought this was cause for that person to be removed from the community – or that such practice could not be supported within the community shul. I permitted our two female students to daven with tefillin because I believe that we should not be afraid of different forms of עבודת השם when there is halakhic argument to support it. I permitted the young women to daven with tefillin because we should be proud, as a Modern Orthodox community, that we recognize the sanctity and dignity of each person and we find ways to support their spiritual growth in different ways.

I am proud to say that many students have taken this as an opportunity to learn about their classmates and to learn the sources more carefully. They have engaged each other seriously and respectfully. They have helped shape an atmosphere of support, of care, of אהבת ישראל.

And here is what we do not do: we do not loosely and without basis malign other Jews, call them names, disparage their motivations and their divine service in the name of…what? I am not sure. I have been reading social media (a new practice for me) and I have been appalled. I have read people maligning these two fine young women with insults and false characterizations based on…nothing. It is awful; it is abominable; it is unacceptable. Two girls who are שומרי שבת וכשרות, גומלי חסד,and בנות תורה. It has been awful to watch. It is מוציא שם רע at its worst (of kids, no less). We should be proud to be stringent in recognizing the dignity of others and valuing their divine service and stringent about how we talk about others, especially children.

I know that not everyone agrees with my decision. I expect that and I respect that. It is my hope that we can champion, together, ahavat yisrael, love for each Jew; that we can come together as a community even when we disagree; that we can deeply respect each other with pride as we create space for us to work together, as a community, to strengthen ourselves in our עבודת השם.

With respect and appreciation,
Rabbi Tully Harcsztark
Principal

SAR High School

33 לג

Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, The Heroism of Tamar:

On the morning after our arrival, however, an event occurred that left a deep impression on me. The sponsoring body, a global Jewish organisation, was a secular one, and to keep within their frame of reference the group had to include at least one non-orthodox Jew, a woman studying for the rabbinate. We, the semikhah and yeshiva students, were davenning the morning service in one of the lounges in the chateau when the Reform woman entered, wearing tallit and Tefillin, and sat herself down in the middle of the group.

This is something the students had not encountered before. What were they to do? There was no mechitzah. There was no way of separating themselves. How should they react to a woman wearing tallit and Tefillin and praying in the midst of a group of men? They ran up to the Rav in a state of great agitation and asked what they should do. Without a moment’s hesitation he quoted to them the saying of the sages: A person should be willing to throw himself into a furnace of fire rather than shame another person in public.[2] With that he ordered them back to their seats, and the prayers continued.

The moral of that moment never left me. The Rav, for the past 32 years head of the yeshiva in Maaleh Adumim, was and is one of the great halakhists of our time. He knew immediately how serious were the issues at stake: men and women praying together without a mechitzah between them, and the complex question about whether women may or may not wear a tallit and tefillin. The issue was anything but simple.

But he knew also that halakhah is a systematic way of turning the great ethical and spiritual truths into a tapestry of deeds, and that one must never lose the larger vision in an exclusive focus on the details. Had the students insisted that the woman pray elsewhere they would have put her to shame, the way Eli did when he saw Hannah praying and thought she was drunk.[3] Never, ever shame someone in public. That was the transcending imperative of the hour. That is the mark of a great-souled man. To have been his student for more than a decade I count as one of the great privileges of my life.