As to the supposed denigration of women by Orthodox Jews

Redacted from the commentary on the opening morning blessings (Shacharit) of the Hebrew prayer service

As to the supposed denigration of women by Orthodox Jews

The ArtScroll Siddur (prayer book)

The Torah assigns missions to respective groups of people. Within Israel, for example, the Davidic (Those descended from King David) family, Kohanim, and Levites are set apart by virtue of their particular callings, in addition to their shared mission as Jews. All such missions carry extra responsibilities and call for the performance of the mitzvos (commandments) associated with them.

We thank God, therefore, for the challenge of improving His universe in accordance with His will. Male Jews have responsibilities and duties not shared by others. For this, they express gratitude that, unlike women involved with other tasks, they were not freed from the obligation to perform these time-related commandments where the male is available. It is a great honor to be of service to God and be called upon to do such commandments.

This follows the Talmudic dictum that an obligatory performance of a commandment is superior to a voluntary one because it is human nature to resist obligations Women, on the other hand, both historically and because of their nature, (dedicated feminists will, of course, have a problem with this concept) are the guardians of tradition, the molders of character, children, and family.

Furthermore, women have often been the protectors of Judaism when the impetuosity and aggressiveness of the male nature led the men astray. The classic precedent was in the Wilderness when the men — not the women — worshiped the Golden Calf (the ultimate travesty against the monolithic God).

Thus, though women were not given the privilege of the particular challenges assigned to men, they are created closer to God’s ideal of satisfaction. Both men and women express their gratitude in the blessing for “having made me according to your will (whatever that may be)

(So, sounds to me as if the women are the ones exalted by G-d and the Orthodox male fully understands that elevated status and addresses his prayers and demeanor accordingly.)

Jerome S. Kaufman



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