According to a Rabbi's wife, God Calls Men to be More like Women
Start writing a post
Lifestyle

According To A Rabbi's Wife, God Calls Men To Be More Like Women

You could say I was surprised.

14
According To A Rabbi's Wife, God Calls Men To Be More Like Women

I will not pretend I know all the ins and outs about Orthodox Judaism. I, myself, do not even identify as a Jew, though I have casually researched issues related to Judaism for the better part of three years.

One of the more surprising conversations I ever had related to Judaism was over a Passover Seder meal, with a friend of mine who visits a Rabbi and his wife at their house weekly.

We arrived near sunset, shortly before the Sabbath began.

My first mistake was out of foolish nervousness, extending my hand to shake hands with the Rabbi to which he politely declined and informed me that in the Orthodox community, "Touch is reserved for spouses."

I was embarrassed but kept my composure.

After walking into their home, I was introduced to their two little girls and a baby boy. The girls wore matching long-sleeve, purple dressed with bows in their hair. They babbled, singing Yiddish songs.

"It's not totally conventional, but we decided to start dressing them modestly in the last months… other members in our community would usually wait until their girls were 11 or 12."

The oldest of the girls could not have been more than 4.

At this point, I was making assumptions in my head. It's difficult not to jump to conclusions and develop opinions when face to face with lifestyles so different from your own.

I had pretty much pitted this couple, and by association, a religious subgroup as being fairly misogynist.

This perception was challenged as the wine was drunk, cup by cup, and the bitter herbs were swallowed.

The Rabbi's wife scratched her scalp, revealing the pieces of dark hair under her equally dark wig (a common preference to a traditional veil). She seemed frustrated as a conversation of college life and perceptions of Judaism amongst young people developed.

"I've heard many people are under the idea that people like us, Jews, are sexist or something. I get it. It's not normal, according to our world, to dress our kids as we do. It's not typical to exclusively touch our partners… I've had it before at work… There's an awkward moment where I have to explain why I don't shake hands with the client or co-worker. It deviates from the way the world is right now, and because it's different it's deemed as bad and subjecting women like me or in my community… but that's the opposite of why we do these things."

The Rabbi's wife describes the traditional attitudes on the conversation of women she's had with his husband and their community.

Instead of shielding women from the 'desires of men' because women are sinful and seductive and up to no good, Judaism follows laws explicitly outlined in the Torah because men are sinful and have unhealthy obsessive desires and have a habit of over-controlling.

As the story of creation unfolds, God creates women after man, not because she is inferior but the exact opposite. God creates a 2.0, a perfected version — in fact, this version being more symbolic of God's nature since it can produce life from its womb.

The purpose of Jewish laws prescribed only to men and not women is not to exclude women from religious life, but to, "lift men up to the level of women." While men struggle in the fields and are loaded with obligations to do x and y, women fulfill God's promise to be fruitful and multiply and grow Abraham's descendants. In other words, they are doing the important stuff.

Even laws related to separating women during their menstrual cycle are not meant to 'other' them, but rather to elevate them, give them the time they need to recover, focus on the self, take a nice bath.

"God calls men to rise to the level women were born at."

In other words, women are already relatively where they "need to be." Men are the ones who need to work to get to their level of holiness by exercising more maternal, or for lack for a better word, "feminine" parts of themselves.

Needless to say, this is not the kind of rhetoric I was expecting from this woman… it radically shifted not only my understanding of Orthodox Judaism (or at least their understanding of Orthodox Judaism) but also my understanding of my own Christianity and spirituality.

Though I've grown up in a fairly progressive environment, and though, in theory, those who have raised me believe men and women to be equal, I still received the messaging all around me; men are the spiritual leaders; men are more in the image of God; men are stronger and wiser; men achieve more earthly success.

But perhaps, these are all indications of their sinful nature anyways… as I said, men, historically, have accomplished more here on the ground. They've created organizations and structures that hurt and control others. They've created economies and laws and twisted scripture to their own will. Men maintain an allusion of piety under the guise of seized control.

But what can men not do alone no matter how hard they try or want to? Breed life. Feed a child from their body alone. In fact, Judaism operates under a matriarchy, passed down the heritage of their mother not father. They keep the community intact.

This is not a bash on men, but clarification on why we operate in gender-influenced ways as believers in a larger morality.

There are holes in this understanding, surely, but I do see the viewpoint of the Rabbi's wife as extremely valuable and subversive. It blurs the lines between an Orthodox practice which is traditionally quite conservative in its application and progressive ideology which is considered liberal in thought.

What happens when the conservative application of gender norms is executed based on societally-considered progressive attitudes? It's gray… it's uncustomary.

This is yet another example of messages lost between traditional Jewish practice and the modern application of Christianity, which itself, is founded in Judaism. If Abrahamic communities are to act in the ways God has called for them, we must consider these nuanced declarations from God Himself.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

74968
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee
nappy.co

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

137513
college students waiting in a long line in the hallway
StableDiffusion

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments