A manual of Jewish belief (a guide to real Judaism) for the thinking individual.
Copyright © 1977 by R' Avi Shafran
[Web Page Last Revised: Monday, January 31, 2005 08:41 AM ]
Chapter 19. Women in Judaism
Real Judaism's attitude toward women is that they are different than men. Quite a sane approach at that.
What we explained in chapter 17 in regard to non-Jews applies here as well. Women have their own purpose. They are not the equals of men, as the women's libbers would have us believe, neither in the good qualities of men nor in their bad ones (though some women's libbers themselves often make one wonder). That is, not necessarily so. Biological differences are only outward representations of an inner distinction, a special dissimilitude of a much deeper nature.
Women, being different, have different obligations, fewer than Jewish men, more than non-Jews.
Realistically speaking, corny as it may sound, the woman is the pillar of the Real Jewish home and the guiding educational force of all Jewish children, which sort of puts the future of the entire Jewish people in her hands.
Returning to our original point, spiritually women are different. How, once again, is difficult to say. One of the few good hints lies in what the Talmud states about the female intellect. In what is more a comment on the woman's emotional nature and outlook rather than her intelligence, the Talmud says, "women are lighthearted" (I've attempted a fairly accurate translation. It isn't easy).
It is worthwhile to point out that no psychologist entertains, even momentarily, the notion that men's minds and women's function the same way. There are clear differences between a woman's psychology and that of a man. If this were not so, there would not be volumes written on the subject of "feminine psychology". There is even research going on investigating physiological differences between the sexes on a neurological level, surmising that such differences may have psychological bases.
Another important point to keep in mind is that all major concepts in Judaism are generalities, which have exceptions. There may be men who think more like women, and vice versa. All the Talmud is saying is that the more of a woman a woman is, the more pronounced will be these characteristics.
This comment should not be attacked for it does not insult women any more than G~d's calling the Jews "stubborn" or "rebellious" insults the Jewish nation or detracts from His love of us. It is merely a statement of fact, though exactly what that fact is must be explained in detail by a learned talmudic mind.
I suppose it should, be mentioned that every Real Jew says, in his morning blessings, "Blessed are You, G~d, who has not made me a woman".
Now ladies, if you'll stop screaming so loudly I will explain what this means.
This blessing is no more than a thanks to G~d for making us men, who have more commandments, and hence ways through which to please G~d, than do women. Women, instead, say the blessing, "...who has made me according to His will", namely, something just as special, but different, something with less to fulfill on earth. Both Jewish men and women say the blessing, "...who has not made me a non-Jew" for exactly the same reason, since non-Jews have less to fulfill, though, as we have emphasized, they simply have their own mission and purpose in life.
As regards the much frowned-upon-by-stupid-moderns Real Jewish custom of seating men and women separately at services and gatherings, practiced by all Real Jewish synagogues, let us close the subject as abruptly as we opened it, by saying that this custom was instituted as a guard against the men's short-comings and, if anything, it is a compliment to women, as regards their remarkable ability for distracting menfolk. The separation of sexes at Jewish gatherings is for this reason only and in no way constitutes any type of segregation of inferiors, as liberal Jewish movements misleadingly announced before they abolished this custom in their [idolatrous] temples.
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