I also posted this at The Jewish Connection.
A blog that calls itself Jewish Answers asks and answers the question:
Rav Tendler takes time to provide a response that I have trouble buying into. Allow me to take some selections from his response.
“The Talmud, in Megillah 23a states that â€œeven a woman may read from the Torah,”
Ok, so the initial response is that a woman can read from the Torah, so the question is why wouldn’t or shouldn’t she. Rav Tendler goes on to explain that the purpose of reading Torah is for the person reading to teach it to the congregation. He then offers the following:
“The Talmud is stating that although there is technically nothing wrong with a woman teaching Torah to men, since men have a Mitzvah to study Torah and not women, by calling up a woman you are essentially making a statement that there are no men present capable of teaching the Torah- despite the fact that it is their Mitzvah, and here is a woman who does not have this Mitzvah and she is more proficient in reading and teaching the Torah. This reflects badly on the congregation who is present and their level of Mitzvah observance and Torah proficiency. Therefore, our Rabbis said that this is inappropriate.”
I have a problem with this as IMO it takes a great leap to get to the position that they are at. To suggest that because a woman is reading Torah it might mean that all of the congregants, especially those who are male are not as well educated is just silly. To me this sounds more like a case of pride, of ego over practicality.
There are most definitely times in which a woman will know more than the men around her and in the interest of getting the best education possible the men should listen to her.
From a slightly different perspective I ask when do we recognize that there are minhagim that are not halacha and that there is legitimate reason to reconsider their role and need in our lives.
I do not believe in ignoring and or changing minhag strictly because it is minhag, but at the same time to refuse to change simply because it is minhag is somewhat provincial and quite limiting.
There are reasons to reconsider why we do what we do. This may be one of those occasions.