Hi, I was just your typical 19 year old Seminary girl in South Jersey (if you don't know where I mean, you are probably on the wrong blog). We all have nisoynos, challenges, and experiences, both positive and negative. Here is where I have decided to share some of them.

Location: Lakewood, New Jersey, United States

Monday, December 29, 2008


One of my biggest peeves with Lakewood and Right Wing Orthodox soceity in general, is the abysmal, lacadaisical atitude towards learning for women.

The famous principle of 'Col Hamalamud Es Bito Torah..Kiilu Melamed Es Tiflus" is grossly distorted and m,isunderstood to mean that women are proscribed from any intellectual Jewish experience. Sure, there is some form of diluted Jewish studies in school from K-8 , and even Semilnary, if your very lucky. Although, now it seems thats many individuals are starting to feel that even Seminary is an extravagent luxury. The economy is in the doldrums, so why should so much money be wasted on mere girls.

But, this is all basically, just 'school' . It isnt an intellectual rel-ship with our beautiful and rich heritge. Part of it is human nature. If you give any group or soceity be they be men, women, blacks, whites, or Aluetian eskimos, permission not to learn, the basic desire to be lazy will kick in. Then you add to that, a social undercurrent and philosphy, that says its not only permissible for women not to learn, but even laudatory if she doesnt. Obviously, what you will get is a community of young girls and women who are totally shallow, self-absorbed, materialistic, and devoid of spirituality and enthusiasm for yiddishkeit. Then so many Rebbetzins and Rabbonim, bemoan the fact that many girls are chasing after Fresnch designers who are the antithesis of our culture and values, and wearing very immodest outfits and styles. Gee!!!, I wonder why... Their solution: more inane sppeches, regurgitating the same guidelines we have all had shoved down our throat since we were little from childish pamplets.

Good luck with that. Thats like, using cremes and ointments for a severe rash, when a powerful antbiotic taking orally is required. Actually, I am amazed that so many women keep any degree of tznius, considering how spiritually malnourished they are.

Recently, I went to a 'shiur' that probably should of been called a social get-together or 'girls-nite-out' . I have a good mind to sue them for fraudelent advertising. A very prominent Lakewood Rebbitzen, was giving a lecture and asking us for topics to talk about. When, I mentioned, 'How about Mesilas Yesharim', she said, "we arent going to sink our teetth into that..What does that mean exactly?? I would really like to know. Instead she decided to put on a heimishe version of the Martha Stewart show... ITS (NOT) A GOOD THING...

Rav Yosha Ber Soloveitchek (affecctionately known as the Rov), said thst in our times, women should learn all forms of Torah. I realize thats a very controversial opinion, but I also refuse to believe that there is anyone walking the streets of Lakewood that comes up to the Rov's toenails in Torah knowledge and genius.

Even, in basic Tanach and Halacha, the Shulchan Aruch HaRav wriiten by the the Baal HaTanya says that if a man learned everything a women should learn, he would be
called HaRav HaGaon.

Reb Chaim Brisker writes that a person who doesnt know the 13 Cardinal Principles of our faith (Yud Gimmel Ikkarim), is an apikorus, because, 'a nebach apikorus is also an apikorus' .If you dont review the basic elements of Yahdus, daily, you wont know them, its that simple.

I was never a conspiracy-theorist, but I'm really starting to feel that this all a brilliantly diabolical scheme on the part of the powers that be and the old boys network, to intentionally keep the women ignorant. This has been in every totalitarian system throughout history, from ancient Greece and Rome, to the surfdoms of medieval europe, to the old pre-Civil War south to many 3rd countries today. You keep one segment of the population ignorant so they can be overworked and exploited and support the comfortable lifestyle of the other segment.

Obviously, you can use the old ruthless methods of the old South. So you devise a more cunning plan. You make very exquisite women's events that are all show and no substance. Have very fancy nouveaux cuisine food served, along with frivolous airhead sppeches that talk about the wonderful Nashim Tzidkonius who support their husbands in Yeshiva, as well as, keeping BMG Inc..'s bottom line healthy before they need a bail-out too. If too many women started to seriously learn what they are allowed to according to all opinions, there might be a collective, "Wait just a second, we want to be cut in for a bigger piece of the action". Then the syndicate would be in serious trouble.

Ironically, when I discuss this with other ladies, they are more outraged and offended by my feelings and thoughts then the men are. Some of said, I am too busy with my children to think of such nonsense.. Or I dont worry about that, thats why I have a happier life then you. Translation : 'Dem der nigger just dont know his place' .

This truely saddens me, because Yiddishkeit is so rich and beautiful. The more I learn online, the more angry and disgusted I become with ORGANIZED IGNORANCE...


Blogger AmIaFrumFeminist said...

You know, it might not be such a conspiracy theory after all, albeit a subconscious one. Like you say, there are sources out there that promote learning for women but the community chooses to ignore them. Maybe this choice to ignore is where the conspiracy comes in, with a community scared to allow its women to learn because they're afraid of the consequences.

12/30/2008 4:03 AM  
Blogger NotaGeek! said...

The girls don't have it that bad compared to boys.
Who post elementary get zero secular education...
That turns a lot of them into ignorant, uneducated, and illiterate BMG bench warmers and coffee drinkers.

12/30/2008 2:18 PM  
Blogger AmIaFrumFeminist said...

Forgive my ignorance but what does "BMG" stand for?

12/30/2008 7:12 PM  
Blogger SemGirl said...


Beis Medrash Gevoha..

12/30/2008 8:10 PM  
Blogger Rabbi Lars Shalom said...

love this!

1/03/2009 9:15 AM  
Blogger chanie said...

I think I should learn smicha after I finish my degree....

1/03/2009 6:04 PM  
Blogger Shmuel Grainom said...

are you happier now that you know more?
where your questions ever stifled?

1/04/2009 1:24 PM  
Blogger SemGirl said...

Chani...Sounds like a plan..

DG..definitely. ..questions, what questions, in HS, you dont ask too many questions or you will labeled 'controversial' ..

1/04/2009 2:57 PM  
Blogger Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver said...

The Lubavitcher Rebbe was a very strong advocate of women learning Torah, including Pnimiyus HaTorah.

1/05/2009 10:02 AM  
Blogger SemGirl said...

Rabbi YO... Thanks for commenting. I am well aware of that, I have a number of close Chabad friends. I also have attended a lot of Chabad shiurim over the years.

I would say, that Lubavitch, is probably one of the only Rt Wing Orthodox groups, where women can partake of the richness of Judaism as much as the men ..

1/05/2009 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, lubavitch has started to take off in lakewood!

do they have a womens tanya shiur yet?

1/05/2009 1:12 PM  
Blogger AmIaFrumFeminist said...

Chanie - I'm with you. Let's learn smicha. Though there's no question that frum guys resent women who know halacha. I had a situation a Shabbos or two ago with that... Maybe I'll blog about it later.

Semgirl - You are SO right about being labeled controversial if you ask the wrong questions in high school. Woah. It was serious stuff.

1/05/2009 9:56 PM  
Blogger kak said...

Wow, I don't know about your community as I have never been there, but perhaps you need a change of atmosphere to a more stimulating one. Ever thought of that? Where I live, we women go to a gemara shiur every day, halacha and parsha shiurim every week, and everything (class-wise) that is afforded the men is afforded the women as well. And this is a completely Orthodox (right-wing, if you will) community. I never even thought of it as a privilege, and therefore I have not considered my thirst for knowledge to be something unusual...

1/11/2009 10:40 PM  
Blogger kisarita said...


1/16/2009 7:50 AM  
Blogger kisarita said...

not a geek

you're right! educationally, the boys have it worse by far. But, they are indoctrinated that their education is superior, that they themselves our intrinsically superior. I suppose that's what keeps them in line- who would not want to continue to be superior?

On the other hand, the girls are indoctrinated just the opposite way- indoctrinated as to their inferiority. ultimately i believe that is more damaging, though both are bad.

1/16/2009 8:41 AM  
Blogger SemGirl said...


you have a very fascinating blog. What happened to the post 'whats wrong with Malky' .

You are right on the money, about girls being taught to feel inferior. A while back I ate by someone for Shabbos, and one of the daughters, who is currently in 12th grade in of the wonderful local high schools, was passionately trying to convince me why she really is inferior to boys.. I just thought nebach, poor girl..

Whats next, have them sell flowers in the airport, wearing long white robes..

1/16/2009 12:21 PM  
Blogger kisarita said...

i fixed the link, try again

1/17/2009 9:13 PM  
Blogger Ariella said...

It's not about being "inferior" or "uneducated" or "organized ignorance". As a girl who went to a more liberal high school and seminary, and who is now happily married, I have to say this (and I think I speak for many, many Orthodox women out there): I don't care. I hate learning Gemara. I think it's boring, winding, confusing, and not intellectually stimulating. I had my fill of Chumash, Navi, and Tehillim in high school and seminary and while it was wonderful and spiritually uplifting at the time, it has no place in my life right now. What gives me spiritual fulfillment is a role that comes naturally to me as a woman: as a wife, and iy"h, soon to be mother. I get a huge amount of pleasure in having guests for large, delicious Shabbos meals; seeing my husband getting up for minyan on time and spending the day learning; taking care of my home with sometimes frustrating chores that in the end, are all worthwhile, when I know that I'm creating a comfortable, clean, Jewish atmosphere to bring a family into.

I never, ever feel inferior to men. "Separate but equal" is the motto I live by. Men and women are interested in different things; this has never been clearer to me than after I got married. The occasional shiur and class is enough for me - and if I wanted to, I have access to more. I never feel like I'm being kept purposeful ignorant of important halachos. I know enough about kashurus for my everyday life, and if I have a question, my husband and I would ask a Rav anyway, a man far more learned than both of us.

I work, my husband is starting med school - we're not a kollel family by any stretch. I'm not a "brainwashed frummie". Men and women have different interets and ways of looking at things and it manifests itself in Torah as well.

And as for the whole tznius/airhead argument for women, I think it depends largely on upbringing, specific communities, and personality. I know many superficial so-called "educated girls" who attend shiurim all the time, and many more down-to-earth women who get their spiritual fulfillment through traditional womanly means.

1/20/2009 4:32 PM  
Blogger Dina said...

Ariella, your missing the point. If you choose not to learn gemorrah thats your choice and an entirely different conversation. I think what semgirl is saying is that each woman should be free to make that choice for herself without having to worry about social sanctions. Woman should be given the educational and idealogical tools to make that choice for themselves.
I also think what she is saying is that "organized ignorance" creats shallow and superficial women. Yes, there are shallow and superficial ppl elsewhere, but that too is a different conversation.
Being a wife and a mother can be wonderful thing. Once again that doesn't conflict with learning. In fact learning can make us better wives and mothers.
Finally, we are not talking about individual interests. We're talking about the chioces that are available to women.
Much nachas to you and your family.

1/21/2009 10:57 AM  
Blogger SemGirl said...

Thanks for your elucidating comment, Dina.

Maybe its just two opposite ideologies or haskofos. Im not really sure.

Often, I hear from very well meaning serious yeshivish-collel women, that its priority number one to build your home and raise your family. And learning for women after Seminary, is viewed as luxury or frivolous pursuit, like ceramics or oil painting.

Whereas, in all the Chabad books I read, and Lubavitch women I spoke to, learning for women of all ages is crucially essential to build your home and raise your family. Its sort of like saying, I need to construct a house, and have no time to make a foundation or acquire bricks.

1/22/2009 9:56 AM  
Blogger AmIaFrumFeminist said...

Your house construction analogy is very apt. Thank you.

1/22/2009 4:42 PM  
Blogger kisarita said...

it is very nice that you do not feel inferior. but do I detect a note that you believe that your domestic, non-intellectual personality in actuality makes you superior to the rest of us?

1/25/2009 11:36 AM  
Blogger Rabbi Lars Shalom said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/25/2009 2:16 PM  
Blogger twinkle said...

You have to know:
There seems to be much intellectual laziness, in men and in women.

While the intellectual laziness is beaten out of boys with the leash, they are fed Torah till they choke, lazy women are encouraged to persevere in their path.

I suppose that only a minority of men and women WANT intellectual activity.

So of course you hurt the feelings of the intellectually lazy ladies, who are so comfortable with the current situation, if you suggest that they should learn more.

Only a minority wants to learn.
Hence: Women are favoured over men, because at least they are not forece to learn when they do not want to.

1/26/2009 9:36 AM  
Blogger SemGirl said...

Ariella....Me doth thinketh thou protestesth too much.. are partially right...except knowledge is POWER... And thats exactly what the board of directors of BMG Inc... dont want us to have.. they need us to keep the men in Collel.

Kisarita..You are on the money..

1/26/2009 11:13 AM  
Blogger Zadok said...


Here are some questions for you.Being that you are such a Talmid Chocom and so passionate about women learning, can you please show us through the standard chain of Psak (Gemorah>Rishonim>Shulcan Arach>Halacah L'Maaseh) why it is correct for women to learn Torah S'Baal Peh?And if you want quote RYBS like you did in this post, please explain to me what his P'sak (1)is based on (2)why anyone living in Lakewood is required to follow -or even may rely on- this unwritten psak of his, that even his most respected Talmidim (e.g. Rav hersel Schacter) don't agree with.

Next question.Assumng you are so upset that they don't teach Mesilas Yesarim at women's Shuir.First we will take his known statement that one's every action must be done L'Shem Shmoyim.Do you live by this principle?(I know many uneducated Lakewood women who seem to)How would you reconcile this principle with hocking on blogs full of hatred for Torah and those who keep it???

1/27/2009 3:31 PM  
Blogger SemGirl said...

Tzadok (at least in screen-name..)

First off, I never claimed to be a Talmid Chochom, so Im going to assume that you are being facetious.

I am not familiar enough with the psakim of the Rav to discuss them, intelligently. However, at least a dozen respectable Rabbis of Orthodox congregations across this wonderful country, have told me, that buying and reading Art Scroll Gammarras is not a violation of a 'father teaching Torah Shel Baal Peh to his daughter' in any way, shape, or form.. But you are most welcome to share your opinion on this.

"I know many uneducated Lakewood women who seem to"

"Seem to ", is the apropo word here. As, I know many more women online and in person, then you do. Or at least I would imagine I do, lol.. I have yet to meet one that genuinely conforms to your illusion. If I am introduced to one, I will be very happy to be wrong on this point. Thus far, I have noticed that worst-case scenario, they talk a lot of apikorsus and kefira; best-case scenario, they are only interested in discussing, who got engaged, an amatuer high school play, what type of hosiery to buy, what to make for dinner or what color their new drapes will be. For, the most part, nice, well-meaning women, but not a role-model for Jewish values, by any stretch of the imagination.

'hocking on blogs full of hatred for Torah and those who keep it???'

I do not condone or agree with the discussions on these blogs at all, and try to defend the honor of the Torah whenever I can. Howewver, just keep giving girls an abysmal, watered down, pathetic Jewish education, that is no way commensurate with the ever-increasingly secular education that they need to attain in order to survive and support their familiers in the 21st century, and these anti-Torah blogs and attitudes will only proliferate.

Its not rocket-science, we dont live in the shtetl anymore, and both men and women who go out to a vewry alien, anti-religious workplace need to be fortified with the knowledge of our holy Torah...

1/28/2009 12:38 PM  
Blogger Zadok said...

I am not familiar enough with the psakim of the Rav to discuss them, intelligently.
So please don't quote them in an attempt to convince us of something.
buying and reading Art Scroll Gammarras is not a violation of a 'father teaching Torah Shel Baal Peh to his daughter' in any way,
And I can find you even more respected Rabbis who will tell you otherwise.And they won't do so anonymously.In either case it would depend on your motives...
they talk a lot of apikorsus and kefira;
Really? I didn't know they were smart enough for that.You are delusioned if you think a Lakewood women is more likely to be talking Apikorsis then a (e.g.)educated UWS one.And I wouldn't cholila accuse a UWS women of talking kefira either.Even for the blog world your claim is going overboard.
I do not condone or agree with the discussions on these blogs at all

So please keep away from them!!!

we dont live in the shtetl anymore,
Classic blog party line comment.One other thing I always see in the blogworld is that the people making such comments are usually much more negitivly influenced by the secular world then those those they critcise for not having the tools to deal with it.
I will end by saying if you really want to learn Mesilas Yesarim,Please do...But live by it.Do you think the RAMCHAL would of written a heading 'Organized Ignorance?Accused Rabbonim of acting in a consiparacy against women?Do you think RYBS would have acted like that?etc.
Be well.I will not respond further on this thread.

1/28/2009 4:30 PM  
Blogger yoni said...


what about beruria?

or what about any of the other learned women in our history? the sages seemed to have no problem with her learning.

what about the statement of the baal hatanya that if a man were to learn all that a woman may learn he would have very legitimate reason to be proud of himself? (last halacha in the first perek of hilchos talmud torah.)

2/02/2009 7:33 PM  
Blogger Dina said...

"Ein am ha'aretz hasid" - how about that? It really shocks me that, in certain communities, female ignorance is actually encouraged and held up to as a positive example; as if intellectual activity somehow detracts from one's femininity. A lot of it appears to me to stem from male insecurity, which I have no patience for - who ever gave a darn about women feeling inferior?

- Not the same Dina as above (thought I agree with her too!)

2/11/2009 2:53 PM  
Blogger SemGirl said...

Thanks for your comments and input..

Welcome to the blog..DinaII..

2/13/2009 7:56 AM  
Blogger brianna said...

Thank you for finally saying this outright. I have friends who moved to Lakewood. These aren't the dummies, mind you. They are intelligent but very idealistic young women. They are still into learning, growing etc but they are already busy - they commute to their jobs so that their husbands can learn at BMG Inc (brilliant thing to call that yeshiva by the way). And once the babies come along, they will have less and less time for themselves. And if they're not careful, they'll turn into completely empty headed people. Bravo for knowing what's going on despite the fact that you are in middle of the battle. Your mind is still free.

2/24/2009 8:09 PM  
Blogger SemGirl said...

Thanks, Bri..Im happy to see you still read my blog!!

2/25/2009 11:44 PM  
Blogger Avi said...

Hmmm, I'm glad I added this blog to my google reader!! This way I can come back and say something intelligent unlike most of what mr. Zadok said lol. Gotta love the close-minded people though ;). Hopefully I'll get back to this soon. But a fascinating read regardless!

3/22/2009 8:30 AM  
Blogger harry-er than them all said...

"The famous principle of 'Col Hamalamud Es Bito Torah..Kiilu Melamed Es Tiflus" is grossly distorted and m,isunderstood to mean that women are proscribed from any intellectual Jewish experience."

There are those that understand that line in the mishna in the context of the greater mishna. (sotah 3,4) Ben zoma said "it is a duty of a father to teach his daughter torah, so that if she drinks and doesn't die, she should know that it is her other zechusim keeping her alive(zechus tolah)" and R' Eliezer argues...

R' Eliezer was saying something that a women shouldn't be lewd and think that g-d won't punish me. he was saying it in a way that would protect society and morality. for if you only end up teaching her that halacha (zechus tolah), it is kiilu melamed es tiflus.

But then again, it is a form of societal control. ignorance really IS bliss.

4/13/2009 1:23 PM  
Blogger Ariella said...

Kisarita, SemGirl:

This is frustrating. Once labeled with the "doth protest too much" cliche, I am basically trapped. Nothing I say will change your minds, anyway. Sad, really, that instead of arguing or discussing with me point by point, you decide I'm a smug, self-righteous married woman who values domesticity over all else.

So let's turn the tables a little here:

Bitter singles, much?

6/01/2009 4:45 PM  
Blogger cmbc said...

Im Lubab and I THANK G-d for it every day. I go to a prominent lubavitch all girls school where Chassidus is taught as well as nigleh. But not only do we learn in school, we are encouraged to go home and learn learn learn. To open up a sefer, a chitas, a Tanya, a Likkutei Sichos and just learn. I am forever proud and thankful :)

6/10/2009 1:13 AM  
Blogger kisarita said...

I hope you do not think you actually scored any debating points by that hurtful and prejudiced comment. Quite the opposite- by bringing your subtle condecension out into the open, you prove my point.
You also show that despite your declarations of how learning has no place in your life, perhaps you really do need to spend more time stuying. Especially some mussar seforim, chofetz chaim, and bein adam lachaveiro.

6/12/2009 7:26 PM  
Blogger SemGirl said...


All the power to you. In Israel, I made friends with some Chabad girls, and found that to be true, as well.

From my experiences in NY, and online research, that approach holds a lot of appeal for me. Unfortunately, whenever I discuss it in Lakewood, everyone tells me, that there is an absymal lack of tznius in the way Lub women dress. Maybe thats just a defense, I dont really know..

6/15/2009 11:04 PM  
Blogger kisarita said...

yeah, lubavich girls are known to wear tight clothes, but what does one thing have to do with the other?

6/21/2009 8:55 AM  
Blogger cmbc said...

yeah, I second that.

Where's the kesh?

6/23/2009 5:09 PM  
Blogger SemGirl said...

The pervailing feeling among almost all the girls/women I spoke to in the Lakewood camp, is that if the adherence to tznius in dress and conduct isnt 100%, then nothing elase matters. My thoughts on the matter are, that if you give the girls Torah, you are giving 'tochin' and, tznius, yiras shomayim, and everything else will develop.

If you have a bunch of superficial, shallow, ignorant girls, all the Talibanish tznius takanas will only make the problem worse..

7/09/2009 8:15 PM  
Blogger NotImportant said...

Saying that because some chabad girls dress in an improper manner, therefore you can't learn that which chabad promotes is like saying chabad guys shouldn't learn Gemara because there are litvish guys who do improper things. There are individuals from every community that do things they shouldn't, yet that alone isn't sufficient to disqualify the shitos of said communities. On a different note I am shocked that you can be labeled as 'controversial' just for asking questions. In chabad we're encouraged to ask about any issues we may have, no matter how heretical they may be. The Mashpia or Rosh Yeshiva will either answer in his own words or direct you to where you can find a satisfactory answer.(And from my experience there is an answer to everything in Chassidus)This is the only way to be completely at peace with your yiddishkeit and the world around you. In my humble opinion it's only really necessary for a girl/woman to learn Tanach, Halacha, and Hashkafa/Mussar/Chassidus. Trust me you won't really gain anything by learning a lot of Gemara. The intellect is stimulated at least as well by learning Chassidus, where additionally you're soul is stimulated in ways that Gemara can't even begin to. Guys learn Gemara because we have a chiyuv of knowing kol Ha'Torah kulah,whereas women do not.Lastly, remember what the Mishnah says about one who studies Torah purely for personal gain(e.g. to study Gemara just to get intellectual stimulation or to become a big Rabbi etc.)...

9/03/2009 1:11 AM  

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