In Response

In response to Martin Stern’s “Surprised” and Joseph Feld’s “Agree to Disagree” stringently idiosyncratic take on the “cross-dressing” verse of Deuteronomy 22:5 (Your Say, May 31), Rambam did not say what Mr. Stern attributes to him about the wearing of tzizit by women. To further elaborate, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s grandchild, Tzipporah Twersky, back when she was an undergraduate at Harvard’s Radcliffe, wore pants. Twersky is the daughter of Isadore Twersky, professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard University and known as the Tolner Rebbe. It is unthinkable that she would have worn pants without both her father’s and grandfather’s approval. … When it comes to this matter of halacha [Jewish law], are gdolim [Torah giants] Rav Soloveitchik and Professor Twersky wrong?

Issachar Friedmann
Baltimore

Comments

  1. Martin Stern says

    Martin D. Stern
    7 Hanover Gardens
    Salford
    M7 4FQ
    England

    +44 (0)161-740-2745

    Dear Sir

    I failed to understand the relevance, to the debate on women wearing a tallit, of Issachar Friedmann’s comment (In Response, June 13) that “Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s grandchild, Tzipporah Twersky, back when she was an undergraduate at Harvard’s Radcliffe, wore pants”.

    Though there may be other objections to women wearing them, since they are tailored distinctly differently from men’s the prohibition of klei gever would, almost certainly, not apply to them.

    This was precisely the same point I made regarding their wearing tzitzit (May 30) “If women were to design a suitable distinctively feminine tallit katan (arba kanfot), possibly on the model of silky lingerie, to wear under their clothes, there would be no problem with their wearing it”.

    However his statement that “it is unthinkable that she would have worn pants without both her father’s and grandfather’s approval” may not necessarily be true since it is well known for adolescents sometimes to behave in ways not approved by their parents. Perhaps the latter felt that it was better not to protest since she might react by more rebellious practices. They may have hoped that she would later mature and abandon her questionable activity. Only the lady in question knows the precise circumstances and, unless she is willing to disclose them, any comments are purely speculative.

    Therefore Mr Friedmann’s attempt to silence those who disagree with him by appealing to higher authority and writing that “When it comes to this matter of halacha [Jewish law], are gdolim [Torah giants] Rav Soloveitchik and Professor Twersky wrong?” is simply an unfounded, and rather dishonourable, sophistic debating trick.

    Yours faithfully

    Martin D. Stern

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