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  • Judaism 101: The Role of Women
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Level: Intermediate

The Role of Women / Torah 101 / Mechon Mamre

Discusses the role of women in traditional Judaism.

The Jewish Virtual Library - Women
There can be no doubt, however, that the also has many negative things to say about women. Various rabbis at various times describe women as lazy, jealous, vain and gluttonous, prone to gossip and particularly prone to the occult and witchcraft. Men are repeatedly advised against associating with women, although that is as much because of man's lust as it is because of any shortcoming in women. Women are discouraged from pursuing higher education or religious pursuits, but this seems to be primarily because women who engage in such pursuits might neglect their primary duties as wives and mothers. The rabbis are not concerned that women are not spiritual enough, but rather are concerned that women might become too spiritually devoted.

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The rights of women in traditional Judaism are much greater than they were in the rest of Western civilization until this century. Women had the right to buy, sell, and own property, and make their own contracts, rights which women in Christian countries (including the USA) did not have until about 100 years ago. In fact, Proverbs 31,10-31, which is read at Jewish weddings, speaks repeatedly of business acumen as a trait to be prized in women (v. 11, 13, 16, and 18 especially).

 

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Women have the right to be consulted with regard to their . Marital is regarded as the woman's right, and not the man's. Men do not have the right to beat or mistreat their wives, a right that was recognized by law in many Christian countries until a few hundred years ago. In cases of rape, a woman is generally presumed not to have consented to the intercourse, even if she enjoyed it, even if she consented after the sexual act began and declined a rescue! This is in sharp contrast to Western society, where even today rape victims often have to overcome public suspicion that they "asked for it" or "wanted it". Traditional Judaism recognizes that forced sexual relations within the context of marriage are rape and are not permitted; in many states in the West, rape within marriage is still not a criminal act.


There is no question that in traditional Judaism, the primary role of a woman is as wife and mother, keeper of the household. However, Judaism has great respect for the importance of that role. The says that when a pious man marries a wicked woman, the man becomes wicked, but when a wicked man marries a pious woman, the man becomes pious. Women are exempted from all positive ("thou shalts" as opposed to "thou shalt nots") that are time-related (that is, commandments that must be performed at a specific time of the day or year), because the woman's duties as wife and mother are so important that they cannot be postponed to fulfill a commandment. After all, a woman cannot be expected to just drop a crying baby when the time comes to perform a commandment.


Cantor in Reform Judaism - Wikipedia

There were many learned women of note. The and later rabbinical writings speak of the wisdom of Berurya, the wife of Rabbi Meir. In several instances, her opinions on (Jewish Law) were accepted over those of her male contemporaries. In the ketubah ( contract) of 's son, the wife is obligated to teach the husband ! Many rabbis over the centuries have been known to consult their wives on matters of Jewish law relating to the woman's role, such as laws of and women's periods. The wife of a is referred to as a rebbetzin, practically a title of her own, which should give some idea of her significance in Jewish life.

The status of women in throughout the history of …

It is this exemption from certain commandments that has led to the greatest misunderstanding of the role of women in Judaism. First, many people make the mistake of thinking that this exemption is a prohibition. On the contrary, although women are not obligated to perform time-based positive commandments, they are generally permitted to observe such commandments if they choose. Second, because this exemption diminishes the role of women in the , many people perceive that women have no role in Jewish religious life. This misconception derives from the mistaken assumption that Jewish religious life revolves around the synagogue. It does not; it revolves around the home, where the woman's role is every bit as important as the man's.

Melania, Ivanka, Ivana, Marla and the Role of Women …

In , sex is not considered shameful, sinful or obscene. Sex is not thought of as a necessary evil for the sole purpose of procreation. Although sexual desire comes from the (the evil impulse), it is no more evil than hunger or thirst, which also come from the yetzer ra. Like hunger, thirst or other basic instincts, sexual desire must be controlled and channeled, satisfied at the proper time, place and manner. But when sexual desire is satisfied between a husband and wife at the proper time, out of mutual love and desire, sex is a .