Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Guys rule in Tazria

I post the following not because I agree with it -- I don't -- but to make the point that sometimes Torah thoughts are colored by cultural attitudes of the time. In the Midrash Rabba on Tazria, in Baal HaTurim on the parsha, and much more clearly in the following gematria tapestry by Rabbenu Ephraim ben Shimson (a student of the Rokeach, from the 12th and 13th century), there is a decided anti-female and pro-male bias, which cannot be adequately addressed by apologetics. Perhaps we may realize that these remazim are simply supports after the fact, and prove nothing.

"Isha Ki Tazria: אשה is the same gematria as דבש [honey], and this is what Shlomo Hamelech hinted at in his wisdom (in Mishlei 25:27), 
אָכֹל דְּבַשׁ הַרְבּוֹת לֹא-טוֹב; . It is not good to eat much honey [... so for men to search out their own glory is not glory].

[Re: eating too much honey] That whoever is drenched in sexual congress, his years are shortened, his teeth fall out, his eyelashes fall out, a bad odor exudes from his mouth and underarms, the hair of his legs increases, and many maladies come upon him aside from these.

Veyalda Zachar: זכר [male] in gematria is ברכה [blessing]. הבת [the daughter] in gematria is ארור [accursed]. That is to say that the male progeny is an addition of blessing while the daughter reduces the money of her father.

Another interpretation: זכר should be parsed as זה כר [this is the kikar], that is to say, this one brings his loaf with him. נקבה [female] is נקי בה. [J: I am not sure. Clean of it?]

The questioner asks: Why for a female child does she [the mother] sit impurity twice as much as for a male child. [That is, 14 days instead of 7 days?] And the answer is that the birth of a male child is joy, so that she does not bleed out such an abundance of blood. But by a female child, because of her great anguish and as a cause for concern about herself, she pours forth a lot of blood. And in accordance with the increase or decrease of the blood are the days of impurity and impurity. And some say that she keeps [seven days] for her own impurity and [an additional seven] for the impurity of her daughter, which are in sum fourteen days."

It was not easy living in medieval times. And a son who will work and support his parents in their old age was looked at as a blessing. A daughter who would not do so, and indeed would be a draw of money, in the form of a dowry, would be looked at as not such a blessing. And in accordance with this perception were the derashot constructed.


Princess Lea said...

Having a grasp of history is very important. It is frustrating when people take 21st century sensibilities and apply them to when life was very, very different. Girls were a drain (the days of Rochel and Leah's bride price was over) whereas a son would stay in his parent's home (lucky wife) and care for them.
A daughter would need a dowry and would very probably not see her parents again after her wedding if she married an out-of-towner.

mark said...

to play devils advocate who is to say that this isn't simply the facts. Meaning that Judaism views men as better or more significant than women?

Yes that may offend our modern day sensibilities but it wouldn't be the first time Judaism didn't strike someone as being 'with the times'.

Can anyone really provide ironclad proof that Judaism views men and women as being equally important in all respects?

Aryeh said...

This (http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pagefeed/hebrewbooks_org_21065_115.pdf)
interprets the "naki bah" line as referring to the fact that the husband stays clean from sin because of her.

I would interpret it to be in line with the kikar line, that he is the bread-winner, and she brings nothing to the table, she is "naki" from working.

SPACE said...

It is not right to say, that men or women is better. There's such questions, when men can think 10 years and woman answer @once.

Scott said...

נקי בה. [J: I am not sure. Clean of it?]

He's probably using naki in the sense of being cleaned out of one's wealth, as in B"K 41a:

כאדם שאומר לחבירו 'יצא איש פלוני נקי מנכסיו', ואין לו בהם הנאה של כלום

Scott said...

Could also refer to army exemption (Dev. 24:5):

כִּי-יִקַּח אִישׁ, אִשָּׁה חֲדָשָׁה--לֹא יֵצֵא בַּצָּבָא, וְלֹא-יַעֲבֹר עָלָיו לְכָל-דָּבָר: נָקִי יִהְיֶה לְבֵיתוֹ, שָׁנָה אֶחָת, וְשִׂמַּח, אֶת-אִשְׁתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר-לָקָח


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