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Judaism - Role of Women

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Stephen Gustofik


Mid-Term Paper #2

Judaism - The Role of Women

If there are differences among various different cultures, it's the way they portray women. For example, the overall role of women in our society is mainly two different things - to clean the house, take care of the kids, and to be used as a 'sex tool'. In other cultures, such as Judaism, women are viewed as more spiritual and intellectual. Today, I am going to define the way women are viewed in the Judaism culture as well as how it applies to the culture today.

First of all, I'd like to say that the role of women in traditional Judaism has been vastly misunderstood. The modern man thinks that the Judaism culture belittles the women in their culture and are low on the chain of command; however, the role of women in halakhah, or Jewish law, whom dates back to the biblical period are in many ways better than the position of women who are under American civil law, as recent as a century ago. ( Most of the high powered feminist leaders of the twentieth century (such as Gloria Steinem) are Jewish women, and some commentators have reiterated that this is no coincidence: the respect accorded to women in Jewish tradition was also a part of their ethnic culture.

In traditional Judaism, women are for the most part seen as separate, but at the same time are seen equally. Women's obligations and duties are different from a mans, but it isn't less important; in fact, there are some ways in which women's responsibilities are considered more important than men's.

The equality of men and women was first begun at the highest possible level, which was referred to as G-d. In Judaism, unlike Christian, G-d has never been viewed as exclusively as male or masculine. Judaism has always maintained that G-d has both masculine and feminine qualities. G-d has no body, no genitalia, therefore the idea that G-d is either male or female is completely wrong. G-d is referred to by using masculine terms simply for convenience's sake, because Hebrew has no neutral gender; G-d is not is no more male than a table is. (

One more thing about G-d: both man and woman were created in the image of this level, G-d, but according to most Jewish scholars, "man" was created in Gen. 1:27 with both men and women genitalia, whom was later separated into male and female.

Next, I'd like to start off by saying that there are also many learned women of note. The Talmud and later rabbinical writings speak the wisdom of Berurya, whom the life of Rabbi Meir was. Beruya's opinions on halakhah were accepted over those of her male contemporaries on several instances. In her son's marriage contract, the wife is obligated to teach the husband Torah. Many rabbis over the centuries have been known to consult their wives on matters of the Jewish law that relates to the women's role, such as laws



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