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It is my understanding that women's gemara study is rabbinically prohibited. However, I keep hearing that the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l had an interesting, perhaps liberal position regarding women's study of gemara.

But I don't know exactly what it was, and pages like this do little to clear up the confusion. What was it? Did the Rebbe have--and/or does Chabad today have--an "official" position regarding the permissibility of gemara study for women?

(I am interested both in the most recent Lubavitcher Rebbe's position on this issue, and--insofar as it might be subtly different--in the holistic Chabad view, i.e., including positions of the previous Rebbes. I would also like to know what Chabad does in practice with this information; as far as I understand, it is a bit of a mixed bag, insofar as mainstream Chabad women learn Ayn Yaakov but not general gemara, but certain Chabad institutions have and do teach women gemara itself, if I am not mistaken. Can anyone confirm or refute?)

Related: Is it forbidden for a woman to learn Gemara?

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  • The Lubavitcher Rebbe isn't the only one to say women can / should learn gemara, many other great rabbi's are of the same opinion, read more here – Yaakov David Oct 13 '20 at 14:18
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I'd say "discouraged", not "prohibited." Generally, women should have the Torah background that they need to function. It's the pure, theoretical pursuit of knowledge that gave Chazal pause.

I'm told the Seventh Rebbe zt"l felt that some basic exposure to Gemara today is considered material that's needed to function, and therefore allowed and even encouraged. That may mean a few pages of practical material about Shabbos, Pesach, or Brachos to understand the halachic process behind them; not necessarily spending six months on Takfo Kohen or Shev Shmaytsa (if you don't know what those are, don't worry about it).

Rabbi Rakeffet has an mp3 about a meeting between the Lubavitcher Rebbe and a younger Belzer Rebbe where they're agreeing about the need for more textual exposure for the daughters of their communities, including some Gemara. If I recall correctly, a recording of that discussion is available.

It's not really that radical of a position.

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  • R' Berman was party to that meeting and he has said that women should learn gemara for yirat Hashem and that their learning should cover all of the mitzvot they were required to fulfil. Many Chabad rebbetzins I know learned from actual masechtot, rather than printed sheets when they were in [whatever Chabad calls their Beis Yaakov schools]. – Noach MiFrankfurt Jun 20 '16 at 12:40
  • @NoachMiFrankfurt Beis Rikvah – SAH Jun 20 '16 at 18:24
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    I'm told the Seventh Rebbe zt"l felt... Told by whom? – mevaqesh Dec 15 '16 at 6:21
  • @mevaqesh sorry -- a Lubavitch shliach with whom I'm friendly. He's now probably in his early 60s -- if that helps identify which generation. (I.e. he began his shlichus well before the rebbe's stroke.) – Shalom May 12 '20 at 18:40
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I learned from Rabbi Levke Kaplan of Chabad that the Lubavitcher Rebbe said women should study Talmud "without limitation."

I have since heard another shiur where this was confirmed; apparently, the Lubavitcher Rebbe privately discussed his position (strongly supporting women's access to and study of all parts of the Talmud, if I understand correctly) with the Belzer(?) Rebbe, who disagreed. Their conversation has been documented but I don't remember where.

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Why women don’t learn gemara In the days preceding Rosh Hashanah 5713 (1952), the Rebbe received a group of university students for a joint yechidus in his room. After a few words on the significance of the time, the Rebbe allowed for questions. One student asked, “Is Torah learning equal for girls as it is for boys? Does Lubavitch offer higher education in Torah for girls, such as Talmud studies? The Rebbe responded, “No. Men are obligated to study Gemara, but not women. “The reason for this is not because they are less capable, but because Hashem has entrusted them with a more important, loftier duty, and they are therefore absolved from learning Torah. “That holy duty,” the Rebbe explained, “is to imbue a spirit of Yiddishkeit in the next generation. In order to allow them to do this, they are exempt from limud haTorah.” (Teshurah Sandhaus, Shevat 5768)

http://www.merkazanash.com/sites/default/files/584%20-%20Rosh%20Hashana.pdf

look at the 2nd page 'a moment with the rebbe'

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