Here is a link to the shi’ur I prepared for tomorrow night’s Shavuot study (Hebrew):
R. Yosef Meshash (b. 1892, Morocco; d. 1975, Israel) was a rabbi in Algeria, a dayan in Morocco and the Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Israel. His writings and responsa are characterised by a sharp and keen understanding of the changing circumstances and evolving nature of Jewish life, and the need for rabbis to find new paths in Halachah to accommodate these changes. His Hebrew prose is beautiful and gentle, suggesting he was an amiable and mild person.
For this shi’ur I chose three texts from his writings that deal with halachic questions relating to women.
The first text deals with the need for a mechitzah in the synagogue, to separate between men and women. In it, R. Meshash refers to the elusive term of כבוד הציבור (the dignity of the congregation) and offers a suprising interpretation to this and how it should be used.
The second, and perhaps more famous, text deals with the obligation of married women to cover their hair. In his response to a patently stressed man, whose wife refused to cover her hair, R. Meshash tackles the matter with a courageous and innovative approach, reaching a conclusion that might seem surprising to some.
The last text deals with a topic that has become the darling of contemporary religious feminist discourse: women and the study of Torah. R. Meshash is revealed here as a masterful story teller, using two stories to make a very clear statement about women who decide to dedicate their lives to Torah.
May we be blessed with rabbis like R. Meshash in our generation.