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Rav Kook’s approach to women and leadership


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Adar 3, 5770
I have heard that Rav Kook was against women voting and being in public leadership. 1. Can you please give me the source for the above? 2. Was Rav Kook talking about women giving Divrei Torah in public? Are there any other sources that forbid this? 3. Was Rav Kook for / against teenage mixing? Looking forward to hearing from you.
1.Rabbi Kook zt"l wrote an article in 1920 called "Bechirat Nashim" which appears in the book Ma'amerei Re'iya Vol. I page 189 in which he addresses the issue of women in public office. It is worthwhile reading and appreciating Rav Kook's extreme sensitivity to the role of women in society and the gentleness in which he addresses the issue. 2. In the above article, Rav Kook's focus is on the involvement of women in public office not about public speaking. I am not aware if elsewhere he addressed that issue. There is no explicit source to forbid women from giving Divrei torah that I have encountered; however within different communities there may be a Rabbi who will feel that it is inappropriate. 3. Since the Shulchan Aruch is against teenage (and other ages) mixing, (See Even Ha'ezer 21) I believe Rav Kook was against it too. In a few places he expressed his opposition explicitly in regard to coed education. See Igrot Re'eya (Letters of Rav Kook) Vol. I letter 279, Vo.II, letter 392, and Ezrat Cohen 30.
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