Friday, December 16, 2016

Even though both husband and wife must honor (kavod) each other - it is done differently

The requirement of kavod (honor) for husband and wife is different. It seems that a husband's obligations are in the realm of spending money on her while the wife's obligation is showing deference and respect and doing what he wants. The husband is also supposed to be concerned with her feelings when he tells her what to do - while this is not necessary for the wife since she is traditionally expected to obey rather than tell her husband what to do.

If anyone has sources that say otherwise - I will glad to post them.

Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 15:18): Our Sages commanded that a woman should be modest within her home and should not have too much conversation and levity with her husband. Nor should she directly ask him for sexual relations and should not speak about this activity. Furthermore she should not avoid sexual relations with him in order to distress him so that he will have additional desire for her. Rather she should comply with his request whenever he wants it. She should also be careful with his relatives and the members of his household so that he doesn’t having feelings of jealousy. She should stay away from disgusting activities and things which have the appearance of disgusting activities. 
Ben Ish Chai (Torah Lishma 319): Question: Is a wife obligated to listen to her husband when he orders her to do ridiculous things? For example, does she have to listen when her husband demands with threats that she should ride on a broomstick in the courtyard like little children do or to bray like a donkey or bark like dog? She refused because of embarrassment. Does she in fact have an obligation to listen to her husband even for foolish things because a woman is obligated to honor her husband and to do what he wants because that is his happiness? Or do we say that she has no obligation to listen to foolish demands? Answer: She is not required to listen to him when he says foolish things. It says in Kesubos (71b) that if a man takes an oath that his wife must fill up a bucket 10 times with water and empty it in the garbage dump – he is required to divorce her and give her the kesuba because doing so makes her look like she is crazy. So also in our case. Doing these foolish things makes her look like she is crazy and she is not obligated to listen to him in these things. 
Torah Temima (Bereishis 3:16): And he will rule over you - we learn from this that a woman asks for intercourse through her actions while the man asks for it directly and this is a good trait for women (Eiruvin 100b). Even though the trait of modesty is a good trait, nevertheless it is a curse that she can’t openly express her desires to her husband. It should be noted that this doesn’t explain the language “And he will rule over you” in terms of its literal meaning of having a master… Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezar (Chapter 14) notes that this is one of the curses of a woman and she should have her ear bored as a permanent slave and as a maidservant. The Radal says that this teaches that it has been decreed that a woman always has to pay attention to the words of her husband. It is logical that the reason for the practice of piercing a woman’s ears for jewelry is an allusion to the fact that she is enslaved to her husband as is noted in Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezar. If so then why isn’t the expression in this verse “He shall rule over you” explained according to this understanding [and instead the gemora says it means that she can’t asked openly for intercourse]? … Nevertheless it definitely would appear that the verse doesn’t lose its literal meaning and that is also meant. Therefore in terms of the relationship of a husband and wife, the wife is obligated to accepted the authority of her husband as we find in the Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 15:20): “Our Sages have commanded that the wife view her husband as a king and lord.” Aside from the language of this verse this idea of ruler ship can also be seen in the Sifre…that a woman does not have permission to speak before her husband. This is also possibly the source that Pesachim (108a) that a woman does not have to recline at the Pesach Seder in the presence of her husband. The reason being that he rules over her. She is exempt in the same way that a student is in the presence of his teacher. He cannot recline in the manner of freedom because of his fear and respect of his teacher. It is logical that this is the reason that a woman who does not fulfill the wishes of her husband is called a moredes (rebel). Since it is an obligation to accept him as king and lord [as stated in Rambam] therefore when she does the opposite - it as if she had rebelled against the kingdom. …  
Torah Temima (Devarim 22:16 note 136): From the fact that the verse begins by saying “The father of the girl took” and then it concludes with “The father of the girl” alone. Furthermore it says afterwards “He spread out the garment.” All of this shows that the woman is not allowed to speak in the presence of her husband. The reason is that she has to accept the lordship and authority of her husband as it says in the Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 15:20): Our Sages have commanded that the woman view her husband and a king and lord… Perhaps he is basing himself on the exposition on this verse. From this we can also see a source for Pesachim (108a) that a wife is not required to recline at the Seder in the presence of her husband. Since she has to accept his authority over her therefore she is exempt in the same way that a student is exempt in the presence of his teacher. It would seem that this is the reason that a woman who doesn’t do the will of her husband is called a rebel (moredes) as is known in Kesubos. Since she has the obligation to accept him as king and lord so when she does the opposite she is a rebel as one rebels against the king.
 Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 15:19): And thus our Sages commanded that a man should honor his wife more than himself and love him as himself. If he has money he should increase her welfare according to the money. Furthermore he should not place too much fear on her and he should speak with her pleasantly and he should not be sad or angry.
Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 15:20): And thus our Sages have commanded that the woman honor her husband to an extreme degree and the fear of him should be on her and she should do all her deeds according to what he says and he should be in her eyes as a ruler or king. She should orient her activities according to that which he desires and stay away from that which he hates. This is the manner of the daughters of Israel and the children of Israel who are holy and pure in their marriages. In this way the community will be pleasant and praiseworthy.
Yad Rama (Sanhedrin 76b): The braissa says that if a man loves his wife as himself – that means that he should have mercy on her as he is merciful to himself but more than himself is not relevant. That is because love is something which is in the heart and a person is not able to love another more than he loves himself. However regarding honor that is something for which it is possible that he can honor her more than himself with clothing which is nicer than what he gets for himself.
Chullin (84b): A person should always eat and drink less than what he can afford and he should have clothing appropriate to his wealth but he should honor his wife children on a higher standard than his wealth because they are dependent on him while he is dependent on G d.
Yevamos (62b): Our Rabbis taught: If a man loves his wife as himself and honors her more than himself and guides his sons and daughters on the straight path and has them married close to the age of puberty - the verse (Job 5:24) is applied to him, And you shall know that your tent is in peace.


  1. Thank you moving this topic to a new post.

  2. So the halacha is that a woman is never allowed to speak in the presence of her husband?
    Seems not to be a very well-followed- halacha...
    Would it really be desirable that wife never speaks with her husband??? I'm scratching my head...

  3. The Torah Temima that you quote also says that women pierce their ears to show subservience to their husband (like a slave would pierce his ear). I guess that if this were well publicized the earring business would disappear among Jewish woman.

  4. "Tav lemeisav tan-du . . ." notwithstanding, I don't know any woman/girl (in this day and age) who would knowingly enter into a relationship such as you describe above.

  5. These halachas should be stressed in both yeshivos and beis yaakovs.

  6. These discussions, which completely ignore the context and the societies in which the quoted statements were made, are pointless.
    The problem is that contextualizing Halachic statements is a slippery slope, likely to lead to frightening innovations in many areas of Halacha, of which the role of women is just one.
    But the fact is that these statements were made in the context of a Torah that, when contemplating and discussing the grounds for divorce, chooses to cite כי מצא בה ערוות דבר. The punishment for rape of a minor is financial compensation to the father.
    How can we pretend that statements made in this context truly apply to us?

  7. One example mentioned by the sourcs on how a man can show RESPECT for his wife i spending more on her than on himself for clothing. Let us consider a case of a poor man, who has just enough to either:
    1. Buy for himself high quality clothing but leave his wife in rags
    2. Buy for both himself and his wife descent clothing of the same quality but not high quality
    3. Buy for his wife excellent clothing and leave himslef in rags.
    Now it is clear that chazal and the halakha would expect this man to choose option 3, wear rags and suffer humiliation rather than humiliate his wife. The RESPECT that chazal require from a man towards his wife is clearly one of putting her interests (honor) first.

    For any man to do this, requires a high level of humility and kindness. Chazal, through these halakhot, are teaching the man to work on his character traits. The same is true with regads to the halakhot for women - subordination was not the purpose.

  8. Using your example. Yes the man can not humiliate his wife in terms of clothing - but it seems clear that her subordinate and lower status is not being addressed as the Maharal points out. She does have a sense of humiliation because of her secondary status - and the husband is not required to treat her as an equal to prevent that humiliation. So therefore you can not make a generalization that the husband is not allowed to do anything which causes her humiliation because he has to spend more money on her clothing. Nothing to with humility and kindess

    or put another way if I was told that the halacha is that my slaves had the right to better clothing them me - does that mean that I am learning humility and kindness and am concerned with the honor of my slaves?!

  9. If they were, there would be an even larger "shidduch crisis," as no women would willingly sell themselves into slavery.

  10. Have no fear. Beis Yaakov girls will not en masse refuse to marry and remain single all their lives or marry Christian men.

  11. I am beginning to think that Moe is being facetious and deliberately provocative rather than actually holding the views he puts out there.

  12. Yes - if a man is commanded to wear rags, so his slave can wear decent clothes, this will teach him humility and how to show kindness. But let us accept that chazal intended that women have a secondary status. For the Rishonic view that holds that women have the same Tzelem, like men, and can attain the same level of Olam Haba for the same effort as men, what would be the purpose of this secondary status?

  13. I gather you are not reading the sources I have posted. The wife is a support system so that the husband can devote himself to Torah.

    For example the idea of attaining Olam HaBah as expressed in the gemora is a function of Torah knowledge. While a woman might achieve a place in Olam Habah it is nothing compared to that which a talmid chachom will get and she only gets that high level by supporting a talmid chachom

  14. Wouldn't a talmid chochom's wife, who fully supported his Limud Torah, receive the same Olam Habah as him?

  15. I am reading the sources, though because of the quantity i might miss a lot. Attaining Olam HaBa is a function of ones's fear and love of G-d. True Torah knowledge leads to refined character and to the love and fear of HaShem. A woman does not have to be a "support system" for a Talmid chachamim to attain Olam HaBa, she just needs to attain the fear and love of Hashem through fulfilling the mitzvoth, just like a man. If she attains the same level of fear and love of G-d like a man, then there will be no difference in their level of Olam HaBa.

    Being married to a talmid chachamim will definitely help, and if she is uneducated might be essential. But only because this places her in an environment that fosters the fear and love of HaShem, through the fulfillment of his commandments.

    The only difference between men and women is in their physical brute nature, men being stronger. But this is not something for a man to be proud of or a woman to be ashamed of, since the true essence of being a human being is the Tzelem, which is exactly the same for both men and women. However, since it is inevitable that the physically stronger will tend to "dominate", the Torah and chazal, rather than opposing this reality, give laws to ensure that the leadership of the man is mutually beneficial, so that both can attain Olam HaBa, e.g. by restraining the man from becoming a tyrant. The Torah and chazal care equally that both man and the woman attain the highest level of Olam HaBa.

    The shitah, I am basing my argument on is that of the Rambam. Now it might be that this has not been the consensus view, and the question would be why? It does not contradict Torah or halacha or reality?

  16. “…she is traditionally expected to obey rather than tell her husband what to do.
    If anyone has sources that say otherwise - I will glad to post them.”
    Here are my sources:
    “The Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him.” And the Lord God formed out of the earth all the wild beasts and all the birds of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that would be its name. And the man gave names to all the cattle and to the birds of the sky and to all the wild beasts; but for Adam no fitting helper was found. So the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon the man; and, while he slept, He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that spot. And the Lord God fashioned the rib that He had taken from the man into a woman; and He brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This one at last Is bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called Woman, For from man was she taken.” Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:18-24)
    מלבי"ם בראשית ב' כ"ד
    על כן כמו שהאדם נקרא תחלה בשם אדם על שם האדמה שהיא הייתה אביו ואמו יולדיו כי ממנה נוצר, ואח"ז שנעשה איש, עזב את אביו ואמו שהיא האדמה ולא נקרא בשם אדם רק בשם איש שהוא שם מצטרף אל האשה כי אז נתנה לו אשה לעזר, כן כל אדם בילדותו ידבק באביו ואמו, וכשיגדל ויהיה לאיש יעזוב את אביו ואת אמו ויקח אשה אשר עמה יבנה לו בית נאמן בפני עצמו וידבק בה, כי היא חברתו ועזר כנגדו והיו לבשר אחד להקים זרע לקיום המין:
    Talmud - Mas. Baba Metzia 59a:
    R. Helbo said: One must always observe the honor due to his wife, because blessings rest on a man's home only on account of his wife, for it is written “And because of her, it went well with Abram; he acquired sheep, oxen, asses, male and female slaves, she-asses, and camels” (Genesis 12:16). And thus did Raba say to the townspeople of Mahuza, Honor your wives, that ye may be enriched. [The foregoing passages are Instructive on the Talmudic attitude to women. Though recognizing the evil influence a bad woman can wield upon her husband, as evidenced by Ahab and Jezebel, these sayings breathe a spirit of tenderness and honor. As she is highly sensitive, the greatest care must be taken not to wound her feelings, and a husband must adapt himself to his wife; whilst it is emphatically asserted that prosperity in the home, as well as the blessings of home life, are to a great extent dependent upon her.]

  17. where does it say that she doesn't have to obey her husband? It is talking about honoring her and not hurting her feelings

  18. Bearchos 17a supports 100% the view I mention. But before addressing it I will quote the Rambam Hilkhot Teshuva 10: "Therefore, when one teaches children, women, and most of the common people, one should teach them to serve out of fear and in order to receive a reward. As their knowledge grows and they acquire ENHANCED WISDOM (chochma yetera), this secret should be revealed to them bit by bit. They should become accustomed to this concept gradually until they grasp it and know it and begin serving [God] out of love."

    The entire chapter is talking about how to attain Olam HaBa and that it is true the fulfillment of the mitzvoth (including Torah learning) out of Love for HaShem. The Rambam clearly holds that women, like men, can only attain Olam HaBa this way. He does not mention any requirement of a woman being a "support system".

    Even more interesting is that the Rambam, emphasizes teaching women Torah, even certain secrets, and that they CAN ATTAIN CHOCHMA YETERA,, so that they can attain Olam HaBa.

    Regarding Berakhot 17a, the 1st part of the memra speaks for itself. It says the average woman will have a greater Olam HaBa than the average man. It is illogical that the tafel will achieve a higher olam habo than the ikkar. But rather as our chazal say "the greater the effort,the greater the reward". i.e. women get more olam habo simply because they make more sacrifices for the sake of Hashem and his Torah.

  19. One point, I forgot to mention is that from Berachos 17a, we actually learn that the man is the "support system" for the woman, so that she can attain a very likely greater Olom hobo than him.

  20. I agree with the phrasing “…she is traditionally expected to obey rather than tell her husband what to do..,”
    There is “Honor your father and your mother, that you may long endure on the land that the Lord your God is assigning to you. (Exodus 20:12) and “Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). Our rabbis write so much on this topic because, to get the rewards promised us, it’s not clear what one must do to “Honor your father and your mother” and it’s not clear how a man is to treat his עזר כנגדו.

  21. why isn't it clear - how many more sources do I need to post on the topic?

  22. that is not called a support system.

  23. you reading doesn't fit with the source. As I have mentioned a number of times - one reading of Berachos 17a is that granted that women will get the minimum Olam Habah - but the high level olam habah is only for superior achievements in Torah study. They way a woman can get access to that is by supporting her husband or other talmidei chachomim.

    the gemora says greater is the promise - why because it describes them as "at ease" and "confident'. which at most says they get the minimal Olam Habah with less worry than the man. Not more, but they are confident of getting it.

    מרומי שדה מסכת ברכות דף יז עמוד א
    גדולה הבטחה שהבטיחן הקדוש ברוך הוא לנשים יותר מן האנשים. היינו משום דזכיין במה דמקרו בנייהו ומתני גברייהו, ואף על גב שהמה בטלים כמה שעות ונענשים על זה, מכ"מ האשה מקבלת שכר על השעה שלומדים, ואינן נענשין על שעה שמבטלים, שהוא שלא מרצונם של הנשים:

    Bottom line, You are giving an interpretation which doesn't exist in the text

  24. The more sources you post helps.
    Hertz Chumash page 934:
    “The Position of Woman in Judaism
    It is astonishing to note the amount of hostile misrepresentation that exists in regard to woman’s position in Biblical times….”


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