Are the Bible and the Torah sexist?

Man does not fulfill his destiny without woman, nor woman without man, nor the two together without the Divine Presence among them. - Midrash (ancient rabbinic commentary), Genesis Rabbah 8:9

Everything depends on the woman. - Genesis Rabbah 17:7

In mankind, the differences between the sexes go beyond the merely physical: gender changes everything.

Women, compared to men, probably constitute the higher form of life. In the Biblical worldview Creation proceeded in ascending order: from the earlier and less advanced forms to the latter and more advanced. Adam - whose name literally means "man," from a root meaning "earth" - came before Eve (in Hebrew, Hava or Chava, or literally, "life"). Men may have more size and muscle and upper-body strength, but the human male seems to belong to the lesser sex, in some respects, and not necessarily the stronger.

The recurrent problem of society is to define the male role satisfactorily. - Margaret Mead (Male and Female, 1949, p. 160)

And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. - Genesis 1:27

The great mothers of Israel, starting with Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, through Miriam and Deborah, the Biblical prophetesses, and onward, Jewish women over time, were all - obviously - merely human. They each combined greatness, simplicity, and shortcomings. Unless you canonize Jewish Motherhood itself as saintly, you can't canonize any individual mother.

Leave it to mankind, though, to do exactly that to the poor Jewish girl, "Mary," who's said to have given birth to "Jesus." Just one of the problems with that is that it detracts both from the eternal cosmological force - an amazing uplifting force for civilization - that is Jewish mothers, and also from every individual Jewish mother.

See "A Woman of Valor," the last section of the Book of Proverbs - part of the protocol of prayer and worship that sanctifies the Sabbath - Proverbs 31:10.


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