The Philosophy of Rabbi Professor Eliezer Berkovits z”l Part 2: Jewish Women in Time and Torah

Posted by Rahel Berkovits on March 13, 2016
Topics: Pardes Live, The Thoughts of Rabbi Professor Eliezer Berkovits z”l, Women's Issues


Torat Hayim A Living Torah: The Thoughts of Rabbi Professor Eliezer Berkovits z”l.

In this 6-part lecture series, Rabbi Rahel Berkovits looks at the thoughts of her grandfather, Rabbi Professor Eliezer Berkovits z”l. What is the interplay between Torah and real life situations? How do ancient texts apply to modern times? The philosophy of R. Berkovits will be examined through the lens of his writings on women and Jewish law, conversion and the unity of the Jewish people, the problem of Agunot, a sexual ethic in modern time, and the challenges of Prayer.

In this episode: Jewish Women in Time and Torah – How does R Berkovits’ understanding of the halakhic system lead him to address issues facing the Modern observant woman. How should one understand Torah and Rabbinic texts about women which do not jive with our modern sensibilities? What possibilities for expanding women’s ritual participation exist within the halakha?

“Once again, we have reached a juncture at which the comprehensive ethos of the Torah itself strains against its formulation in specific laws. It is, however, the very essence of the halakhah to be responsive to such a strain, and by its resolution to bring about an even richer realization of the Torah itself. Not only is the status of the woman at stake, but the status of Judaism itself. For if in its application it could not do full justice to the Jewish woman in her present state as she is longing for participation in the drama of Jewish realization in accordance with her capacity and spiritual need, its form of such application becomes itself highly questionable. Those who understand the true nature and function of halakhah, and are committed to halakhic Judaism, cannot accept such a suggestion. With unreserved openness and sensitivity to the genuineness of the problem, with faith in the vitality of the halakhah, with humility and yet with intellectual courage, the necessary halakhic work will be accomplished that will define the status of the woman anew, justly and meaningfully.” (Crisis and Faith p.121)

Click here for more episodes in this series.


About Rahel Berkovits

Rahel teaches Mishnah, Talmud and Halakha at Pardes. She has spent many years studying Talmud and Jewish texts in both traditional and academic frameworks at Midreshet Lindenbaum, The Shalom Hartman Institute, and Hebrew University in both the Talmud and Jewish education departments. In 2015, Rahel completed her studies at Beit Midrash Har’el and received ordination from Rabbi Herzl Hefter and Rabbi Daniel Sperber. Click here to read more.

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