Historical And Halachic Evidence Shows Women Were Given Gelilah

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JERUSALEM (VINnews) — In the wake of the incident in which a woman did Gelilah during the course of a Hachnasas Sefer Torah and the strong protest by Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch against the practice, historian and researcher Yisrael Shapira revealed a number of previous occasions in which such a custom was approved by prominent rabbis. (This does not mean to contradict the psak of Rabbi Sternbuch, but to provide a perspective in which such a practice might be acceptable)

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Shapira, who writes for the Kikar Hashabat site, revealed that nearly 200 years ago, when Moses Montifiore and his wife Judith visited Tzfat after the 1837 earthquake, Rabbi Avrohom Dov Avritch, the Bas Ayin gave Judith significant honor. On the eve of Shavuos they were invited to a Hachnasas Sefer and a special place was prepared for Judith, as she later wrote in her memoirs. (Otzar Masaos Eretz Yisrael p.558).  During the Hachnasas Sefer, Judith was given the honor of standing right behind the Bas Ayin and carrying a wax torch, “And they brought me under the chupah behind the esteemed rabbi carrying the sefer and everyone was crowded behind us singing dancing and clapping.” She added “I was so happy and delighted to see this holy joy.”

Judith even revealed in her memoirs her concern that the torch “might ignite the chupah, or I might drip wax over the white silk clothes that the honorable R. Avraham Dov wore.” (She actually represented her husband at the occasion as he was sick at the time.)

A week later, the Montifiores travelled to Tiberias and davened shacharis with the Bas Ayin. Judith described the atmosphere at the Bas Ayin’s shul: “There was a large group of the wise men of the town. I was honored to decorate the Sefer Torah and all those who came to read blessed us and inquired of our welfare.” The Montifiores were even invited to have breakfast with the Bas Ayin.

During the previous week Judith reported a similar honor from “The Chacham Mizrachi”, who was the Sefardi rabbi in Tzfat. When the Montifiores visited his shul “Montifiore was given Hagbahah (raising the Torah scroll) and I was honored to decorate the Sefer.”

After this historical evidence, Shapira also brings a modern-day posek, Rabbi Gavriel Tzinner, who in his Nitei Gavriel cites halachic sources that women did perform Gelilah. For example, it was the custom in Zeewald, Holland that a girl from the women’s section did gelilah and this was approved by Rabbi Shmuel Hirsch.

Moreover Rabbi Tzinner quotes the grandson of the Berech Moshe of Satmar who said that when doing hachnasas sefer Torah a childless couple should be honored with the husband doing Hagbahah and the wife Gelilah as this could be a segulah (merit) for having children.

Moreover similar testimonies of women doing Gelilah were presented by members of the Spinka chasidim, as well as Rabbi Chaim Falagi in his Sefer Chaim, the Tiferes Aryeh and others.

The Nitei Gavriel concludes that women would be permitted to do Gelilah if they are 1) not Niddah 2) dressed modestly 3) doing it in front of close family and friends.

 


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39 Comments
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A concerned yid
A concerned yid
10 months ago

In front of family andd friends. Not general public. if I understand correctly

What?!
What?!
10 months ago

In each of the Montefiore stories she says she decorated it not that she did anything more. so the only source is the one from Holland. It’s not exactly the most widespread of anything for anything

A concerned yid
A concerned yid
10 months ago

I’d love to hear what rabbi zinner would say to this article

someone
someone
10 months ago

So you are bring some journalist to argue on a world renown posek with over 70 years experience. A posek who has written many seforim that are used all the time. But you go with a journalist. Yay VIN.

Educated Archy
Educated Archy
10 months ago

In the past by the chasam sofer and others, a distinction was made whether the community is doing it to be more secular or they are doing it for the need of the time. Knowing the intentions are crucial . It isn’t so much the Halacha

Chaimel
Chaimel
10 months ago

Not relevant in a time when the the neo-Orthodox are trying to break the traditional separations beween men & women in the Shul environment. It says that she decorated the Torah, which may mean that she placed the crown on it, not Glilah.

M m
M m
10 months ago

this article is a disgusting attack on one of the gedolei poskim. none of the gedolim mentioned, neither the Bas Ayin nor (l”hbchlcht) the Natei Gavriel, would claim that this article is a reflection of the halachic process. This only strengthen the hand of those who hate the Torah and want to destroy our Mesorah. It does nothing to strengthen obedience to halacha and the leaders in our generation.

Joe
Joe
10 months ago

So this happened twice before? Hardly evidence. But if you go to reform and conservative then for sure

Hesh
Hesh
10 months ago

Torah is emes. So if one is to have a torah discussion it must be unequivocally truth. Unfortunately your article is a bit misleading. To state that it has been accepted that woman were honored with galela, while true, doesn’t tell the whole story. The examples given were not public forums where the Objection might be kovod hatzibor; rather they were private affairs usually a hachnosos sefer torah in a seemingly family/close friends setting thus removing the kovod ha’tzebur issue.

Please report the while truth and nothing but the truth when having a torah discussion.

Thanx

Jakub
Jakub
10 months ago

Sefardi Sefer no Gelilah..

lazy-boy
Trusted Member
lazy-boy
10 months ago

interesting, not as I thought….

Charlie Hall
Charlie Hall
10 months ago

Fascinating!

If Rabbi Sternbuch is your rabbi, follow him. If your rabbi paskens differently, follow your rabbi.

The_Truth
The_Truth
10 months ago

Just because there is a psak, does not mean that there have not been other instances doing it differently before. Situations could be different – impossible to know unless it is recent, but that doesn’t negate the psak given now. There could be different psak by someone else – shocker! Additionally, the Nitei Gavriel usually brings down every possible halachic source. Just because its mentioned there, does not mean its the accepted halacha – there are usually 3 or 4 different opinions on everything, especially minhagim. Fascinating article.

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 months ago

Excellent Maskilic literature.

shloime
shloime
10 months ago

“She actually represented her husband at the occasion as he was sick at the time.”

the montefiores were great benefactors of the yishuv, and obviously very welcome after a devastating earthquake. so the real question is, how generous does the woman or her husband need to be today, to merit this honour?

Avraham Kaye
Avraham Kaye
10 months ago

It’s worth pointing out that the Bas Ayin was not a posek