This year, there has been much discussion and controversy about women’s leadership roles within the Orthodox community. But we should all agree on the following: It is important for women to learn and to teach Torah, it is important for our daughters to have religious role models, it is important that women are acknowledged for their achievement in their Torah learning and for communities to be proud of these women and give them exposure. This is the goal of Shabbat “Dorshot Tov” organized by Kolech.
This Shabbat over 80 communities around Israel will take part in the second trailblazing Shabbat “Dorshot Tov” project organized by Kolech. These communities will have the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by 50 of today’s lamdanyot, female Torah scholars. In a world where women have made great strides and broken new ground in areas of science, politics, sports and business, how wonderful to be able to showcase the accomplishments of women in the areas of Tanach, Talmud, midrash, halacha and Jewish thought.
Women’s Torah leadership does not hurt the Jewish community, it only strengthens it, whether for women, young girls or entire families and communities. Listening to women’s Torah often brings chiddushim, new insights and perspectives. While serious Torah scholarship by women is a relatively new phenomenon which is only a few decades old, it has its roots in the book of Bamidbar, in the story of five brave women, the daughters of Zelophehad.
Their father, Zelophehad, died in the desert and he had no sons. Normally the sons would receive their father’s inheritance. Given the lack of heirs, the daughters of Zelophehad respectfully pleaded their case before Moshe and asked that they, the daughters, receive their father’s inheritance so that the family name live on through them.
The Talmud in Bava Batra 119b says that the daughters of Zelophehad were chachamot (wise), darshaniyot (sermonizers) and tzidkanyot (righteous). The word darshaniyot means they interpreted the Torah. In fact, according to this Talmudic source, they taught Moshe a new interpretation of the verse regarding inheritance law for daughters. Moshe heard their insights and brought their cause before God. God’s response: “The daughters of Zelophehad speak right.” (Bamidbar 27:7)
Shabbat “Dorshot Tov” will showcase the darshaniyot of our time, and this is an opportunity to enjoy their Torah and send them the message that we support them and need them in our communities and that they too speak right.