Tuesday, November 3, 2015

With resolution against hiring women rabbis, RCA votes for confrontation follows Mid-Umbilisist

The membership of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the largest organization of Orthodox rabbis in the US and Canada, has resolved to educate and inform our community that RCA members with positions in Orthodox institutions may not: 1. Ordain women into the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title used. 2. Hire or ratify the hiring of a woman into a rabbinic position at an Orthodox institution. 3. Allow a title implying rabbinic ordination to be used by a teacher of Limudei Kodesh in an Orthodox institution.

The resolution is likely to exacerbate the growing divide within Orthodoxy over women's roles, mobilizing opposition rather than quelling controversy and unifying the movement.

NEW YORK (JTA) – When America’s main modern Orthodox rabbinical association voted last week to ban the hiring of clergywomen by its members, the question wasn’t whether to endorse women rabbis.

It was whether to widen the group’s well-established repudiation of female clergy or keep quiet and focus on finding common ground with modern Orthodox Judaism’s progressive wing.

While the Rabbinical Council of America’s membership ultimately voted for the confrontational approach, the margin of victory was narrow, and the group’s president made a point of saying he voted against the motion.

The RCA first addressed the issue of Orthodox clergywomen in 2010, coming out unanimously in opposition. The group reaffirmed that stance in 2013.

The resolution announced last Friday went a step further, barring member rabbis at synagogues, schools and other Orthodox institutions from hiring women who carry clergy-like titles.

“RCA members with positions in Orthodox institutions may not ordain women into the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title used; or hire or ratify the hiring of a woman into a rabbinic position at an Orthodox institution, or allow a title implying rabbinic ordination to be used by a teacher of Limudei Kodesh [Jewish studies] in an Orthodox institution,” the resolution says.

In addition to noting the closeness of the vote, RCA leaders pointed out that the resolution was proposed by members, not by the RCA’s resolution committee. In keeping with RCA policy, they declined to provide the exact vote tally, but said that about half the association’s 1,000 members participated. Link to original article from http://www.jta.org

Is this about politics or halachah?

The RCA statement is being justifiably ridiculed all over the internet as it forbids some titles (“Rabbi, Rabba, Maharat”) but permits other titles (“Yoetzet”) that result from nearly identical training programs and examinations. 

Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) passed several resolutions at it recent convention. Here are two of them, one against the ordination of women as rabbis, the other against racism.
Formally adopted by a direct vote of the RCA membership, the full text of "RCA Policy Concerning Women Rabbis" states:
  • Whereas, after much deliberation and discussion among its membership and after consultation with poskim, the Rabbinical Council of America unanimously passed the following convention resolution at its April 2010 convention:
    • The flowering of Torah study and teaching by God-fearing Orthodox women in recent decades stands as a significant achievement. The Rabbinical Council of America is gratified that our members have played a prominent role in facilitating these accomplishments.
    • We members of the Rabbinical Council of America see as our sacred and joyful duty the practice and transmission of Judaism in all of its extraordinary, multifaceted depth and richness - halakhah (Jewish law), hashkafah (Jewish thought), tradition and historical memory.
    • In light of the opportunity created by advanced women's learning, the Rabbinical Council of America encourages a diversity of halakhically and communally appropriate professional opportunities for learned, committed women, in the service of our collective mission to preserve and transmit our heritage. Due to our aforesaid commitment to sacred continuity, however, we cannot accept either the ordination of women or the recognition of women as members of the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title.
    • Young Orthodox women are now being reared, educated, and inspired by mothers, teachers and mentors who are themselves beneficiaries of advanced women's Torah education. As members of the new generation rise to positions of influence and stature, we pray that they will contribute to an ever-broadening and ever-deepening wellspring of talmud Torah (Torah study), yir'at Shamayim (fear of Heaven), and dikduk b'mitzvot (scrupulous observance of commandments).
  • And whereas on May 7, 2013, the RCA announcedIn light of the recent announcement that Yeshivat Maharat will celebrate the "ordination as clergy" of its first three graduates, and in response to the institution's claim that it "is changing the communal landscape by actualizing the potential of Orthodox women as rabbinic leaders," the Rabbinical Council of America reasserts its position as articulated in its resolution of April 27, 2010... The RCA views this event as a violation of our mesorah (tradition) and regrets that the leadership of the school has chosen a path that contradicts the norms of our community.
Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America
  • Resolves to educate and inform our community that RCA members with positions in Orthodox institutions may not
    • Ordain women into the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of the title used; or
    • Hire or ratify the hiring of a woman into a rabbinic position at an Orthodox institution; or
    • Allow a title implying rabbinic ordination to be used by a teacher of Limudei Kodesh in an Orthodox institution; and,
  • Commits to an educational effort to publicize its policy by:
    • Republishing its policies on this matter; and,
    • Clearly communicating and disseminating these policies to its members and the community.
This resolution does not concern or address non-rabbinic positions such as Yoatzot Halacha, community scholars, Yeshiva University's GPATS, and non-rabbinic school teachers. So long as no rabbinic or ordained title such as "Maharat" is used in these positions, and so long as there is no implication of ordination or a rabbinic status, this resolution is inapplicable.
  • Whereas the Bible teaches that all humans share one heavenly Father who created us in His Image (cf. Genesis 1:27, 5:1, and Malachi 2:10); and
  • Whereas the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 4:5) teaches that God created Man as one individual human being to promote harmony among people, so that no one can claim that his origins are superior to those of another person; and, that God's Greatness is manifest in the diverse and unique appearances of His creatures; and
  • Whereas the Jewish people began its history as a persecuted, enslaved people, and is repeatedly adjured by God to remember its lowly origins and to be kind to others in similar circumstances; and
  • Whereas the Jewish people has experienced both great acceptance as well as significant discrimination in the United States and, more broadly, has a continuous history as a persecuted minority; and
  • Whereas the centuries-old American problem of white racism against African Americans continues to be a disgraceful, explosive contemporary reality, with both overt and insidious manifestations
Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America
  • Reaffirms its absolute condemnation of racist speech and deeds; and
  • Encourages its members to
    • protest, in the name of Torah ideals, manifestations of racism in the societies in which they live; and,
    • create public events which create, foster, or deepen amity between Jewish and African-American communities; and,
    • embrace, proactively and warmly, Jews of all racial backgrounds in their communities; and,
    • identify and combat manifestations of racism which may occasionally occur in the communities they lead; and,
    • calls upon all people to combat the pernicious scourge of racism in any way they can.

"The halachic source for prohibiting women from teaching or having authority over men is from the Christian scriptures and is given in the name of an apostate Jew. Even today, the overwhelming majority of Christians belong to Churches that refuse to ordain women. The RCA is going in the ways of the minim."

"Pre, Post and Mid-Umbilisists" Addressing the Question Of Adams Navel
A question that has plagued many of us in religious and intellectual circles for the last century has been subject of debate, and heated discussion across the globe. It is the presumption as to the exact time and nature in and by which Adam (being in this case the first man to exist) was blessed with a belly-button. ‘How curious,’ you might ask. Yet, this very curiosity has enthralled scholars and theologians so much for the last few decades that they have finally grouped themselves into three distinct positions. 

The first position, and it is worth exploring momentarily, however absurd, is the view of the "Pre-Umbilisists.” This group believes that Adam’s navel was formed upon the point of his creation. Adam, coming from dust and created in the precise image of our Lord was granted the navel at the time of his “coming into existence.” With this in mind, one must note that if Adam was indeed created in the image of God in Heaven, that our Lord must also be blessed with a navel. One might also argue that God at one time had to have had an umbilical cord. If this is indeed the case, our curiosity would lead us to question the location of attachment for the aforementioned “cord.” Some Pre-Umbilisists believe the point of attachment to be located between two star clusters, the Quinn Cluster and Gamma Quadrant Four. This location is hundreds of light years from our planet and was chosen because its coordinates lay within the area scientists have theorized to be the center of the Big Bang, the point of the universe's creation. The Pre-Umbilisist would argue that the Lord’s umbilical cord was attached to perhaps a planet or a mass in the deep space of nothingness. We could picture, they say, the image of a child-like God, floating about in this space with his umbilical cord attached to some mass. The “point of severing” which is an important term for the Pre-Umbilisist, would have happened at the implosion of that planet or mass. The explosion would have been so great, that the umbilical cord would have been broken, to float for eternity alone in deep space, and at the same point, our Lord awakened to complete consciousness, fully God and fully complete, with navel. 

Adam’s navel would be complete and real, yet serve no known purpose were he to be blessed with it at the point in which he was “drawn from dust.” He would “simply have it,” the Pre-Umbilisist would argue, for without it, “he would not be in the complete image of God.” This series of arguments leads us to the question of “Eve,” Adam’s handmaid. It is here, we can bring up the second position, Mid-Umbilisism. 

The Mid-Umbilisist refers to this time as “the Great Dusting Away.” In which those who were not created in the image of God, the women in this case, will simply be erased, as if nothing every happened. 

The Fall of Man, we define as the exact time when we, as human beings became aware of our sinful nature. The Fall, as we know, happened with the creation of Eve. The consequential events that followed led to Adams downfall and the human race as a whole, forever being “separated” from God. The Mid-Umbilisist argues that Adam’s belly-button was formed sometime between the creation of “Eve,” and the time in which it took that “Woman” to take the first bite of that most tempestuous apple. The central vision of the Mid-Umbilisist lays within the “taking of the rib.” When God saw that Adam was alone, he decided to create a help-mate. He did this by taking Adams rib and moving it in such a way to loose it from his stomach. The Mid-Umbilisist paints a picture of the protruding rib being pulled from the blank stomach of our dear Adam. Its being forced out in the very area where God intended to attach future children within the wombs of their mothers. The outward thrust created a puncture hole, and thus became, for Adam, the first belly-button. Eve, to the Mid-Umbilisist was and in a sense always shall be “without navel.” Even before the fall, they argue that this was God’s intention in creating the “Woman.” “Wo-” meaning underneath, below, less than, and in ancient Greek; inferior to.. the “Man.” You see, to the Mid-Umbilisist, women are forever caught in the wake of “Eve.” Eve, being without a navel, was of course, less than human, or as some might put it, “not human.” So in a sense, are all women, not human. They are not as their legacy unfolds, to be blessed with heaven, they are void and without a soul. The Mid-Umbilisist would have us believe that woman, at the end of time and at the point of their death, when they are no longer of any use to man, will be whisked away by the hand of God, as if they never existed, as if they never even happened. The Mid-Umbilisist refers to this time as “the Great Dusting Away.” In which those who were not created in the image of God, the women in this case, will simply be erased, as if nothing every happened. They were here to serve man, and incapable of service to God, so they can serve no purpose in the afterlife. Since they are soulless creatures, they can no sooner gain heaven than a dog or a cow. 

This all leads us to the last position, that of the Post-Umbilisist. This group of learned theologians and scholars believe that Adam’s navel was formed after the Fall. The very instant when Adam and Eve discovered they were naked in the Garden of Eden, they were granted belly-buttons. You see, at this point there were no natural births, they were the only two people on the planet. They were not formed naturally, but supernaturally, by God. It would make sense, perhaps that the “placing of the navel” would be the last supernatural event. The children of Adam and Eve were the first to have natural belly-buttons. When these children slept with each other and birthed more children from incestuous relations, they in turn were given the placenta, the attachment. The navel was then to be symbolic of pain suffered in child-birth as well as the sinful necessity of incest to populate the planet. The question remains however, Why would Adam and Eve need belly-buttons. Perhaps for the very reason that they were created in the image of God. If this is the case, then the argument presented by the Pre-Umbilisist would need to be re-examined. Questions remain, like, where is the placenta of God, is it floating about in space, did it ever exist, why would God need a navel? This argument was explored recently in the arena of science fiction. Someone had theorized that there was this great cord like nexus “God’s placenta” zooming through space. Anyone who would pass through it could enter a state of euphoria, like being in the presence of God. Another matter that remains unresolved is the subject of “innies” and or “outies.” What do they mean? Is the inward formed navel a symbol of man’s attempt to reach the “spiritual” by looking “within?” The outward formed navel could mean the opposite, searching for spiritual meaning in the exterior world, a pantheistic view. In either case the “innie” would be the more desirable. Not only is it generally a more comfortable navel to have, as most of us that posses them know, but in a sense, doesn't having one make us less damned for not being born having the sign of seeking those material things that exist apart from the soul. In any case, most intellectuals agree that the question of “innies” and “outies” will not be resolved until more significant issues are addressed. 

The arguments of Pre, Mid, and Post-Umbilisists are rich in theory and for the most part, lack any original fact. Until the last century the exact location of the Garden of Eden was unknown. Now that archeologists and sociologists have reached a consensus on deliberating the origins of human life, perhaps we are closer to the day when carbon dating, and geological testing can give us some tangible evidence. We can only hope and wait for that great day when the announcement is made, “We have the lint ball! We have the lint ball!” Source: 

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