EXOD520 The basis of Jewish social life being the family, Judaism has exercised a ceaseless vigil over its purity and stability. The relation between the sexes is based upon the ideal of tohorat ha'mishpachah, that is, upon chastity and purity which border on holiness. The Jew does not regard woman as his inferior but as his co--partner. The sole reason why she is exempt from certain precepts, the fulfillment of which is circumscribed by the occasion, is the fact that male and female have been cast into different physiques, making it biologically necessary for a division of labour between man and woman. It was never intended that the sphere of the home, delegated to the wisdom and tenderness of the wife and mother, should be considered as secondary to the study of the Torah or to the pursuit of a livelihood, occupations set aside for the programme of men. The Bible knows no such distinctions, for "male and female created He them" [Gen. i. 27]. When those who arranged the order (Siddur) of our daily prayers prescribed the blessing [Singer's Prayer Book, p. 6] thanking God "who hast not made me a woman", all they meant was, as can be seen from the context of the blessings, that the Jew is grateful to His Master for so conditioning him that he is not deprived, as a woman is by reason of her domestic responsibilities, from fulfilling such duties as Tsitsit, Tephilllin, Sukkah and similar duties which must be performed within a limited, stipulated time [Kidd.i.7; Men. 43b]. Apart from this category of commandments, known in the Talmud as "mitzvot aseh she'hazeman grama", no differentiation in our ethical codes exists between male and female. On the contrary; because the Fifth Commandment tells the child to honor her father and mother, the Lawgiver felt that he must remove the mistaken idea that the father is mentioned first because he is the more important partner in marriage by putting the mother first when he repeats the command elsewhere in the Torah. [Lev. xix. 3, "Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father". Redress could not be more noble, nor equity of the sexes more colorfully stressed. Moreover, when the Rabbis explain the verse "Now these are the ordinances which thou shalt set before them" [this verse], their comment was: "Scripture places men and women on an equality with regard to all the laws of the Torah" [B.K. 15a]. If woman is not encouraged to higher study, no qualms of conscience need assail her; her merit consists in the help she gives her menfolk to become learned in "The Word of God" [Ber. 17a]. Moreover, God endowed woman with more intuition and tact than man [Nid. 45b]. Biblical support for this statement was found in the word Vayiven ויבן [which is made a denominative from בינה "intelligence"] used when a woman was created from the rib of man. God used special intelligence (binah) before coming to the decision that the best material from which to shape woman was the rib, for that is that part of the body which was always covered [Gen R. xviii.2.].
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