11 September 2007

Kevod Zibbur: A Congregation's Honor

As mentioned in my last post, I've been doing some reading up on the issue of aliyos for women to the reading of the Torah. Something that has caught my eye is the phrase that is employed - so let's go to the text inside, although we shall be looking at various versions:
MS Goettingen 3:

תנו רבנן הכל עולין למנין שבעה אפלו קטן ואפלו אשה אבל אמרו חכמים אשה לא תקרא בתורה משום כבוד צבור

MS London - BL Harl. 5508 (400):

תנו רבנן הכל עולין למינ<..> שבעה ואפי' אשה ואפי' קטן אבל אמרו חכמ' אשה לא תקרא בתורה מפני כבוד ציבור

MS Munich 95:

תנו רבנן הכל עולין למניין שבעה אפי' אשה אפי' קטן אבל אמרו חכמים אשה לא תקרא בתורה מפני כבוד צבור

MS NY - Columbia X 893 T 141:

תנו רבנן הכל עולין למנין שבעה אפלו אשה ואפלו קטן אבל אמרו חכמ' אשה לא תקרא בתורה בצבור מפני כבוד הצבור

MS Oxford Opp. Add. fol. 23:

ת"ר הכל עולין למנין שבעה ואפי' אשה ואפי' קטן אבל אמרו חכמים אשה לא תקרא בתורה מפני כבוד צבור

MS Vatican 134:

תנו רבנן הכל עולין למניין שבעה אפי' אשה ואפי קטן אבל אמ' חכמי' אשה לא תקרא בתור' מפני כבוד תור'

Pesaro (1516):

תנו רנן הכל עולין למניין שבעה ואפילו קט ואפילו אשה אבל אמרו חכמים אשה לא תקרא בתורה מפני כבוד ציבור

Cambridge - T-S F1 (2) 123:

תנו רבנן הכל עולין למנין שבעה ואפלו אשה ואפלו קטן אבל אמרו חכמים אשה לא תקרא בתור<..> מפני כבוד צבור

The phrase more often than not that is employed is that it is due to כבוד צבור - honor of a congregation (or a congregation's honor), rather than כבוד הצבור - honor of the congregation (or the congregation's honor). Henceforth, this is how I will be referring to it.

09 September 2007

Sperber's Article on Women's Aliyos

Back in July, I went to hear Rabbi Saul Berman speak on the topic of women's aliyos (of which he is not in favor) and I wanted to post on it (don't worry, I still plan on it). However, in order to do that, I wanted to read up on the relevant literature. While it has been taking me some time to get through Shapiro's article, I figured I would briefly comment on Prof. Rabbi Sperber's article. Although the amount of Torah and general knowledge that he possesses is something that I would be lucky if I gained even 10% of that, I do not agree with his article, "Congregational Dignity and Human Dignity: Women and Public Torah Reading".
His main point is found on pages 10-11 where he states that
we know that many women have a sincere desire, a yearning, to take an active and spiritual role in the life of the community and its pursuits, and excluding them from the synagogue or from involvement in worship ceremonies is a cause of great distress, as they said, "it is a cause of great sadness to them that all gather in the synagogue and they do not." It thus seems clear that kevod ha-beriyot, individual dignity, must overcome kevod ha-tsibur, particularly when the concept of kevod hatsibur does not really pertain as it might have in ancient and medieval times.
He then concludes his article (on p. 14) by stating that
it seems to me that nowadays, in those communities where it is agreed that change within the normative halakhic framework should take place and that the absence of such change will be a source of pain and suffering to an important segment of the community, the principle of kevod ha-beriyot overcomes the stated principle of kevod ha-tsibur.
One of my concerns with his point is that כבוד הבריות (lit. "honor of the creatures", but can be translated as "human dignity") may often get over-used (I think Rabbi Professor Jeffrey Woolf expressed his concerns about this when he visited our yeshivah in February, though I should probably look into that more closely...). What I think troubles me most about Prof. R' Sperber's approach to this is his prescription that כבוד הבריות necessitates that women read in those communities that opt for such a course of action. It is one thing to say that they can halakhically read and another to say that there is a halakhic imperative. Oh well, I have to keep on reading the Shapiro article on this. More posts in the future.

04 September 2007

Who Were the Boethusians? II

A piece of scholarship on the Boethusians that was published two years after the one I quoted in my posting from last week, is Adiel Schremer's "The Name of the Boethusians: A Reconsideration of Suggested Explanations and Another One", Journal of Jewish Studies 48, number 2 (Autumn 1997): 290-299. After going through most of his article discussing textual variants, trying to refute the idea that the name Boethusians in Hebrew, ביתוסין/ביתסין is a compound of the words בית סין, making the name the Boethusians to be Essenes, he then proposes on the last page of his article the following interesting suggestion:
...perhaps ביתסים might be a pejorative term created by the distortion of a word. That is, originally, this group was connected to a person called בויתס/בייתס, but the sages created a distorted and corrupt form of the plural of the name in order to mock them; instead of בית בויתס (which, according to this conjecture, was apparently the group's own name for itself), they treated בויתס as a noun, and instead of constructing the plural as בויתסים, they distorted the name to ביתסים in order to express disdain for this group.
What is the source of the mockery in the distorted form? The Greek name "Boethos" is derived from an adjective meaning "helpful, supportive, of assistance", which in many places is used to describe God. The distortion of this name may therefore allude to the fact that the ביתסים are not as their name would indicate. We can understand the name of the Sadducees in a similar way: it is a distortion of צדיקים, and expresses disdain towards those who consider themselves righteous men, but are not. As we know, the scholarly literature has suggested that the term פרושים, which is used by the group's opponents, also serves as a pejorative appellation. The conjecture which I have proposed is in line with this train of thought.
As a disclaimer, I have omitted the footnotes, not to mention all of the supporting material and ideas with which he introduces this clever proposal ten years ago. For those who are interested, I have provided the location of his article and you can read this ten-page article.

02 September 2007

Kosher Dining Options in Washington Heights

Just Kosher minimarket, Golan Heights, and Grandma's Pizza all along Amsterdam AvenueNow that today is Labor Day, fall is soon upon us. A new season is here, school is starting once again, and new people have moved into the neighborhood. With these changes come a couple of new kosher restaurants in Washington Heights and a few of the same previous places. Here they are, in alphabetical order:Dougie Doug's
-Dougie Doug's (212.928.2222) 501 West 184th Street {dairy} - replacing Revaya has just opened up within the last month
-Golan Heights (212.795.7842) 2553 Amsterdam {meat} is going strongly.

-Grandma's Pizza (212.927.4895) 2551 Amsterdam {dairy} is also still going strongly.
-Knish Box (212.544.9044) 4413 Broadway {dairy} - this is a new place and the first kosher restaurant near Bennett Avenue since
Knish box Gruenbaum's on 181st closed in spring 2006. It just opened last week.

As far as Ari's deli (212.740.8030) {meat} is concerned, which had opened up two years ago, I haven't seen them open in several months.
Also, Lake Como Pizza (212.740.0110) 2549
Lake Como Pizza looking closed Amsterdam {dairy} (where Time Out Pizza used to be) is another place that hasn't been open for a long time, so I don't know what the story is there.

News in Drew

1 - School's back in session!
2 - I got a bee sting on Thursday at our park clean-up - the first time since the 1980s since such an occurrence has happened to me. I may actually have been stung twice, as there's a huge section of my leg that is still red and itchy.
3 - We will be in Rochester for Rosh HaShanah and here in the Heights for Yom Kippur.
4 - Our apartment is mostly set up, now that we have a tv, bookshelves, couch, etc. We actually have hosted shabbas lunches each of the two past shabbasos.
5 - Next weekend, I will be in West Hartford for the first of ten weekends for my internship.