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Men do & Women are

by Mrs. Dinka Kumer


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I read the AskMoses article by Mrs. Weisberg called "In Judaism, men seem to take on a far greater role than women..." which was very thought provoking about being vs. doing. I agree with that completely. How does a woman 'be' more of 'being' more than a man? Where in the Tanach is a woman defined through being, but a man through doing? ---Cheryl


I hope I understand your question correctly, and that the following addresses what you asked.

A man requires overt and active reminders of his Jewishness. He wears a Kipah, teffilin and Tallit (physical and obvious reminders). He needs public Jewish involvement (Aliyah to the Torah, Chazzan in prayer, Kiddush on Shabbat.) These are 'doing' sorts of Jewish things. He has to actually don those Jewish items and do those Jewish activities.

A woman does not wear anything specifically Jewish. She must dress modestly, but this is to preserve her essential dignity as a woman, and not as a reminder of who she is, since she can sense her 'being' (no reminder necessary). Also a woman's role is subtle, not public. She needs no fanfare to prove her Jewishness, since it's already obvious to herself. She can do her special mitzvahs from the comfort of her home, making it her holy sanctuary for G-d.

In regards to an example, we see that Avraham was the one who waited outdoors for guests and would run after them to usher them in. He supervised their meal and prevailed upon them to bless G-d. Guests could have arrived  of their own accord, but Avraham took an active role in inviting them (doing). On the other hand, Sarah was in her own realm, but no less involved. She created the home, atmosphere and food for these guests to enter and partake. Without her, there could have been no hospitality at all (being).

Also, tradition teaches that Avraham converted men, and Sarah converted women. Avraham knew how to teach men so they would want to worship G-d. Sarah was no less successful in her approach, since she knew what appeals to women. Different approaches, but both successful.


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(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Prayer recited at the beginning of the Sabbath or Holiday meal--both the evening and afternoon meals. This prayer, acknowledging the sanctity of the day, is recited over a cup of wine or grape juice.
Literally means to rise up. Has two popular meanings: 1. Being called up to the Torah scroll and recite the blessings when the Torah is being read. 2. To emigrate to the Holy Land.
First Jewess, first of the four Jewish Matriarchs, wife of Abraham--the first Jew. Lived in Mesopotamia, and then Canaan, in the 19th century BCE.
A prayer shawl. A large four-cornered woolen garment with fringes attached to its corners in a specific manner. This garment is worn by males during the morning prayers, fulfilling the Biblical obligation of attaching fringes to four-cornered garments.
Acronym for Torah, Nevi'm (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Holy Writings). Tanach refers to the 24 books of the Bible: the 5 books of Moses, the 8 books of the Prophets, and the 11 books of Holy Writings.
(pl. Kipot). The head-covering worn by Jewish males. Serves as a constant reminder of the existence of a Higher Being.
A cantor, or any individual who leads the congregation in prayer.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.