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רמב"ם פרק א' מהלכות מלכים הלכה ה

אין מעמידין אשה במלכות שנאמר עליך מלך ולא מלכה, וכן כל משימות שבישראל אין ממנים בהם אלא איש.

A woman cannot be appointed to royalty... and so too with any appointment among Jews, we may not appoint a woman, only a man:

Questions:

  1. According to the Rambam may a woman be appointed as CEO of a Jewish company?

  2. [How] according to the Rambam, may a woman be appointed as a principal (headmaster) of a Jewish (girls') school?

  • what makes you think a ceo or a principle in a Jewish school is akin to being royalty? – Dude May 23 '18 at 2:00
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    @Dude I cited the Rambam which states: "and so too with any appointment among Jews". – RibbisRabbiAndMore May 23 '18 at 2:03
  • The subject matter here are positions of authority in context of royalty. How are the two examples any different from any other job a person could be hired to in a Jewish company? – Dude May 23 '18 at 4:04
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    This is anecdotal, but many, if not most, Chasidish and Yeshivish girls' schools have women as principals. – LN6595 May 23 '18 at 15:34
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    Is this question about understanding contemporary Halachic practice (as indicated by the cases chosen and the "[How]") or about applying the Rambam's position in particular (as indicated by the insertions of "according to the Rambam")? If it's both, are you asking specifically about contemporary oommunities whose sole source of Halacha is the Rambam? – Isaac Moses May 24 '18 at 13:22
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There has been heavy discussion on the proper understanding of the Rambam you start with. I will bring a number of opinions, from rishonim to aharonim, who strongly limit its scope and thereby explain why women are appointed or elected as shul presidents (the classical case in much of recent rabbinic literature), principals of day schools and other positions of leadership.

R Howard Jachter provides a good summary here

The Rambam's major commentaries, the Kesef Mishnah and Radbaz, cite the Sifrei on the aforementioned verse, as the source for the Rambam. However, the Sifrei merely states, מלך ולא מלכה, that a woman may not be appointed as the nation's leader. The Rambam does not have an explicit source for the extension of the Sifrei's rule to any position of leadership.

[...]

Although the Rambam rules that a woman may not be appointed to a position of authority, Rav Moshe and Rav Chaim David Halevi (the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, in an essay published in Techumin 01:811-321) note that many Rishonim appear to disagree with the Rambam.

Tosafot in Baba Kama 51a (s.v. אשר) write that a woman is permitted to serve as a דיין (a rabbinic judge). It is clear that Tosafot believe that a woman can be appointed to a position of authority.

The Sefer Hachinuch (Mitzvah 794) cites the Sifrei that a woman may not be appointed as king, yet he does not write that a woman may not be appointed to any position of authority. Indeed, in the next mitzvah, the prohibition to appoint a convert as king, the Sefer Hachinuch writes that this law does apply to any position of authority. Rav Moshe Feinstein writes that this seems to clearly indicate that the Sefer Hachinuch does not agree with the Rambam.

Rav Moshe adds that it appears from both Rashi (s.v. כל) and the Ran (s.v. גרסינן) commenting on Kiddushin 67b that they do not accept the Rambam's ruling. Rashi and the Ran explain that the source for the rule that a convert may not be appointed to any position of authority is from an extra word in the Torah מקרב אחיך תשים עליך מלך (Devarim 71:51). The Torah could have merely stated "שום תשים עליך מלך מקרב אחיך." The fact that the Torah adds another "תשים" teaches that the rule forbidding appointment of a convert as king applies to any position of authority.

It can be readily inferred from this comment of Rashi and the Ran that they disagree with the Rambam. Finally, the Ramban (Shevuot 03a s.v. וכן) and the Rashba (Ibid s.v. ולא) seem to also disagree with the Rambam.

Modern poskim have different approaches to the issue (first four are from R Jachter's article)

  • R Moshe Feinstein writes that although many Rishonim disagree with the Rambam, the Rambam's view should be followed in practice. He explains that since it is a matter of dispute (over a Biblical prohibition) that has not been settled in the Shulchan Aruch, in ordinary circumstances the Rambam should be followed. Thus, Rav Moshe writes, a woman should not be appointed as a president of a synagogue. However, in a case of great need, Rav Moshe felt it appropriate to rely on the Rishonim who disagree with the Rambam. For example, Rav Moshe permitted a poor widow to be appointed as a Kashrut supervisor, despite the fact that it is a position of authority

  • R Chaim David Halevi writes that the Rambam would explain these historical phenomena by stating that women cannot be imposed as leaders over the people. However, if the people accept her leadership, then the prohibition seems not to imply, Rav Halevi notes that this seems to follow what the aforementioned Rambam and Rashba said about Devora - she could serve as a ruler because the nation accepted her rulings. According to Rav Halevi a woman is permitted to be elected to a position of authority.

  • R Ben-Zion Meir Uziel (former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel) adopts the same position (Teshuvot Mishpetei Uziel Choshen Mishpat 6)

  • R Yehuda Amital adopted this ruling in practice. In 1988 he allowed a woman to be on the parliamentary list of his political party Meimad. He explained that this ruling of the Rambam did not apply to a democratically elected position. According to this approach, it would seem that halacha would sanction a woman serving as a president of a synagogue, if she were to be democratically elected to that position.

  • R Aharon Lichtenstein noted that it is clear the dati-leumi/Modern Orthodox community and its rabbinic elite have clearly come down in favor of a more narrow reading of the Rambam’s restriction. He pointed to the fact that for the past two decades religious women have run for Knesset as candidates of dati-leumi religious parties across the board and some have served as members of parliament. In addition, a few have served as ministers in coalition governments with the approval (despite an occasional rumble here and there) of the rabbinic leadership of those parties. These have included scholars such as R. Avraham Shapira, R. Mordechai Eliyahu, Rav Yaakov Ariel and others. (from here)

  • R Gedalia Dov Schwartz (Av Beit Din of the Rabbinical Council of America) believes that the issues raised by the Rambam are not applicable to the position of synagogue president, and that, consequently, there is no halakhic prohibition (from here)

  • since 2013 the United Synagogue in the UK have elected women as presidents of synagogue communities, following a ruling of the London Beit Din in 2012 that this was not in breach of halacha (from here which also brings a number of contrary opinions)

See also this very important article from Aryeh and Dov Frimer.

  • Thank you for all the information. Please summarize which of all the the points you mention answer my question directly? – RibbisRabbiAndMore May 23 '18 at 7:54
  • The first para is the summary. There are many distinguished opinions that strongly limit the applicability of the Rambam you started with – mbloch May 23 '18 at 8:19
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    With all due respect you were not asking according to the Rambam itself. You have edited this after I answered. You originally asked if a woman can be appointed to specific leadership positions and brought a Rambam to show this was not possible. I responded showing the Rambam wasn’t applied according to many. This answers the original question since the question wouldn’t make sense without the Rambam. You are free to ask a different question but it is not good behavior to change the question after it is answered except to improve it – mbloch May 23 '18 at 8:26
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    See this judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/a/1231/11501. Your case is a bit borderline. I did my best to answer the original question. Someone else will have to provide an answer according to the Rambam (as I don’t find it personally too interesting since it is not being applied nowadays - as I showed). Kol tuv! – mbloch May 23 '18 at 8:35
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    @RibbisRabbiAndMore and this is why you should ask your questions clearly in the first place instead of waiting for someone to prompt you to do so after the fact. – msh210 May 26 '18 at 21:56
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The Yad Peshuta of Rav Nachum Rabinovitch, shlita, ad loc., sources the Rambam's ruling from the Sifrei (Shoftim 157 Finkelstein pp. 208-209):

איש נכרי מכאן אמרו, האיש ממנים פרנס על הציבור ואין ממנים האשה פרנסת על הציבור

"a man who is a stranger" - from here they said, a man may be appointed as an official over the congregation, but a woman may not be appointed as an official over the congregation

The Yad Peshuta suggests a possible distinction between this law and the earlier related passage of the Sifrei - מלך ולא מלכה - "a king" but not a queen - that perhaps only with regard to an actual queen would the prohibition even include where the congregation willingly accepts her authority, whereas this law might only restrict involuntary subjugation.

Thus with regard to 1., it might depend on how the position of CEO is determined.

Additionally, it seems reasonable to draw a distinction, based on the language of the Sifrei above (פרנסת על הציבור), between communal/government positions, and private companies, since, after all, women are certainly allowed to hire Jewish workers/employees.

In addition to the above arguemnts, with regard to 2, the Babylonian Talmud (Yevamoth 102a) indicates that a proselyte is allowed to judge his fellow proselyte:

גר דן את חבירו דבר תורה שנאמר (דברים יז, טו) שום תשים עליך מלך אשר יבחר ה' אלהיך בו מקרב אחיך תשים עליך מלך עליך הוא דבעינן מקרב אחיך אבל גר דן את חבירו גר

By Torah law a convert may judge his fellow convert, as it is stated: “You shall set a king over you, whom the Lord your God shall choose; one from among your brothers you shall set king over you” (Deuteronomy 17:15). [The Gemara deduces from the terminology of the phrase] “over you,” [i.e., when presiding over Jews by birth either as a king, a judge, or any other official, that] from here it is where we require that the official must be: “From among your brothers,” meaning a Jew by birth. However, a convert may judge his fellow convert, [as the requirement of “one from among your brothers” doesn’t apply when presiding over fellow converts].

Assuming the Talmud's inference is based on an equation between the "you" of אחיך and עליך, the logic would seem to apply to women having authority over other women, as well.

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    One more argument you might find helpful (I didn't use it in my answer since I showed many didn't apply that Rambam). A CEO or headmaster/school principal are not ultimate decisors like a king or judge. They report to a board of some sort. As such, it is likely that it is not the "position of authority" forbidden by the Rambam (see jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/…) – mbloch May 23 '18 at 15:45
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In a responsum about whether women could serve on on a synagogue board, Professor Louis Ginzberg wrote:

Shu"t Ma'aneh Levi p. 270

I would go even one step further and maintain that Maimonides would have no objection to women on the boards of synagogues. What he had in mind was exclusively the administration of city or town affairs. (My emphasis)

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