Friday, November 13, 2009

Happenings at the Yeshiva

With our third- and fourth-year students, we continued learning Niddah in the morning - we are now covering the topics of hefsek taharah and shiva nikkiyim - and Lifecycles in the afternoon. Thursday was a particularly packed day. After my regular shiur on Niddah, I met with the students of that shiur over lunch to discuss the challenges and problematics of learning and paskening hilkhot niddah, given the way the system and the discourse objectifies women and their bodies. While it is clear that halakha does this all the time - whether to pots and pans, to men's bodies, or to women's bodies - such an objectifying system raises unique challenges in the context of women and niddah. There was obviously no resolution to this challenge, but - as I said to our students - it is better that they, rather than someone who is oblivious to or dismissive of these issues, are the ones who will be paskening for their communities. I am proud that we have created a yeshiva where these issues can be discussed openly and honestly, and where we can hold the tension without seeking easy and less than fully honest resolutions.

Also on Thursday, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin visited the yeshiva and gave a parsha shiur, elaborating on the connection between kiddushin, Sarah's burial, and Avraham's purchase of her burial plot. He followed this with a talk to third- and fourth-year students on giving sermons. Following that, these same students heard from Dr. Steve Glicksman on male adolescence and masturbation. We will be finishing this conversation next week when we will have a Lifecycles halakha shiur on masturbation, zera li'vatala, and sexual touch, negiah.

This monday I gave the last lecture in my series on Women in the Synagogue and Communal Leadership at the JCC of Manhattan. The audio is posted on my blog and on our website and the source sheets should be up in the next day or two.

Finally, we extend a nechama to Rob Golder and his family on the loss of his grandmother. Hamakom yenachem etchem b'toch she'ar avalei Tzion vi'Yerushalayim.

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