Bava Metzia 87a:

The verse states: “Make ready quickly three measures of flour, fine flour” (Genesis 18:6). The Gemara questions the apparent redundancy. It is written: “Flour,” and it is also written: “Fine flour.” Rabbi Yitzḥak says: From here we learn that a woman is more stingy with guests than a man. Sarah wanted to use merely flour, and Abraham persuaded her to use fine flour.

The logic is a bit fragile. Anything else in the Sources about women being less generous than men with guests?


1 Answer 1


It is important to note that Rabbi Yitzḥak, like Maimonides and Aristotle, was a product of his time. This argument of course does not necessary support moral relativism. But it does explain the bigger picture, the context of which these people lived. George Washington owned slaves, yes, but that does not make every thing ever he did inadequate. Had Washington lived today he wouldn’t have owned slaves. He was a very honorable man, despite his involvement in the slave trade. In fact, most abolitionist who advocated for the abolition of the slave trade said racist things. For example, they felt that only Europeans could free the Africans. Great men like Thomas Jefferson despised slavery but had no immediate solution to the problem. We can and should understand men like Maimonides or R Yitzhak in the same way. They felt that women were less educated only because their contemporaries influenced them in this way, but that by no means suggest they would feel this way about woman today. Although this did not answer your question outright, I felt obligated to expunge any misrepresentation of the rabbis for people unfamiliar with the context. In the end we should judge the act and not the actor.

  • 3
    The question was whether women are less generous with guests than men are. Your answer in its current form dicusses the importance of context when dealing with historical figures and statements (very true!) and then proceeds not to answer the question asked at all. Nov 13, 2019 at 5:40
  • To answer the question, woman are sometimes more generous then men. Look at Ruth. What the rabbi is saying is that Sarah was less generous (at that moment) than Abraham. Indeed Abraham feed three guest (strangers or angels). Sarah’s actions don’t represent all woman just as David’s wrongs don’t represent all men.
    – Turk Hill
    Nov 13, 2019 at 16:11
  • Actually the rabbi is saying that Sarah represents all woman (which is wrong) but, we can’t blame him for what he said. If we did, then everyone in history, including all abolitionists were racist and have no good qualities, when, obviously, they were devoted to family and were very moral men. (It’s important to note that moral relativism doesn’t get men like Hitler off the hook. He was actually evil).
    – Turk Hill
    Nov 13, 2019 at 16:17

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