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The Woman’s Role in Teaching Judaism

The Woman’s Role in Teaching Judaism

A private audience with the women leadership of Chabad of Worcester, Massachusetts, June, 1953.

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The Torah lays great stress on the responsibility of one Jew for the spiritual welfare of his fellows. A Jew is charged to foster in his fellow Jew a closeness to Torah and a love for Judaism so that he or she should eagerly and cheerfully abide by its precepts and practices.

While this task is incumbent upon both men and women, it is the woman who possesses the greater capacity, and thus carries the greater share of the responsibility, to achieve it.

Generally speaking, there are two methods that might be employed when seeking to influence human behavior: stern rebuke, or gentle, kindly words.

The way of Torah is the way of peace and bringing others close. G‑d is good, and it is His desire that those who do His work apply themselves with kindness and love.

Generally speaking, there are two methods that might be employed when seeking to influence human behavior: stern rebuke, or gentle, kindly words. Because the woman has been blessed with an innately tender and sympathetic nature, her character is akin to, and expressive of, the Torah ideal of compassionate bringing close. Thus, she possesses a great capacity to influence her fellow Jews to discipline their behavior in accordance with the way of Torah.

The human being possesses both a body and a soul. The Jew sees the body and the soul as interrelated, indeed bound together; as such, by examining a physical phenomenon, we gain insight into its spiritual counterpart.

When a person is ill, he consults a doctor. The doctor, who understands the physical workings of the body, diagnoses the nature of the illness and prescribes treatment. If the case warrants, hospital care is recommended. The organization of the hospital is such that whereas the doctor prescribes the treatment, the nurse is the one who usually administers it.

Regarding this, it may be noted that nursing is predominately a woman's field—a fact readily discernible in hospitals, where, with rare exception, the nurses are women. This reflects the fact that women are inherently better suited to nursing. With their natural tenderness and patience, they can sweeten a bitter-tasting medicine and make a most difficult medical procedure more tolerable.

The same is true regarding the care of the soul. If a Jew suffers from a deficiency in his spiritual health, it becomes necessary to treat him or her with the appropriate cure. To procure a remedy for his spiritual ills, one must consult the one who, like the doctor who is the expert for the body's needs, knows and understands the needs of the soul.

If a Jew suffers from a deficiency in his spiritual health, it becomes necessary to treat him or her with the appropriate cure. For the Jew, these needs are embodied by the Torah and its precepts. But the expert who diagnoses and prescribes the treatment is not necessarily the one who is best suited to administer it. Thus we come to the role of the spiritual "nurse"—an individual with the compassion, sensitivity and patience that the task requires.

As is the case regarding physical medicine, the woman has been blessed with a character that makes her optimally suited to serve as a spiritual "nurse"—one who draws one's fellow Jews close to Torah with kindness, benevolence, gentility and love.

A woman's strength is such that she can prevail upon others to fulfill the precepts, including those that, on the surface, might seem difficult or "bitter tasting"—with willful acceptance and joy.

A woman's first responsibility is to the spiritual care of her family. However, as the founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel the Baal Shem Tov, would say, all Jews are brothers and sisters. Thus, her efforts of bringing people closer to Judaism should extend beyond the confines of her immediate family to encompass any and all of her fellow Jews.

May you and your families have a healthy and happy summer. May you realize much Jewish pride from your children, pride that you readily perceive and enjoy.

Please extend my regards to your husbands.

Transcribed at the time by Rochel Fogelman, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Worcester, Massachusetts.

A free translation from a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.
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chaia Buenos Aires, Argentina June 1, 2010

wow!! thank you this is very much apreciated!!! thank you!!! Reply

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