Askmoses-A Jews Resource
Who is Peter Chamor?
Browse our archives

The Scholar is ready to answer your question. Click the button below to chat now.

Scholar Online:

Type in your question here:

Click the button below to either CHAT LIVE with an AskMoses Scholar now - or - leave a message if no Scholar is currently online.


Are Jewish men considered the head of the household?


Library » Best of AskMoses » Daily Life | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Rabbi Shlomo Chein: Welcome. I'll be with you in a moment...what's on your mind?

seeking_equality: shalom

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: hi

seeking_equality: Are men considered the head of the family in judaism

seeking_equality: this is an ongoing discussion i have been having with my mate

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: A husband and wife are a single entity according to the Torah

seeking_equality: they are one?

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: in a single entity everything has its value and why it is necessary

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: so in your body -- what is more important your ears or your mouth?

seeking_equality: they both are important

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: bingo!

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: but one speaks and one hears, they can't both speak, and they can't both listen. But a person is not healthy if he is missing either one -- because they are both important!

seeking_equality: but in a body the head is more important than a limb

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: A husband and wife each have their own roles -- their roles are not the same -- but they are both important, and if you have one without the other, niether of them are complete

seeking_equality: all the limbs are important but without the head everything is dead

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: have you ever seen a head without other limbs?

seeking_equality: so is the man considered head of family or both husband and wife are head

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: a man is the head, a woman is the heart

seeking_equality: but my girl said that once there is a head there is hierachy and inequality

seeking_equality: I try to explain to her that it is just different roles

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: because she thinks it is two different people or entities

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: is there hierarchy from the head over the heart in a human body, or do they work in harmony?

seeking_equality: they work in harmony

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: when a husband and wife are one entity, there is no hierarchy, no inequality, no friction; only harmonious sharing of roles, abilities and talents, to create a single healthy being

seeking_equality: so why is not the woman the head and man heart

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: why is not your heart your head and your head your heart?

seeking_equality: what is the role of the man that makes him head?

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: do a search on for "role of women"

seeking_equality: I want to know cause her points were very strong and suggested that I believed in inequality and patriarchy

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: do you?

seeking_equality: no

seeking_equality: I just believe that man is the head and we are both one, just different in glory

seeking_equality: we are equal just different roles

seeking_equality: I think i can discuss it better with my princess now

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: great!

seeking_equality: thank you

seeking_equality: shalom

Rabbi Shlomo Chein: shalom

All names, places, and identifying information have been changed or deleted in order to protect the privacy of the questioners. In order to preserve authenticity, the chat sessions have been posted with a minimum of editing. Please excuse typographical errors, missing punctuation, and/or grammatical mistakes which naturally occur in the course of informal chat sessions.


Please email me when new comments are posted (you must be  logged in).


I'm not sure I fully agree

Posted by: Anonymous on May 25, 2008

I don't think the analogy of head and heart is a valid one. The head is without question more important than the heart. Whereas a person can survive without a heart, as in the case of an artificial heart, there is no way to survive without your head. If you have no head, you are no longer a person. Even if you could have an artificial head, you would not be yourself, but instead an entirely different person.

Also, to say that the man is the head of the household does imply that he gets to make the decisions. Your head can tell your heart what to do, but your heart has a more minor role in dictating what happens in your brain.

The analogy makes the woman seem more like a laborer than an equal partner. That is, the man makes the decisions and the woman's role is to just make sure things keep ticking, without any real say in what happens.

In any relationship, the man and woman should decide together what their roles will be such that both are happy and satisfied with life.

Editor's Comment

Thank you for your comment to AskMoses. Even the best of analogies has its limits, nervertheless, I will attempt to help explain this one a bit better. You are correct that hearts (not brains) can be artifical or transplanted. Nevertheless, the point in this article is that a heart (of one kind or another) and brain are essential to life. The complete absence or non -functioning of either one would render a person lifeless. On the other hand, other limbs and organs can be absent although the person may be alive and well. So too, in marriage the head and heart of the home are both necessary. As to the roles each one partner plays, the heart and mind must be coordinated with one another, both in a physical and interpersonal way. The mind controls involuntary functions like the heart, but the heart also provides blood to the brain. The misfunctioning of either of these roles is life threatening. Interpersonally speaking, the heart and mind both make decisions. A person who decides with his heart alone would be an impulsive, reckless and perhaps hedonistic character with no mind to govern his decsions. On the other hand a cold minded, calculating and insensitive brainy type would lose the Mr. Congeniality contest hands down. To live a balanced and happy life, we need our mind and heart to share in making our interpersonal relationships be successful. The best marriages I have seen are the ones in which a husband and wife, DO decide together (no dictatorships), and they reach a balance with one another, respecting each other's qualities and abilities, and working as a single and united entity, as mentioned in the article.

Man is the head, woman is the heart when they are married.

Posted by: Anonymous, nmb, FL on May 25, 2008

So what does this lead to in real life. Does the man do all the thinking and does the woman have to follow. Does he need to be the one in control and do things have to be done on his terms? Also, if she is the heart, what is her role. Does this mean that she has the feelings, and he learns from her expressing herself or what does she do with this role?

Editor's Comment

In the modern world of equality, people assume marriage roles should be identical, that the role of a husband and wife should be interchangable. However, a house with two heads, or two hearts would be a very dysfunctional and unstable one (much like a two headed but heartless person). Without remedy, the marriage would perish. In real life, the goal is marital harmony based in Torah values. Both spouses are equal partners, but with different roels. In some cases the husband leads and in other cases, the wife does. There is a Jewish phrase that a 'proper Jewish woman does the will of her husband'. This seems to indicate that she does what he wants her to (which, in a healthy relationship is a good thing and should be mutual). On the other hand, the word 'does' in Hebrew is 'osah'. The word 'osah' also means 'makes'. So the same phrase reads 'a proper Jewish woman, makes her husband's will'. With this reading it is clear that a wise wife can run the home and direct the marriage albeit thru a more subtle and clever way than overt demands and control. In any case, a person needs both a head and heart to live. The absence or malfuction of either cannot sustain life. The brain tells the involutary functions what to do (such as the heart), and the heart sends blood to the brain which it requires in order to function. They are totally interdependent. So too, marriage needs both the head and heart to function in harmony, in order for the relationship to be productive and healthy. I hope this response has been helpful to you.


Women & Judaism » Women's Issues
Life Cycle » Marriage » Family Life
Daily Life » Family Life

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.