Monthly Archives: April 2017

Parshat  תזריע Leviticus 12:4 – Are Women Allowed to Go to Synagogue?

Leviticus 12:4 – And for thirty three days, she shall remain in the blood of purity; she shall not touch anything holy, nor may she enter the Sanctuary, until the days of her purification have been completed.

Gemora Shavuot 17b: A ritually impure person who enters [the Sanctuary] through the roof is exempt. This is proved by the verse that states ‘one may not enter’. The verse thus teaches that if one enters the usual way one is liable but not if one enters in any other way.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #35:

Tosafot write if one enters via the roof, one is not liable because the roof of the Sanctuary does not have the category of “holy”.  Even though the Gemora Pesachim 85b states that the steps of the Sanctuary are holy, one must conclude that only the steps [which are also technically outside the Sanctuary} are holy but not the roof.

Know that what [some] Acharonim [see the Orach Chaim-Section 88] write that it is forbidden for a menstruating woman to go to synagogue because our synagogues are in the place of the Temple [in Jerusalem], requires further investigation. If this were actually the law, then women would never be able to attend synagogue. Since a woman who gave birth once would be lacking the necessary temple-sacrifice necessary to achieve the purity level of being able to enter the Sanctuary. Note that our verse specifically applies to a woman who is ritually impure due to giving birth and is ritually pure except for the fact that she hasn’t yet brought the temple-sacrifice atonement offering.

Additionally, [if menstruating women were not allowed to attend synagogue] it would be unclear how men [who are also impure due to seminal emissions] would be allowed to attend.

Therefore, one must conclude that the core law is in accordance with Rashi’s Sefer HaPardes which states that women are permitted to attend synagogue at all times. Further, the comparison of our synagogues to the Holy Temple is meant [only] exegetically and as a teaching point, but not for the purposes of deriving law. There are many additional proofs for this, but here is not the place to record them.

Further notes from the Commentary “Meshivas Nefesh” on the Torah Temimah: The Rambam writes in The Laws of the Sefer Torah Chapter 10, Section 8 as follows:

‘Anyone who is ritually impure even menstruating women, or non-Jews, are permitted to hold the Sefer Torah and read from it. This is because words of Torah are not capable of being made impure. As long as one’s hands are clean and don’t have dirt on them, but rather one washes one’s hands first and then holds the Sefer Torah [it is permitted].’

Editor’s note: In this note, the Torah Temimah again deviates from explaining the text  to make a point regarding women’s participation in religious life.