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In Maseches Shabbos, in between the perakim of Bameh Ishah and Bameh Beheimah, the Shabbos Shel Mi writes the following:

דרשינן סמוכים פ' במה בהמה ובמה אשה כל הקרב הקרב כי לא לחנם הלך זרזיר אצל עורב

It sounds misogynistic to me, but I'm sure I'm interpreting it wrong. Does anyone have an explanation for it?

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The phrase "כל הקרב הקרב כי לא לחנם הלך זרזיר אצל עורב" is found in a couple places in Shas (Chullin 65a, Bava Kamma 92b) and can literally be translated as:

not for naught that the zarzir went to dwell with the crow, but because it is of the same species

ie- birds of a feather flock together.

Now

It's very easy to see how this can be construed as sexist, misogynistic, and demeaning- "we're going to learn Shabbos laws about animals followed by women since 'birds of a feather flock together?!'"

This seems outrageous!

HOWEVER

I think it has a more innocent meaning. Namely, it's comparing animals and women because we're learning Shabbos laws that pertain to one's household. Animals, women, kids, one's elder paents possessions- all these are part of one's household. So the verse can understood as: "since we discussed one area of the household, lets discuss another area of the household."

BOTTOM LINE:

While it may be misconstrued (and may not make for the greatest line in today's climate) I think this line was said lightheartedly and not intending to offend.

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    The laws discussed in both chapters are extremely similar (what a person - whether man or woman - or an animal can carry outside on Shabbos that does or does not violate the laws of carrying). The comparison has nothing to do with comparing animals and women. It just happens that, due to the first words of each chapter, one chapter is named "With What May an Animal [Go Out]" and the other is named "With What May a Woman [Go Out]". – Fred Jan 17 at 6:24
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The reference is the Gemara in Chulin (65a) which discusses that two seemingly different birds are of the same species (min), and they therefore are found near each other. The same thing applies here. In both chapters the laws are enumerated to prevent override biblical law. The woman, because of her very nature may be more susceptible to carrying in public domain, a biblical offense. The same applies to the animal. Its very nature may also cause certain biblical law to be easily broken, like the aforementioned as well as the requirement for the animal to rest on the sabbath.

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  • The comparison in the content of the two chapters is a lot simpler than that, and it doesn't really have anything specifically to do with women (except indirectly in that perhaps more of the examples in the chapter about human adornments refer to women's adornments than to men's). – Fred Jan 17 at 6:29
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Indeed, you are misunderstanding the comparison.

The comparison is between the very similar categories of laws discussed in the two chapters. Both chapters are uniquely about whether the laws of carrying on Shabbos apply to wearing various kinds of things; the fifth chapter is about what animals might "wear" (bridles, collars, saddles, bells, etc.), and the sixth chapter is about what humans might wear (with examples that tend to be specific to men - such as phylacteries, examples that tend to be specific to women - such as various kinds of feminine jewelry, and plenty of examples that tend to apply equally to both men and women).

The comparison is not between women and animals at all, it just so happens that the chapters are named after their first words. The Shabbos Shel Mi is comparing the chapters which he mentions by their full names ("With What May an Animal [go out]..." and "With What May a Woman [go out]...", respectively). The zarzir bird and the crow that flock together are the two similar categories of laws whose chapters are juxtaposed in this tractate.

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