Although I do not speak on behalf of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), I am a member of the RCA Executive Committee, and I voted, along with the majority, in favor of the new RCA resolution, which was assailed in the November 4 editorial, “What Is the RCA Afraid Of?”
The RCA prides itself on being a big tent, in which Modern Orthodox, “yeshivish” Orthodox, Chabad and other stripes of Orthodox rabbis join together to share ideas, disseminate Torah teaching and address issues facing Jewry and Orthodoxy in particular. The other three RCA resolutions that were passed along with the resolution about women rabbis focused on assisting men and women who are stuck in agunah situations, combating BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel), and speaking out against racism. It would have been nice for this to have been noted in your editorial, as it provides a complete picture of what the RCA is all about.
Part of the RCA’s mandate is to protect the integrity of Orthodoxy and to perpetuate authentic Orthodox values and practice, even if contemporary values, including egalitarianism, at times do not comport therewith. Judaism has always been about going against the grain and taking a stand for the Torah’s values in the face of societal opposition. This is the story of Abraham, and it is the narrative of our people. It is and has always been the key and mandate for the survival of our faith and our nation.
When contemporary practices, especially in the larger Orthodox or quasi-Orthodox orbit, threaten the integrity of Torah values and practice, as articulated by the most senior and preeminent halachic authorities, we are called upon to take a stand, even if it may be uncomfortable.
The issue at stake is not merely one of “who is a rabbi?” but “what must we do to fulfill our calling to preserve tradition?” It is in this vein that the resolution was drafted and passed.