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Is it forbidden for a woman to learn Gemara?

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Could you add some words of explanation of why one would believe that it is asur for women to learn g'mara? –  WAF May 3 '11 at 19:26
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Here are some words of explanation. "כל המלמד את ביתו תורה כאילו מלמדה תיפלות" ,סוטה כ"א next one: צוו חכמים שלא ילמד אדם בתו תורה מפני שרוב הנשים אין דעתן מכוונת להתלמד אלא הן מוציאות דברי תורה לדברי הבאי לפי עניות דעתן (רמבם הלכות תלמוד תורה פרק א הלכה יג). –  jutky May 7 '11 at 19:41
    
Why does this question even need to be asked? In today's day and age women and men can, of course, study similar subjects, wither together or separate. –  morah hochman Nov 21 '11 at 15:02
    
@jutky: Those simply explain why one shouldn't, not that one is forbidden to. And the second one is strongly based on societal norms, which have drastically changed since the time of the Rambam. –  Shmuel Dec 18 '11 at 5:46
    
@ShmuelL I don't think that "Bina Yetera" and "Daatan Kala" have changed according to women (subjective). So, what does makes you think that this Rambam is not relevant nowadays. I'm not stating that women are stupid or something like that (has vehalila) but they do leak 'daas' in some way (do not confuse with intellect, knowledge an so on). The same way men leak 'bina' in comparison to women, but it seems that 'daat' is more essential in learning than 'bina'. IMHO. –  jutky Dec 18 '11 at 22:21

6 Answers 6

No, it is not assur.

"As to your question with regard to a curriculum in a coeducational school, I expressed my opinion to you long ago that it would be a very regrettable oversight on our part if we were to arrange separate Hebrew courses for girls. Not only is the teaching of Torah she-be-al peh to girls permissible but it is nowadays an absolute imperative. This policy of discrimination between the sexes as to subject matter and method of instruction which is still advocated by certain groups within our Orthodox community has contributed greatly to the deterioration and downfall of traditional Judaism. Boys and girls alike should be introduced into the inner halls of Torah she-be-al peh."

R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Community, Covenant, and Commitment: Selected Letters and Communications, p. 83

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If you were to quote, say, the Minchas El'azar to the same effect, it might influence the reader more. Not that Rabbi Soloveitchik is not authoritative, of course. –  msh210 May 3 '11 at 23:01
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R' Soleveichik's point is shared by the vast majority of bais yaakov schools and is the basis for the study of Rashi and other meforshim, which include midrash and other torah shebeal peh. R' Soleveitchik put forward to extend the application of this principle to gemara as well. On a personal note, while I think R' Soleveitchik's point is well grounded, it is a monumental change from our tradition (note: I didn't say halacha), which is looked upon very warily. –  YDK May 4 '11 at 1:34
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@msh210 Why is the Minchas Elazar more authoritative? Did he run a school for girls where this question was actually practical? –  Curiouser May 4 '11 at 5:23
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@Isaac: if the question was "why is it not prohibited..." then I could see including all sorts of reasoning. But the question was "is it assur?" in which case all that is needed is a gadol b'Torah who answered the question, l'maaseh. –  Curiouser May 4 '11 at 14:17
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@Isaac Every halachic answer is "according to this gadol" -- there are very few (if any) issues with universal agreement. R. Soloveitchik's reasoning is that "discrimination...has contributed greatly to the deterioration and downfall of traditional Judaism". If you don't find his reasoning rigorous enough, that's one thing -- but he is quite clear that the reason for the imperative to educate girls in Talmud is that failure to due so was hurting Traditional Judaism. It's as simple as that. –  Curiouser May 4 '11 at 22:26

While few Orthodox authorities openly say that teaching the oral tradition to women is forbidden many do say that the should not be taught Gemara and/or that there is no commandment to do so. Examples include the Maharil and R' Moshe Feinstein, not to mention Hasidic authorities. Modern Orthodoxy , and especially the more liberal streams of Judaism, do not see this as an issur in light of changing societal norms regarding women. For a deeper discussion of this issue and numerous primary sources see this article (Hebrew only)

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What if my posek is Rav Ovadia Yosef, or Rav Bentzion Abba-Shaul or Rav Ovadia Hadaya or Rav Yosef Kaphach or Rav Mordechai Eliyahu or Rav Ezra Attia or one of the many many many other poskim I may legitimately follow whose opinion you neglected? This isn't necessarily a psak halacha for me! Why is your answer any better than HachamGabriel's? –  Baal Shemot Tovot May 25 '12 at 6:49

According to the Hida (Shu"t Tov Ayin #4) we may not force women to learn Torah (as we do Yeshiva students-see Sefer HaHinuch Behar 343). He says women may learn on their own, but adds we can teach her (not against her will).

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@ShinTav what's wrong with incorporating one more opinion in the answers? He didn't say that this is the final pesaq of Halacha. He said that this is what the Hida holds. –  Baal Shemot Tovot Mar 25 '12 at 15:14
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The second sentence clearly reflects pesak @ShinTav –  Hacham Gabriel Mar 25 '12 at 21:50
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@ShinTav what's your point? Plenty of Sefaradim follow the Hida. –  Hacham Gabriel Mar 25 '12 at 23:03
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@YaakovKuperman i think you and i have different views of what the goal of this site is. i dont think anyone is looking the THE halacha, especially cuz THE halacha is usually debated, even today. What I see as the goal of this site is to record various opinions that are sourced in the poskim. –  Baal Shemot Tovot May 8 '12 at 19:32
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@YaakovKuperman, if you are asking for a Pesak Halachah, you are in violation of the terms of the site. –  Seth J May 24 '12 at 15:22

The Igros Moshe YD 3:86 says that the Chachamim commanded that women should not be taught Mishna since it is oral Torah and it is like teaching them tiflos(promiscuity) and it should be avoided. However, they can be taught Pirkei Avos since it has Mussar (instruction) and has hanhagos tovas (good deeds).

In The Sefer VaYoel Moshe(Satmer Rebbe) Maimer Lashon Hakodesh 33(page 436) says teaching Rashi to girls falls into the category of teaching tiflos and is an issur chamer Meod(very great sin).

There are those who make a distinction between a classroom setting and learning by oneself. Like Hacham Gabriel pointed out from the Chida Tuv Ayin 4 (read inside how he learnt the Rambam).

For a more in depth anaylasis of this topic see the Tzitz Eliezer 9:2

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For someone quoting ma'amar leshon hakodesh you certainly used a lot of unneccasary Hebrew terms in your answer. –  Double AA May 24 '12 at 5:50
    
I don't understand your comment. –  sam May 24 '12 at 5:52
    
@DoubleAA a joke perhaps? –  sam May 24 '12 at 5:55
    
It was a joking way to point out that you used a lot of jargon in your post. We try and avoid jargon here, so I encourage you to edit in equivalent English terms, such as 'good deeds' and 'very strong prohibition'. –  Double AA May 24 '12 at 5:58
    
And what does 'tiflos' mean? (if you can only come up with a general definition that's fine too; put it in) –  Double AA May 24 '12 at 6:12

no, women should learn Torah. It is important to understand that learning Talmud doesn't make one a rabbi and that women still cannot become rabbis. Learning Torah on the other hand should never be discouraged.

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Adding sources would improve the value of your claims. –  Double AA Jun 16 at 22:39
    
Learning torah should be done properly and only that may be forbidden for women. What goes for learning today is certainly allowed. –  preferred Jun 16 at 23:03

An interesting data point. In Lubavitcher Rabbi's Memoirs describes a woman named Devorah who grew up in Minsk where women were better educated, and she herself learned Gemarra with Rashi by the age of 15 (and had friends who were women who were apparently at a similar level that she studied with).

When she re-married (she was widowed at a young age) and moved to Vitebsk, she was dismayed at the relative ignorance of the women there and looked to educate them. Ultimately she worked to attract many Torah scholars to that city and made it a center of Torah learning, and founded a Yeshiva bearing her (and her daughter's) name.

I believe the time-frame discussed is 17th century.

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