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Why does it seem that men take a more active role in Judaism than women?

by Mrs. Dinka Kumer


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I find your article very moving (See "A Feminist on Mikvah: An interview with Rivkah Slonim"), but I would like to comment on the following passage: "There is a name for this exercise -- mitzvahs. This is the definition of Jewish life. Unquestionably, women have equal obligations and privilege in bringing G-d's plan for this universe to fruition." As I became a more observant Jew, it became clear day by day that indeed our life/mission is defined by bringing out G-dly sparks into the world, by doing mitzvots. In doing so I discover deeper love for G-d, G-d's love for me, perfection and goodness in the world. But, none of this came natural to me. Discovering G-d required actions! Getting up and setting hope when my negative will opposed and fighting by making Mitzvot. Now the question remains: Why do men take more actions? It is evident that men have more mitzvot. is it that women have a higher inner ability to see G-dly sparks in the universe? indeed that is what Judaism suggests. What about those who disagree? --Amy (Leah)


I cannot speak for those who disagree, nor imagine what their possible religious objection could be, but I can respond to understanding men having more mitzvahs than women.

Imagine you are building a museum. There are two main areas involved in the project: the funding and the construction. So the fund raiser sits in her office and writes letters, makes calls, attends meetings with banks and donors etc.. The head of the building committee, is out getting dirty on site, working with architects, electricians and plumbers. Whose job is more important?

Really, they are both necessary for the museum to be built. It cannot happen without either of them, and neither is superior to the other. 

Now, let's say that the fund raiser decides that her job is too quiet, and she wants to go out and use some power tools. She might have fun for a few days. After that, there won't be any money to keep building anything. Plus, she is not really suited or trained for this work, so she probably will want to back to her cozy office and Blackberry.

OK, and if Bob the Builder would put on a tie and move into the office to enjoy some corporate AC, he could also enjoy this for a little while. But then the building crews would be in chaos, if not become dangerous, too. Plus a guy who is used to a jackhammer, probably does not know much about grant writing.

The point is that G-d created men and women with different spiritual designs and roles, and both are necessary (and non exchangable).

For a man, this mean usually going out there in the world and doing some spiritual conquests out there. It may involve a lengthy list of tasks and very obvious deeds [with Bob, think about all the workers, sub contractors etc, he works with  daily; the noise it makes; that people really SEE how much he is accomplishing with each newly constructed part of the museum.] These are all the mitzvahs that a man is obligated to perform.

For a woman, she is less visible; her work is more subtle, but is no less vital. Without the woman, things will entirely cease to progress. The fund raiser's list of 'things I did today' may be shorter, but they are essential [like I had only one meeting, but we got a million dollar donation thanks to that one donor!]. So too, a woman may have less mitzvahs, but her role is pivotal.

[Ed. note: Also read "Men do & Women are" and "Does Judaism view men and women as equals?" and "Why don’t Jewish women do the same things men do?" ]



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Jewish Identity
Women & Judaism
Women & Judaism » Women's Mitzvot

Plural form of Mitzvah. Commandments of G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Fourth of the four Jewish matriarchs. Elder daughter of Laban, wife of Patriarch Jacob, and mother of six of the Tribes, including Levi and Judah.
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.