The Jewish Week deserves our approbation for bringing readers a broad spectrum of opinion. Rabbi Shai Held’s Opinion piece, “Halacha and Innovation Not Mutually Exclusive” (May 28), caught my eye. I found it risible that Rabbi Held cited the Rav, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, to buttress his opinion against Rabbi Hershel Schachter. Rabbi Schachter is one of the Rav’s most distinguished disciples in addition to being a world-class posek (decisor) in his own right.
Rabbi Held may be unaware that it was the Rav who drew the line in the sand when he issued his now legendary halachic decision that it was better to sit at home on Rosh HaShanah and not hear shofar blowing than to go into a Conservative synagogue where men and women sit together.
There are times when there is such a flagrant breach in Jewish tradition that strong measures are called for.
When King Uzziah entered the Temple to offer incense on the golden altar, he was immediately struck with leprosy and had to be rushed from the Temple precincts. He had to relinquish the monarchy to his son, Jotham, and died a leper. Even the king of Israel cannot function in the role of the priest.
When Rabbi Schachter, world-class posek that he is, issues a halachic decision that a woman, however brilliant and capable, cannot function in the role of a rabbi, then a woman, however brilliant and capable, cannot function in the role of a rabbi.
Jewish history, Jewish tradition and Jewish law define Judaism. There are boundaries and roles that are eternal and immutable. We hold these truths to be virtually self-evident. We do not hold Rabbi Held’s, however strongly held, opinion.
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