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Women's Issues

Women and Prayer

“You did not make me a woman”

Question: The Torah uses positive expressions as much as possible. Why is it that the blessing that is said in the morning reads “You are blessed .. for You did not make me a Woman” and not “... for You made me a man” instead? Why thank G-d for NOT making him a woman?

Answer: Man is born imperfect, and it is his job in this world to do his best to attain perfection. That is accomplished by following G-d’s commandments. To make the statement “You made me a man” would imply that he has reached that perfect state of being, complete fulfillment of his potential. That’s what a positive form of the blessing would express. For most of us, unfortunately, this is not true. The best we could do is thank G-d for not limiting our opportunities to do His commandments. That is why the text reads “...You didn’t make me a non-Jew” (who has only 7 Noachide commandments), “...You didn’t make me a slave” (when owned by a Jew he has most of the commandments), “...You didn’t make me a woman” (who has the full obligation of the commandments, with the exception of only a few).

For a woman, according to most customs, the text of the blessing is “...You made me according to Your will”, expressing her state of completion. Since she has less commandments than a man she doesn’t need those extra commandments to attain perfection. The areas that are refined by those extra commandments are already in completed form. Her job then, generally speaking, is to maintain her completed state, and not lower herself by violating the negative commandments.

(Rabbi) Meir Goldberg

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