Can Woman be a Rabbi? ?נשים פוסקות הלכה
1 א

(א) וַיֹּסִ֙פוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת הָרַ֖ע בְּעֵינֵ֣י ה' וְאֵה֖וּד מֵֽת׃ (ב) וַיִּמְכְּרֵ֣ם ה' בְּיַד֙ יָבִ֣ין מֶֽלֶךְ־כְּנַ֔עַן אֲשֶׁ֥ר מָלַ֖ךְ בְּחָצ֑וֹר וְשַׂר־צְבָאוֹ֙ סִֽיסְרָ֔א וְה֥וּא יוֹשֵׁ֖ב בַּחֲרֹ֥שֶׁת הַגּוֹיִֽם׃ (ג) וַיִּצְעֲק֥וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶל־יְהוָ֑ה כִּ֠י תְּשַׁ֨ע מֵא֤וֹת רֶֽכֶב־בַּרְזֶל֙ ל֔וֹ וְ֠הוּא לָחַ֞ץ אֶת־בְּנֵ֧י יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל בְּחָזְקָ֖ה עֶשְׂרִ֥ים שָׁנָֽה׃ (ס) (ד) וּדְבוֹרָה֙ אִשָּׁ֣ה נְבִיאָ֔ה אֵ֖שֶׁת לַפִּיד֑וֹת הִ֛יא שֹׁפְטָ֥ה אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בָּעֵ֥ת הַהִֽיא׃ (ה) וְ֠הִיא יוֹשֶׁ֨בֶת תַּֽחַת־תֹּ֜מֶר דְּבוֹרָ֗ה בֵּ֧ין הָרָמָ֛ה וּבֵ֥ין בֵּֽית־אֵ֖ל בְּהַ֣ר אֶפְרָ֑יִם וַיַּעֲל֥וּ אֵלֶ֛יהָ בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לַמִּשְׁפָּֽט׃ (ו) וַתִּשְׁלַ֗ח וַתִּקְרָא֙ לְבָרָ֣ק בֶּן־אֲבִינֹ֔עַם מִקֶּ֖דֶשׁ נַפְתָּלִ֑י וַתֹּ֨אמֶר אֵלָ֜יו הֲלֹ֥א צִוָּ֣ה ׀ ה' אֱלֹהֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל לֵ֤ךְ וּמָֽשַׁכְתָּ֙ בְּהַ֣ר תָּב֔וֹר וְלָקַחְתָּ֣ עִמְּךָ֗ עֲשֶׂ֤רֶת אֲלָפִים֙ אִ֔ישׁ מִבְּנֵ֥י נַפְתָּלִ֖י וּמִבְּנֵ֥י זְבֻלֽוּן׃ (ז) וּמָשַׁכְתִּ֨י אֵלֶ֜יךָ אֶל־נַ֣חַל קִישׁ֗וֹן אֶת־סִֽיסְרָא֙ שַׂר־צְבָ֣א יָבִ֔ין וְאֶת־רִכְבּ֖וֹ וְאֶת־הֲמוֹנ֑וֹ וּנְתַתִּ֖יהוּ בְּיָדֶֽךָ׃ (ח) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלֶ֙יהָ֙ בָּרָ֔ק אִם־תֵּלְכִ֥י עִמִּ֖י וְהָלָ֑כְתִּי וְאִם־לֹ֥א תֵלְכִ֛י עִמִּ֖י לֹ֥א אֵלֵֽךְ׃ (ט) וַתֹּ֜אמֶר הָלֹ֧ךְ אֵלֵ֣ךְ עִמָּ֗ךְ אֶ֚פֶס כִּי֩ לֹ֨א תִֽהְיֶ֜ה תִּֽפְאַרְתְּךָ֗ עַל־הַדֶּ֙רֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אַתָּ֣ה הוֹלֵ֔ךְ כִּ֣י בְֽיַד־אִשָּׁ֔ה יִמְכֹּ֥ר ה' אֶת־סִֽיסְרָ֑א וַתָּ֧קָם דְּבוֹרָ֛ה וַתֵּ֥לֶך עִם־בָּרָ֖ק קֶֽדְשָׁה׃


(1) And the children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead. (2) And the LORD gave them over into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth-goiim. (3) And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel. (4) Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, she judged Israel at that time. (5) And she sat under the palm-tree of Deborah between Ramah and Beth-el in the hill-country of Ephraim; and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. (6) And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedesh-naphtali, and said unto him: ‘Hath not the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded, saying: Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? (7) And I will draw unto thee to the brook Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thy hand. (8) And Barak said unto her: ‘If thou wilt go with me, then I will go; but if thou wilt not go with me, I will not go.’ (9) And she said: ‘I will surely go with thee; notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thy honour; for the LORD will give Sisera over into the hand of a woman.’ And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.

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2 ב
רבי שמלאי אתא לקמיה דרבי יוחנן אמר ליה ניתני לי מר ספר יוחסין אמר ליה מהיכן את אמר ליה מלוד והיכן מותבך בנהרדעא אמר ליה אין נידונין לא ללודים ולא לנהרדעים וכל שכן דאת מלוד ומותבך בנהרדעא כפייה וארצי אמר ליה ניתנייה בתלתא ירחי שקל קלא פתק ביה אמר ליה ומה ברוריה דביתהו דרבי מאיר ברתיה דרבי חנניה בן תרדיון דתניא תלת מאה שמעתתא ביומא מתלת מאה רבוותא ואפילו הכי לא יצתה ידי חובתה בתלת שנין ואת אמרת בתלתא ירחי

There is a fundamental problem in the mishna that was clarified during the course of a particular incident: Rabbi Simlai came before Rabbi Yoḥanan. He said to him: Would the Master teach me the Book of Genealogies? The Book of Genealogies was a collection of tannaitic teachings that formed a midrash on the book of Chronicles. Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: Where are you from? He said to him: From Lod. Rabbi Yoḥanan further asked: And where is your present place of residence? He said to him: In Neharde’a. Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: I have a tradition that we teach these subjects neither to Lodites nor to Neharde’ans, and certainly not to you who comes from Lod and your residence is in Neharde’a, such that you have both shortcomings. Rabbi Simlai pressured Rabbi Yoḥanan until he agreed to teach him. Rabbi Simlai said to him: Teach me the Book of Genealogies in three months. Rabbi Yoḥanan took a clod of dirt, threw it at him, and said to him: Berurya, wife of Rabbi Meir and daughter of Rabbi Ḥananya ben Teradyon, was so sharp and had such a good memory that she learned three hundred halakhot in one day from three hundred Sages, and nonetheless she did not fulfill her responsibility to properly learn the Book of Genealogies in three years because it is especially long and difficult. And you say that I should teach it to you in three months? After your inappropriate request, I am not inclined to teach you at all.

3 ג

הנהו בריוני דהוו בשבבותיה דר"מ והוו קא מצערו ליה טובא הוה קא בעי ר' מאיר רחמי עלויהו כי היכי דלימותו אמרה לי' ברוריא דביתהו מאי דעתך משום דכתיב (תהלים קד, לה) יתמו חטאים מי כתיב חוטאים חטאים כתיב ועוד שפיל לסיפיה דקרא ורשעים עוד אינם כיון דיתמו חטאים ורשעים עוד אינם אלא בעי רחמי עלויהו דלהדרו בתשובה ורשעים עוד אינם בעא רחמי עלויהו והדרו בתשובה:

There were some lawless men living in the neighbourhood of R. Meir, and they used to vex him sorely. Once R. Meir prayed that they should die. His wife, Beruriah, exclaimed, "What thinkest thou? Is it because it is written, 'Let sinners cease out of the earth'? But has the text hoteim? It is written hata'im. Glance also at the end of the verse, 'And let the wicked be no more' — i.e. when 'sins will cease,' then 'the wicked will be no more.' Rather shouldest thou pray that they repent and they be no more wicked." R. Meir offered prayer on their behalf and they repented.

4 ד

ד"א "אשת חיל מי ימצא" - אמרו: מעשה היה ברבי מאיר, שהיה יושב ודורש בבית המדרש בשבת במנחה, ומתו שני בניו. מה עשתה אמו? הניחה שניהם על המטה ופרשה סדין עליהם. במוצאי שבת בא ר' מאיר מבית המדרש לביתו. אמר לה 'היכן שני בני?', אמרה 'לבית המדרש הלכו', אמר לה 'צפיתי לבית המדרש ולא ראיתי אותם', נתנו לו כוס של הבדלה והבדיל, חזר ואמר 'היכן שני בני?', אמרה לו 'הלכו למקום אחר ועכשיו הם באים', הקריבה לפניו המאכל ואכל ובירך, לאחר שבירך אמרה לו 'רבי, שאלה אחת יש לי לשאול לך', אמר לה 'אמרי שאלתך', אמרה לו 'רבי, קודם היום בא אדם אחד ונתן לי פקדון, ועכשיו בא ליטול אותו, נחזיר לו או לא?', אמר לה 'בתי, מי שיש פקדון אצלו, הוא צריך להחזירו לרבו', אמרה לו 'רבי, חוץ מדעתך לא הייתי נותנת אצלו', מה עשתה? תפשתו בידה, והעלה אותו לאותו חדר, והקריבה אותו למטה, ונטלה סדין מעליהם, וראה שניהם מתים ומונחים על המטה, התחיל בוכה ואומר 'בני! בני! רבי! רבי! בני בדרך ארץ, ורבי שהיו מאירין פני בתורתן!', באותה שעה אמרה לו לרבי מאיר 'רבי, לא כך אמרת לי - אני צריך להחזיר הפקדון לרבו?', אמר (איוב א כא): "ה' נתן וה' לקח, יהי שם ה' מבורך". אמר רבי חנינא: בדבר הזה נחמתו ונתיישבה דעתו, לכך נאמר "אשת חיל מי ימצא".

Beruriah was the learned and compassionate wife of Rabbi Meir. While Rabbi Meir was teaching on a Shabbat afternoon, both of his sons died from the plague that was affecting their city. When Rabbi Meir returned home, he asked his wife, “Where are our sons?” She handed him the cup for havdalah and he said the blessing. Again he asked, “Where are our sons?” She brought food for him, and he ate. When he had finished eating, Beruriah said to her husband, “My teacher, I have a question. A while ago, a man came and deposited something precious in my keeping. Now he has come back to claim what he left. Shall I return it to him or not?” Meir responded, “Is not one who holds a deposit required to return it to its owner?” So she took his hand and led him to where their two children lay. He began to weep, crying “My sons, my sons.” She comforted him, “The Lord gave, the Lord took. Y’hei sh’mei rabah mevorach, May the Name of the Lord be blessed…” R. Hanina said, "In this way she comforted him, and his mind was set at ease. Regarding such an instance does it say, "A good wife who can find?"

5 ה

Asnat Barazani

by Renee Levine Melammed (summery)

Asnat Barazani was the daughter of the eminent Rabbi Shmuel b. Netanel Ha-Levi of Kurdistan (1560?–1625/1635?). Her father built a yeshiva in Mosul where he hoped to train young men who would become community leaders and scholars. Since he had no sons, he trained his daughter to be a learned scholar of the highest order.

Asnat was married to one of her father’s finest students, Rabbi Jacob Mizrahi. She described the conditions of their marriage in a letter:

“And he (my father) made my partner swear never to allow me to engage in work, and thus he did as he was commanded. From the start, the Rabbi (Mizrahi) was involved in his studies and did not have time to teach the students, so I would teach them in his stead, a helpmate...” (ibid.). Thus we learn that Rabbi Mizrahi agreed to conditions whereby Asnat would never have to spend her time on housework, because she was a Torah scholar like himself. After her father died, her husband technically became the head of the Yeshiva, but in fact it was Asnat who taught the students who had come for rabbinic training.

When R. Mizrahi passed away, the leadership of the yeshiva naturally passed to his widow, and since she had already been the students’ teacher, the transition was natural and painless. In letters addressed to her, one can see the respect and admiration of fellow rabbis from far and near.

Few of her writings are extant, but one can perceive in them her complete mastery of Torah, Talmud, Midrash, Kabbalah and Hebrew, for her letters are lyrical as well as erudite. A recently discovered manuscript provides additional insight into her life. Inter alia, it reveals an attempt to deceive her regarding the means of delivery of contributions to her yeshiva. In addition, there are numerous stories about her, most of which have been found in amulets, which allude to her supernatural powers. These include her ability to limit her childbearing to two children so that she could devote herself to her studies, and the ability to freeze an intruder in his tracks in order to prevent him from raping her, a feat achieved by loudly calling out holy names.

https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/barazani-asnat-bat-samuel

6 ו

(ח) כִּ֣י יִפָּלֵא֩ מִמְּךָ֨ דָבָ֜ר לַמִּשְׁפָּ֗ט בֵּֽין־דָּ֨ם ׀ לְדָ֜ם בֵּֽין־דִּ֣ין לְדִ֗ין וּבֵ֥ין נֶ֙גַע֙ לָנֶ֔גַע דִּבְרֵ֥י רִיבֹ֖ת בִּשְׁעָרֶ֑יךָ וְקַמְתָּ֣ וְעָלִ֔יתָ אֶל־הַמָּק֔וֹם אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִבְחַ֛ר ה' אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ בּֽוֹ׃ (ט) וּבָאתָ֗ אֶל־הַכֹּהֲנִים֙ הַלְוִיִּ֔ם וְאֶל־הַשֹּׁפֵ֔ט אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִהְיֶ֖ה בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֑ם וְדָרַשְׁתָּ֙ וְהִגִּ֣ידוּ לְךָ֔ אֵ֖ת דְּבַ֥ר הַמִּשְׁפָּֽט׃ (י) וְעָשִׂ֗יתָ עַל־פִּ֤י הַדָּבָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יַגִּ֣ידֽוּ לְךָ֔ מִן־הַמָּק֣וֹם הַה֔וּא אֲשֶׁ֖ר יִבְחַ֣ר ה' וְשָׁמַרְתָּ֣ לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת כְּכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר יוֹרֽוּךָ׃ (יא) עַל־פִּ֨י הַתּוֹרָ֜ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר יוֹר֗וּךָ וְעַל־הַמִּשְׁפָּ֛ט אֲשֶׁר־יֹאמְר֥וּ לְךָ֖ תַּעֲשֶׂ֑ה לֹ֣א תָס֗וּר מִן־הַדָּבָ֛ר אֲשֶׁר־יַגִּ֥ידֽוּ לְךָ֖ יָמִ֥ין וּשְׂמֹֽאל׃ ...

(טו) שׂ֣וֹם תָּשִׂ֤ים עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ מֶ֔לֶךְ אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִבְחַ֛ר ה' אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ בּ֑וֹ מִקֶּ֣רֶב אַחֶ֗יךָ תָּשִׂ֤ים עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ מֶ֔לֶךְ לֹ֣א תוּכַ֗ל לָתֵ֤ת עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ אִ֣ישׁ נָכְרִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹֽא־אָחִ֖יךָ הֽוּא׃

(8) If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, even matters of controversy within thy gates; then shalt thou arise, and get thee up unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose. (9) And thou shall come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days; and thou shalt inquire; and they shall declare unto thee the sentence of judgment. (10) And thou shalt do according to the tenor of the sentence, which they shall declare unto thee from that place which the LORD shall choose; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they shall teach thee. (11) According to the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do; thou shalt not turn aside from the sentence which they shall declare unto thee, to the right hand, nor to the left...
(15) thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose; one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee; thou mayest not put a foreigner over thee, who is not thy brother.

7 ז

(ה) אֵין מַעֲמִידִין אִשָּׁה בְּמַלְכוּת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז-טו) "עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ" וְלֹא מַלְכָּה. וְכֵן כָּל מְשִׂימוֹת שֶׁבְּיִשְׂרָאֵל אֵין מְמַנִּים בָּהֶם אֶלָּא אִישׁ:

We may not appoint a woman as king. When describing the monarchy, theTorah employs the male form of the word king and not the female.

This principle also applies to all other positions of authority within Israel. Only men should be appointed to fill them.

8 ח
כל הכשר לדון כשר להעיד ויש כשר להעיד ואין כשר לדון

WHOSOEVER IS ELIGIBLE TO ACT AS JUDGE IS ELIGIBLE TO ACT AS WITNESS, BUT ONE MAY BE ELIGIBLE TO ACT AS WITNESS AND NOT AS JUDGE

9 ט

כל הכשר לדון כשר להעיד. וא"ת והרי אשה דכשרה לדון כדכתיב בדבורה והיא שופטה את ישראל בעת ההיא ובשלהי פ"ק דב"ק (דף טו.) דרשינן אשר תשים לפניהם השוה הכתוב אשה לאיש לכל עונשין שבתורה וכי היכי דהאי קרא מיירי בנדונין מיירי נמי בדיינין כדדרשינן בהמגרש (גיטין פח:) לפניהם ולא לפני עובדי כוכבים ואשה פסולה להעיד כדאמר בפרק שבועת העדות (שבועות דף ל.) וי"ל דה"ק כל איש הכשר לדון כשר להעיד אי נמי נהי דבנידונין הוי אשה בכלל מ"מ בדיינים אין אשה בכלל ודבורה היתה דנה ע"פ הדיבור אי נמי לא היתה דנה אלא מלמדת להם הדינים ובירושלמי פוסל אשה לדון אית דילפי מועמדו שני אנשים שני מעל פי שנים עדים ואית דילפי מוישארו שני אנשים במחנה:

summery: a prophetic command told Israel to temporarily break the normal halachic rules, or a second suggestion made by Tosafot is that they were figurehead male leaders or judges, who were in the official positions but they in practice followed whatever Devorah told them to do.
Ritva to Tractate 30a also suggests the 2nd idea raised by Tosafot or he adds the possibilty, that if the public wants to be judged by invalid judges, they have the right to do so.

10 י

(א) שלא להכנס שתויי יין במקדש וכן שלא יורה שתוי - שלא להכנס שתוי במקדש. וכן שלא להורות. כלומר שלא נדון בדבר מדיני התורה בעוד שיהא האדם שכור, שנאמר (ויקרא י ט) יין ושכר אל תשת וגו' בבואכם אל אהל מועד. ולשון התלמוד (עירובין סד א) שתה רביעית אל יורה...

(ח) ונוהג אסור ביאת מקדש בשכרות בזמן הבית בזכרים ונקבות, ומניעת ההוריה בכל מקום ובכל זמן בזכרים, וכן באשה חכמה הראויה להורות. וכל מי שהוא חכם גדול שבני אדם סומכין על הוראתו, אסור לו לשנות לתלמידיו והוא שתוי, שהלמוד שלו כמו הוראה הוא, כמו שאמרנו...

Anyone, a Kohen, a Levite or an Israelite, who instructs Torah when inebriated, has violated a negative commandment, regardless of [whether this] person had become intoxicated from wine or from other types of spirits. This prohibition applies to men at all times and in all places, and it also applies to wise women who are fit to instruct. Any great sage whose instructions are relied upon by other people may not teach his pupils while inebriated, since his teaching is likened to instruction, as we mentioned earlier[

11 יא

Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim

… and during the generation of the rishonim, many girls studied Torah. Some were great Torah sages indeed, and some had even published chidushim and halachic rulings. Some of the literature written by the rishonim and the achronim contains chidushim, including solutions to halachic questions, referring back to the women who proposed those chidushim and solutions. Published in Akdamot, volume 13 (5763), pp. 55-56, by Yael Levin, who even added a historical and analytical introduction to this discussion.

12 יב

Rabbi Yitzhak Halevi Herzog:

… since it is accepted that a woman is fit to instruct halachah … this includes all halachic matters, simple or difficult, great or small. And if she is fit to instruct, we can’t determine that a woman’s opinion is feeble … in any case, if [a woman] is fit [to instruct], this teaches us that she can think clearly.Techukeh Leyisrael Al Pi Hatorah, volume 1 (5749), p. 109. His answer relies on what was written in Pitchei Teshuva, which was referenced earlier, in footnote 18.

13 יג

Rabbi Bakshi-Doron:

From all we have heard, it seems to me that a woman and a convert may serve as leaders, and they may even serve as the leaders of their generation … a woman and a convert may be instructors of halachah and they may teach Torah and psakim. [These are] roles whose authority is determined through the abilities of the candidates, and this authority is derived from their abilities…

Sefer Binyan Av, part one, response 65 (p. 287).