Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rabba Hurwitz?

Rabba? What’s next? Rava? This is really getting ridiculous.

Rabbi Avi Weiss has ordained the first female Orthodox rabbi. Her name is Sara Hurwitz.

We can discuss whether what he did was appropriate and what the impact is on overall Orthodoxy. There is debate about whether that is a good idea or a bad one. One can discuss the legitimacy of ordaining women.

As I have said in the past I do not see anything Halachicly wrong with it since today’s version of Semicha has absolutely no basis in Halacha.

It is just recognition that one has studied and mastered certain sections of the Shuchan Aruch, knows how to learn Gemarah, has successfully studied it along with Rishonim and Poskim for many years, has exemplary Midos, and will faithfully promote and beautify the ideals of Torah.

Passing tests to that effect grants one permission to serve as a rabbi in any Orthodox community.

As I have said before - I am nevertheless opposed it for various reasons. I’m not going to rehash them all here. Suffice it to say that I do not believe it is normative Judaism even if it is technically not against Halacha.

But like it or not the fact is that Rabbi Weiss has by his own admission conferred Semicha upon Ms. Hurwitz. That makes her a rabbi. Not a Maharat. Not a Rabba. But a Rabbi. An Orthodox one. It is insulting to call her anything else and I challenge him to rectify that.

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