I am concerned about recent pronouncements by organizations and individuals in the name of mesorah, or authority, without textually supporting their conclusions (“Women Can Be Rabbis, In Keeping With Tradition,” Nov. 6). A greater understanding of text will only reinforce and validate one’s pursuit and respect for authority. In this spirit, I beseech individuals of different persuasions on the issue of women’s ordination and other recent polarizing topics to engage in a sober, text-based analysis and written communication on these issues to enhance our knowledge.
I do not wish to denigrate those individuals who accept authority, a priori. I wish, though, to inform a group in the Modern Orthodox tent who are looking for knowledge to shape their decision process. I believe the way to do this is that the organizations and individuals involved need to communicate their decisions with more supportive proof text and citations of rabbinic text. Authority and autonomy need not be mutually exclusive. A greater understanding of sources can support one’s autonomy in his/her pursuit of authority. The issues before us are not Akeida [the story of the binding of Isaac] moments. These should not be moments of denominational divide in our big tent. These should be teaching moments guided by authority, but with a careful analysis of rabbinic text and a rigorous study of the issue.
I submit that a studied approach will only ennoble our understandings of authority and will benefit the welfare of our community and Clal Yisrael.