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?


4 Answers 4


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.

  • 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]. Jun 20, 2016 at 12:40
  • @NoachMiFrankfurt Beis Rikvah
    – SAH
    Jun 20, 2016 at 18:24
  • 3
    I'm told the Seventh Rebbe zt"l felt... Told by whom?
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 15, 2016 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, 2020 at 18:40
  • derher.org/wp-content/uploads/68-Iyar-5778-06.pdf some of the conversation between the Rebbe and the Belzer Rebbe
    – Dude
    Feb 20, 2023 at 15:00

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.


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)


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


The other answers here are more on point, but a quick, non rigorous mention of this by Rabbi Manis Friedman I once heard (topic was Basi Legani) is that in our days, before Moshiach, evil will be crazy. It will be insane, which means, going beyond reason. The response will be we will do insane good, going beyond reason, and mentions this is manifest in women learning these days. Women learning gemara is, therefore, considered a "crazy good" according to this story of the Rebbe, and "shtus d'kedusha" is a very lofty service in this ma'amar, and is a big concept in Chabad chassidus. I recently learned a ma'amar on it by the previous Rebbe.

  • Where are you seeing a connection between shtus d'kedusha and women learning gemera?
    – Dude
    Feb 20, 2023 at 6:17
  • @Dude I am quoting, so I am not sure exactly what you are asking? Should I explain the connection?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 20, 2023 at 9:23
  • I don't think anywhere in the maamar the Rebbe says women learning gemera is shtus dekedusha so where does Manis Friedman get this idea from?
    – Dude
    Feb 20, 2023 at 14:51
  • @Dude heard it in person
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 20, 2023 at 15:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .