The Honor of Women

Stories of Rabbenu – Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook

Our Rabbi gave classes for the yeshiva students at his house, and they set up an amplification system so that women could hear in the apartment next door. There was sometimes a problem with the system and our Rabbi would wait until they fixed it. He would explain that for the honor of women he was obligated to delay his class so that they too could hear.

With all of our Rabbi's care regarding issues relating to modesty, our Rabbi was at the same time strict about women's honor. Before Kiddush on Shabbat day, he would ask over and over: "Are all the women here? 'Women are obligated in Kiddush during the day' (Berachot 20b)."

Our Rabbi would remind his married students that there is an obligation to provide their wives with spiritual food. In contrast to the general thought that women are exempt from learning Torah, he would emphasize with a smile that this does not apply to learning about faith: "Is faith a time-bound, positive mitzvah?"

When the Beit Midrash was in the dormitory building, the women's section was close to the entrance to the Beit Midrash. There was a sign: "Women are requested not to linger in the hallway after davening" [in order to prevent women and men from intermingling]. When our Rabbi saw it, he asked that the note be taken down and rewritten in a more general manner, in order not to offend the honor of the women: "The community is requested not to linger in the hallway after davening."

Our Rabbi was extremely particular not to stare at women. Even when a woman came to him for a long conversation on an important matter, he listened to her carefully and responded warmly – but his eyes were always averted to the side. He was the same when he gave a class to women. He would stand for a woman who was a Torah scholar, but he would not directly look at her. (Ha-Rav Eliyahu Mali – Iturei Cohanim #176)