Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Woman's Role in Judaism

A Yemenite Jewish Man
When a Woman Puts On Tefillin
by Gutman Locks

When a woman puts on tefillin [phylacteries], or wears a yalmulka [a man’s head covering] or tzitzit [a man’s fringed garment], her spiritual life becomes confused.

I am not addressing the aggressive Jewish women who wear these objects just to show men they cannot be told what to do.

Here, I am addressing the sincere, but confused, Jewish woman who looks over at the men’s side of the synagogue, and sees men davening [praying] with tallises [prayer shawls] and tefillin and thinks, “That looks so uplifting. I would like to increase my spiritual awareness, too.” So, she secretly takes her father’s or her brother’s tefillin and quietly wraps them on her arm. What happens to her?

When a woman tries to fulfill herself with a man’s spiritual role, if she is “successful” she will pull herself away from the particular role she was created to fulfill.

Jewish men have certain needs Jewish women do not have. For instance, a male can very easily become extremely excited just through his imagination. A woman requires more physicality. This is not merely a physical or an emotional characteristic since the physical and emotional reflect the spiritual.

Women want to be wanted. This is a strong part of their makeup. Men do not particularly want to be wanted. Men WANT!

Men are more competitive and aggressive by nature, so learning Gemora [Talmud] engages these characteristics. Competition and aggression are not primary needs for a woman.

Given these differences, among many others, each gender has been given spiritual solutions to satisfy his or her needs.

Tefillin do elevate the soul. So how does a woman receive this essential spiritual elevation? She receives it from her husband, and from her sons, when they put on their tefillin.

A Jewish marriage is not two equal partners coming together to form a balanced partnership. A Jewish marriage is two halves coming together to form a single one. Each contributes his or her share, according to their nature and abilities so the whole will excel.

It would not be unusual for a woman who excels in learning Gemora, and loves to put on tefillin, to want to forgo the bother of having children, because children would take her away from the spiritual things she loves to do. Where would this leave the Jewish people? Not to mention those souls who are waiting to come into life through that Jewish woman.
Regarding a woman's role in Judaism - Beyond the above brief anectode, if you have the patience while Torah depth unfolds before you, I suggest a lecture by Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson that shines light on a woman's unique, essential perspective. A lofty kabbalistic concept becomes easy to comprehend by the beautiful metaphor of the mirror versus the window; And he explains why women's mirrors were built into the basin that stood before the Temple's Sanctuary, whose waters sanctified every Kohain who entered the sanctuary. (Link)

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