The Rebbe's Challenge: As Yet Unmet
It has been my great privilege to have taught at the Batsheva Summer program last year.
The purpose of this organization is to provide Jewish women with the highest level of Torah study
possible. This means no externally imposed limits on content or depth whatsoever—with access to the
resources to allow them to transcend any personally imposed limitations such as lack of prior
experience with particular texts.
The idea that every part of Torah, without exception, should be available for women to study is
something the Lubavitcher Rebbe articulated many times during his leadership. The Rebbe’s definitive
and ultimate statement on the topic is found in a sicha (talk) he personally reviewed and edited (Sefer
Hasichot 5750 V.II pp 455-459). This small work contains many crucial ideas, but the practical directives
are the matter most relevant here. They include the following:
1. Women are not merely permitted to study and all areas of Torah at this point in history, but
they are required and obligated to for two reasons:
a) To overcome the particular intellectual and spiritual challenges posed by the open and accessible nature of the world and all its ideas as a whole
b) To prepare the world for the era of Moshiach in which all (bar none) will attain the greatest possible perfection of knowledge. Since this -of course- includes women, we must prepare for Moshiach by “tasting” of it now.
2. As part of the mission of women as the foundation of the Jewish Home, and given the
challenges the Jewish home faces today, she must add to her role. It is no longer sufficient to
facilitate the Torah study of her children (even older ones, studying at a high level) and husband
– she must actively assist them in a real way, which demands proficiency at least to their level.
This is now an intrinsic part of the “domestic” role of the Jewish woman, the role of “Akeret
To be honest, we are far from universal attainment of this goal even within our own Chabad
community, let alone others. Batsheva Academy has begun the journey of getting us there.
We ask you to participate in our programs either by attending or providing the financial means
to enable us to make a reality of this call to action by the Rebbe that has languished unfulfilled
Thank you for becoming a part of this holy endeavor.
Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe
Dean, Institute for American and Talmudic law
Co-Director, Chabad of Watertown