As many know, Sarah Schenirer started a movement that influenced learning for women, and the Bais Yaakov system we all know of today.

Even though learning Torah Shel Ba'al Peh was heavily discouraged until recently (see here for a wonderful introduction on the topic), doesn't the Rama write in Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 246:6:

ומ״מ חייבת האשה ללמוד דיניס השייכים לאשה

Which would seem to imply that women were very much instructed to learn Halachot and Mitzvot relevant to them (all halachot and mitzvot that women are bound to abide in).

If so, why was Sarah Schenirer's contribution such a monumental shift? Were women learning relevant Halacha (presumably in schools) prior to the movement? If not, where did they learn Halachot and Mitzvot that they needed to know?


3 Answers 3


I heard from people that their mothers were in Europe and they didn't know how to read hebrew. They didn't even know how to recite Birkas Hatorah.


They still learned. Just not in schools at home with their Mother. Also Sarah Scienirer's movement was so huge because before the Jewish Girls were required to go to public school.

  • How would their mothers know though? They also did not go to schools.
    – Elie
    May 4, 2021 at 15:26
  • Their mothers would teach them because their mothers before taught them. It was a chain of learning through the mothers May 4, 2021 at 16:33

The shift was that women were taught much more than just halacha. They were taught Tanach and philosophy. Basically, Sarah Shenirer realized home education was not enough to counter the modern world, so she started a school to teach girls the entire Jewish outlook, which was unprecedented.

  • How do you know this? It's not what the other answers indicate
    – Double AA
    May 3, 2021 at 19:41

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