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Agudah: Avi Weiss Shul Not Orthodox

Agudah: Avi Weiss Shul Not Orthodox

Associate Editor

It’s a strange thing about some liberal rabbis. They knock the concept of "Das Torah" (the unilateral and unquestioned right of sages to guide their community based upon their mastery of Torah). But then, when a rabbi such as Avi Weiss want to create a woman rabbi, he acts unilaterally, without respecting any communal consensus, based upon what he says is his own mastery and understanding of Torah. In other words, his Das Torah.

Except the Agudah decisions are actually the result of a consensus, the coming to agreement among the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, Agudah’s Council of Torah Sages, more than a minyan’s worth of leadership. Rav Avi’s ordination of Sara Hurwitz was not approved by anyone — no one — within even the Modern Orthodox world, not by one other recognzed liberal halachic judge in all of North America, just Avi alone with Rabbi Sperber in Israel. That’s fine. Just I don’t want to hear from the liberal Orthodox rabbis at Avi’s Yeshivat Chovivei Torah when they take their swipes against Agudah and the concept of Das Torah. The days of those liberal attacks are over.

Did I say "Orthodox"? Not so fast. According to the consenus of the Council of Torah Sages, Avi’s shul (which is my shul) is no longer Orthodox, and presumably neither is Avi’s yeshiva, as he is that yeshiva’s spiritual leader.

The agreement between the RCA and Rabbi Weiss does not mention Sara Hurwitz, and she says she’s still on the rabbinic staff of HIR. Here’s what Agudah has to say about that:

Upon consultation with its rabbinic leadership, Agudath Israel of America issued the following statement today:

The leadership of the Rabbinical Council of America and Rabbi Avi Weiss have apparently reached agreement that Rabbi Weiss would no longer confer the title of “Rabba” upon graduates of his women’s seminary, but rather the title “Maharat.”

This superficial move does not in any way change the position of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah that placing women in traditional rabbinic positions departs from the Jewish mesorah, and that any congregation with a woman in such a position cannot call itself Orthodox.

That the leadership of a respected rabbinical organization seems to have capitulated to Rabbi Weiss’ enterprise is deeply dismaying. We trust that this capitulation does not represent the perspective of the principled majority of the organization’s member rabbis.


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