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Tefillin for women

Rabbi Ari ShvatNisan 7, 5773
553
Question
Hi, Thanks for this detailed answer. Could you please follow up with an Q&A for tefillin for women? Is that also based on Reform, or is that more tolerated in private or even in public? Thanks, Josh
Answer
Shalom, Women aren’t allowed to lay tfilin for several reasons: One must be careful to be 100% pure in body and thought while wearing tfilin. Accordingly, even men, though obligated in tfilin, only don them for the minimum amount, and immediately remove them, so as not to accidentally transgress prohibitions (see Sefer Hachinuch 421, Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 37-38). Accordingly, women who aren’t obligated to wear them, shouldn’t take that chance, and there’s obviously no difference whether in public or private (Rama, Aruch HaShulchan, Orach Chaim 38). The Maharam Shick (ibid, 15), adds that as women are exempt, if a woman does lay tfilin it promotes arrogance. The Targum Yonatan (Dvarim 22, 5) and others add that for a women to wear a talit and/or tfilin transgresses the prohibition of wearing men’s attire (ibid). The kabbalists add that anyone who understands the deeper ideas of tfilin, sees absolutely no room for women to wear them (Kaf HaChaim). In addition, just as in the answer regarding talit, one can’t ignore the social and religious context of reform, that a women declares by wearing tfilin, clearly defying and demonstrating against Jewish tradition, and identifying with the slippery slope which has consistently led to assimilation and weakening of our tradition. The “positive” direction of Israeli education in the ulpana, religious-zionist and settlers movement has proven itself much more successful than the orthodox-feminist movement in America. Rather than instilling feelings of inferiority to need to copy men, Israeli girls are proud of their feminine role, stressing altruistic volunteering, national service (absorbing olim, helping the handicapped and underprivileged, building new settlements etc.), learning Torah in midrashot geared for them, and being the backbone of the Jewish family unit, responsible for building today’s society as well as tomorrow’s. In short, idealistic feminism is much more appealing than apologetically trying to emulate men. I elaborated on the comparison between the two approaches in my articles, at http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/tfila/kadish/kadish-2.htm http://old.kipasruga.com/upload/users_files/1007.PDF With Love of Israel, Pesach Kasher v’Same’ach! Rav Ari Shvat
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