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In this first class in a series on women’s roles in Judaism, we analyze the blessing that men recite daily thanking G‑d “for not making me a woman.” How are we to understand the seemingly derogatory implications of this blessing?

What’s Wrong with Being a Woman?

What’s Wrong with Being a Woman?

Women in Jewish Religious Life

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What's Wrong with Being a Woman?: Women in Jewish Religious Life

In this first class in a series on women’s roles in Judaism, we analyze the blessing that men recite daily thanking G‑d “for not making me a woman.” How are we to understand the seemingly derogatory implications of this blessing?
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Women, Femininity & Feminism, Women's mitzvot, Men & Women
Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin is the official Chabad emissary to downtown Brooklyn, rabbi of Congregation B’nai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights, New York and Dean of Brooklyn Heights Jewish Academy. He is the author of the books “Thank You God for Making Me a Woman", "Letters of Light", "By Divine Design", and "Guardian of Israel", and the co-author of "The Rabbi & The CEO".
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Rabbi Aaron L.Raskin Bklyn hts August 14, 2017

Check out the new book based on this lecture called.
Thank you G-d for making me a woman Reply

Rose Dembo Mercer Island August 21, 2017
in response to Rabbi Aaron L.Raskin:

Link please. Reply

Feigele St Johns FL August 9, 2017

Of course NOT! they are both on a different dimension and it's up to them to get together in order to reach agreements for peace and love. Together they make a perfect combination of power and strength - so that no one is superior than the other - some time one is stronger or weaker than the other under oppression but that's not the generality. Reply

Ruth August 2, 2017

It never occurred to me that women were "less" than men. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton FL May 13, 2015

Equality of Different Genders My comments apply to old times, centuries ago, not to today’s times. For years women had to be quiet not expressing themselves but absorbing all around them and learning as much as men. Of course, all what you’re mentioning relates to today’s women. Years, long, ago, women were more fragile and submissive, thus, leading to the Women’s Lib. It is true teen girls grow and learn faster than their counterpart males, but then males catch up later on. If we both would accept each other values, we would not try to overpower one another. We are not equal, which makes it even more exciting to discover each other possibilities and learn from it, thus becoming together superior humans. No need to try to prove oneself, just ride alongside with respect and love for each other to avoid any conflicts of superiority or inferiority. Today, most cooks are men and good ones while women participate more in sports. Why not enjoy all that is display in front of us no matter the gender. Reply

Rose Dembo MERCER ISLAND via chabad.org August 9, 2017
in response to Feigele:

Sorry, nope. Women long ago were fragile? Really? Women long ago worked harder than you can imagine, gave birth in unsanitary conditions, had too many children in too short a time, married too young. Women are not the weaker sex. Women are not by nature submissive.
Women and men are different but totally equal. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma May 13, 2015

woman I think it's clear, always has been, that the receptive element in life, the container for that life, woman, is also for womb-man, and you hear this when you way the word, if you are me. The aural connectivity is fascinating, and I am walking through Babel. The word fascinating itself has within the word fasten, as in what we attach ourselves to, and this reflects fascinating. A child naturally attaches, to what is loving that child. We just left mother's day behind, and yet, every day is actually mother's day, and earth herself has something to say about this, as she, earth, flowers, abundance, what we harvest, and it's the big table all the way, and what we table, and accept, and reap, and sow, and harvest. Just sow stories. Babel is a gate. We have that spring, the babbling stream, water, Mayim. And I have to capitalize because the computer spells maxim unless I do so. Rules. It's May, the month; and there is dismay, in our lives, as in terrible sorrows. Shall pass. Shalom. Shallom. Reply

Isaac Brooklyn May 12, 2015

Men v women. Who is more superior? Physically, in strength, many Women can hold their own, but when it comes to childbirth, there are no Men that can accomplish this feat. Women on average live longer than men.
Overall, physically, which are really the stronger.

Mentally & intellectually, Girls learn more, are smarter and more mature at a younger age than boys. Most Women handle stress better than most Men. When it comes to College performance, Women are leaving Men in the dust. Speaking of intellectual superiority.

But the issue is not which are more superior, but rather "who is to say"?
How can Man know what Women as a whole, intellectual capabilities are, when Men do not know what the intellectual capabilities of Men are.

I have heard it said of men many times, Our male Rabbis say. "Do not dare to even think that you will ever reach the high levels of the Sages" From our Mothers we hear "Learn Torah diligently, for we know one day you will reach the highest levels of our Sages".
Who is more superior? Reply

Feigele Boca Raton FL May 1, 2015

Time for a change! I am not sure that men did hate women in all these times, but what I believe is that men always felt superior to women, for what reason, I’m not sure. Maybe because of physical structure!! I also believe that men did respect their mothers and wives, but acting overprotecting and condescending on their daughters, which gave them a sense of importance. Men truly and honestly believed that a woman should be in the kitchen and taking care of their family, since they were the ones giving birth. Men detached themselves from all these duties wrongly believing they were not part of it. Reply

J. Ann O. BATTLE GROUND April 27, 2015

Re-defining after the fact, and the state of the heart Rabbi Raskin, I appreciate your teaching, it has given much to think about, and your own belief in the value of a woman. However, I do not think that was what was in mind when the bracha was written nor in the hearts of men the majority of the thousands of years it has been spoken.
The time of captivity in Babylon during the Persian Empire and the lives of Dani'El, Mordecai, and Hadassah was especially anti-woman. If you have ever read an original translation of "The Arabian Nights," a piece of literature from that time period, you see how women were considered. This collection of stories and folk lore is so misogynistic chauvinistic, and anti-woman it is hard to read. It is easy to see that the Principality over that region (spoken of in Daniel) hated women and subtly influenced all who lived there. Even such wise and Godly men as Haggai and Daniel would have been influenced. Sadly, you can see the prejudice in that region even today. Reply

C. Chachaj UK January 7, 2015

Final thought... The harder our hearts the more destruction we invite into our lives.

The responsibility of upholding a deeper understanding is one of humility and circumcision of the heart.

Our true inheritance is not one that is man made, but an inheritance of the soul. If I am to be exiled from a world where I am shunned than it makes no difference for my home is not here, it is with G-d.

Compassion and understanding for all. If even for a lame donkey than how much more for our brothers. I have learnt from the destruction and suffering of my family and allow my heart to continual be circumcised of the ignorance and pride that fear would spring up like weeds.

Peace and justice to all, by the hand of the G-d alone. Reply

C. Chachaj UK January 6, 2015

Moreover... Thank you Isaac for your considered reply. It certainly did something to restore my heart. For, in regards to belief often the obvious is thrown out after centuries of rigid doctrine.

I know in my heart, my love and continual desire to grow in G-d. I do not need man or women to judge, approve or verify my existence, for they are not G-d.

I have continually seen and experienced the deeply stored knowledge and understanding express itself in my life. Through each one of my ancestors I have been given a gift of which no one can take away. It is my inheritance, and it is broader and deeper than any dogmatic belief will hold.

Everything will be tested, everything will be shaken, best to get our own house in order. Not to just to wear the clothes of a true heart, it is best to stop blinding ourselves and challenge ourselves before we invite it.

Blessings to All. Reply

Rose Mercer Island January 1, 2015

Isaac, no one is saying being Jewish is genetic. Everyone at Sinai accepted the Torah and were essentially "converted". Accepting Torah means also accepting that Judaism in passed to offspring through the mother. End of story. Today being converted properly results in the Jewishness of the children of female converts. Reply

Isaac Brooklyn NY December 22, 2014

Re: C. Chachaj, a victim of man made laws. In ancient and primitive times, men were threatened of being outsmarted by women.
Women were equal more in theory rather than in practice. Many more female Rabbis with all women in tow, are needed before true equality can be achieved.

Tradition has it, that Moses brought Scripture down from Mount Sinai dictated by God Himself.
With the most simplest of understandings, makes Scripture the highest authority.
As seen in Scripture, our forefathers, the sons/tribes of Jacob/Israel, all having married non-Jewish women & whose offspring became the Jewish nation.
The Priests and the Levites also went according to their fathers. Even Moses married a non-Jewish woman.
If it were true that one's Judaism follows the faith of the mother, then (God help us) none of us would be considered truly Jewish.
By birthright this gives you as well as the rest of us a choice between, being Jewish as us all, or being non-Jewish as us all.
Judging by your comment, you are just as Jewish as the best of Jews. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton December 21, 2014

Unquestionably, nothing! And, to say that, women and men are equal is a misinterpretation of each gender’s values, only responsibilities should be equal. The body and brain’s shapes are not the same. Each one has a different conception of their own worth and potential in life. If each one would just maintain their own qualities and respect others according to their built physically and mentally, with no assertion of who is better or not, then, maybe, things would get better between us. Tasks shouldn’t be based on gender but on who is more able and if each would bring to the plate their own ability then we would reach equality. We both have marvelous qualities so let’s put them together instead of challenging each other. Reply

C. Chachaj December 17, 2014

Thank you for your explanations, they are more thorough and well thought through than many other explanations I have come across.

I am however left with a sadness in my heart. Where were the women in the counsels, debates and interpretations of the law. If we are truly equal and if I am to believe what you say the Torah regards women even more spiritually in tune, then why are the women left at home? Also in regards to the 'honour' that women determine the nationality of the child makes no whole sense. If a women marries a non Jew then her children will most likely become the Fathers religion. Why is it that if a Father is Jewish his child is cast aside from the Jewish family. This is a form of positive discrimination.

This is personal to me as my Father's side are all Jewish, they were massacred in the war by the Nazis, he was the only one to escape. I am his descendent so why am I not Jewish? It seems to me that G-d's law and man's law are two very different things. Reply

Avigayil Chana Boston August 21, 2017
in response to C. Chachaj:

Almost everything that degrades women is culture - and I for one reject all of that culture. Torah teaches that women are in a spiritually lower position because we are more involved in God's will for creation -- that He (yes, GOD) wanted to make a home (for HIMSELF) in the LOWEST LEVELS. Think about how that relates to women's roles which are a result of our biology (motherhood etc) and then consider the role of men in terms of biology. I say biology because we know biology is from God and not from culture (not man made). When you consider these things, you see women dramatically more involved in God's will & plan for this world. And you'll see men as enablers to women. Men are intermediaries. They're soldiers in God's army. While women are the Navy SEAL team going to the lower depths, doing His real will.
Think about it.
PS - men won't like this. Reply

Stephen Cripps N.B. Canada January 20, 2014

Thank you Rabbi for your excellent video, "What's wrong with being a woman?" I am afraid to say almost all of what your speak is totally new to me, I am happy to be learning and truly have a thirst for G-d's Word.
Thank you and Blessing to You.
Reply

Isaac Brooklyn April 30, 2013

Re: Torah of truth, rather then timeless Back in ancient times explanations such as being possessed and the like, were given whenever there was any type of unexplained mental phenomena. The witches of Salem is one example.

As much as we all like to believe, and to take pried in our sages always having the correct answers, the fact is there is no prove that reciting a blessing will cure any mental illness. On the contrary, there is prove that it is not so.

You can prove it to yourselves by asking any man with the condition described to recite this blessing.

If it were true, the Rabbis would require women to recite the blessing as well, and can you imaging the scientific brake through in the treatment of the mentally ill that would have occurred centuries ago.

The world would have no doubt in all of what the Rabbis had said, and many more would convert to Judaism.

Heartfelt prayer and true desire on the other hand is truly effective, if someone desperately wants anything from God. In this I can testify to. Reply

Mendy New York City April 29, 2013

And, Rabbi Raskin, I suspect that you are aware that the rabbis realized the problem in applying the archaic Torah law (murderers would go free when perfectly competent women witnessed the murder but were prohibited by the Torah from testifying). And the rabbis--over 1,500 years after the Torah was given--therefore changed the law and added a new category of "testimony" that women qualified for. Henceforth, women COULD testify in a case of murder.

Why do rabbis tell half the story? Is the full truth too harsh for modern ears to hear? Will it make Judaism look bad? Reply

Mendy New York City April 29, 2013

An honest answer, or a coverup? Please give a CORRECT answer. >Women in judaism are compared to a king, high priest, and venerable Rabbi who are all not legal witnesses and do not testify.<

I expect some degree of intellectual honesty from a rabbi.

The Sages decreed that kings of Yisrael do not...testify, because they are haughty and it will lead to harm.

High priests do not testify because it's beneath their dignity to be hauled into a court.

Women are disqualified as witnesses among ten classes of people that are disqualified from testifying. Two of those classes are those who are biased (those personally involved in the case and their relatives).

The rest include slaves, minors, the mentally retarded, deaf-mutes, the blind, a shameless person, a wicked person and a woman.

Don't tell us that a woman and a king are lumped together. Women are lumped together with incompetents and the wicked, and trying to glorify their treatment is absurd: a woman can hire a babysitter to change baby diapers if she needs to testify against a murderer. Reply

Anonymous Israel April 29, 2013

Torah of truth, rather then timeless I agree, we have to keep in mind that our halacha has changed for different times and places. When we are talking about G-d and assuming that the halacha is absolute, we somehow forget that there are many practices that have been changed according to time and place. I am satisfied by the answer that is most contentious - the spirit of a woman attaching itself to a man while asleep - the other answers have never satisfied me, because it makes the most sense historically. At the time when spiritual activity during sleep was common knowledge, women's status was actually quite different than it is now. When we use the prayers and practices that have come down from thousands of years ago, we enjoy and develop spiritual connection to a greater reality whether we are aware of it in actuality. Judaic practices still have the power to enliven deeper levels, although certain segments have been lost to us. The higher techniques for prophecy are gone, but what remains is still effective. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton FL April 27, 2013

Quantities vs. Qualities! No comparison! Men and women were created differently and as such should not be compared as to who is more important. They are not equal either since each has been defined different qualities and quantities by their creator/nature. Today, circumstances affect each individual by reversing their roles and there is no saying who is more important as each contributes to their way of life. If only human could maintain same rules as they were first assigned, maybe there would be less conflicts. But when one start taking advantage of the other, that’s when the disagreements happen and confusion sets in as who should do what. We should each perform the best to our ability in order to live in a harmonious environment and not compete with each other. Reply