Section: Halacha   Category: Tshuvos
Rav Moshe Feinstein: When Woman Want To Perform Mens' Mitzvos
In 1976 Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC4:49) was asked by a Rov about his position on women of his kehila in Boston who were part of the feminist movement and wanted equality in Mitzvos with men.  Rav Moshe answered that surely women may keep all the mitzvos that men are obligated to perform (with the exception of Tefilin) and they can even make a bracha.  They even receive Schar for doing so.  In fact most women today listen to Shofar and shake the Lulav.  However this is only if they are motivated by a great desire to perform Hashem's mitzvos.

With regard to women who are part of a worldwide movement fighting to equate women with men in all areas in life, Rav Moshe says that the fight to perform mitzvos for this purpose is not only a not a mitzva but it is Kefira in Hashem and in His Torah.  The Torah was written by Hashem and its reasons are hidden from us.  Not only did Hashem exempt women from time bound mitzvos, but the Chachomim as well never made any takana obligating them, even in mitzvos that they themselves enacted.  Even if the reason on the surface changed with the times, nevertheless there is no Rav or Bais Din that has the power to change this today, so any battle fought against this principle is essentially a fight against the Torah.

Rav Moshe adds that to think that women somehow are considered less than men is great mistake.  We see by all matters of Kedusha in the Torah by Har Sinai and other places that women have the same standing as men.  In fact there were women Nevios and Shoftim that led Klal Yisroel.  Men are required to respect their wives no less then wives are required to respect their husbands.

The fact that women are exempt from learning Torah and performing certain mitzvos is because Hashem felt the need to be lenient with them and not because they have a lesser status than men.  One reason on the surface for the leniency for women is because the women (of every species) raise children as their entire makeup is more suited to it than men, leaving them less control over their time.  Even if this no longer applies and women can go work and hire someone else to raise the children, says Rav Moshe, we still cannot change the Torah.  Besides which says Rav Moshe, there is no greater or more important job in the eyes of Hashem and the Torah than raising children.

Important Note: We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. One should learn the tshuva to verify the accuracy of our interpretation.  Please also understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.