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Thought for the Day: The Torah Doesn't Open the Rabbinate to Women Nor Childbirth to Men

Separate but equal has a really, really bad reputation in the US.  In truth, much of its putrid reputation  in this country is well deserved given its application in the last century.  The idea itself is not so bad, but it has been so badly abused that it has suffered from the ideological analog of racial profiling.  Using it to explain the role of women in Torah Judaism (something I have been wont to do), is an uphill battle at best; and usually a losing one.  Having recently heard a shiur from R' Yisroel Belsky on the topic and upon reconsideration, I think it really was a mistake.  The roles of women, men, kohanim, leviim, rabbonim, etc are not equal.

The mashal/allegory R' Belsky gives is to consider two businesses: General Motors vs Joe's Bar and Grill.  Suppose the head design engineer of GM walks into the CEOs office and says he'd like to start spending two hours a day sweeping floors.  He really needs that to feel fulfilled as a human being.  The CEO will tell him that it is not possible; GM's future depends on good engineering of current products and a vision of the future.  While is very sorry the head engineer does not feel fulfilled, that's the job for which he was hired and that's the job he needs to do.  GM is a large organization with a complex mission; everyone needs to do his part, in his assigned role, for the company to be successful.

What about Joe's Bar and Grill?  Joe and his wife both do everything  Some days Joe washes dishes and his wife waits on customers, some day she pays bills and he orders food.  Why?  Because it's a mom and pop operation.  How much skill and training does it take?  All of, Pa: "Hey, Ma... why don't we open a Bar and Grill?"  Ma: "Sure, Pa, sounds great!"

The Reform Jewish Religion has no particular Jewish content and it has no particular mission.  That is according to their own literature.  They are interested in "Tikkun Olam", which to them means to everyone should do whatever they want as long as they don't hurt others.  That's not a unique mission, they just have their way of doing it, and others have their way.  To each their own; l'shitasem.  So of course anyone can do whatever they want.  What they call a rabbi can be done by men, women, even goyim (and often is).

The Torah, however, has  mission for this world, and it is every Jew's responsibility to play his assigned role.  A woman wants to be in the rabbinate?  No way; the future of the Jewish people and its mission is children.  "Chochmas Nashim bansa baysah"/The wisdom of women builds her household. [Mishlei 14:1].  The Torah tells us our mission and the midos with which we were each created to fulfill our missions.  A particular woman doesn't feel fulfilled?  Same answer as the CEO told his head design engineer, "I am sorry, but the future depends on you doing your job."

So is a woman's role equal to a man's in Judaism?  That's like asking if the heart or brain have equal roles in the human body.  The body can't live without either one of them fulfilling it's function.


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