Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Women ran stores in Europe - but not in Israel

While there are many sources which explicitly state that women should remain home - the historical reality was something else. For example there are letters written by the students of the Vilna Gaon who came to Israel in the early 1800's. The letters were requests for financial assistance from their European brethren. One of the reasons given for the need for this help was that in Israel the accepted practice [of the Arab population] is that women don't work in stores as they did in Lithuania. In addition the men came to Israel to learn Torah - not to work.

אברהם יערי אגרות מארץ ישראל ע”מ 336.
מכתב מתלמידי הגר”א בשנת 1810
“טעם הב’ ראיתי חובה עלי להודיע כי הספרדים יש להם פרנסות בחנויות וס”ד  הכל בהיתר ולא באיסור ובמנוחה. אבל לא לאשכנזים מפני מניעת הלשון, וגם כאן המנהג שהנשים אינם יושבות בחנויות, ואנשינו הבאים
לאה״ק ע״פ רוב ביאתם לקנות שלימות ולהיות מתופשי ב ה מ ״ ד " לישב על התורה ועל העבודה ובאים בידים ריקניות.”


  1. So the idea of women working so the men can learn Torah long predates the modern Kollel system, we see.

    1. Or perhaps the idea of a two income family predates the modern system. That women were working doesn't mean that the men were in kollel.

    2. The story above refers to one-income families in the 1700's and 1800's, with the wife working and the husband studying Torah.

    3. Is it specific that it did not apply to the "sandlar-shoemaker", "shochet - butcher", "blacksmith" & or "Melamad"?

  2. In Europe, the most common situation by far was for women to work to suppliment the household income. In Europe, very few men, in fact hardly any, were learning full time. two incomes was usually a neccessity, not an option.

  3. See recent posting of Nitei Gavriel which addresses the issue of women working



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