To what extent should a woman strive for Torah knowledge? And which aspect of Torah should she study? Is gemara included?
Women have so much to study that if they went into a kollel and studied day and night for sixty, seventy years, they wouldn’t be finished with what they are obligated to know! You hear that? And it’s not what I say. Only, what can you do? Even men, do they do everything they have to do? Do they study all they have to know? They have excuses. So women have better excuses. A man has more opportunities than a woman, so he has fewer excuses.
But there is no question that there is plenty for women to learn. Now, to what extent? The extent should be – the sky is the limit. Which aspect of Torah? All aspects of Torah. She leaves out gemara for a reason. There’s a reason why a woman doesn’t study gemara, and the reason is very simple; it’s not complicated at all. Because it’s an ideal among us that men and women should not fraternize. The healthiest thing is when women fraternize with women, and men with men. But when a woman becomes very conversant with gemara, it’s not good. It’s like somebody told me – he saw on a park bench in Flatbush a boy from a certain very modern place who was sitting with a girl, and they were learning gemara together. Now, we know that the gemara is a prelude for something else. Any boy and girl business, even if it’s gemara, is just the beginning of something. And therefore, why build such a bridge between them? There are enough bridges already; there are plenty of bridges – too many bridges! So this will be one bridge less!
That’s why women should not study gemara. We don’t want them to mix with men. And men shouldn’t mix with women. But there’s plenty to know, and their work cut out for them. Of course, a woman first of all has to produce a Shas. A Shas is an Avromele, a Itzele, a Yankele. And not only a Shas of six sedorim! There are plenty of other mesichtahs; sixty mesichtahs! There is plenty for women to produce! And her Rishonim and mefarshim are washing diapers, and cooking, and everything else involved in raising a family. All these things are very important commentaries on Torah! That’s her job. And if in between she’s able to find a couple of minutes to do something, then there is no reason she shouldn’t utilize her time.
TAPE # 75 (April 1975)