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Op Ed: What Does the Rebbe Say About Women Speaking in Public?

by Anonymous

Before Gimmel Tammuz, after any major discussion would come up in the Jewish world and especially in Crown Heights, the Rebbe would discuss the issue publicly with the Chassdim.

Although 24 long years after Gimmel Tammuz we find our selves in a very difficult time, but the fact still remains, that even today one can find the Rebbe’s clear approach on things through looking at the Rebbe’s Sichos and letters, this topic is no different.

(Note: I’m not writing this about “Mic Drop” itself, but rather the idea of women speaking in front of men.)

I wanna start off with looking at the Psak Din of the Crown Heights Bes Din regarding the Mic Drop event.

After the letter goes through the possible Halachic problems connected to the event, the next line starts: “Moreover, the spirit of the event is alien for Frum Jews, and how much more so for Lubavitcher Chassdim”…

And this is the part I will try to address.

Starting from the days of the Frierdiker Rebbe’s leadership in America, a new shift took place in the world of Lubavitch, and in the world of any Chasidic group in general, which was the idea of bringing Judaism outwards, modern day out reach. (Although it existed somewhat before this, never was it focused on as much as it was in these years.)

One of the interesting things the Friediker Rebbe started was a focus specifically on the power of women, addressing letters to them and even printing his Mamorim in easy Yiddish, so that woman too can understand and learn them, he also instituted the first Lubavitcher girls school.

Now it goes without saying that this is an approach that continued clearly throughout our Rebbe’s Niseius. from Neshi Chabad, to Mivtza Neshek the list can go on and on, but something we can see clearly is that there was a whole new emphasis and focus on the power of Women.

Already from the Rebbe’s earliest Farbrengens, time after time, the Rebbe would speak about our generations special shlichus, and going out in to the world to bring other yidden closer to Yidishkeit.

Like the men, the Rebbe would also encourage the woman to go out and spread Yidishkeit, specifically with the mivtzos connected to woman. It was clear that they too were given the Rebbe’s shlichus to go out and change the world.

While the Rebbe instructed and encouraged woman to be active in spreading Yidishkeit in to the world, the Rebbe gave clear guidelines for how these things must be done. Guidelines for both men and women.

Never once did the Rebbe intend on the Mivtzom or Lubavitch outreach activities in general to compromise on our standards as Lubavitcher Chassdim, and as Frum Jews. In fact the Rebbe made this clear on countless occasions.

Unfortunately, over time people seem to forget this, and this may be the root of the problem. Although, as the Rebbe put it in a Sicha:

“In the last generation, aside from the personal job that Jewish women and girls have inside there home, they were also given the job outside there home (in spreading Judisam), but this must be done also In a way of “כבודה בת מלך פנימה” – Women and Girls, reaching out to other Women and Girls…”

(For further reading of this Sicha, see Shabbos Parshas Noach 5751)

People make the mistake that Lubavitch has a more “Open/Modern” approach to things, which is simply not true, and not consistent with the Rebbe’s teachings.

As for the case of Shluchos, there are those who try to bring proofs from Shluchos speaking in front of men. After looking at the Rebbe’s talks on the matter, I will say clearly that just because they do it, doesn’t make it right.

Now, I am not Chas V’eshlom trying to say that any Shlucha which does this is wrong, but as the Rabbonim made clear in the letter about the Mic Drop event,

“For a Shliach who lives in a isolated location, and for the sake of drawing other Jews to Torah observance… He should consult with a G-d fearing Anash Rav to asertain the Halcha in these tough conditions…”

Which clearly means, it’s not so simple. Every situation is different. And it’s up to the Rav or Mashpia who the shluchim consult with on the matter.

But what is clear, based on the Rebbe’s view of things, is that for a Lubavitcher Chosid and a member of Anash, it is not something that should be done, and is clearly going against the Rebbe’s will.

Just one last point.

Although the Rebbe emphasized many times the idea that women matter, the Torah’s meaning of those words resembles nothing to that of a Womens’ Rights Activist.

The Torah sets straight that men and women have two completely different jobs and roles in this world, and there are specific koachos and talents that a women has to fulfill her mission in the world that are exclusive to her.

So in short, the way we – as proud Jews – see it, is that “Womens Rights” doesn’t mean to be treated equally to that of a man. But to tap in to my full potential that G-d gave me as a woman, to live up to what is expected of me; as who I am, as a women.

The Rebbe would often make mention to that which is brought down in the Torah that In the Zechus of the righteous women of the generation, Moshiach will come. Through their special avoida in a way of tznius, as a true “בת מלך פנימה”.

May this Zechus lead us to Moshiach now, when we will once again be with our Beloved Rebbe and be zoiche to hear his sense of clarity on every thing that comes up in our community.

And may the streets of Crown Height be filled with the feeling of Ashreinu!, we are the Rebbe’s chassidim!

With Moshiach Now.

14 Comments

  • 1. Anonymous wrote:

    Can’t we just let this go.
    It was soo pleasant not to read anything about this all day
    It was a narishkeit, and let it go
    Rabbonim need to set standards and uphold them
    And we should just let it go

    Reply
  • 2. Thank you! wrote:

    What you write is very true.
    However you should have provided more sources to back up the content.
    I will try help out with that

    1) Shulchan Menachem vol. 6 page 68-69. The Rebbe writes there, that a woman’s primary focus should be one her “home” and the shlichus that she should be involved in is davke those that specifically require women (such as teaching which requires warmth etc). This is because כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה.
    2) Shulchan Menachem vol. 6 page 67. The Rebbe says that women shouldn’t participate in demonstrations as that is not tznius and not in line with כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה. The Rebbe uses very strong wording there, עיין שם.
    3) The issue of women delivering speeches in front of men is a Halachik issue. See שבט הלוי חלק ג סימן יד that it is totally Ossur. See also שו”ת להורות נתן ח”א סי’ ס. In אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק ה סימן יב Reb Moshe Feinstein permits a woman giving a shiur in front of men, with the following conditions: A) That this is something that doesn’t occur on a regular basis. B) the woman is SITTING and not standing. C) this is not done in a shul.
    See also שו”ת מהרש”ל siman 29 at the bottom, he writes about a great great grandmother of his, the daughter of Reb Shlomo Schapiro, who taught torah to men, WHILE SITTING BEHIND A CURTAIN. Seemingly the Maharshal (a contemporary of the Remo, co-author of the shulchan oruch!) maintained that without that curtain, it would be ossur.
    Chasidei Chabad generally don’t really on “heteirim”. Reb Moshe Feinstein permits Cholov Stam in America, and I have never heard of a Chossid Chabad who would even consider eating a non-cholov yisroel product.
    So while it is possible that in an extreme case of a Sha’as Hadchak (some shluchim and shluchos may find themselves in that situation) one can really on Reb Moshe’s hetter and allow a woman to speak in front of men, this is definitely not the standard which Anash should be following. And important to stress – if a shlucha is relying on Reb Moshe’s Hetter (of course after discussing this with a Chasidisher Rov, as the Rebbe would always say to do) – she may only do so if she ADHERES TO REB MOSHE’S 3 CONDITIONS.
    4) Regarding mixed crowds – the Rebbe’s view is clear. it is totally ossur! see English letter of the Rebbe printed in “shlichus kehilchoso” page 122, that generally there must be a Mechitza, but in a very extreme case (the Rebbe is referring to outreach in Russia), separate seating is OK. The Rebbe is very clear there that even in the most extreme cases, there is no Heter for mixed seating.
    5) Regarding pictures of women, see shulchan menachem vol. 6 page 74 where it seems that only when meeting specific conditions is there a Heter to print pictures of women, but without those conditions it is Ossur.

    Reply
    • 3. This is great wrote:

      Thank you you bring the sources. Hopefully they will help those sitting on the fence to reach the proper conclusions before they fall off the derech

    • 4. Quote wrote:

      “Regarding pictures of women, see shulchan menachem vol. 6 page 74 ” I don’t yet have this sefer. Can you please post the full quote in English?

  • 6. To #1 wrote:

    This is actually the first article I’m seeing that talks about the problem at hand rather then the politics around it

    Reply
  • 7. RL wrote:

    While the author takes a strong stance and claims the Rebbe spoke clearly about expectations for women on shlichus etc, I did not see any clear, straight-forward examples of what the Rebbe had said on the issue n this op-ed.

    Author- Once you raise an issue and make a point, drive it all the way home! This is half baked and only creates doubt regarding the creditibility and legitimacy of the point raised.

    Reply
  • 8. Puffed out... wrote:

    …from trying to catch and then stop a moving train.
    Where were the eynei ha’eidah 24years ago?

    Reply
  • 9. Yakov Kirschenbaum wrote:

    BH

    Why is this article anonymous??

    If a writer cannot put his name behind what he writes, what is it worth??

    Anonymous articles and comments should not be published. This would greatly improve the situation with all the ridiculous comments out there.

    (The one exception is when a victim of abuse etc. is writing – in that case, there’s an obvious need for anonymity.)

    Reply
    • 10. Anonymous wrote:

      Hey “Yaakov”,
      Anyone willing to attach their name to something they have written can look forward to personal attacks and character assassination. When you know a normal person willing to do that, please let us know.
      Anyways, what’s wrong with anonymous posts?? Ever heard of the expression “shoot the message, not the messenger”? Anonymity gets the point across in an objective, forward way. Doesn’t cloud the discussion by pinning faults on the ‘messenger’. We have so many hard-fought rights in this country because people protested anonymously.

  • 11. Regular simple Yid. wrote:

    That being said. I’m not Lubavitch, but I always wondered why it “seems” like there’s a very relaxed attitude on this website when it comes to showing pictures of Women. I can understand that in extreme circumstances and or for the sake of Kiruv it might be permissible. But it really would be nice, that if Halacha is not in favor of it, that this wonderful news sight would refrain from posting unnecessary photos of women.
    I once thought that it’s interesting, that it says in the Z’chus/Merit Of Noshim Tzidkoniyos (Righteous women), K’lal Yisrael was redeemed from Mitzrayim (Egypt). If that’s the case then how come at the Pesach Seder, in Hagadda it says, that one who speaks a lot about the Yetzias Mitzrayim is praised. So some people speak for hours. But it makes NO mention of Noshim Tzidkoniyos being the reason why we were redeemed!! So we speak all about redemption then, but nothing about Noshim Tzidkoniyos?? And the answer in my humble opinion is, that’s right! No mention at all. Why? Because it wouldn’t be Tzniyos to mention it at a Seder full of people! The reason is that they were Righteous & Tzniyos. But once you publicize it, and the conversation publicly discusses that would defeat the whole purpose.

    Reply
  • 13. with the old breed wrote:

    It is interesting that these questions have been around since the start of Chabad in the USA.

    Reply
  • 14. Rav Moshe Feinstein, Zt"L wrote:

    It is NOT “Reb”.

    I am NOT going to discuss the Mic Drop here but kindly refer to the Rav whom the Rebbe, ZY”A considered the “Poseik HaDor,” as Rav Moshe Feinstein, ZT’L.!

    Reply

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