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Why don't Jewish women do the same things men do?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

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Question:

I went to the Bat Mitzvah celebration of an orthodox coworker, and I noticed that unlike a boy’s Bar Mitzvah, the Bat Mitzvah girl did not wear a Tallit (or read from the Torah). Why can’t the girls celebrate their Bat Mitzvah the same way the boys celebrate their Bar Mitzvah?

Answer:

Why should they!

Why should they have to? Why should they want to?

For thousands of years, millions of great Jewish women became Bat Mitzvah. Yet, none of them wore a Tallit!

Ruth, Miriam, Yehudit, Bruriah, Rachel, and your great grandmother Sheindel, all were proud members of the Jewish communities, and heroines of Jewish history. Yet none of them wore a Tallit!

So why do women today feel they must wear a Tallit? Do we know something our matriarchs didn't know, or did they know something we forgot?

I believe they knew something we forgot!

They knew the power of femininity. They knew the power of the Jewish woman.

We forgot those things.

At some point in very recent history we decided that masculinity is superior to femininity, and that men set the standard for Judaism. So today we believe that if a woman wants to be important she needs to do whatever men do, and if a girl wants to celebrate Judaism she needs to celebrate it the way boys do.

I don't know how or why, but the common thought has become that the way boys do it is "more Jewish", and therefore if girls want to be just as Jewish as boys, they need to do everything the boys do, and just as the boys do it.

There is absolutely no source for such thinking in Judaism. It is almost like saying that the way men are is more human, and therefore if a woman wants to be more human she has to stop having babies, because men don't have babies.

It is insane, but widespread insanity.

Our matriarchs never suffered from this insecurity or confusion. They were proud of femininity, proud of Judaism, and proud to be Jewish women!

They didn't look to men to set the par of Judaism. They found Judaism in G-d, in His Torah, and in their own souls.

If only we can teach our youth to display that pride. If only our girls can celebrate Bat Mitzvah as proud Jewish women. Proud of who they are. Proud to celebrate the observance of what G-d demands of them, rather than being lead to believe they need to be “just like the boys”.

It is time to rediscover some missing links lost in modern Jewish history. See the following links for additional insight:

“If women are important why can’t they do the same things men do?"

“Ladies First”

“Pray Like a Woman"


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RELATED CATEGORIES

Life Cycle » Bar/Bat Mitzvah
Mitzvot » Tallit and Tzitzit
Women & Judaism
Daily Life » Clothing » Tallit and Tzitzit
Women & Judaism » Women's Mitzvot

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah
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.
Bar Mitzvah
The thirteenth birthday of a Jewish male. On this day -- customarily celebrated with a modest party -- the adolescent reaches adulthood and is responsible to observe all the commandments of the Torah.
Bat Mitzvah
The twelvth birthday of a Jewish female. On this day -- customarily celebrated with a lavish party -- the adolescent reaches adulthood and is responsible to observe all the commandments of the Torah.
Rachel
Third of the four Jewish matriarchs. Daughter of Laban, favorite wife of Patriarch Jacob, and mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Died while giving birth to Benjamin in 1557 BCE.
Tallit
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.
Miriam
Older sister of Moses and Aaron, and a prophetess in her own right.
Ruth
1. A Moabite woman who accompanied Naomi, the Jewish mother of her deceased husband, back to Israel. She converted, married, and was the ancestor of King David. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, which chronicles the events of Naomi's life.
G-d
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.