Friday, December 2, 2016

Are women "in the image of G-d?"

We are all familiar with Bereishis (1:27): And G-d created the Man in His Image. In the image of G-d He created him. Male and female He created them.

It seems from this verse that only Adam was created in the image of G-d and not Eve. This implies that only Adam was human and not Eve and by extension that only males are human and not females. I am going to explore this question - to see where it goes and the implications for male-female relationships as well as society as a whole.

There is a major dispute as to how the male and female humans were created.
Nahman b. R. Hisda expounded: What is meant by the text, Then the Lord God formed [wa-yizer] man? [The word wa-yizer] is written with two yods, to show that God created two inclinations, one good and the other evil. ... Or again as explained by R. Jeremiah b. Eleazar; for R. Jeremiah b. Eleazar said: God created two countenances in the first man, as it says, Behind and before hast Thou formed me.  And the rib which the Lord God had taken from man made he a woman. Rab and Samuel explained this differently. One said that [this ‘rib’] was a face, the other that it was a tail.

 According to the view  (Berachos 61a) that man was initially created male and female - basically two individuals joined together - it makes sense that the verse uses the singular form because there was initially only one entity created - that was eventually divided into two distinct entities. But according to the view that Eve was made from Adam's rib or tail - it would seem that she is more of an appendage than a distinct human being. She was only made to allow procreation and provide support (ezer kenego) for Adam. 

What are the consequences for saying that women are not in the image of G-d and does anyone actually say that women are inferior, subordinate beings because they lack the image of G-d?
Abarbanel (Bereishis 1:27): Even though Man was created as male and female, they were not both equally perfected. And even though they were the same species they were not equally in the image of G-d. That is why the verse states, “In the image of G-d He created him (singular), male and female He created them.” In other words only Adam was created in the image of G-d because he was the reason and purpose for Creation. It was only for the necessity of procreation that Man was created as male and female. In fact there is no mention of male and female being created in the image of G-d but only for procreation. Gender is found in all animals and it has nothing to do with the image of G-d. From this we can understand why the Torah doesn't say “man according to his species” but it does say that man was created male and female were created by G-d. That is because man is different than other animals in which the female is on the same level as the male and is fully equal to him in nature and that is why it says about them “according to his species” without giving the male any superiority to the female.  However it is different concerning man because the male is the reason for creation of humans and he alone was created in the image of G-d. Thus the Torah states in the singular grammatical form, In the image of G-d He created him. That is because the male is the one who comprehends mysteries of wisdom and not the female about whom our Sages (Yoma 66b) said, “There is no wisdom in a woman except for the spindle” That is because the creation of the female was only an afterthought to provide the man with a helper and for the purpose of procreation as the Torah states later. So in summary we see that man was originally created alone in perfection while she was made afterwards in order to serve him. So here it just states the fact that she was created but it is only later (Bereishis 2:18-24) that the details if her creation are given. However that understanding seems to be inconsistent with the view (Eiruvin 17a) that male and female were in fact created at the same time as two entities joined together back to back. However in fact our assertion that woman lacks the image of G-d and is inferior to the male is also consistent with the view that Man was created as a hermaphrodite.  In other words man was created with an additional form from which woman was made. Thus it was like man had two aspects (pirtzuf) of male and female as an androgynous being (a Greek word describing a person who has both male and female sexual organs). However the Man was in fact a male in reality while the female aspect was only subordinate and an appendage to the male entity - in order to make a woman from it later. Thus we can explain that when it says Man was created male and female, it means that since the dominate concern was to create an intelligent being whose purpose was intellectual - for that purpose there was no need for the female and thus it was not proper to create with him the female. However this verse of “male and female He created them” teaches that in fact it was not so but rather G-d wanted that man would be created not only with the intellect but also with a non intellectual material aspect...  So even though according to this second view that Man was created with both male and female aspects but the two aspects were not equal in perfection but rather it was the male aspect – the primary one - which was created with the image of G-d.  Man was created as male and intellectual and only secondarily as female to enable the making of a second subordinate entity to serve the male
Aside from the Abarbanel  there is the Netziv.

Netziv(Bereishis 1:26): Let us make man – G-d did not say, “let us make a being like an animal in our likeness” and afterwards call him ‘man’ as is actually written later in Bereishis (5:2). But the phrase, “let us make man” means that there is no need to give man this name – rather his character shows that he is man. But if so it is difficult. Why is it written afterwards that G-d called their name man – which implies that there was a need to give a name...? But rather the matter is like this – that man is different from all the species since all the species were created in such a way that the species was unitary in its purpose and character; which is not the case for man who rose in G-d’s thought to be of two types of character. The one would be cleaving to his G-d, ready and serving in the world like an angel does in the Heavens. And the second is such that he would be political and take care of his own needs; even though he would nonetheless do the will of G-d, it would not be on the level of the first. And behold, according to the first characteristic he is automatically man (adam) based on the phrase ‘I will be similar to the most High – meaning that within him are included all the powers of creation and he rules over everything. And behold he is like the firstborn son of a king who rules like the king. And because of this, everyone understands that he is the son of the king in that they see him ruling over every detail. Which is not the case with the son of the king who is not the firstborn and the king merely makes him rule over some detail and his fellow over another detail and so too with all those that govern the kingdom. It comes out that all of them together are simlar to the king; but each one by himself is only similar to the king when he is given the name of ruler over that detail that he governs. And thus is man – the indiviudal of spiritual sstture is different then the simple individual. And in Shabbos (112b), they hinted to these two types of men. And it is stated in the first version of a particular thatement “this is not a man” and in a second version “thisis an example of a man” –the bexplanationof this being a man of spiritual stature. But the general human species is called man by the nature of the matter in that they as a group rule over the entire creation. And this is according to G-d’s plan. (And so too with the name Israel which indictes being higher thant the nature of creation and the running of the world. It will be explained later in Vayishlach that the whole nation is called Israel, but concerning individuals some are called by the name Israel and some have not reached this.) And if so in the statement “let us make man” its explanation is [that it refers to] the general species of man and it is certainly called man even without being given the name since in this general species is the creation dependent and in this detail they are simlar to the Creator. And Adam specifically before he sinned was worthy of being called man without being given the name; but after he sinned he was given the name of man and it will be explained further.“According to our likeness” – the image is according to our likenss and automaticallly man – who is clothed in it – is in the likeness of G-d and in this is the power of man.
Netziv (Bereishis 1:27) In the image of G-d  - all of nature was included in him. And from the time that it arose in the though and word of G-d that there should be nature, then G-d was called with the name Elokim. And since all of nature is included in man – behold – he is in the image of G-d. But this is not the case except in the man of stature as Adam was before the sin. Afterwards...."Male and female He created them." The verse does not come to explain that this species, more so than all the other creatures, has a male and a female. Rather, [it comes] to teach you that they are two beings, as will be explained below. This is because the male of this species is not at all similar in his character to the female of the same species. As Kohelet says: "One man among a thousand I have found; but a woman among all those I have not found" (Kohelet 7:28). That is, that a man of virtue resembling his Creator in the image of God is found one in a thousand; Which is not the case regarding women – who only fits the second description of man – who is only described as being man 

Image of G-d defined:

Physical Appearance of the body:

To properly understand the issue it would be helpful to have a clear understanding of what "the image of G-d" means. There are clear sources that it refers to physical appearance.  Avoda Zara (43a-43b):
Sanhedrin(38b):,, Bereishis Rabbah(8:3-11): Avos deRabbi Nossan (chapter 32).

Sanhedrin(46b): AS IF TO SAY WHY WAS HE HANGED? — BECAUSE HE CURSED etc. It has been taught: R. Meir said: A parable was stated, To what is this matter comparable? To two twin brothers [who lived] in one city; one was appointed king, and the other took to highway robbery. At the king's command they hanged him. But all who saw him exclaimed, ‘The king is hanged!’12 whereupon the king issued a command and he was taken down.Sanhedrin(46b):[[ AS IF TO SAY WHY WAS HE HANGED? — BECAUSE HE CURSED etc. It has been taught: R. Meir said: A parable was stated, To what is this matter comparable? To two twin brothers [who lived] in one city; one was appointed king, and the other took to highway robbery. At the king's command they hanged him. But all who saw him exclaimed, ‘The king is hanged!’12 whereupon the king issued a command and he was taken down.

Avos deRabbi Nossan(Chapter 2) Adam was born circumcised as it says and G-d created man in His image

רש"ר הירש (בראשית א:כז) ויברא אלהים את האדם בצלמו. ביטוי זה נשנה כאן פעמים מספר, והרי כאן הדגשה מיוחדת: לבושו הגופני של האדם הוא ראוי לאלהים והולם ייעוד אלהי. כך לימדתנו תורה להכיר ולהעריך את כבודו האלהי של הגוף. ואכן, לא באה תורה רק לקדש את הרוח, אלא בראש ובראשונה: לקדש את הגוף. הנה זה היסוד לכל מוסר אנושי: גוף האדם על כל יצריו וכוחותיו נברא בצלם האלהים; ושומה על האדם לקדש את גופו כראוי לייעודו האלהי. אין לך דבר, החותר תחת כל מוסר, כאותו רעיון תעתועים, המפצל את נפש האדם: הוא מודה בכבודה האלהי של הרוח ומורה לה להתעלות לעולמות עליונים; ואילו לגוף הוא מרשה שרירות משולחת רסן, להתהולל כבהמה בכיעור החושניות; ולגאוני הרוח אף יעניק חנינה מיוחדת - על כל שחיתות מוסרית של הגוף. לא כן ייעוד האדם, כפי שנצטייר בתורת ה'. קדושת הגוף ושמירת צלמו האלהי הן יסוד מוסד לכל זיכוך מוסרי ותנאי לכל מעלה רוחנית. וככל שהרוח מבקשת להתעלות, כן גוברת הדרישה לקדושת הגוף. שעה שהקב"ה כרת ברית עם ישראל, וכך חזר והקים את האנושות הטהורה, - פתח במצות מילה, המקדשת את הגוף. ומצוות רבות הכתובות בתורה לא באו אלא לצורך תקנת הגוף: להוליד את הגוף, לזונו ולקיימו בהכשר טהרת הצלם; למען יוסיף הגוף להיות צלם אלהים - ולא טמא, שקץ ותועבה: 

רש"ר הירש (בראשית א:כו): בצלמנו - כבר הוכחנו שם (עמ' 526), ש"צלם" - קרוב ל"שלם" ("שלמה") ול"סמל" ("שמלה") - מציין רק את הלבוש החיצוני, את התבנית הגופנית. נמצא "בצלמנו" =בלבושנו; הוה אומר: אם יתגשמו ויתלבשו בלבוש חיצוני - כל החסד והרחמים, כל האמת והמשפט והקדושה של הנהגת ה', - הם יתלבשו באותו לבוש, שהבורא חלק לאדם. כבר תבניתו הגופנית של האדם מעידה עליו שהוא בא כח לאל, אלהות עלי אדמות. צלמו של אדם הוא -:
Intellectual achievement 

Other sources indicate it is intellectual achievement concerning abstract philosophical thoughts or Torah.

Rambam(Moreh Nevuchim 1:1):[[כבר חשבו בני אדם, כי צלם בלשון העברי יורה על תמונת הדבר ותארו, והביא זה אל הגשמה גמורה, לאמרו נעשה אדם בצלמנו כדמותנו, וחשבו שהשם על צורת אדם, רוצה לומר תמונתו ותארו... אבל הערתנו בזה הפרק היא לבאר ענין צלם ודמות, ואומר כי הצורה המפורסמת אצל ההמון אשר היא תמונת הדבר ותארו, שמה המיוחד בה בלשון עברי תאר, אמר יפה תאר ויפה מראה... וזהו שם שלא יפול על השי"ת כלל חלילה וחס, אמנם צלם הוא נופל על הצורה הטבעית, רוצה לומר על הענין ההוא באדם, הוא אשר בעבורו תהיה ההשגה האנושית, ומפני ההשגה הזאת השכלית נאמר בו בצלם אלקים ברא אותו, ולכן נאמר צלמם תבזה... ויהיה הנרצה באמרו "נעשה אדם בצלמנו" הצורה המינית, אשר היא ההשגה השכלית, לא התמונה והתאר... אמנם דמות הוא שם מן דמה, והוא גם כן דמיון בענין... וכאשר ייוחד האדם בענין שהוא זר בו מאד, מה שאין כן בדבר מן הנמצאות מתחת גלגל הירח, והוא ההשגה השכלית, אשר לא ישתמש בו חוש ולא מעשה גוף ולא יד ולא רגל, דמה אותה בהשגת הבורא אשר אינה בכלי, ואם אינו דמיון באמת, אבל לנראה מן הדעת תחלה, ונראה באדם מפני זה הענין, רצוני לומר מפני השכל האלקי המדובק בו, שהוא בצלם אלקים ובדמותו, לא שהשם יתברך גוף שיהיה בעל תמונה. (חלק א פרק א)

Olam Habah for women

A related question is whether women get Olam Habah. See the commentaries on Berachos (17a) which asks what is the basis that women get Olam Habah - and answers because they provide a support system for their husband and children to learn Torah. The clear implication is that those women who don't provide a support system for Torah learning - do not get Olam Habah.

Similarly the ignorant will not get Olam Habah unless they support Torah study

Kesubos(111b): R. Eleazar said; The illiterate will not be resurrected, for it is said in Scripture, The dead will not live etc.11 So it was also taught: The dead will not live. As this might [be assumed to refer] to all, it was specifically stated, The lax will not rise, [thus indicating] that the text speaks only of such a man as was lax in the study of the words of the Torah. Said R. Johanan to him: it is no satisfaction to their Master that you should speak to them in this manner. That text was written of a man who was so lax as to worship idols. ‘I’, the other replied, ‘make an exposition [to the same effect] from another text. For it is written in Scripture, For thy dew is as the dew of light, and the earth shall bring to life the dead. him who makes use of the ‘light’ of the Torah will the ‘light’ of the Torah revive, but him who makes no use of the light of the Torah the light of the Torah will not revive’. Observing, however, that he was distressed, he said to him, ‘Master, I have found for them a remedy in the Pentateuch: But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day; now is it possible to ‘cleave’ to the divine presence concerning which it is written in Scripture, For the Lord thy God is a devouring fire? But [the meaning is this:] Any man who marries his daughter to a scholar, or carries on a trade on behalf of scholars, or benefits scholars from his estate is regarded by Scripture as if he had cleaved to the divine presence. Similarly you read in Scripture, To love the Lord thy God, [to hearken to His voice,] and to cleave unto Him. Is it possible for a human being to ‘cleave’ unto the divine presence? But [what was meant is this:] Any man who marries his daughter to a scholar, or carries on a trade for scholars, or benefits scholars from his estate is regarded by Scripture as if he had cleaved to the divine presence.

Ramchal(Derech HaShem Chapter 2):[[

Rambam(Moreh Nevuchim (3:27;54)


Pnei Yehoshua[2](Berachos 17a):[[
Chavrusa[3](Berachos 17a):[[

[1] שו"ת הרשב"ש סימן שכד
לפי שהנשים אף על פי שאינן מחוייבות ללמוד תורה אבל זוכות הן לחיי העולם הבא בזכות התורה שמלמדין את בניהם ומוליכין אותם לבית הספר ובזכות שמשמרות את בעליהם עד שבאים מהישיבות, כמו שנזכר בפרק היה קורא אמר ליה רב לר' חייא נשים במאי זכיין, כלומר במה הם זוכות לעולם הבא, אמר ליה באקרויי בנייהו לבי כנישתא ובאתנויי בנייהו בי רבנן ומנטרן לגברייהו עד דאתו מבי רבנן, אם כן אעפ"י שאינן מצוות בתלמוד תורה אבל זוכות הן לחיי העולם הבא בשכר שמסייעין בו. אמנם אם יש יתום ויתומה להשיא, יותר ראוי הוא לפי דעתי שיניחוהו להם, שהרי מוכרים הם ספר תורה לישא אשה כדאיתא בפרק בני העיר.
[2] פני יהושע מסכת ברכות דף יז עמוד א
שם גדולה הבטחה שהבטיח הקדוש ברוך הוא לנשים כו' אמר ליה רב לר' חייא נשי במאי זכיין באקרויי בנייהו כו'. ולכאורה יש לתמוה דמאי קשיא ליה לרב מעיקרא נשים במאי זכיין הרי נצטוו על כרחך מצות לא תעשה כאנשים וכן בכל מצות עשה שאין הזמן גרמא עד שהוצרך לתלות באקרויי בנייהו כו' ועוד דנראה דאיהו מותיב ואיהו מפרק מדלא קאמר דמהדר ליה ר"ח לרב באקרויי בנייהו. והנראה לענ"ד בענין זה לפי שנראה בעליל בהא דאמר לעיל גדולה הבטחה הם ג"כ דברי רב עצמו שכ"ז הוי מרגלא בפומיה והכל סובב אל מקום אחד לפי מאי שפירשתי דהא דהוי מרגלא בפומיה הוא ענין מוסר שצריך אדם לזכך כל רמ"ח אבריו ושס"ה גידיו בעה"ז על ידי קיום רמ"ח מצות עשה ושס"ה מצות לא תעשה כדי שיוכלו כולם ליהנות מזיו השכינה כדפרישית ומשום דלפי"ז לא שייך הך מילתא כי אם באנשים שמקיימים רמ"ח מצות עשה משא"כ בנשים כשתסיר מהם מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא כיון דפטורות ישארו אותן אברים פגומים ולא יוכלו ליהנות מזיו השכינה, ומש"ה מסיק רב במילתיה דאפילו הכי גדולה הבטחה שנתן הקדוש ברוך הוא לנשים וכדי לפרש דבריו אמר ליה רב לר"ח הני נשי במאי זכיין והיינו כדפרישית ובהא מסיק שפיר באקרויי בנייהו ובאתנויי גברייא ונטרין כו' נמצא כיון שהן מסייעות לבעליהן ולבניהן ללמוד תורה לשמור ולעשות כל תרי"ג מצותיה הרי שיש להם שכר אפילו במצות עשה שלא נצטוו עליהם וכן בתלמוד תורה אף על גב שלא נצטוו עליהם ושכר תלמוד תורה כנגד כולם אפ"ה יש להם שכר בכולן וכדאשכחן דדריש ראב"ע ברפ"ק דחגיגה [דף ג' ע"א] בפרשת הקהל כדי ליתן שכר למביאיהם, כן נראה לי בישוב אגדות אלו:
[3] חברותא - הערות ברכות דף יז עמוד א הערה (27
(27). ביאר הגר"א כי אף על פי שיש לנשים הרבה מצוות, הזכות לעוה"ב תלויה במצוה הקשורה בתורה, שהיא ה"אור" המגן על האדם תמיד, ואילו שאר מצות נמשלו ל"נר" שמאיר רק לפי שעה, ואין די בקיומן לזכות בעולם הבא, והוסיף מהרי"ל דיסקין [בריש תורת האהל] ש"עמי הארץ אינם חיים" כי החיות תלויה באור התורה, וכפיה"מ להרמב"ם בפרק חלק ששכר עוה"ב בהתעצמות הנפש במושכלות, וראה שמירת הלשון [יג] ולב אליהו [ויגש]. והפני יהושע ביאר לפי דרכו, שמאמרים אלו באו לעורר האדם לזכך נפשו לעידוני העוה"ב, ולכן מקשה הגמרא, שהרי נשים אין להם תורה, וגם פטורות מהרבה מצוות, ונמצא שהרבה אבריהם לא יוכלו להנות מהעה"ב, ועל כך השיבה שיש להם חלק בכל תורת בניהם ובעליהן. [וראה בשיחות מוסר צה, שתשובת הגמרא, שזכותן בסיוע לתורת בעליהם ובניהם גדולה מזכות תורה שילמדו בעצמן]. וע"ע ביערות דבש [א א].

Possible resolution

The sources dealing with physical appearance appear to apply to both men and women and Jews and  non-Jews. However clearly the Rambam and others understand image of G-d as an intellectual characteristic. From the issue of Olam Habah it would seem that the idea of image of G-d as well as the spirituality for Olam Habah need to be fulfilled by proper development through Torah and mitzvos and that only the potential is given. But there is a clear distinction between men and women.

 Men have the image of G-d and get Olam Habah if they are talmidei chachomim while women are not inherently and independently in the image of G-d nor do they get  Olam Habah or at least not that of the tzadikim. 

Women's only choice is for true spirituality is that  they subordinate their existence to the talmid chachom who is the true image of G-d. This is what the Abarbanel and Netziv both seem to indicate. Thus there are those who themselves are spiritual beings (inherently in the image of G-d through Torah and mitzvos) and there are those who by association and assistance of the  focus of creation (man)  get spiritual status (and they are only said or described as being in the image of G-d). Theoretically women could become talmidei chachomim and do all the mitzvos - but that is not their role. The concept of woman is one who provides support for the talmid chachom and her spiritual perfection is thus indirect- ezer kenegdo.

This distinction seems to fit all the sources

[to be continued]

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