Have Questions or Comments?
Leave us some feedback and we'll reply back!

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)

    Phone Number)

    In Reference to

    Your Message


    R e c e n t l y
    certain kashrus
    agencies have
    begun to offer
    courses for
    women to
    make them
    m a s h g i c h o t .
    These roles can
    be either to visit
    certain plants or
    to maintain the kosher program in a
    full time capacity in a restaurant. Many
    times women have high positions in
    certain jobs. Is it permitted for women
    to vote? Can Jewish women become
    an elected official? Can a woman be
    on a shul board? All these and other
    issues will be addressed in this issue.
    Whether a woman can be a mashgichot
    is divided into two parts. 1. Can a
    woman hold a job which has authority?
    2. Can a woman be believed that
    certain products are kosher etc? We
    will begin to discuss the first aspect
    of this issue first which has many
    variables and then we will discuss the
    “believing” a woman aspect.
    The Rambam says that a “We do not
    appoint a woman as a king as it says in
    the Torah “Appoint a kings” but not a
    queen. In addition a woman may not be
    appointed to nay leadership among the
    Jewish people. Other Rishonim quote
    the Rambams opinion as well. Some
    opine that this is an issur d’rabbanan,
    while others maintain this is a d’oraisa.
    There are a few reasons given
    why a woman should not have an
    authoratiative job.
    Some say it is because of tznius that a
    woman should remain at home (this is
    not applicable today since women are
    found on the streets). Others say it is
    because a women is general are more
    compassionate and will not be able to
    do the job properly. While others say
    this halacha is learnt out of a posuk
    (gezeiras hakasov) and does not have
    a reason for it.
    The Rishonim are bothered with the
    question how Devorah was a judge in
    klal yisroel if a woman is not allowed
    to have a leadership position. The
    Shulchan Aruch says that a woman is
    not allowed to judge. Some Rishonim
    hold that the fact that Devorah was a
    queen was because she acted like a
    queen but was not actually a queen. In
    addition, the nation accepted her upon
    them to be judged etc by her. Since the
    nation accepted her and she was not
    forced on the people by a Sanhedrin
    etc it is not considered “authority.”
    This is considered “charismatic
    leadership.” Harav Moshe Feinstein
    zt”l says Devorah was so great that
    she automatically was the judge in klal
    yisroel and there was no need to be
    During the period of the second Bais
    Hamikdosh queen Shlomtzion ruled
    over the Jewish people for nine years.
    However, since she was elected as a
    queen the above discussion does not
    Authority – Serara
    According to the Rambam quoted
    above a woman may not do any role
    of readership not just refrain from
    being a queen. However, the opinion
    of many Rishonim is not like the above
    opinion of the Rambam and they hold
    the leadership position which a woman
    may not have is limited to a queen, but
    other leadership positions would be
    Nonetheless, Harav Moshe Feinstein
    zt”l maintains that although the
    Rambam’s view is not accepted by
    most Rishonim, one should follow
    his opinion. However, in case of need
    one would be able to rely on the other
    Rishonim (see below).
    What is Considered Authority
    We have mentioned above that a
    woman is not allowed to have a
    leadership position; however, what
    is considered having leadership or
    Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l maintains
    that if one has a job which makes
    someone have power over his employer
    then this is considered authority. This
    can be called “discretionary power.”
    In other words he is a decision maker
    on his own. He says this is common
    in kashrus, where a mashgiach is hired
    by an owner and he tells him what to
    do even if the owner does not want
    to serve kosher etc. and to make sure
    that everything runs smooth.A regular
    worker is hired to act according to the
    will of his employer. One who has to
    answer to people on top of him, is not
    considered authority.
    In a teshuva regarding a ger being a
    Rosh Yeshiva or Mashgiach Ruchni
    in a Yeshiva, Harav Moshe Feinstein
    zt”l says although a ger should not be
    appointed to a serara – have authority,
    a Rosh Yeshiva and Mashgiach can
    tell boy to leave the Yeshiva but this is
    just doing there job and not considered
    having an authoritative position.
    Some poskim are of the opinion that
    the above halacha does not apply to
    being having authority over women.
    For example, being in charge and
    having authority of women’s tzedaka,
    schools etc.
    One of the Rishonim say that if a
    woman is more eligible for a specific
    job than a man then the halacha of a
    woman not having a job of authority
    does not apply.
    There are those who say authority is
    only if it is a job which is everlasting
    (till the person dies) but if it is for a
    specific amount of time then it is not
    considered authority.
    Being a Mashgicha (Woman
    As mentioned above it has become
    common for some kashrus agencies to
    train women to become a mashgicha.
    In practice some agencies use women
    as mashgichot in food service
    establishments. We stated above that
    being a mashgiach is a job which has
    authority and accordingly a woman
    should not be a mashgicha. Harav
    Moshe Feinstein zt”l said in a case of
    need one can rely on those who argue
    with the Rambam. Others say that
    Harav Moshe Feinstein’s teshuva was
    written for a specific case and should
    not be relied upon as a clear heter
    and allow women to be a mashgicha.
    Nonetheless, the custom is to be lenient.
    Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l says one
    who wishes to go in accordance even
    with the Rambam then the kashrus
    agency should arrange that she is paid
    by the kashrus agency and not by the
    store etc as mentioned above. If this
    is done it is permitted even according
    to the Rambam. This is the opinion of
    Harav Yisroel Belsky Shlita and Harav
    Herschel Shachter Shlita as well.
    One who takes a job as a mashgicha
    should be careful if an issue of yichud
    arises (see below in the section
    regarding believing woman).
    In any case even a woman who bosses
    workers around as a mashgicha in
    a restaurant would be more of an
    issue then a woman who visits plants
    to make sure the kosher program is
    running smoothly.
    Voting and Being Elected
    When one votes one is demonstrating
    that he wants a specific person to win
    and he has a say because the majority
    of votes wins. There are many teshuvos
    written which discuss if women should
    vote and if a woman should be an
    elected official.
    Some wish to say that based on the
    above Rambam that a woman should
    not vote or be elected, because it is
    giving a woman job with authority.
    (However, many argue with the
    Rambam and therefore, if there is a
    need his opinion does not have to be
    followed). Other reasons are offered as
    will be listed below:
    In earlier years women did not have
    public roles and were not out in the
    streets so women should follow with
    this. To be involved with politics
    involves open discussions with men
    etc and this is not fitting for a woman.
    In Judaism the family is very important
    and if politics are mixed into it then
    she will be jeopardizing her family.
    If a woman is involved in politics
    then it may cause friction in shalom
    bayis since she may have different
    views then her husband. According to
    this voting would be permitted if the
    opinion is not discussed who she voted
    Many poskim both in Eretz Yisroel
    and in America did not allow women
    to vote or to be elected officials
    holding a public position in the
    government. Such Rabbonim included
    Harav Yehoshua Leib Diskin zt”l,
    Harav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld zt”l,
    Harav Yecheil Michel Tukishinsky
    zt”l, Harav Yitzchok Hakohen Kook
    zt”l and others.
    Those who Permitted Voting and
    being Elected
    There were Rabbonim who permitted
    women to vote and be elected officials.
    Included are Harav Tzvi Pesach Frank
    zt’l, Harav Elimelech Turk, and Harav
    Bakshei Doron Shlita.
    Reasons to Permit
    One of the reasons to permit women
    to vote is that if they would not vote
    then the Jews would not have a say in
    Eretz Yisroel.
    One of the main reasons for not letting
    a woman vote or be an elected official
    is because it is considered authority.
    However, being elected does not fall
    into this category as will be explained:
    Many poskim disagree with the
    Rambam and hold a woman may only
    not have a position of a queen but other
    positions are permitted. In addition if
    one is elected as an official by people
    and is not forced upon them unwillingly
    then this is not considered “authority”
    and a woman is permitted to have
    such a position. This is considered
    like the woman is like our messenger.
    Furthermore, when a woman is elected
    to a position in the Knesset etc she has
    people over her for whom she has to
    answer to. In addition, Harav Moshe
    Feinstein zt”l says we do not have
    to involve our selves with the Israeli

    G o v e r n m e n t
    who are kofrim
    if they wish to
    elect a woman
    for the Prime
    One of the
    r e a s o n s
    mentioned above
    not to allow
    women to vote
    is because it is not modest. However,
    when one votes she goes into a booth
    and pushes the name of the person she
    wants to vote for and there is no lack
    of modesty in doing so.
    The claim that voting is a lack of
    shalom bayis can be refuted by the
    husband and wife not talking about
    their political views.
    Women as a Shul President – Shul
    Based on the Rambam mentioned
    above, one may say that a woman
    should not be a shul president because
    it is a job of authority, and being on the
    shul board as well would be an issue.
    However, some say that this is not so
    since even according to the Rambam if
    one is elected as a shul president or to
    be on the shul board it is not considered
    authority. Especially since the above
    positions still have to answer up to
    the board in general before making
    decisions. Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l
    says that being a shul president should
    not be done because this is considered
    authority. In any case, since this may
    be a sticky issue when it arises one
    should consult with his
    A Woman Posek –
    Some women have
    questioned if they are
    allowed to learn a certain
    subject and give their
    opinions on the matter to
    women. The halacha is
    very clear that a woman is
    not allowed to be a judge.
    The Birchei Yosef is of
    the opinion that although
    a woman is not allowed
    to judge, if a woman who
    knows a certain subject in Jewish law is
    able to pasken she can do so. This was
    done in some places in part because
    women do not feel comfortable asking
    men their question relating to hilchos
    niddah. However, in practice woman
    who does this are only advisors, and
    not “Rabbis.” The subject of whether
    a woman is allowed to be a Rabbi was
    discussed in many journals and articles
    other the years. We will not decide this
    issue. The Gemorah in a couple of
    places warns agains one who issues
    halachic rulings and is not qualified to
    do so.
    Believing a Woman
    In the onset of this issue we stating
    that there are two issues with a
    woman being a mashgiacha, one was
    a position of authoirty which we dealt
    with above. The other issue is whether
    or not we can believe a woman in the
    field of kashrus (and other areas).
    This will be discussed below.
    Woman as a Witness
    The Gemorah in Bava Kama states
    that a woman can not be a witness.
    This is codified in Shulchan Aruch
    as well.
    Women and Issurim
    A woman is believed when it comes
    it issurim. This is leanrt from the fact
    that a woman can count the days of
    Tosfas says that we can rely on the
    shechitah of a woman, even though
    women generally don’t know the
    laws of shechitah, because this
    woman could have learned the
    halachos of shechitah or hired
    someone to do the shechitah. In
    other words as long as it is b’yadah
    (in her control) of a woman to insure
    that things are done properly, so
    halachically, we can believe her
    According to this as long as it was
    under her control to make sure it is
    kosher, we can rely on her. Even if
    she didn’t actually prepare the food
    but oversaw it’s production and
    has the final say in whether it can
    be served, that is also considered
    In addition, “b’yadah” is only
    required in a case of ischazek issura
    which means we know that an
    issur exists (such as in the case of
    shechitah where we know that at one
    point the meat was assur – i.e. when
    the animal was alive). If it is not
    ischazek issura then even if it is not
    b’yadah she is believed. An example
    of this is whether a fish is kosher or
    Most of the happenings in a kosher
    facility under the category of not being
    isschazek issura. There is a fear of
    buying non-kosher and therefore, there
    is no reason to assume that the rest of
    the food there is not kosher.
    Therefore, Harav Moshe
    Feinstein zt”l says that a woman
    can be a mashicha (if she knows
    what she is doing) even if it is
    not in her hands control the
    place she is inspecting and even
    if the owner of the restaurant
    was not religious.
    According to all of this it would
    seem that there is no problem
    in having a female mashgicha.
    However, there may a potential
    problem as noted below.
    The Gemara says that women
    are believed to say that
    they did bedikas chometz because
    bedikas chometz is only a Rabbinic
    statute. This would imply that their
    testimony is not believed when the
    issue is a Torah statute. This would
    then contradict what Tosfas (cited
    above) said regarding shechitah.
    Tosfas answers that when there is a
    lot of effort involved in insuring the
    kashrus of something then women
    are only believed if the issue is
    Rabbinic. There are poskim who say
    that the custom is to be lenient even
    if it is something which requires
    extra work. The Aruch Hashulchan
    says “women are not lenient with
    issurim because it involves work; we
    see that they are very busy with any
    issur. Items which are known to be
    issur even if it is a lot of work they
    will check to make sure the issur is
    clean (ie, checking vegetales from
    insects). In our days we never heard
    even on the most righteous tzadikim
    that they did not rely on their wives
    for the kashrus of insects (etc).”
    Based on the above, there would
    be no issue with a woman being
    a mashgicha even if there is a
    lot of work involved. Although
    some poskim maintain that if the
    restaurant is run by someone who is
    not religious and is known to be very
    lax with kashrus standards, then it is
    not recommended to have a female
    mashgicha because it takes great
    effort to make sure that everything
    is running properly. In addition,
    some say since a mashgiach has to
    go to places in a facility where there
    may be an issue of yichud it is not a
    practical idea. Furthermore, woman
    never served as mashgichos so we
    should not start a new “custom.”
    However, as mentioned above this
    is not the overwhelming custom in
    many places.