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After the miracle of the splitting of the sea, the entire Jewish people broke out into song. Moses led the men and Miriam led the women. What does this story teach us about separation of genders in Jewish tradition?

Separate Seating

Separate Seating

How to Study Torah - Beshalach

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Separate Seating: How to Study Torah - Beshalach

After the miracle of the splitting of the sea, the entire Jewish people broke out into song. Moses led the men and Miriam led the women. What does this story teach us about separation of genders in Jewish tradition?
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Women, Femininity & Feminism, Miriam, Song at the Sea, Beshalach
Rabbi Mendel Kaplan is the founder and spiritual leader of Chabad Flamingo in Thornhill, Ontario, he also serves as a Chaplain of the York Regional Police Service.
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Shymuel Fernando Ben-yah Republic of Cameroon January 25, 2013

THANKS I just want to thank the Hashem for the knowledge I have acquired through the senior Rabbi Kaplan...keep it up!!! Reply

Anonymous February 10, 2012

Joy i have been to Sahbbats in many different countries. I remember one Erev Shabbat and the only singing was done by the mens' choir. Great choir, but i felt that it was entertainment. Maybe you get used to it. Doesn't resonate with me. There wasn't much alternative in this city. It's an old European city. I guess that the tradition came along somewhere along the line and it got maintained. It might be entertaining the first time. All i felt was exclusion. That choir was standing in the way of my Shabbat with Hashem. What this has to do with the article is the concept of exclusion. Intended or not, men have tended to take the moral high ground in worship. It's a false sense. It's a false sense that women would impede mens' worship. Mencan learn to cook and to look after children. Women can do just as well in the workforce, be the bread winner, and conduct religious services.
Come to think of it, it might be women who are standing in the way. Either way, it reflects jealousy. Reply

Anonymous February 10, 2012

Why Separate ?- Feb 9, 2012 You are right Jan. Besides, most men praying are not into it all that deeply..Most, not all, are a bit bored, and it is the social contact more than anything else that brings them to a shul. Women are easily more attractive than prayer.

i am a male. Separating the sexes in the mikvah i get. Separating in shul, i don't get. As long as the debate continues G-d is happy. Any constructive Torah debate/study makes Him smile. Reply

Jan Schulman Oxnard, CA February 9, 2012

why separate? this is something that i cannot understand and never will. if the men are so easily distracted by women that they cannot concentrate on their prayers, then what are their prayers worth? how devoted are they? G-d created BOTH men and women, so why should they be separated when the come to pray? i have heard so many 'reasons' given over the years and not one of them has made any sense to me. I cannot see how this serves Judaism in any way. I have been, am, and remain opposed to this practice. Reply

Rabbi Mendel Kaplan Thornhill, Ontario February 8, 2012

The Mitzvah of Shabbat! Read those verses carefully again. They are a commandment to the people eating the manna rather than the actual (eternal) commandment of keeping the Shabbat.

The mitzvah of Shabbat is one of what is called "the 10 Commandments," obviously given at Mount Sinai.

Furthermore see midrash Tanchuma Yashan 3 which states clearly that a mitzvah communication/prophecy was "given in Egypt, FOLLOWED directly by G-d speaking to Moses at Sinai."

There is much more to say, but this should suffice… Reply

Rabbi Mendel Kaplan Thornhill, Ontario February 8, 2012

mechitzah? I am not aware of any authoritative discussion regarding that detail. It should be noted that by the cut and dry of the Halacha a mechitzah is only legally mandated in a formal house of prayer etc. needless to say the seashore would not qualify… However, we are certain that proper tzniut was observed. Hope that helps… Reply

Anonymous February 3, 2012

wish I wish i had 45 minutes to hear your sermon, I have always been interested in equal rights for women in very aspect of Torah.. It is fine that Moses led the men in singing the Song At The Sea. Miriam led the women. The women brought out drums and tambourines and sang and danced. Both genders served G-d equally. Both genders have equal leadership abilities in all aspects of Judaism.

I am a male. If anybody is going to save the world from catastrophe, it will not be the men. History has shown how incapable they are to love their fellow man.

In Israel, a new Orthodox group, Hillel something has been established. It has 140 rabbis. It was just formed by Orthodox Jews, men and women alike and with equal powers, in response not only to the Haredi men, but also against the extremist men emerging in their own ranks.

Hope that these comments are appropriate to your sermon. Reply

cydank melbourne, australia February 2, 2012

did the women have a mechitzah I always wondered whether the Miriam and the women had a mechitzah when they sang and danced shira. Rabbi Kaplan, do any commentators discuss this? Reply

Jerry Elgin, Il February 2, 2012

The Mitzvah of the Sabbath last week you stated the in "Bo the first two Mitzvah were given and the rest came at Sinai. However, The Mitzvah of the sabbath was given here in "B'shalach.

And Moses said: 'Eat that today; for today is a Sabbath unto the LORD; today you shall not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.' 27 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that there went out some of the people to gather, and they found none. 28 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'How long will you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? 29 See that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide you every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.' 30 So the people rested on the seventh day. Reply

Frida Mandelblum Winkler Milwaukee, Wisconsin February 1, 2012

this weeks Parasha b'h
very interesting discussion tittle as well as the development of a different meaning of this. Unfortunatly, still are groups of man and woman who feel that there is such thing as :ínferiority" all around the world and in Israel.
Once again, many thanks for this diferent view as in others one that allows me to comment at Rav. Isroel Schmotkin and proudly said: "you spend some time in Milwaukee". Shalom u'Beracha. Reply

Anonymous Mesa, Arizona, USA February 1, 2012

Separate Seating Dear Rabbi Kaplan,
This is the second time I watch and listen to your teaching. How wonderful it is to see a brother love Hashem, blessed be He, as much as I love Him. I love to see how respectful you are towards Torah, the Book, when you kiss it as it fell down on the floor. This is a fantastic teaching!!! As a woman, May Hashem keep blessing all the Rabbi at Chabad as well as their families. Because of your devotion, as well as for others, May Mashiach come soon. Your teachings today are Truth from the Glorious G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Yaacob. Thank you so much. Reply

Rabbi Mendel Kaplan Thornhill, Ontario February 1, 2012

Treatment of Women... Just want to make it clear that was not advocating for anybody's being expelled etc. rather, my intention was to attempt to shatter the prenicious myth that the "Torah is chauvinistic." Reply

Prof. Dr. Jonathan Halevy Ph.D. M.Sc. Geneva, Switzerland January 29, 2012

Treating women as second class I have always considered the treatment fo women by orthodox jews and even haredi jews an abomination and recent actions by the haredi population in siarel is despicable. This low life crowd should be expelled from israel. Reply

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