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Ep. 239: Are We Doing All We Can to Empower Women Today?


Addressing the Personal and Emotional Needs of Our Community and Answering the Most Pressing Questions of Our Lives — from the Perspective of Chassidic Thought

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  • Chassidus Applied to Zos Chanukah, Hei Teves and Parshas Vayigash
  • Are we doing all we can to empower women today?
  • How does someone know what he’s capable of?
  • If one’s “containers” are not aligned with their spiritual “light” (due to a chemical imbalance, as an example), can the container be trained to regulate and adjust itself to its spiritual capacity?
  • Is there a difference how one would treat depression in a Jew and in a non-Jew?
  • What can I do about same gender attraction?
  • Follow-up (episode 235): Homosexuality
  • Chassidus question: What can we learn from Yosef’s mistake by relying on the butler to mention him to Pharaoh, instead of just trusting Hashem? Aren’t we supposed to make a vessel for G-d’s blessings?
  • My Life 2018 essays: Peripheral or Primary:
    • Two Paradigms for Life, Yossi Grossbaum, 38, Folsom, CA
    • Attaining Inner Happiness, Sara Chyrek, 16, Brooklyn, NY
    • Unknown Identity Syndrome, Mendel Brackman, 20, Westminster, CO

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One Response to “Ep. 239: Are We Doing All We Can to Empower Women Today?”

  1. yudy cohen

    Dear R. Jacobson,
    I appreciate you taking the time to answer my letter but with all due respect, you are glossing over the issue. When the Rebbe came out and said that women need to learn Gemara, it is an understatement that he got flack and not just outside Lubavitch but the women in Lubavitch balked and the Rebbe had to lower his standards in this regard.This is my machtenist’s account because she lived through it.Giving women certification to pasken accomplishes many things. First of all it is not so much about appeasing the women as much as it is meant to include women as part of the halachic dialogue. Why should a woman who loves halacha and Gemara have to use her G-d given talents to go to law school and use her analytic and logic in a court of law outside the Jewish community and be in a untznius environment?These positions give Yiddishe role models for girls as opposed to the second best option of the frum woman who is able to maintain her Torah principles in a secular non-Jewish environment .A woman feels more comfortable asking her taharas hamishpacha questions to a woman over a man no matter how sensitive the rav is. That is why the the position of a yoetzet halacha was created because too few shailos were being asked and the women were either. too lenient or too strict which created all sorts of problems including shalom bayis.
    The reason why the ideas of women having these kinds of positions seem so foreign is because we did not listen to the Rebbe’s directive to begin learning Gemara when he publically announced his request in 1990. If Gemara would have been taught in our mosdos, we would not be grappling with this issue about whether women can be rabbis, because there would have been a seamless transition, and the leaders and the poskim of the community would have put their heads together then to facilitate the next step which would be a formal leadership position. We ought to embrace these options. It improves yiras shemayim and ahavas Hashem and increased Torah knowledge transforms women and if women are transformed, their homes and families follow suit. Surely, you are aware that there is precedent for all these formal positions coupled with the statement that the Rebbe said in 1990 that women’s minds have strengthened.We could start with post high school serious learning institutions in which women are thoroughly versed in all 4 parts of Shulchan Aruch and will know how to learn Gemara and know major parts of masechos which have halachic relevance. If we had women like Rebbitzen Rachel who could learn Gemara and paskened a shaila before the Alter Rebbe was born, surely today we could have this on a much wider scale. Kol tuv.

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