When G‑d created Adam, at the moment Adam opened his eyes, what was his psychological profile? He had no Oedipus complex because he had no mother. He didn't have a birth trauma because he wasn't born. He had no sibling rivalry. What was this man like? What was the makeup of his psyche?

Interestingly, Adam didn't have a survival instinct either. That's why when G‑d said, “The day you eat from this tree, you'll die,” Adam wasn't impressed. “Oh, so I'll die.” He had no survival instinct. So, what was going on in his mind?

A woman does not have a fear or a suspicion of her own nothingness

Adam had a death wish. That was his psyche. He had a death wish because life felt so unnatural. In a sense, when G‑d says, “From dust you are, and to dust you shall return,” that described Adam's psyche. “I come from dust, I want to go back.”

Back to what? Back to dust. Back to nothingness.

Men, to this day, have this complex. If you strip away the externalities, the trappings—if you take away his car, and his money, and his blue suede shoes—there's nothing; there's dust. Every man is terrified that in the end, he will have amounted to nothing, regardless of his accomplishments. He can be the wealthiest, most powerful and successful person, the most talented and the most admired. Deep down inside, he is afraid that it is all going to go away, and he is going to remain a nothing, a non-entity, a zero.

Women don't have this. A woman does not have a fear or a suspicion of her own nothingness. It doesn't exist. Because Eve was not created from dust, she was created from Adam. So where a man is afraid of being reduced back to nothing, a woman, if you take away all her accomplishments, all her achievements, will be reduced to a man.

When you take away a woman's being, she doesn't become a nothing; she becomes him. She loses herself in him. When you take away a man's being, he doesn't lose himself in her; he becomes nothing.

That's why a man needs to accomplish. He must accomplish because he needs to deny this nothingness. Whereas a woman doesn't need to accomplish in order to exist—she needs to accomplish in order to be appreciated.

Because if you're a nothing and you have to become a something, then accomplishment is everything, and respect is what you need more than anything else. Respect means you are a something.

A woman who is not afraid of becoming nothing does not understand and cannot tolerate when her somethingness is not appreciated. So what a woman needs more than anything else is appreciation.

The Talmud says that a man should honor his wife and be very careful with her feelings. A man should be careful of his wife's honor because a woman is sensitive to injustice. This is not just an idle observation about women. At the core of a woman's being, it is the injustice that bothers her. She is being treated as if she was nothing, and that's not true. She is something, and that injustice hurts.

When a man is treated like nothing, it's not the injustice that hurts him; it is the truth that hurts. He is nothing and he hates being reminded of it. His reaction is not as to an injustice, it is not a moral indignation, it's a personal hurt. Whereas with a woman, no matter how badly she is abused or devastated, it remains a moral injustice to her.

This is why there can be a woman who is abused for years in a relationship, and all the while she tells herself that she deserves it. A man cannot do that. He can not say, “I deserve it” because that's not the issue. The issue, to the man, is “am I or am I not.” If you abuse me, then I am not and I can't take that. I can not be diminished to nothing and go on living. A woman, on the other hand, simply tells herself, “I deserve this, therefore it is not an injustice.” In this way she can go on living.

The Talmud says that a man should honor his wife and be very careful with her feelings

This explains why men are aggressive. A man is desperate to be recognized as a something, and so he needs to prove himself, he needs to achieve, he needs to acquire. This need to acquire is an aggression. Whereas when a woman is determined to retain what is hers, to remain herself. No matter how intensely she pursues that, it is not aggression because she's not out to acquire; she is trying to preserve.

When the lion goes hunting, he's aggressive. When the lioness goes hunting, she's trying to sustain her family. Though she may be more violent than the male, it is not aggression; it is maintenance. When you threaten a bear cub when its mother is around, you're in big trouble. You say, “Oh, this mother is aggressive.” Yet she's not; she's totally passive. If you don't present a threat, she's fine; she's not out to get you. She doesn't want anything you have. She wants to maintain what she has and that she'll do ferociously. But that's maintaining, so it's not aggression.

In contrast, the male lion wants what you have, and he's going to get it. So even if he does it nicely and even if he does it gently, it's aggression. Even a very subtle and polite seduction is aggression, because you are trying to get what isn't yours. You are out to get something, you're acquiring, you are a predator. You can be a nice predator, but that, too, is aggressive.

Men are called aggressive because they need something they don't have. Women are called passive because they don't necessarily want what they don't have; they like what they do have. We are not talking about physical possessions, rather psychological, the psyche.

This helps us to understand the blessings men and women make before the Morning Prayer.

A man says, “Thank You for not making me a woman.” A man is grateful for what he is not. Because he can't make a positive statement, he can't say, “Thank You for what I am.” He's never sure he is anything.

A woman says, “Thank You for making me as You want me to be.” A woman can make a positive statement about herself because she knows that she is. She is grateful for what she is.