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Do Orthodox Jews still say a blessing every morning thanking G-d for not making them a woman?

Do Orthodox Jews still say a blessing every morning thanking G-d for not making them a woman?


Along with you, I yearn for a time to come when this blessing will no longer be said.

A woman of valor is the crown of her husband, wrote King Solomon, and the chassidic masters give their interpretation: There will be a time when the feminine in this world will rise above the masculine, as a crown is placed above the head.

Of the very great tzaddikim, many had wives greater than themselves and daughters greater than their sons. So it was with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So it was with Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Meir. So it was with many great chassidic masters. This is because these righteous persons, in their personal lives, were already tasting of the World to Come.

In the world the rest of us live in, however, women continue to get the short end of the stick. Whatever women's emancipation gains on one hand seems to get taken away from the other. There are currently about four million female slaves worldwide -- 400,000 were sold last year in the U.S. One of the largest sectors of American society living beneath the poverty line is single mothers and their families. Working mothers almost always do more work at home than their working husbands. And when was the last time you heard a man ask someone to accompany him home at night for protection? It goes on and on.

This perception extends itself to our understanding of male and female roles in mitzvahs: Masculine performance is oriented to action and public performance, whereas the feminine role in Torah is an inner and pervasive one. Again, the highly tangible and visible male role is more valued in the current consciousness.

Why is our world this way? This is not just another injustice. It is a stage in humanity's development, a reflection of the state of the general human consciousness: We -- both men and women -- are stuck within the perception of the masculine role as superior and the feminine as inferior. Our behavior only reflects our perception.

What are the male and female roles? As with any concept, the best way for us to understand this is to examine it at its roots, as a cosmic principle.

G-d is neither male nor female. For the sake of creating a world, however, two complimentary forces were conceived and brought into play. The Torah gives them many names: In Genesis, "Heaven" and "Earth." In the Talmud, "The Holy One, blessed be He" and the "Divine Presence". In the Zohar, "The King" and "The Queen". In the language of Chabad Chassidism, "Transcendent" and "Immanent". Or: The power to create ad infinitum and the power to constrict that creative power to the limitations of a real world.

And so we have two modalities for G-d, of two genders: As the Creator who stands beyond, directing a world, G-d is He. As the Divine Presence (Shechinah) found within each thing, G-d is She. Two manifestations of a single essence. Just as your power to think and your power to articulate your thoughts are both equally expressions of your single mind.

When the world was first brought into being, a goal was set: That it will begin as a duality, where G-d and His world appear distinctly apart from each other -- and then eventually achieve a higher union. Gradually, the true nature of the creation would become clear and the Divinity within it would be revealed. Heaven and Earth, the King and the Queen, the transcendent light and the immanent, would unite.

All things begin in Torah, since Torah contains the inner soul of creation, and Torah is the dynamo behind this transition in the world. In Torah, too, there is a male and a female voice: The Written Torah (the Bible) and the Oral Tradition (Talmud and all classic Torah teachings). The Written Torah speaks with the voice of transcendence and authority -- a voice that cannot be challenged or altered. Not even a single letter can be added, nor taken away. The Oral Tradition is quite the opposite: Constant dialog and growth, rethinking and re-application of ideas according to the situations that arise at each point in time.

The written Torah and the oral tradition are both Torah. Both G-d's voice. One voice speaking from Above. One speaking through us. Both work in tandem to create the Judaism we know -- a Judaism that adapts to every situation without inherent change, renews itself with ever-fresh vigor while remaining constant and eternal, a stunning balance of the heavenly and the earthly, the temporal and the timeless. Only that the second aspect of Torah, the female, emerges incrementally with time until it finally attains dominance with the Torah that Moshiach will teach. As the Midrash says, "The Torah we learn now is hevel (vanity, hot air) compared to the Torah of Moshiach."

Every aspect of the creation reflects this duet -- in every thing there is both male and female. Including humankind. Only that in our world, a world where all things integrate with one another, blending and sharing and balancing one another, there are no absolutes. In everything that is male, there is at least a small bit of female. In everything female, there is some of it that is male. When it comes to human beings, we seem 90% the same stuff -- two arms, two legs, most of our mind and heart the same, some more, some less. In fact, the first human being was originally created as a single whole -- only later to be divided. But the difference is something to celebrate, something Divine.

As with the general scheme of the cosmos, so with man and woman and the human consciousness. The history of humankind can be seen this way: A transition from male to female values, from authority to dialogue, from dominance to persuasion, from control to nurture.

But we're not there yet. And the best evidence is that we do not have the power, according to Halachah, to change this blessing. It was accepted by the ancient Jewish Parliament (the Sanhedrin) as a way for the Jewish male to express his thankfulness for having been given the more assertive, aggressive role in the fulfillment of mitzvot -- a role which, at that point in the spiritual history of Creation, was perceived even by women as greater than the more intimate and nurturing feminine role. According to Torah law, that blessing cannot be changed until another such Sanhedrin arises that is greater in wisdom and in number (see Maimonides, Book of Judges, Laws of Mumrim, Chapter 1). If it was time to change it, we would have the power to do so. My personal speculation is that when the world will have changed enough to warrant it, a Sanhedrin will arise that can change this blessing. The signs of the times show we are on our way. Women are studying Torah today as never before and values of power and control are waning before the feminine qualities of compassion and nurture. May the ultimate step for which Jews have always prayed be very soon.

For further elucidation on this point, please see The Lunar Files"

For further study on the feminine within Torah, see the Lubavitcher Rebbe's Likutei Sichot vol. 30, pages 9-15, and the sources cited there.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription.
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Discussion (121)
May 17, 2015
"We -- both men and women -- are stuck within the perception of the masculine role as superior and the feminine as inferior. Our behavior only reflects our perception." - Please speak for yourself.

March 19, 2015
I think it's that man should be thankful that he does not have to go through the months physical pain of a period and the mental anguish it brings. Also I think it is to be thankful for the fact that men do not have to go through the physical pain of going through child birth, and the mental sea saw that probably causes a women as she grew something within her and then has it leave. Men have got their pain no question, we have a need to ejaculate and to impregnate women, plus it takes more to keep our animal spirits from taking over, but a man can use that animal and turn it towards the mitzvahs so that's good. But in terms of physical pain, the actual labor of birthing a child is a woman's job, and that is a pain man will never know, and when she is not birthing a child she will have her period which will cause struggle, so there is really no way out for a woman. It's not a matter of a bad or good thing, I think it's a giving thanks for not having that type of pain sort of a prayer.
December 31, 2014
Accept with your gender as it's given to you
I thought that the meaning of this blessing is: be happy with your role and don't try to occupy the role of the other gender in any ways.
Arno Gorgels
November 19, 2014
Hope, where in the Torah does it say that any specific prayer has to be recited?
Paridell: Sorry but the anology doesnt stand. Where did the "sinister interloper" get the message from? Somehow outside of H-? On top of that, it DID invite retribution.
How do you understand Adam's motivation? Would you say that the man who is closer to Oneness than any being outside of H- needs anything? There has to be more to the story than "the woman made me do it".
Adam wasn't alone at this time, he had already had a problem with a mate in the past (not a conversation for now) and it ended terribly. He also had the snake (his helper at the time). Since procreation wasn't a mitzvah, and he already had Chava (albeit in the same body - just not separate from his own) he did not see the need to make that separation, and call that separation a mate, again especially since he already had one.This is why I brought up the order of verses showing Adam that mate's needed to be of the same species and seperate
November 8, 2014
'Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.
Daniel, a more appropriate analogy would be: if your father orders you not to do something, and you go ahead and do it because your girlfriend urges you to, herself at the urging of a sinister interloper, is your action going to please your father or invite retribution?

Retribution fell on Adam because he directly disobeyed his Father's command. What drink one might choose to serve one's mother, or the order of the verses in which the Genesis episode is recounted, don't appear to me to have much bearing either on Adam's motivation or on the outcome. Moreover, the argument that "His reasoning for blaming her was that he didn't need Chava to begin with" appears to me to be as dismissive to women as the original topic of this discussion, namely, the practice of giving thanks every day that one was not born a woman.

After all, who was it who said, “It is not good that the man should be alone"? It appears from your argument that He was mistaken!
November 4, 2014
Still ain't buyin' it...
Still sounds like a load of casuistry to me...finding all kinds of justification for a prayer that simply reflects the reality of gender separation in orthodox Judaism.

Where in the Torah does it say that this prayer must be recited?
October 30, 2014
If your mother asks you for water, but you know that she likes orange juice more, and you bring her orange juice, are you going against her wishes? On one hand you are, and on the other you're trying to do more than what she asked for. Adam did the same thing. His reasoning for doing it, while punished immediately for it by seeing his nakedness, was still to get closer to his Creator. Many other people through history have tried this same path, and failed miserably (Rasputin immediately comes to mind).
His reasoning for blaming her was that he didn't need Chava to begin with. This is why in the order of verses it says first that Adam is told he needs a mate, then he names all the animals (that come in pairs - besides the snake) and then he is given Chava. He needed to see that all mates look like each other and that his current mate was not of his own kind. Thus beginning the downward spiral with the snake. We often find, especially today, that what we need, is not always what we want.
October 3, 2014
Was Adam devious?
Daniel, if "Adam knowingly sinned with the intention of getting closer to The Boss through repentance," this would surely compound the offence. It suggests deviousness on his part. But deviousness is a quality that Genesis attributes only to the serpent.

Adam says simply, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." If anything, this might be seen as a little too truthful, to the point of being ungallant. He could have done the decent thing and taken all the blame upon himself. But then, he was talking to the Eternal. He knew that He knew!

There's nothing in the text that I can see to suggest that Adam was anticipating "the fortunate Fall". Milton proclaimed it, but that of course was with the benefit of considerable hindsight.
August 26, 2014
MAN and WoMAN are made in His image
Men aren't better - they're different. Women aren't better - they're different.

G-d is ALL and One. S/He made us all -- 'Man' being the opposite of other animals.

I still like my idea that men know they are not able to do all that women do - and, therefore, are thankful for not being given that difficult blessing.

Seems to me that all else is commentary.
Meira Shana
San Diego
August 26, 2014
To Hope: What is clear in one generation is rarely clear to the next. This is why Rashi, the Rambam, the Talmud etc. not only exist but are revered in our religion. Taking "an eye for an eye" at face value is morally and ethically against the Torah, yet it is a word for word translation. Without understanding what is written people can very easily be led astray and that is why true Rabbis are held in such high regard.
To Paridell: The biggest lost concept with many Jews, even Torah Jews is the importance of the struggle. This is not a new concept, it is actually the oldest concept in Torah originating with the sin of Adam. Adam knowingly sinned with the intention of getting closer to The Boss through repentance. christianity was formed by people who didn't want to struggle and false prophets like rasputin got lost in the sinning, and only realized the importance of repentance before it was too late.