Thursday, January 12, 2017

Maharal - Women have binah yeseira - they have extra primordial intellect as opposed to the abstract intellect of man

The Maharal is often cited as a rabbinic authority that recognizes the equality or even superiority of woman over man. It is important to understand what his views actually are. Here is an example of the Maharal's understanding of gender differences regarding "binah yeseira" (extra understanding) - which is often cited to indicate that woman has superior intellectual powers.

However it is clear that the Maharal does not understand it that way. He comments are similar to those found in the Ibn Ezra and Ralbag as well as the Rambam and other Rishonim - that there is a coarser more primitive nature to women's intelligence and it is primarily useful in dealing with material rather than spiritual issues. There is a problem in that bina yeseira does not just mean practical or mundane wisdom
Peskita Zutrasa[1](Lekach Tov Devarim Zos Habracha):Yehoshua ben Nun – Why was was his name ben Nun? Because he had bina yeseira and similar we see in Bamidbar (34), Because Moshe placed his hands on him. G-d had only said to Moshe to place one hand on him and yet he placed both hands. From here we learn that a teacher is not jealous of his students....
Malbim(Divrei HaYomim 2:26.5):  
מלבי"ם דברי הימים ב כו
(ה) ויהי לדרוש אלהים. שר"ל שהיה אז העת המוכן לדרוש אלהים, כי היה בימי זכריה המבין בראות אלהים, שהנביאים ובעלי רוה"ק היו צופים במראות אלהים כמו יחזקאל שראה המרכבה, ויתר מחזות שראו הנביאים. והיה ביניהם מדרגות, שיש מהם שלא הבינו כל המראה על אמתתה, כי המראות הם ציונים מושכלים שעל ידם יציינו להם ההשגות הנוראות, כמו העולמות וההיכלות והפרצופים והספירות שרואים הנכנסים בפרדס, שיש מהם שהציץ ונפגע, ומעשה בתינוק שיצא אש מחשמל, כי צריך בינה יתירה להבין דבר מתוך דבר כר"ע שנכנס בשלום ויצא בשלום, וזכריה היה מבין המראות, ובדור שנמצא איש כזה היה העת לדרוש אלהים ממנו, ובימים שדרשו את ה' הצליחו. עתה יתחיל לספר הצלחותיו, א] נגד האויב החיצון:

Maharal[1](Nida 45b): This teaches that G-d gave bina yeseira (extra understanding) to the woman The explanation is G-d gave primordial (hayulani) intelligence to the woman because she is extra prepared for this. However the man has intelligence (seichel) and wisdom (chochma) in extra measure which is abstract intelligence. Primordial intelligences enables the woman to accept more. And thus our Sages say (Bava Metzia 59a), If your wife is short bend down and listen to her. According to one view this is referring to household matters while according to another view it is talking about worldly matters. That is because the woman’s intelligence comes from primordial intelligence which is more relevant to her than the man. Consequently regarding heavenly matters one should not listen to the advice of his wife because a woman has no connection to wisdom which requires abstract intelligence. It is important to understand clearly what our Sages hint at when they say woman was given extra binah (understanding). This is based on the language “vayiven” (build) where G-d builds  woman from the side of man. That is because the woman completes the building of man and from this aspect she has wisdom because completion produces this. Nevertheless the level of man is that he has abstract intelligence. It is important to understand this.

[1] מהר"ל (נדה מה:): מלמד שנתן בינה יתירה באשה וכו'. פי' דבר זה כי השכל היולאני נתן הש"י לאשה מצד שהאשה היא מוכנת לזה ביותר, כי האיש יש לו שכל וחכמה ביותר הוא השכל הנבדל, אבל שכל היולאני מוכנת האשה לקבל ביותר, וכך אמרו בפרק הזהב (בבא מציא נט.) אתתך גוצא גחון ותלחש לה, ומוקי ליה לחד לישנא במילי דביתא ולחד לישנא במילי דעלמא, והיינו כי האשה חכמה שלה מצד שכל היולאני שייך לה יותר מן האיש. ולכך אמרו שם במילי דשמיא אל ילך אחר עצת [אשתו] כי אין האשה שייך לה חכמה כי חכמה זאת אינ' רק מכח שכל הנבדל. אמנם כי יש לך להבין מאוד את שרמזו חכמים בזה שאמרו שנתן באשה בינה יתירה, ודבר זה נרמז בלשון ויבן, כי היא משלמת הבנין אל האיש, ומצד הזה שייך לה חכמה, כי ההשלמה ראוי לזה, ומ"מ מדריגת האיש שיש לו שכל הנבדל והבן זה.


  1. והטעם הוא שמדדיגתו
    של גוי מדדינה חיצונה ואינה פנימית נעלמו/
    לכך תמיד מדבר ואין לו דוח פגימי ו 0 ז ה
    הטעם ג״כ תבין מה שהגשים יש להם דכוי
    דברים בשביל מדריגתס השפלה התחתזנד,
    והגלויה שלהם וכאשר ראה ב ישיאל

    Left coulmn third of the way in

  2. Rav Kook explains that when Chazal (Berachos 10b) say that women recognize the nature of guests better than men do, they were careful to specify "guests." Since one does not have enough time to get to know a guest well, one needs to go by instinct, and in that realm, women have an advantage over men.

  3. Why can't this be put to a pragmatic test? Provide some abstract literature to panels of men and women familiar with such material and test them afterwards to see make a comparison.

  4. yes practical issues - but the real spiritual wisdom is reserved for men - right?

  5. You said that, not me.

  6. I was taught bina yeseira is related to instinct, like a 5th sense. Beinso so, I was told no halachic study can be influenced by 'bina yeseira' because 'Torah is not in heaven', which makes sense.

    Now, regarding intellectuality, women of previous generations had no access to the level of information women of our generation can have... I think it does not depend exclusively of gender anymore.

  7. what does instinct mean? Native knowledge which doesn't need instruction? Why not intuition?
    Why can't halacha be influenced by instinct - it has nothing to do with heaven!

    I hope to post some other citations of the term binah yeseira which indicates that it is not limited to practical wisdom, instinct or intuition - and that it is used for men as well as women. In sum - the Maharal is reading into the verse not learning from it.

  8. actually I didn't say it the Maharal and the Rishonim are saying that

  9. The Maharal and some Rishonim but not all. The Rambam did not say that, for obvious reasons.

  10. I must confess I'm just parroting what I was told about this issue years ago by my kallah teacher and never, ever really thought deeply or researched about it. Looking forward for the next post on this topic.

  11. The Rambam did not stated it explicitly but I don't see any evidence that he would disagree with it.

  12. The Laws of Teshuva 10:5
    Anyone who occupies himself with the Torah in order to receive reward or in order to protect himself from retribution is considered as one who is not occupied for the God's sake.

    [In contrast,] anyone who occupies himself with it, not because of fear, nor to receive a reward, but rather because of his love for the Lord of the entire earth who commanded it, is one who occupies himself for God's sake.

    Nevertheless, our Sages declared: A person should always occupy himself with the Torah even when it is not for God's sake for out of [service which is not intended] for God's sake will come service that is intended for God's sake.

    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 their wisdom increases, this secret should be revealed to them [slowly,] 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 Rambam talks towards the end of the halacha about teaching women spritual wisdom.

  13. Absence of proof is not proof of absence

  14. No one says that women are incapable of spiritual wisdom. The point is whether they are capable of dealing with high level abstract ideas which the Rambam holds is the highest level of humanity. Don't see anything in your citation that discusses this.

    He clearly also holds that philosophy is the highest level and that philosophers are capable of prophesy because of this

    bottom line your quote doesn't say what you claim it does

  15. not proof but there is no reason to assume that the Rambam thought differently than other Rishonim on the issue

  16. It says "Consequently regarding heavenly matters one should not listen to the advice of his wife because a man has no connection to wisdom which requires abstract intelligence." Shouldn't it be "a woman has no connection to wisdom which requires abstract intelligence"? Otherwise it doesn't make sense.

  17. Do you think if the Rambam and other rishonim and achronim were alive today, and could see the intellectual achievements women (abstract and otherwise), that they would still take the same positions?

  18. DT, what do you mean by this? Does that mean the rishonim were wrong? Wouldn't the essence of the differences between the sexes be something that they would glean through the Torah?

  19. No it doesn't mean the rishonim were wrong - but people are different. If you go through the literature there is a difference between the theoretical pure view of male and female and the mixed reality where male have some female traits and vice versa.

  20. The entire 10th perek on laws of teshuva is devoted to how to come close to the highest level of humanity (Avraham avinu). The Rambam states this is hard for most men, and (based on chazal) women even more so. But he concludes the perek by stating unambiguously that with properly tailored instruction women can also attain levels close to Avraham avinu. Would the Maharal and the Ralbag agree?

  21. The sole issue is whether he is saying one out of a million women might achieve a high level with proper instruction but that normal case is that women are inferior as opposed to perhaps the Maharal and others who say it is inherent that women are inferior. Or that the Rambam agrees that they are inherently inferior but that there is some aspect of Avraham avinu they can achieve - but never that which a man can and thus totally agrees with the Maharal and others

  22. Most women are still pretty non-intellectual. And there were intellectual women even back then.

  23. The Maharal is widely misrepresented on these matters. You'll hear Deroshos al HaTorah 27 cited endlessly. There he says men's aggressiveness needs correction. But you rarely hear these kinds of Maharals. See Derech Chaim, al sirbah sichah (pirkei avos) and more wives more witchcraft.

  24. Here is what the Rambam says about the "multitude". i.e. most men in the moreh part 2, chap. 3: "On the contrary, the multitude must be considered according to their true worth; some of them are undoubtedly like domesticated cattle, and others like wild beasts, and these only engage the mind of the perfect and distinguished man in so far as he desires to guard himself from injury, in case of contact with them, and to derive some benefit from them when necessary."

    Clearly, the Rambam did not consider men "innately" more intelligent than women. His view is that every human-being (men and women) needs some level of moral/intellectual "training" to actually become intelligent. Some need more work than others, and based on his experience with most women in his generation and cultural environment, who were denied opportunities to learn and were ignorant, he felt women needed more help.

  25. It seems to me the difference between the Rambam and the Maharal, is that the Maharal views women as inherently inferior with no hope of reaching anywhere close to avaraham avinu, while the Rambam holds that women (and the common people) are "special needs" and need "special ed" to get them close to the level of avraham avinu.

    This is a significant difference because the Rambam at least opens the door to view the abilities of each woman/girl on an individual basis, rather generalizing and writing-off all women as inherently inferior.

  26. Yes Grossman quotes academics that say that the Rambam never says that women are inherently inferior to men intellecutally as opposed to others such as the Maharal and Rishonim that say that women by nature are inferior. So it is possible that the Rambam would speak differently today

  27. It's already been done! Put them to task on Math and Physics, however, there will always be apologetics and give you 1001 reasons or excuses why they couldn't cut it. If you tell them nashim da'aton kalos, they commit suicide. If you tell them, not all people were created equal they will change their genders to disprove you. It's all in the Hormones and Balance. When you see a female mechanic or an artistic male, it's the wrong gender trapped in the wrong body and many do update themselves. Even the outgoing president legislates Toilet Ethics through executive orders that * What you think in your mind you are - determines the gender, and not what's written on the Birth Certificate*. You don't judge the book by it's cover. Same thing goes for becoming eligible as president of United States regardless of where you were actually born or what the Certificate states. It's all in your *Mind* that counts, and that is the true State of your being, and the sad State of Affairs. He still has about 24+ hours to change the signs of all the toiletries stating OO/ WC/Rest Rooms/ Lavatories in the US, to LGBTQ /+ -/==/<= , of which is one of the greatest accomplishments of the Century. Although they have separate distinct door entrances, but once inside, like the Pushke's in Shul having twenty different labels all contained in one, it is one Big Room accommodating kol minei Marin Bishin's being Politically Correct. You do not have to prove your political affiliation or your Political Corrected ness before entry 'kedei shelo levayesh es mi she'ein lo'. All you need is to just take along your Psychiatrists Certificate Pass - State of your Mind and swipe it at the turnstile. In case you left it at home, gain entry with the Honor Code and Honor System through a back door, giving them a piece of your mind telling them to mind their own bizwax. This seals not only the end of a Presidential era but also the fate of a Traitor just by changing and undoing his Klei Ma'asov, thereby, being trans (formed) from his criminal past into a new entity born again, free again, dreaming on to keep hope alive. Speaking about accomplishments. Next thing you know beod shehaner dolek, he will legislate an executive order to free all the 'shotrim' killers like Fidelity Castro of Cuba opened up all the Prisons shipping them on a flotilla across US shores, with a twiddle of his thumb. Blue life Does matter!
    fidel didel di, fidel di dum *Haterem teida ki ovdo Mitzroyim*?

    Back to the Hormones:
    Torah is Binah, hence when you get your license to Pasken, it's called Hormona. When you find a man with a squeaky voice, he cannot daven before the Amud, kol isha. If a women grows a beard or has a deep voice like a male, kol gufah tzricha bdika, else, it can be declared a Mekach Taus by certain *Rasha* Yeshivos and ra bonim, if the price is right. Many marriage Counselors will send you for a Hormone balance test before treatment and you be surprised how many marriages have been saved. Even the critical thinking test results, fluctuate accordingly to the Hormonal balance. Veal tehi da'as noshim kalo vehedyot be'einecho.


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