Since its founding, Darkhei Noam has relied on various halakhic analyses as the basis for our complex ritual system. This page serves as a guide to the various principals which serve as the core of Darkhei Noam’s approach to halakha.
Original Edah Journal Articles
One of the first articles written on the topic was Qeri’at ha-Torah by Women: A Halakhic Analysis, by Rabbi Mendel Shapiro in 2001. At the same time, a counter-analysis by Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin was published, as was as a response by Rabbi Shapiro.
Rabbi Daniel Sperber
Since 2006, Rabbi Daniel Sperber has served as the Halakhic Advisor to Darkhei Noam, providing guidance to the leadership regarding community matters.
Rabbi Daniel Sperber is the Milan Roven Professor of Talmudic Research at Bar Ilan University and rabbi of Congregation Menachem Zion in the Old City of Jerusalem. In 1992 he received the Israel Prize, Israel's highest award and is the author of Minhagei Yisrael, a seven volume work.
In 2002, Rabbi Sperber’s article, Congregational Dignity and Human Dignity: Women and Public Torah Reading, was published in the Edah Journal. Rabbi Sperber’s approach took a slightly different direction than Rabbi Shapiro’s, and is summarized below. A recording of a talk on Partnership Minyanim given at the University of Pennsylvania in 2012 is also available.
Summary of the Halakhic Justification for Partnership Minyanim
At the behest of the Darkhei Noam Ritual Committee, Rabbi Sperber provided a summary of his analysis of the key halakhic issues regarding women participation in davening.
Since Partnership Minyanim see themselves as belonging to the Orthodox community, and, on the other hand, they constitute a departure from the traditional Orthodox congregational model, it is important that their congregants understand the elementary basis for their halachic legitimacy.
Click here for a listing of the key halakhic elements which have served as the basis for the style of davening used in many Partnership Minyanim. At the end, various sources are provided as well.
Halakhic Analysis Regarding Specific Women’s Roles
At the request of the Darkhei Noam ritual committee, Rabbi Sperber has written short pieces addressing a variety of issues which have arisen as Darkhei Noam has expanded its services. These include:
- Women sounding the final 40 shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah.
- Women leading Kol Nidrei (although at Darkhei Noam they lead other parts as well), mostly the expanded piyutim, and that they should be fasting if leading on Yom Kippur.
- This topic was also explored in a talk given by Rabbi Mishael Zion ahead of Rosh HaShanah in 2012.
- Women leining the special maftirs for Parshat Zachor and Parshat Shekalim.
During various Ritual Committee meetings, Rabbi Sperber has also addressed the topics of women leading Hallel (permitted for all except those on Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah), Hoshanot (not permitted), and Yizkor (permitted). We have also discussed when a woman can lead Mourner’s Kaddish for the community, issues regarding transgender community members, and considerations for davening in spaces which are attached to churches.