According to Orthodox Judaism, women may not be rabbis, be counted as part of a minyan, leyn from the Torah, or study the Talmud. It even says that to teach a woman Torah is to teach her obscenity! (Sotah 21b)

In addition, women are exempt and even discouraged from a large number of mitzvas that are central to Jewish practice, such as praying three times a day and laying tefillin. It seems from all this that women have a secondary and subjugated role in Judaism.

Is this true? Why would G-d and the Torah condone such a thing?

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    related judaism.stackexchange.com/a/60082/759
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 14:28
  • @SAH Your statement regarding study of Talmud is not correct and your translation of tiflut (תפלות), although a common translation, is not an accurate understanding of the statement. It means that most women are more practical by nature. And when considering theoretical, abstract ideas are more inclined to think the subject is frivolous and trivial in purpose (דברי הבאי). You may want to consider Hilchot Talmud Torah 1:14 from Shulchan Aruch HaRav beginning with the words (ומכל מקום גם הנשים) hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=16009&st=&pgnum=87 Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 14:56
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/64935/8775 in which the Akedat Yitshak writes that like men, women can strive intellectually and ethically, and that this is their primary purpose.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 18:03
  • 1
    excellent article on the topic projectinspire.com/articles/1439/women-in-judaism
    – mbloch
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 5:03

6 Answers 6


This is a fair question. You are far from the only person who feels this way.

As an Orthodox woman who respects the traditional prohibition on Talmud study for women, as well as the many other Jewish laws which appear to limit women, I see it like this.

Deuteronomy 33:18

And of Zebulun he said, Rejoyce, Zebulun, in thy going out; and Issachar, in thy tents.

Traditional Jewish life involves a division of labor, actually many. In the times of the Temple, certain duties were performed by the priestly class, others by the levitical class. A slave had certain rights and responsibilities; so did a mamzer; so did a scholar. A mourner, even today, has different duties than one who is not in mourning, and a sick person has different obligations from one who is not sick.

One of the clearest examples today of Judaism's specific assignment of rights and responsibilities by person is the different religious obligations of a minor and an adult. A minor is responsible, religiously, for very little; an adult (of either sex) for very much. This seems entirely natural, as indeed it is.

But let us look at it again. Would we ever conclude from a child's reduced obligation in religious commandments that Judaism hates or oppresses children, or considers them inferior in holiness, in essential importance, or in connection to G-d? No; this is ridiculous! A child is simply a child. A child, by doing his best to be decent, does what is required of him, and this is all; he serves his spiritual purpose, which could not be called "less" than that of an adult.

Although it is more obvious to modern people that a child should have a different set of rights and responsibilities from an adult, than that a woman should have different rights and responsibilities from a man, it was not always, and need not be. Remember, Judaism makes numerous divisions--practically as many as possible. The twelve Tribes received different blessings, inheritances, and missions based on the personalities of Yakov's sons. What are the odds that the Torah would overlook the striking difference between men and women?

It doesn't. Beginning with its account of the creation of humankind, Torah specifies two moieties. These are man and woman. From the earliest self-conception of the Israelites, women are referred to as "Beit Yakov" and men as "B'nei Yisroel," and the Commandments are presented to each group differently. This distinction has remained firm in Judaism for the first thirty-six centuries of its history, only coming into question under the influence of the dissenting movements in the last two hundred years. Even now, the influence of this question is not central. Judaism maintains, and shows all signs of continuing to maintain, traditionally separate roles for men and women.

What are these?

In my understanding, men carry out public observances and governance--roles toward which they are, broadly speaking, naturally inclined. Under "governance" falls Torah study, since Rabbi Eliezer's prohibition of Torah study for women is understood mostly to apply to the aspects of Torah dealing with theoretical rationale for legal decisions. Women establish and govern the private sphere, which is equally important, if not more important in Judaism. They learn written Torah, halacha, and many parts of oral Torah through the prism of becoming an akeret habayit, the bedrock of a Jewish home, and the steward of the next generation.

When Rabbi Eliezer said that to teach a woman Torah (meaning a certain part of Torah) is to teach her lewdness, I understand he meant that doing so perverts Judaism's deep-rooted and sacred ideas about division of labor between the sexes. Perhaps easier to understand is how it might be "lewdness" to teach a child about something for grown-ups.

The shared mission of Jewish men, women, and children is to serve G-d, and to bring sanctity into this world--and ultimately to be a light unto the nations, to heal the world, and to bring redemption. It is a big mission. It requires many separate corps doing individual duties. So we have them. It is an honor to be a Jewish woman because I have an unassailable part in this mission.

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    I would in addition to the distinction between the roles of men and women that the role of women may actually be preferred, and that men have somewhat mutually exclusive goals that are hard to balance. Judaism maintains that privacy and humility are virtues, and going into the public sphere is only done when necessary. See Rabbi Soloveitchik's essay, "Majesty and Humility."
    – Acoop
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 16:31
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    You say that women have an important role in Judaism, but of course the question was not whether women have a role at all, but whether they have an inferior role. So the real question is, if, by a freak accident of nature, a particular woman is inclined to carry out public observances and governance (roles traditionally conferred upon men), does Orthodox Judaism hold her back, and if so, how can this be justified without considering women as inferior? Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 20:31
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    @DepressedDaniel I'm not Jewish myself, but I'm fairly certain that Judaism rejects the notion of "a freak accident of nature" in favor of the Creator's sovereignty. The inclination must either be sinful or G-d-given. In the former case, the desire is contrary to her actual nature, and fulfilling it would harm her and those around her, not to mention be an affront to the Lord. Judaism may reject the latter case out-right; I'm not sure. Either way, the Creator planning a role for you does not make you inherently inferior to other people. (Pardon my lack of knowledge on terminology.)
    – jpmc26
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 0:24
  • @DepressedDaniel Great comment and I tried really hard to answer it. Please see my other answer here. Also, feel better xo
    – SAH
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 8:16
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    "Would we ever conclude from a child's reduced obligation in religious commandments that Judaism hates or oppresses children, or considers them inferior in holiness, in essential importance, or in connection to G-d? No; this is ridiculous!" But we would indeed include that a child is less responsible, less mature, less able. This is either a very poor analogy or is evidence for the idea that Judaism considers women inferior. Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 16:43

In addition, women are exempt and even discouraged from a large number of mitzvas that are central to Jewish practice, such as praying three times a day and laying tefillin.

This is close to completely false and at least dramatically overstated. Women are obligated in the vast, vast majority of Mitzvot (somewhere around 585/613=95% of the biblical ones), including prayer, and they are generally still encouraged or at least welcome to fulfill most of the dozen or two they are exempt from that they can.

Mitzvot women are at least welcome to fulfill despite being exempt (at least according to those who exempt them in various cases):

  • having children
  • reciting Shema with its blessings
  • hearing Shofar
  • living in a Sukkah
  • taking a Lulav
  • counting the Omer
  • remembering Amalek
  • saying Grace with a Zimmun
  • praying with a Minyan (including answering Kaddish, Kedusha, etc.)
  • saying Hallel
  • giving [remembrance of] the half-Shekel tax
  • and more

Most of the other Mitzvot that they are exempt from relate to the Temple/Korbanot (Pidyon HaBen, Kohein avoiding cemeteries) or male primary or secondary sex characteristics (circumcision, shaving with a razor).

The main exception is Tefillin (which you mentioned) where women are discouraged from donning Tefillin (OC 38:3), and this is very much in parallel to men also being generally discouraged from donning Tefillin more than the bare minimum obligation of donning them during prayers (for women the bare minimum obligation is technically zero).

There's also some discouragement towards women wearing Tzitzit (since even men don't really need to wear four-cornered garments if they don't want to, it can be seen as haughty for a woman to go out of her way to do so (OC 17:2)) and in some communities aspects of Torah study (cf. YD 246:6), though honestly for most people learning all the Halakhot they need for their lives (prayer, blessings, Shabbat (!), holidays, Kashrut (!), Niddah, Mikvah, honoring parents/elders/scholars, charity, Mezuzah, agricultural laws, Challah, mourning, various monetary laws) is enough to last a lifetime, and women certainly need to do that.

What you're noticing is rather that women don't lead public communal Mitzva observance: they can't be rabbis, but they can teach and inspire; they can't be Chazzanim/Ba'alei Keriya, but they can pray and benefit from public prayer just like men; they don't serve as priests in the Temple, but they can bring offerings to God; they don't serve on courts, but they deserve and receive full justice in all monetary matters. Remember most men too are neither rabbis, Chazzanim, Ba'alei Keriya, Kohanim, nor Dayanim. Being part of the community and not among its leaders is a totally normal, acceptable, and respectable (if not ideal, cf. Avot 1:10) path for a Jew.

You noted that women don't count for a Minyan, but that's not really true. It's generally assumed that they count for a Minyan in contexts where they are obligated and don't count in contexts where they are not obligated. The latter case most notably includes public prayer in which women are not obligated (they can choose still to participate in it, as above). But while public prayer may seem to be one of the most central Jewish practices which is distinctly Jewish, that does not mean that raising a family, earning a living, helping the poor and the sick, giving charity, educating others, not to mention private personal prayer and study, are not central to the Jewish experience. If anything they are more central! Just because other nations do those things too doesn't make them less important in the eyes of God. It's hard to think of more central Jewish practices than growing a family and helping the needy (including education and healing).

I don't mean to say Jewish thought doesn't approach and treat women and men differently, just the legal distinctions can be finer than is commonly portrayed.

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    Thanks. I wonder, also, about women's exclusion as kosher witnesses
    – SAH
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 17:35
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    @SAH First off, women are valid witnesses in many contexts (she can testify that a certain food is kosher, that she went to the Mikvah, that a husband has died, that a woman shouldn't undergo the Sotah ritual since she is guilty, and more). To the extent that they can't serve in certain contexts we can consider including witnesses as formal parts of the justice system like judges. In the end of the day though my answer is showing general guidelines and doesn't need to cover every case. See judaism.stackexchange.com/q/38764/759 for some technical details about women serving as witnesses.
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 17:40
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    Just to round off this answer, it's important to note many Mitzvot of the ritual-temporal variety which women are in fact fully obligated in (despite the "general rule" that they are exempt from positive time-bound commandments): prayer, blessings, grace after meals, Shabbat candles, Kiddush, Lechem Mishneh, 3 Shabbat meals, Havdalah, checking for Chametz, Mazta, Maror, Hagada, 4-cups, fast days, mourning the loss of the Temple, Megillat Esther, Mattanot LaEvyonim, Mishloach Manot, Seudat Purim, Chanukah candles, Yom Tov candles, and Simchat Yom Tov.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 20:38
  • Interestingly, only male animals are used for public Korbanot, while private Korbanot come from both males and females. (Temurah 2:1)
    – Double AA
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 17:29
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    In the list of things women have to learn you skipped most of Tahoros. Those halachos are not so relevant now but they could become so at any point. Most men and women are completely unprepared for a time when they have to have an instinctive grasp on Tahoros like they have for Shabbos or kitchen kashrus. (I include myself in this.)
    – Heshy
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 23:50


A user left the following very apt comment on my previous answer:

You say that women have an important role in Judaism, but of course the question was not whether women have a role at all, but whether they have an inferior role. So the real question is, if, by a freak accident of nature, a particular woman is inclined to carry out public observances and governance (roles traditionally conferred upon men), does Orthodox Judaism hold her back, and if so, how can this be justified without considering women as inferior? – DepressedDaniel

I thank @DepressedDaniel for his serious question and offer the following reply only as a beginning, and in subjugation to the heartfelt suggestion that that any man or woman in this position (i.e., of having "freak" inclinations not in keeping with the Torah's assumptions) find and consult over the long term with a wise, sensitive, and knowledgeable rabbi, rebbetzin or mentor with whom he feels he can speak freely. The latter, in combination with (1) a peer and (2) a spiritual mentee (both of which the person in question should also endeavor to find), will provide support, comfort, encouragement, and direction in a way that one cannot obtain from within oneself. Anyone reading this post who needs help finding such people is warmly invited to email me at [email protected]; I will do what I can for you.

Neither G-d nor our Sages were unaware of the complexity of sexual identity, and the ways in which this complexity might trouble a binary system and its subjects. Indeed, G-d created this complexity with great deliberation and wisdom. Indeed, He created the Torah to match. Thus the rabbis identified not two but six genders--including, it seems, "the woman who doesn't seem like a woman"--and did their best to correctly determine Torah's role for each.

But these determinations would seem to do little to provide solutions for modern life, or to console the woman who looks and feels completely feminine, but has a desire in her heart to fulfill a public religious role or to perform traditionally masculine mitzvos. Shouldn't she be allowed?

Believe it or not, this question is not new, and it too has been answered by our Sages. Sefer Maharil discusses the example of Bruriah, an exceptionally gifted female Torah scholar--her words are all over the Gemara--whose involvement in Torah study ultimately led to wickedness and tragedy. It notes that

"Beruriah's bad end demonstrates her initial weakness in not relying upon the words of our Sages. Similarly the wisest of men (King Solomon) declared, 'I will marry many wives and not go astray' (see Sanhedrin 21b)." (qtd. in Ellinson, Serving the Creator)

The short answer, then, is no.

The Torah, in contrast to popular wisdom, commands us not to follow our hearts. There is, Torah suggests, better life at the end of an effort to serve G-d and help others even at the expense of our own dreams, wishes, and persuasions. It is this very effort to make room for G-d that gives life to, and even creates holiness; as the Kotzker Rebbe famously said, "Where is G-d? Wherever we let Him in."

The yoke of the Torah is like a heavy load upon a strong donkey. (Bereishis Rabba 99:9)

"Your Employer is trustworthy to pay you the reward for your labor." (Pirkei Avot 2.19 and 2.21)

“The reward is in proportion to the exertion” (Pirkei Avot 5.26)

A woman who dreams and yearns with her heart to do the roles reserved for men by Judaism will no doubt feel every ounce of the weight of Torah upon her, holding her down. And yet, she is not alone in her struggle to bear the Torah. She should think of the rebuffed converts, the agunot, the incarcerated and persecuted; the desperately poor; the people whose physical or mental health makes it nearly impossible for them to keep halacha; those who cannot find anyone to marry; those who will never, because they are gay, be able to combine physical love with emotional love and life partnership within the frame of the Torah--and who keep Torah anyway. G-d gives people enormous burdens. But just as He perfectly understands these burdens, He is exquisitely aware of every calorie of energy the burdened expend trying to serve Him anyway. To paraphrase Chagigah 5b, the Holy One cries every day for one who does mitzvos in spite of a handicap. And this itself is the reward: That one serves G-d to the point of moving Him.

But the yoke bends before it ever breaks us:

"Yalsa the wife of Rav Nachman said to him, 'It is known that all that the Torah has prohibited there is something similar to it that has been permitted. For example, blood is prohibited while liver is permitted,… – I want to [know what it is like to] eat meat cooked in milk.' Rav Nachman had the cook prepare fried udder for her." Chullin 109b

Where is G-d? Wherever we let Him in. Consider the essential roles of women as bodkaniyot, rabaniyot, teachers, principals, heads of organizations, maharatot, yoatzot,toenot, mashpi'yot, shluchot, writers, speakers, counselors, doctors for Jewish women, leaders of chesed organizations, etc., etc. Who should do these if not precisely the intelligent, idealistic women who are regretting the fact that they cannot become dayanim and chazzanim? Is it really right, and is it good for women, that the best women should be swept away from frum Judaism and into other movements? Where does that leave frum women??

That is, one not only has options to do what one yearns for: one has an imperative to do so. Take your desire to learn, to create, to inspire, and to connect with G-d through words of Torah and acts of Jewish faith, and apply them assiduously to the opportunities G-d has opened for you.

Ben Bagbag said: Turn it [Torah] over and turn it over because everything is in it. (Pirkei Avot 5.22)

--This is how we know that anyone can live by Torah. Look at it: the Torah has seventy facets; reflected in its radiant prism, [any]one can find a life. Where one extreme seems to exist there, the other extreme is not far.

The torahitic prohibitions on women's involvement in certain acts leave, to be sure, a great deal of room to play. For example, the matters of women's learning Torah and even issuing halachic rulings have given rise to a surprisingly wide range of halachic opinions within Orthodoxy. Torah and even Talmud learning by women is permitted by various poskim--I might add the Lubavitcher Rebbe--under various circumstances. The Chid"a to Choshen Mishpat 7:12, Minchat Chinuch in halacha 78, and other sources suggest that opinions on whether a woman may pasken halacha are not a monolith. Of course, one must consult one's personal rav for a ruling appropriate to one's community. I suggest only that if this matter affects a woman's quality of life very significantly, she might, with the guidance of experts, find a way to take advantage of the Torah's nuances to find a viable path.

We are supposed to live by and for the Torah and not, ch"v, die for it. If a Jew is caused extreme suffering by the Torah's apparent view of him or her, I would first suggest that he or she has not correctly understood the Torah's view; then, I would suggest consulting a rov or a trusted spiritual counselor for advice. But pikuach nefesh--concern for human life--reigns supreme over most all we have in Torah. If you truly need to lay tefillin in order to have the koach to continue to exist, I as a woman will pasken for you: do it.

And if you don't anyway, we call that a Kiddush Hashem--a sanctification of G-d's name.

  • Thus the rabbis identified not two but six genders Consider listing them.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 17:27
  • Consider improving the post as by for example adding a TLDR. BTW things like aylonit have nothing to do with post modern ideas of subjective gender. They simply deal with those halakhot that relate to sex characteristics, and how they apply to those who haven't developed properly.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 2:21
  • @SAH Beruria is a terrible example. If the story is true it would mean mean that rav meir was both an idiot and a sinner. A sinner for causing somone to sin (well I'm not sure if convincing somone else to sin is a issur but it's definitely bad) and violating love your friend like yourself. An idiot because the story proves nothing. You see how women have weak sexual resistance! Bruriah succumbed in the story to adultery after WEEKS/MONTHS. This story if anything would prove the opposite. Bruriah held out much longer than most people would.
    – Orion
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 5:21
  • Even if not, the Talmud always mentions the weak resistance thing by in the moment events. This is a completely different occurrence. Then theirs just the holes in the story. Where was Rav meir this whole time? How did he convince his student to do a Isuur where your Chayiv Misa?
    – Orion
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 5:21
  • @Orion It seems you're annoyed with the classical interpretation of Bruriah's story. Is that correct? Or have I not telegraphed the classical interpretation correctly?
    – SAH
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 3:44

Judaism actually considers women to be superior to men. This can be seen from the progression of God's creations. The creations kept becoming more perfect from the 1st day until the last day. It started with simple plants, then progressed to more complex animals. Finally, man, who was made in Hashem's image, was created. After man, woman was created. We see from this that woman is closer to God's idea of perfection than man is. This is reflected in the bracha that women make by morning brachos. Whereas the man can only say the negative "for not making me a woman," women, with their greater dose of binah, can say the positive, "for making me according to his will." This shows that woman was made "according to God's will," unlike the man, who is further from the ideal of God's will. This greater perfection of women is why women don't have to perform as many mitzvos as men, as they are already on such a higher spiritual level than men, that they don't need as many mitzvos to get them to that level, unlike men, who are naturally on a lower level and need the mitzvos to elevate them. We also see that women are naturally more God-fearing than men, as none of the women participated in the chet ha-egel, whereas thousands of men did succumb to this sin. (Paraphrased from R' Gerschenfeld)


First, I think the real question is not about Judaism but about the reality of the G-d's creation that Judaism reflects.

Second, the question is not whether women are inferior or subjugated or not, but is it natural or artificial. By natural, I mean "that's the only way the world could be created" and by artificial I mean "they were created equal but some mean people turned them into inferior".

I will address the two issues:

  1. G-d is one and united, there's no up and down, right and left, bigger and smaller, heavier and lighter with[in] Him. This condition has no change and [therefore] no time flow.

  2. [To manifest His qualities] G-d decided to create a world so He would be the King bestowing on the rest of us. This requires creating a difference, a hierarchy, something bigger and something smaller, something stronger and something weaker, someone who gives and someone who receives, someone superior and someone inferior.

  3. This hierarchy is manifested on every level in our world, for example,

    • within the Creation, Man is inferior to G-d or angels but superior to animals
    • within the human species, the male is superior (stronger and bogger and dominating) and women are inferior.
    • within the manhood, Jews are superior to gentiles that are superior to animals
    • within the Jewish nation, Cohanim are superior to Leviim that are superior to Israel.
    • within a family, a father is superior to his kids and inferior to his parents.
    • within a couple, a husband is (Halachicly) superior (as he's one to divorce and the wife is Halachicly subjugated to him).
    • within a shul, a person is inferior to his Rabbi and superior to his students.
    • within a workplace, a person is superior to his employees and inferior to his employer.
    • within a society, a citizen is inferior to the ministers and the king.
  4. The reason for all that as is outlined in Judaism is to reflect the heavenly hierarchy of the earthy, as in Berachot 58: "מלכותא דארעא כעין מלכותא דרקיעא".

  5. The bottom line is that Judaism did not invent women's inferiority - it just explains what everyone has to do to make use of it to reach his/her goal in life.

NB1 We don't know the mechanism of assigning the sex to a soul or a part of it or whether a husband and a wife share one soul and whether the same soul comes down in different sexes and bodies.

NB2 It seems, that in the beginning, the equality between the sexes was more sound (לזאת יקרא אשה כי מאיש לקחה זאת) (btw, just as there were no distinction between Jews and non Jews), but the sins (the primordial one, the Adam's 130, the Golden Calf, the Spies etc) just worsened the situation and widened the gap for millenia. I'd say the lowest point of women inferiority was about 1100 years ago. The good news is that as we move forward the end of the days, paying out for those sins, we return to the original state of matters, and the women come slowly back to their original position as much more equal to men than ever (so-called the feminism movement).

NB3 Also, there are other "fate-related" inequalities, such as health, money, kids (בני, חיי מזוני), lifespan, personal traits and more. We just have to live with, and Judaism tries to make the best of it.

I'm being criticised for not answering questions directly, I admit, but I think this is a deeper and more serious point to discuss and consider.

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    Not being a conquerer = inferior?
    – robev
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 12:25
  • @robev That's semantics ( See the Jewish Kama-Sutrah). You're are inferior to your Dad and Mom and to your Boss and your Rabbi and superior to your kids, employees and students. I don't see any problem with this definition. The Gm in Kiddushin says explicitly about wives "שאתה ואמך חייבים בכבודו" and "רשות אחרים עליה" what else do you need?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 12:29
  • @Al Berko so you're equating power to superiority? If so surely you can see how that doesn't make any sense. Also what does this have to do with Judaism?
    – Orion
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 15:21
  • @Orion robev, thank you, I reworote my answer to clarify it.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 16:49

A [wealthy] matron [of the Rabbinic academy] asked Rabbi Eliezer: ‘Why is it that there was one sin committed with the golden calf, and yet [we learn that] three punishments were meted out?’

[Rabbi Eliezer] said to her: ‘There is no wisdom in women other than the spinning wheel, as it is written: And all the women who were wise in heart spun with their hands (Exodus 35).’

[Rabbi Eliezer’s] son, Hyrkenus, said to him, ‘Why could you not answer her with some words of Torah? [Because she has been insulted] I will lose 300 kor in donations from her every year!’

[Rabbi Eliezer] said to him, ‘The words of Torah should burn rather than be taught to women.'”

Source: (Yerushalmi, Sotah 3:4. A version of this story also appears in the Bavli, Yoma 66b)

Rabbi Eli'ezer says: Whoever teaches his daughter Torah is considered as if he taught her foolishness. Rabbi Yehoshua says: A woman desires a kav and foolishness more than nine kavs and abstinence. He would say: A foolish pious man, a cunning evil man, an [excessively] abstinent woman, and the self-flagellations of ascetics, all these destroy the world.

Source: Mishnah Sotah 3:4

Judaism definitely views women as inferior. But what of it? Judaism is a religion spanning nearly 4,000 years. And for most of that 4,000 years, every nation and religion on earth viewed women as inferior. Sure the Talmud says nice things about women as well, but the proof isn't in the words, it's in the practice. There were written laws that guaranteed equality for African Americans in the South. Separate but equal! Unfortunately, not all ideas can withstand the weaknesses of mankind. When one looked at the implementation of these laws in the south, it became glaringly obvious that whites in the south viewed blacks as inferior, the text did not elevate the practice.

It's not Judaism's fault that the general view of women became common practice. The real question is, what do we do now? We know the views of our sages, and their overall disparaging views of women. And we know the laws they enacted based on these views. So the next question is, do Rabbis view women the same way now? And if not, why doesn't the practice change to reflect that? Why is it permissible to cite things like kavod ha tzibur to prevent women from doing kiddush, or read from the Torah, or any other things that they could actually do? Why are texts from our gedolim of ages past that mention things about women censored out of our literature?

Another facet of this can be seen in the Orthodox response to women trying to move to higher positions in our times. Historically, all Jewish communities prioritized giving prominent positions to men. But we find many examples of women being allowed to rise to high positions in pressing needs and situations. One such woman was Asenath Barzani who became a Rosh Yeshiva in Kurdistan and was given the title Tanna’it. There were also women scribes from Biblical times leading into modernity in Sepharadi lands. And yet the current Orthodox model is to say that women cannot, under any circumstances, hold these roles. They are forbidden from achieving things they already had, and anyone who disagrees can potentially be stripped of their "orthodox card." I'm not trying to say one should erode the differences between men and women in our religious lives, but it's disturbing that our view of women seems to be moving backward rather than forward. And for something like that to happen, we have to admit to ourselves that Judaism does indeed view women as inferior.

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    Don't confuse a religion with its adherents.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 0:06
  • I am not. But we are living in a time where organizations that are trying to define what is proper and improper religious practice for all of us. So as much as I think they should be separate, the line is getting blurred more and more.
    – Aaron
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 0:15
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    You can't say you're not when you are. "the proof isn't in the words, it's in the practice"
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 0:30
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    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 19:23

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