Bereshit 31:17 reads:

וַיָּקָם יַעֲקֹב וַיִּשָּׂא אֶת בָּנָיו וְאֶת נָשָׁיו עַל הַגְּמַלִּים׃

So Jacob rose, and he lifted up his sons and his wives upon the camels.


את בניו ואת נשיו: הקדים זכרים לנקבות, ועשו הקדים נקבות לזכרים, שנאמר (לקמן לו ו) ויקח עשו את נשיו ואת בניו וגו'׃

his sons and his wives: He put the males before the females, but Esau put the females before the males, as it is said (below, 36:6):“And Esau took his wives and his sons, etc.” - [from Gen. Rabbah 74:5].

Does this mean that the common Western concept of 'ladies first' is foreign to Judaism or is there a special reason for this specific case that Yaakov put the males before the females?

I'd also like to know if there are other sources which clarify this matter.

  • See Shulchan Aruch YD 252:8 – sam Nov 10 '13 at 22:26
  • I'm 90 percent sure we've discussed this before, I just have to find it – Menachem Nov 10 '13 at 22:40
  • I am refereeing to the Rama there – sam Nov 10 '13 at 22:44
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    @Yehoshua Before meeting a girl, I was told she had gone home from a date when the bachur held the door for her and said "ladies first"! :-) – Adám Nov 11 '13 at 17:43
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    Regarding the verse you bring, it should be noted that in other places Ya'aqov's wives are mentioned before his sons. In 30:26, when requesting Lavan to let him go he said "give [me] my wives and my children". In 32:27, when preparing to meet Esav, "he took his two wives and his two maidservants and his eleven children" to cross at Yaboq. Later, in 33:6-7, when his family was finally presented before Esav, only Yosef went before his mother( and Rashi on 33:7 gives a reason why that was). – Tamir Evan Nov 11 '13 at 20:20

ולמאן דאמר פרצוף הי מינייהו סגי ברישא אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק מסתברא דגברא סגי ברישא דתניא לא יהלך אדם אחורי אשה בדרך ואפי' אשתו נזדמנה לו על הגשר יסלקנה לצדדין וכל העובר אחורי אשה בנהר אין לו חלק לעולם הבא תנו רבנן המרצה מעות לאשה מידו לידה כדי להסתכל בה אפילו יש בידו תורה ומעשים טובים כמשה רבינו לא ינקה מדינה של גיהנם שנאמר יד ליד לא ינקה רע לא ינקה מדינה של גיהנם א"ר נחמן מנוח עם הארץ היה דכתיב וילך מנוח אחרי אשתו מתקיף לה רב נחמן בר יצחק אלא מעתה גבי אלקנה דכתיב וילך אלקנה אחרי אשתו וגבי אלישע דכתיב ויקם וילך אחריה הכי נמי אחריה ממש אלא אחרי דבריה ואחרי עצתה הכא נמי אחרי דבריה ואחרי עצתה א"ר אשי ולמאי דקאמר רב נחמן מנוח עם הארץ היה אפי' בי רב נמי לא קרא שנאמר ותקם רבקה ונערותיה ותרכבנה על הגמלים ותלכנה אחרי האיש ולא לפני האיש א"ר יוחנן אחורי ארי ולא אחורי אשה אחורי אשה ולא אחורי עכו"ם אחורי עכו"ם ולא אחורי בהכ"נ בשעה שהצבור מתפללין


There is an argument whether Chava was originally Adam's Siamese twin of Adam or his tail.

The Gemara asks (according to the opinion that she was a Siamese twin) which one was in front. The Gemara says that the man went first, as there is a Braisa which says that a man shouldn't walk behind a woman (because it's disgraceful - Rashi), even if his wife. If he ended up walking behind her on a bridge, he should walk to the side (until he overtakes her - Rashi). If one walks behind a woman who is walking through a river (because she picks up her garment to avoid it getting wet), he has no portion in the World to Come.

One opinion has it that Manoach was an ignoramus because he went after his wife (the other opinion has it that he went after her advise), and according to that opinion he was ignorant of Chumash, as he didn't even know that verse that you quoted.


Yes, in Judaism a man walks in front and women walk in the back.

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    I don't think the general concept of "ladies first" means that on narrow paths you walk single file with the lady in front. – Double AA Nov 10 '13 at 23:34
  • "[H]e didn't even know that verse that you quoted". Actually, the verse Manoach didn't know was Bereshit 24:61, concerning Rivqah and her maidens following after Avraham's servant( and not he following after them). – Tamir Evan Nov 11 '13 at 19:01

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