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Kevod Ha-Tzibbur – A Closer Look

Adapted from by Deracheha: Women and Mitzvot



What is Kevod Ha-tzibbur?

It seems to mean different things in different cases. It can mean an unnecessary burden or inconvenience to the congregation, or something that reflects poorly on the congregation by entrenching laxity in communal practice or representation.

How would a woman reading from the Torah pose an issue of Kevod Ha-tzibbur?

It could imply that men, who have an obligation in Torah study and in maintaining a minyan for keri鈥檃t ha-Torah, aren鈥檛 prepared to read it, or it might foster laxity on their part with regard to reading. It might also violate tzeniut norms (especially gender separation) for services, or foster laxity with them.聽


What is Kevod Ha-tzibbur?

The Talmud states that a woman may not read from the Torah because of kevod ha-tzibbur, but does not explain what it means by kevod ha-tzibbur in this context.聽

诪讙讬诇讛 讻讙.聽

转谞讜 专讘谞谉: 讛讻诇 注讜诇讬谉 诇诪谞讬谉 砖讘注讛, 讜讗驻讬诇讜 拽讟谉 讜讗驻讬诇讜 讗砖讛. 讗讘诇 讗诪专讜 讞讻诪讬诐: 讗砖讛 诇讗 转拽专讗 讘转讜专讛, 诪驻谞讬 讻讘讜讚 爪讘讜专.

Megilla 23a

Our rabbis taught [in a baraita]: Everyone counts toward the number seven, even a minor and even a woman. But the sages said: A woman may not read from the Torah, because of kevod tzibbur [the honor of the congregation].

One might suggest that, on the simplest level, kevod ha-tzibbur is rooted in questions of social status, which are subject to change. While this explanation is plausible, the early and later halachic authorities who comment on kevod ha-tzibbur don鈥檛 suggest it. Since other explanations do appear in traditional sources, they take precedence in halachic discussion.聽

Four other cases of kevod ha-tzibbur appear in the Talmud, each likewise connected to keri鈥檃t ha-Torah. Two of those cases鈥攗ncovering the Torah ark or rolling the sefer Torah鈥攊nvolve burdening the congregation. In both scenarios, the community would be inconvenienced, and thus dishonored, by sitting through physical preparations for keri鈥檃t ha-Torah that could and should have been performed in advance.聽

The other two cases seem to have more potential relevance to ours.

  1. Chumashim The Talmud teaches that we are not to read the Torah from partial scrolls (chumashim) because of kevod ha-tzibbur:

讙讬讟讬谉 住.聽

专讘讛 讜专讘 讬讜住祝 讚讗诪专讬 转专讜讬讬讛讜: 讗讬谉 拽讜专讗讬谉 讘讞讜诪砖讬谉 讘讘讬转 讛讻谞住转 诪砖讜诐 讻讘讜讚 爪讘讜专.

Gittin 60a

Rabba and Rav Yosef, who both said: We do not read from chumashim in synagogue because of kevod tzibbur.

Why should this be a kevod ha-tzibbur issue? Ran (on the Rif Gittin 27b) writes that it would make this particular tzibbur appear to be impoverished. The Yerushalmi hints at another potential issue:

转诇诪讜讚 讬专讜砖诇诪讬 诪讙讬诇讛 讙: 讗聽

讛讚讗 讗专住拽讬谞住 讗讜拽讬专 讗讜专讬转讗 讚爪谞讘专讗讬 讗转讜谉 砖讗诇讜谉 诇专鈥 讬讜谞讛 讜诇专鈥 讬讜住讛 诪讛讜 诇拽专讜转 讘住驻专 讘专讘讬诐 讗诪专 诇讜谉 讗住讜专 诇讗 讚讗住讜专 讗诇讗 诪谉 讙讜 讚谞驻砖讛讜谉 注讙讬诪讛 讗讬谞讜谉 讝讘谞讬谉 诇讛讜谉 讗讞讜专讬.

Yerushalmi Megilla 3:1

This Arskinas [a name] burned the Torah of Tzanberai. They came and asked Rav Yosse what is the [Halacha] of reading from a book [not a proper Torah scroll] communally. He said to them: It is prohibited. Not that it is [truly] prohibited, but rather out of their distress they will purchase themselves another [sefer Torah].

If reading from a partial scroll, or a book, is permitted, a community might become lax about acquiring a complete sefer Torah. Along these lines, Ra鈥檃vyah explains kevod tzibbur here as a matter of preventing laxity with the mitzva:

专讗讘讬鈥澴 讞诇拽 讘 鈥 诪住讻转 诪讙讬诇讛 住讬诪谉 转拽谞讚聽

讜转讜 诪驻谞讬 讻讘讜讚 讛爪讬讘讜专 砖讬讬讱 讘讛讜 讘讞讜诪砖讬谉 砖诇谞讜, 讚讗讬谉 驻转专讜谉 讻讘讜讚 讛爪讬讘讜专 诪驻谞讬 砖讗讬谞讜 砖诇诐, 讗诇讗 讙谞讗讬 讛讜讗 诇爪讬讘讜专 砖讗讬谉 诇讛诐 住驻专 转讜专讛 讛注砖讜讬讛 讻诪爪讜转讛鈥ψ曌愖 注诇 讙讘 讚诇讗 讗驻砖专 讛砖转讗 诇讗 砖专讬谞谉 诇讛讜, 砖诪讗 讬转专砖诇讜 诪诇拽谞讜转 住驻专鈥

Ra鈥檃vyah, Part II, Megilla 554

Kevod ha-tzibbur is also relevant with our chumashin, for the meaning of kevod ha-tzibbur is not because it [a chumash] is incomplete, but rather, [that] it is a dishonor to the tzibbur that they do not have a sefer Torah made according to its mitzva鈥nd even though it is not possible now [to have a full one], we do not permit them [to read from chumashin], lest they neglect to purchase a sefer Torah

Not having a sefer Torah from which to read conflicts with kevod ha-tzibbur because it reflects poorly on the congregation. On Ra鈥檃vyah鈥檚 reading, kevod ha-tzibbur is also meant to prevent entrenching dishonorable deviation from a normative standard.

  1. Poche鈥檃ch A second case emerges from the Talmud鈥檚 explanation of a mishna. The mishna in question teaches us that a minor could read from the Torah, but that an adult dressed in tattered clothing that reveals either the upper (Rambam on the Mishna Megilla 4:6) or lower body (Rashi Megilla 24a) may not:

诪砖谞讛 诪讙讬诇讛 讚:讜聽

拽讟谉 拽讜专讗 讘转讜专讛鈥ψぷ曌椬 驻讜专住 讗转 砖诪注 讗讬谞讜 拽讜专讗 讘转讜专讛 讜讗讬谞讜 注讜讘专 诇驻谞讬 讛转讬讘讛 讜讗讬谞讜 谞讜砖讗 讗转 讻驻讬讜

Mishna Megilla 4:6

A minor reads from the Torah鈥 person with tattered clothing [poche鈥檃ch] is 鈥pores al Shema,鈥 does not read from the Torah and does not lead prayers and does not raise his hands [as a kohen to bless the congregation]

The Talmud follows up, asking whether a minor could read from the Torah if he is in tatters:

诪讙讬诇讛 讻讚:聽

讘注讗 诪讬谞讬讛 注讜诇讗 讘专 专讘 诪讗讘讬讬: 拽讟谉 驻讜讞讞 诪讛讜 砖讬拽专讗 讘转讜专讛? 讗诪专 诇讬讛: 讜转讬讘注讬 诇讱 注专讜诐. 注专讜诐 诪讗讬 讟注诪讗 诇讗 鈥 诪砖讜诐 讻讘讜讚 爪讘讜专, 讛讻讗 谞诪讬 鈥 诪砖讜诐 讻讘讜讚 爪讘讜专.

Megilla 24b

Ulla bar Rav asked Abbaye: A minor poche鈥檃ch, what is [the halacha] of him reading from the Torah? He [Abbaye] said to him [Ulla]: You should ask about a naked one. A naked one, what is the reason that he cannot [read from the Torah]? Because of kevod tzibbur. Here, too, [the minor poche鈥檃ch may not read] because of kevod tzibbur.

The answer is that just as a naked minor may not read, because his nudity would impinge on the community鈥檚 honor, so, too, a minor in tatters may not read.

Rashi explains the two possibilities that the Talmud considers in its question as follows: Perhaps only an adult poche鈥檃ch is precluded from reading, because an adult is clearly subject to the halacha of not exposing erva. The adult poche鈥檃ch, even if not technically violating the halacha of concealing erva, does not meet normative standards of tzeniut for covering his body and presenting himself with dignity. Alternatively, perhaps even a minor, not usually subject to the same standards, would need to meet them when reading, since kevod ha-tzibbur is involved.聽

专砖鈥澴 讻讚: 讚鈥澴 拽讟谉 驻讜讞讞聽

拽讟谉 驻讜讞讞 诪讛讜 砖讬拽专讗 讘转讜专讛. 讙讚讜诇 驻讜讞讞 讛讜讗 讚讗住讜专 诪砖讜诐 讜诇讗 讬专讗讛 讘讱 注专讜转 讚讘专 (讚讘专讬诐 讻讙:讟讜) 讗讘诇 拽讟谉 讗讬谞讜 诪讜讝讛专 讗讜 讚诇诪讗 诇讗 驻诇讬讙 诪转谞讬[转讬谉] 讘讬谉 拽讟谉 诇讙讚讜诇:

Rashi 24b s.v. katan poche鈥檃ch

A minor poche鈥檃ch, what is [the halacha] of him reading from the Torah. Is an adult poche鈥檃ch prohibited because of 鈥渢hat He not see in you any matter of nakedness鈥 (Devarim 23:15), but a minor is not cautioned? Or perhaps our mishna did not differentiate between a minor and an adult.

On this reading, the Talmud concludes that it is dishonorable for a poche鈥檃ch to read Torah publicly because there are normative standards for proper appearance for any communal representative, even when the technical halachic strictures of erva are not breached.

How would a woman reading from the Torah pose an issue of Kevod Ha-tzibbur?

Two main approaches appear in halachic discourse, somewhat parallel to the cases that we鈥檝e seen.

  1. Negative Reflection or Effect on the Tzibbur A couple of early authorities juxtapose kevod ha-tzibbur with the case of me鈥檈ira (literally, curse). Me鈥檈ira refers to a Talmudic passage that discourages a man from having his son or his wife recite birkat ha-mazon for him.

讘专讻讜转 讻:聽

鈥ψ澴 [=转讗 砖诪注] 讘讗诪转 讗诪专讜 讘谉 诪讘专讱 诇讗讘讬讜 讜讗砖讛 诪讘专讻转 诇讘注诇讛, 讗讘诇 讗诪专讜 讞讻诪讬诐: 转讘讗 诪讗专讛 诇讗讚诐 砖讗砖转讜 讜讘谞讬讜 诪讘专讻讬谉 诇讜.

Berachot 20b

Come and learn: Truly they [our sages] said: A son recites [birkat ha-mazon] for his father and a wife recites [birkat ha-mazon] for her husband. But the sages said: Let a curse [me鈥檈ira] come upon a person whose wife and sons bless for him.

The Talmud describes a situation in which the man needs the help because he is unlearned. Ritva takes the view that the son in the passage is post bar mitzva and that women are obligated on a Torah level in birkat ha-mazon, so that both could fully discharge the man鈥檚 obligation. Ritva thus views this case as another example of the ruling that when two men eat together (where there is no zimmun), one may recite birkat ha-mazon for the other specifically if he is unlearned:聽

讞讬讚讜砖讬 讛专讬讟讘鈥澴 住讜讻讛 诇讞.聽

鈥ψ溩炞愖 讚拽讬讬诪讗 诇谉 讚讗砖讛 诪讚讗讜专讬讬转讗 诪讞讬讬讘讗 诪转谞讬转讗 讻驻砖讟讗 讘讘谉 讙讚讜诇 讜讘讚讗讻诇 讗讬讛讜 砖讬注讜专讗 讚讗讜专讬讬转讗 讜讗转讜 讛谞讬 讜诪驻拽讬 诇讬讛鈥 讜诪驻谞讬 砖讛讜讗 讘讜专 讬讜爪讗 讘讘专讻转诐 讻讚专讱 砖讗诪专讜 讛讬讛 讗讞讚 诪讛诐 讘讜专 讜讗讞讚 讞讻诐 诪讘专讱 讞讻诐 讜讘讜专 讬讜爪讗, 讜诪驻谞讬 讝讛 讗诪专讜 砖转讘讗 诇讜 诪讗专讛 讻砖诇讗 诇诪讚 讜讛讜讗 讘讜专 砖讬讜爪讗 讘讘专讻转 讗讞专讬诐 砖诇讗 讘讝讬诪讜谉..

Ritva Sukka 38a

鈥ccording to what we rule, that a woman is obligated on a Torah level [in birkat ha-mazon], the plain meaning of the baraita concerns an adult [i.e., post bar mitzva age] son, when [the father] ate an amount of food to obligate him [in birkat ha-mazon] on a Torah level, and these [wife or son] come and discharge his obligation鈥nd because he is ignorant, he discharges his obligation through their beracha, as they said 鈥榠f one of them [two men eating together] is ignorant and one is learned, the learned one recites a beracha and the ignorant one discharges his obligation [through the learned one鈥檚 beracha].鈥 Because of this they said a curse should come upon him, when he did not learn and he is ignorant so that he discharges his obligation with the beracha of others [even] when there is no zimmun

An unlearned man with a learned wife or son at home deserves a me鈥檈ira because he continues to rely on his family members rather than learn himself. In his discussion of women discharging others鈥 obligations in megilla, Ritva links me鈥檈ira with kevod ha-tzibbur:聽

讞讬讚讜砖讬 讛专讬讟讘鈥澴 诪讙讬诇讛 讚.聽

讜讻讬讜谉 讚拽讬鈥澴 [=讚拽讬讬诪讗 诇谉] 讻专鈥 讬讛讜砖注 讘谉 诇讜讬 讚讞讬讬讘讜转 [讘诪拽专讗 诪讙讬诇讛], 讗祝 诪讜爪讬讗讜转, 讗诇讗 砖讗讬谉 讝讛 讻讘讜讚 诇爪讬讘讜专 讜讛谉 讘讻诇诇 诪讗专讛鈥ψ炞ぷ 诪讜专讬 谞专鈥澴.

Chiddushei Ha-Ritva, Megilla 4a

Since it is accepted for us according to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi that [women] are obligated [in megilla], and even discharge obligations, but this is not kavod for the tzibbur and they are in the category of me鈥檈ira鈥rom my teacher

The concept of me鈥檈ira is invoked in a private context, while kevod ha-tzibbur is communal. Nevertheless, in both, men鈥檚 ritual competence is assumed and expected, so that a woman鈥檚 taking a leading role in ritual implies something dishonorable about the men present.

With keri鈥檃t ha-Torah, the implication may be that men have not mastered the skills required for public Torah reading. Rav Uzziel makes this point:

砖讜鈥澴 诪砖驻讟讬 注讜讝讬讗诇 讻专讱 讚 鈥 讞讜砖谉 诪砖驻讟 住讬诪谉 讜聽

讜驻讬专讜砖 讻讘讜讚 讛爪讘讜专 讛讜讗 砖诇讗 讬讗诪专讜: 砖讗讬谉 讘讬谉 讛讗谞砖讬诐 诪讬 砖讬讜讚注 诇拽专讗 讘转讜专讛鈥

Responsa Mishpetei Uziel IV: CM 6

The meaning of kevod ha-tzibbur is that they [people] should not say: that there is no one among the men who knows how to read from the Torah.

This is particularly ignominious because men have a formal obligation to study Torah, and thus should make the effort to learn it well enough for ritual purposes entailing public Torah study.

As we have learned, women present for keri鈥檃t ha-Torah are considered to be part of the tzibbur fulfilling the mitzva. Still, this view of kevod ha-tzibbur focuses on the men of the tzibbur. This is presumably because men are considered the default Torah readers, and a tzibbur for keri鈥檃t ha-Torah must by definition include ten men.

This set of concerns may be specific to cases in which men are counted in a requisite minyan or obligated in a ritual, and women are not. In a recorded lecture, Rav Ovadya Yosef formulates the concern about women Torah readers in this way, based on men鈥檚 obligations.聽

专讘 驻谞讞住 驻专抓, 诪砖讬注讜专讬 诪专鈥澴 讛专讗砖鈥澴 专讘 注讜讘讚讬讛 讬讜住祝, 砖谞讛 专讗砖讜谞讛, 砖讬注讜专 讬鈥澴樎

讗诪专讜 讗砖讛 诇讗 转注诇讛 诪砖讜诐 讻讘讜讚 爪讬讘讜专, 讜讛讟注诐 讛讜讗 专拽 诪砖讜诐 砖讗讬谉 讝讛 讻讘讜讚 讛爪讬讘讜专, 讜讛讬讬谞讜 诪驻谞讬 砖讛讬讗 驻讟讜专讛 诪拽专讬讗转 讛转讜专讛, 讜讻诇 讛专讜讗讛 讗砖讛 拽讜专讗转 讘转讜专讛, 诪讘讬谉 砖诇讗 讛讬讛 砖诐 讗讬砖 砖讬拽专讗, 讜诪诪讬诇讗 讝讛 讘讝讬讜谉 诇爪讬讘讜专, 砖诇讗 诪爪讗讜 讗讬砖 讛诪讞讜讬讘 砖讬拽专讗, 讜诪爪讗讜 讗砖讛 砖讗讬谞讛 诪讞讜讬讬讘转.

Rav Pinchas Peretz, From the Lectures of Rav Ovadya Yosef, First year, 19

They said a woman should not count [toward the Torah readers] because of kevod ha-tzibbur, and the reason is only because this is not kevod ha-tzibbur, and that is because she is exempt from keri鈥檃t ha-Torah, and whoever sees a woman read from the Torah infers that there was no man there to read, and this is a disgrace to the tzibbur, that they did not find an obligated man to read, and they found a woman who is not obligated.

When a man has an obligation and lets someone who is not obligated take the lead, that could imply that he is not careful about his ritual obligations. Rav Yehuda Henkin adds that the concept of kevod ha-tzibbur is also meant to prevent men from developing laxity with regard to ritual.

砖讜鈥澴 讘谞讬 讘谞讬诐 讚:讙聽

砖讻讘讜讚 爪讘讜专 诇注谞讬谉 拽专讬讗转 谞砖讬诐 讗讬谞讜 专拽 讻讚讬 砖诇讗 讬讬专讗讛 讻讗讬诇讜 讗讬谉 砖诐 讙讘专讬诐 讛讬讜讚注讬诐 诇拽专讜讗, 讗诇讗 讻讚讬 砖讛讙讘专讬诐 诇讗 讬住诪讻讜 诪专讗砖 注诇 拽专讬讗转 讛谞砖讬诐 讜讬转注爪诇讜 诪诇诇诪讜讚 诇拽专讜讗 讜诇谞讙谉 讘讟注诪讬诐 讘注爪诪诐.

Responsa Benei Banim IV:3

For kevod tzibbur in the matter of women reading is not only that it should not seem as if there are no men there who know how to read, but in order that the men not rely from the start on the women鈥檚 reading and neglect to learn how to read and to sing with the cantillation themselves.

These understandings of kevod tzibbur echo the discussion of reading from chumashim. In both cases, kevod tzibbur maintains norms for communal ritual performance. It dictates that Torah reading not be performed in a way that reflects poorly on members of the congregation or in a fashion that will foster dishonorable carelessness with communal obligations.

  1. Tzeni鈥檜t Some later authorities have suggested that the kevod ha-tzibbur concern with women reading from the Torah relates to tzeniut. This may be reminiscent of the case of the poche鈥檃ch according to Rashi, which he considers in light of erva in a way that touches on tzeniut. A woman鈥檚 reading might detract from the level of modesty appropriate to the synagogue, even if no technical transgression is involved, and even if, as distinct from the case of poche鈥檃ch, the tzeniut concern is not specific to the reader鈥檚 presentation per se.

For example, Rav Ya鈥檃kov Emden suggests that kevod tzibbur here refers to it being improper for a woman to enter the men鈥檚 section to read, although a technical halachic case could be made for it.聽

诪讜专 讜拽爪讬注讛 住讬诪谉 专驻讘聽

讜谞专讗讛 讚注讚讬祝 [注讘讚] 诪讗砖讛 讘讛讗, 讚讗讬转 讘讛 诪砖讜诐 讻讘讜讚 爪讘讜专 诇讻转讞诇讛 诪讬讛转 讛讬讻讗 讚讗驻砖专 讘诇转讛, 诪砖讜诐 讚讗砖讛 讘注讝专转 讬砖专讗诇 诪谞讬讬谉, 诪砖讗鈥澴 [=诪讛 砖讗讬谉 讻谉] 讘注讘讚.

Mor U-ketzia 282

It seems that [a bondsman] is preferable to a woman for this, in any case where it is possible [to conduct the reading] without her, for with her there is [a concern] le-chatchila [ab initio] of kevod tzibbur, because of 鈥渨hy would a woman be in the Temple courtyard,鈥 which is not the case with a bondsman.

Just as women could enter the Temple courtyard only when necessary, Rav Emden would allow a woman to read, and thus to enter the men鈥檚 section of the synagogue, only if the reading cannot go on without her. Generally speaking, then, the need for gender separation in synagogue services would militate against a woman reading. In practical terms, physical proximity of ba鈥檃l korei and olim in a regular mixed-gender keri鈥檃t ha-Torah would be difficult to navigate while preserving separation between men and women in the synagogue.

More recent halachic authorities have considered the possibility that kol isha is at issue here. Others, including Rav Zalman Nechemya Goldberg, have simply stated that the issue is one of tzeniut per se:聽

讛讙专讝鈥澴, 鈥溩犠┳欁 讘讘专讻转 砖讘注 讘专讻讜转鈥 砖讜鈥澴 诪专讗讛 讛讘讝拽 讛, 注诪鈥 185聽

鈥ψ┳犠ㄗ愖 砖讻讘讜讚 讛爪讬讘讜专 讛讜讗 注谞讬讬谉 砖诇 爪谞讬注讜转.

Rav Zalman Nechemya Goldberg, ‘Women in the Blessing of Sheva Berachot,’ Mar’eh Ha-bazak V, p. 185

鈥or it seems that kevod ha-tzibbur is a matter of tzeniut.

If the main concern of women reading from the Torah is one of tzeniut, however, then it is not clear why the phrase 鈥kevod ha-tzibbur鈥 should stand in for other terms more frequently used to refer to tzeniut. Perhaps for this reason, some authorities reject the tzeniut explanation out of hand.25 Still, the poche鈥檃ch provides some precedent for connecting kevod ha-tzibbur to concerns related to tzeniut in a general sense, even when the concern falls short of erva.聽

A broader conceptual approach to tzeniut may point the way to a position that combines it with the reading skills approach to kevod ha-tzibbur. Rav Herschel Schachter presents one such approach:聽

专讘 爪讘讬 砖讻讟专, 鈥溩⑩澴 鈥樧斪炞犠欁犠欁 讛诪砖讜转驻讬诐’鈥澛

砖诪住驻讬拽 诪讛 砖讙讘专讬诐 爪专讬讻讬诐 诇驻注诪讬诐 诇讛转驻砖专 注诇 诪讚转 讛爪谞讬注讜转 砖诇讛诐, 讜讗讬谉 诇谞讜 诇转讘讜注 诪讛谞砖讬诐 砖讬转驻砖专讜 讗祝 讛谉 注诇 讛爪谞讬注讜转 砖诇讛谉鈥ψ曌懽曌撟愖 讗诐 讗讬谉 砖诪讛 讘诪谞讬谉 讙讘专 砖讬讜讚注 诇拽专讜转 讘转讜专讛, 讬砖 诇谞讜 诇讘拽砖 诪讗砖讛 砖转拽专讗 讛讬讗, 讗讘诇 讗讬谉 讝讛 诪谉 讛谞讻讜谉 诪讟注诐 讻讘讜讚 讛爪讬讘讜专, 砖讘讝讛 砖诪讻专讬讞讬诐 诇讗砖讛 诇注讘讜专 注诇 诪讚转 讛爪谞讬注讜转 砖诇讛, 讜诇拽专讜讗 讘转讜专讛 讘专讘讬诐, 诪专讗讬诐 注诇 讛爪讬讘讜专 砖讗讬谉 砖诪讛 讙讘专讬诐 砖讬讜讚注讬诐 诇拽专讜转.

Rav Hershel Schachter, ‘On the Matter of Partnership Minyanim’

For it is enough that men sometimes need to compromise on their attribute of tzeniut, and we shouldn鈥檛 demand of women that they also compromise on their tzeniut鈥nd certainly if there is no man there who knows how to read the Torah, we should ask a woman to read, but this is not correct on account of kevod ha-tzibbur, for by forcing a woman to forgo her attribute of tzeniut, and to read the Torah in public, we demonstrate regarding the community that there are no men there who know how to read.

Rav Schachter seems to assume that reading from the Torah, or taking on any public leadership role, entails a measure of compromise on tzeniut. Regardless of whether one accepts that premise, the gist of his view is that the regular norms of tzeniut during prayer times in the synagogue are important to maintain. Therefore, having a woman read keri鈥檃t ha-Torah implies that the community was forced to compromise those norms, because the men have been lax with learning to read the Torah.聽

Click here to learn more about how the concept of kevod ha-tzibbur plays into current discussions of women and keri鈥檃t ha-Torah. Can kevod ha-tzibbur be waived, how does kevod ha-beriyot factor in, and do these rulings change in a bedi鈥檃vad or she鈥檃t ha-dechak situation? Read the full article to see the sources and further analysis at



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