Friday, March 10, 2017

Woman and their relationship to Satan, yetzer harah and death

update: Added the Maharal (Avos 1:5) [translations below are copyrighted]

In researching how women are viewed by Judaism - despite the many positive things which are said - there are other statements which associate woman with evil. These sources can not be simply ignored or dismissed as minority opinions - there are too many of them and by a wide range of authorities through the ages.

In this post I will discuss the relationship between women and the ultimate negativity - Satan, yetzer harah, sin and death. It is important to note the nature of Satan. While it clearly is not the Christian concept of a rebellious angel - it is not systematically discussed or consistently used. The clearest manifestation if found in Job. Satan seems to be an angel or spiritual force that provides spiritual tests - with G-d's permission. I will discuss this more fully in a separate post as well as the nature of the yetzer harah. Furthermore the negativity seems to be instrumental in providing tests which enable a person to exercise free-will and thus be rewarded. Thus Judaism does not view women as evil but rather associated with sin and temptation that needs to be overcome for spiritual growth and to reach perfection. This idea of G-d providing us with spiritual challenges is discussed by the Ramchal (Derech HaShem 1.2 The Purpose of Creation). [I bring many other sources in my Daas Torah]
ספר דרך ה' - חלק א פרק ב - בתכלית הבריאה
ד. והנה לשיהיו במציאות, הענינים השונים האלה של שלימות וחסרון שזכרנו, ותמצא הבריה שזכרנו בתכונה שהיא צריכה להיות, פירוש - באפשרות לשני הענינים וביכולת עליהם, שיקנה השלימות ויעדר מן החסרונות, ושימצאו לו האמצעיים לדבר הזה, פירוש - לקנות זה השלימות, הנה ודאי שפרטים רבים ושונים צריך שימצאו בבריאה, ויחסים רבים בין הפרטים האלה, עד שיצלח התכלית המכוון בה. ואולם הבריה אשר התעתדה לענין הגדול הזה, דהיינו לדביקות בו ית' כמ"ש, היא תקרא העיקרית שבכל הבריאה, וכל שאר מה שימצא במציאות לא יהיה אלא עוזר באיזה צד או באיזה בחינה אל התכלית לשיצלח וימצא, ועל כן יקראו טפלים לבריה העיקרית שזכרנו:
ה. אך הבריה העיקרית באמת היא המין האנושי, וכל שאר הנבראים בין הגבוהים ממנו ובין השפלים ממנו, אינן אלא בעבורו להשלמת ענינו, לפי כל הבחינות הרבות והשונות הראויות לימצא בהם, וכמ"ש עוד לפנים בס"ד. והנה ההשכלה וכל המדות הטובות, הם עניני שלימות שנמצאו להשתלם בם האדם, ועניני החומר ומדות הדעות הם עניני החסרון שזכרנו, שהאדם מושם ביניהם לקנות לו השלימות:

Bereishis Rabba(17:6): From the beginning of the Torah until here no letter samech is written. But when Eve was created then Satan was created with her. [Satan being spelled with samech and not the normal spellling with a sin]. And if you object and note that there is a samech when it mentions the rivers in Eden – that is about rivers and not about people.

Rabbeinu Bachye (Bereishis 3:1):And the Serpent was cunning. This verse about the Serpent is adjacent to the previous verse talking about the woman because Satan was created with the woman. She is the body i.e., the physical manifestation of the yetzer harah. Woman is easy to seduce to sin. Furthermore the numercial value of the word “the Serpent” equals 364 if you allow a value of one for the whole word. The word “satan” also equal 364.

Gra (Even Shleima 1:8): There are some people whose natural propensity is to be good– nevertheless they are wicked. Such a person is given all his reward in this world so that he receives nothing in the future world. That is because despite that it is very easy for him to do good - but he simply doesn’t want to do good. Concerning such a person it says in Yeshaya (3:9), Woe is to their soul because they rewarded evil to themselves. In contrast someone whose natural propensity is to do evil and consequently they are in constant war against their desires – we say (Avos 5:23), According to the effort is the reward. Therefore even if occasionally they succumb to sin – G-d forbid! – G d does not hold it against them as our Sages say (Berachos 17a), Greater is the promise that was made by G-d to the woman more than the men... That is because despite their propensity to do evil since they are from the “left side” which is closer to sin, therefore G-d gives them more credit for the mitzvos they do then the men. This is explained by our Sages (Chagiga 12b) with a parable. Who does the king give greater reward when he asks his servants to come to work very early? It is to the women. Because not only do they come early - despite it being contrary to their normal schedule - but they also come earlier than the men who do typically do come early.(Maharsha Chagiga 12b/Gra Berachos 17a).

Gra (Mishlei 10:1): 1. The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a father glad; but a foolish son is the grief of his mother. ...Furthermore "a wise son...." the kabbalists write that man has within him two forces - the power of the father and the power of the mother. When the power of the father is dominant then he is wise and righteous. However when the power of the mother is dominant then he is a fool. That is why "the wise son makes a father glad" - because the son is manifesting the power of the father. In contrast when he is "a fool who causes his mother grief" - it is because he is manifesting the power of the mother.  In addition "the wise son..." the positive commandments come from the aspect of the father while the negative commandments are from the aspect of the mother - as we explained before (Mishlei 1:8). The righteous are only praised because of the positive commandment while the wicked are only despised because of the negative commandments that they transgress. This is what is meant by "a wise son makes a father glad" In other words he rejoices that the son is manifesting the aspect of the father. In contrast, "a foolish son is the grief of his mother" because he is manifesting the aspect of mother.

Bava Basra(15b):And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold all that he hath is in thy power, only upon himself put not forth thine hand etc. . . . And it fell on a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house that there came a messenger unto Job and said, The oxen were plowing etc.31 What is meant by the words, The oxen were plowing and the asses feeding beside them?32 — R. Johanan said: This indicates that the Holy One, blessed be He, gave to Job a taste of the future world.1 While he was yet speaking there came also another and said, The fire of God. . . While he was yet speaking there came also another and said, The Chaldeans made three bands . . . and fell upon the camels and have taken them away . . . While he was yet speaking there came also another and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house, and behold there came a great wind from the wilderness and smote the four corners of the house and it fell upon the young men . . . Then Job arose and rent his mantle and shaved his head. . . and he said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not nor charged God with foolishness. Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves . . . and the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord and said, From going to and fro in the earth etc.2 He said: Sovereign of the Universe, I have traversed the whole earth, and have not found one like thy servant Abraham. For thou didst say to him, Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and the breadth of it, for to thee I will give it, and when he wanted to bury Sarah he could not find a place in which to bury her, and yet he did not complain against thy ways. Then the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, for there is none like him in the earth . . . and he still holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him to destroy him without cause.3 Said R. Johanan: Were it not expressly stated in the Scripture, we would not dare to say it. [God is made to appear] like a man who allows himself to be persuaded against his better judgment. A Tanna taught: [Satan] comes down to earth and seduces, then ascends to heaven and awakens wrath; permission is granted to him and he takes away the soul.

Bava Basra(16a): ; And Satan answered the Lord and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will renounce thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold he is in thine hand: only spare his life. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord and smote Job etc.4 R. Isaac said: Satan's torment was worse than that of Job; he was like a servant who is told by his master, ‘Break the cask but do not let any of the wine spill.’ Resh Lakish said: Satan, the evil prompter, and the Angel of Death are all one. He is called Satan, as it is written, And Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.5 He is called the evil prompter:6 [we know this because] it is written in another place, [Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart] was only evil continually,7 and it is written here [in connection with Satan] ‘Only upon himself put not forth thine hand.8 The same is also the Angel of Death, since it says, Only spare his life,9 which shows that Job's life belonged to him.

Bava Basra(16a): R. Levi said: Both Satan and Peninah had a pious purpose [in acting as adversaries]. Satan, when he saw God inclined to favour Job said, Far be it that God should forget the love of Abraham. Of Peninah it is written, And her rival provoked her sore for to make her fret.10 When R. Aha b. Jacob gave this exposition in Papunia, Satan came and kissed his feet.

Bereishis Rabbah (17:8): Why does a man go out bareheaded while a woman goes out with her head covered?’ ‘She is like one who has done wrong and is ashamed of people; therefore she goes out with her head covered.’ ‘Why do they [the women] walk in front of the corpse [at a funeral]?’2 Because they brought death into the world, they therefore walk in front of the corpse, [as it is written], For he is borne to the grave... and alI men draw after him, as there were innumerable before him’ (Job XXI 32 f).3 And why was the precept of menstruation given to her? ' Because she shed the blood of Adam [by causing death], therefore was the precept of menstruation given to her.’ ‘And why was the precept of " dough"4 given to her? ‘Because she corrupted Adam, who was the dough (hallah) of the world,5 therefore was the precept of dough given to her.’And why was the precept of the Sabbath lights given to her? ‘Because she extinguished the soul of Adam, therefore was the precept of the Sabbath lights given to her.’7

Maharal (Avos 1:5):Don’t have excessive idle conversations with women. ...That is because one who does is going towards and is attracted to a reality which is lacking and he is clinging to an deficit which is evil. This is like we said above in the introduction that when the woman was created that Satan was created with her. This is stated in Bereishis Rabbah (17), That the letter “samech” does not appear in the Torah until woman was created. This is to teach us that when the woman was created that Satan was created with her. The explanation of this is as we said. The woman is more materialistic then the man because the man is considered to be on the level of Form relative to the woman. And since the woman is more materialistic the Satan was created with her. That is because the Satan is the Angel of Death which is the power which causes a lack amongst the created beings. That is because the lack is associated with material as is known concerning material which it clings and is attracted by the deficit. This is what is meant that when the woman was created that Satan was created with her. In other words this is referring to the level of man because the male is on a higher level than the female. That is because the female is attached to absence and deficit. Now to explain the Mishna which says that whoever has excessive idle conversations with womem causes evil to himself. That is because when a man follows after the woman who is clinging to the deficit – there is no greater evil than the deficit as is well known. This however is does not degrade the woman herself at all. But rather it is saying that when a man goes down from his level to go after a woman with excessive idle chatter then the man is deviating from reality and moves toward deficit. Thus it is negative and evil for the man when he deviates from his proper level which is the level of the male and goes after something which is lower than his proper level.Thus when the Tanna of the Mishna points this out, he is not coming to diminish the love a man has for his wife. Because unquestionably a man should love his wife as he loves himself and the Tanna is not addressing that at all. He is only concerned with a man having excessive idle chatter with his wife. Because to the degree he has excessive idle chatter with his wife he goes down from the level of the male and is attracted to material which is attached to deficit. Thus he is causing evil to himself.[to be continued]

Maharal (Bava Metzia 59a): All those who follow the advice of their wife fall into Gehinom – This is truly incredible. We explain this also in relationship to Avos (1:5), All those who talk a lot with their wives are idle from words of Torah and in the end they inherit Gehinom. You should know that the woman is compared to Substance while the man is compared to the Form in every place. And when the Form is not separated from the Substance but rather the Form follows after the Substance entirely – he falls in Gehinom. That is because it is well known that the deficit is attached and bound with the Substance. This is alluded to by the Sages when they noted that when the woman was created the Samech was created with her. Because we don’t find the letter Samech in the Torah until the woman was created. ויסגר בשר תחתנה Bereishis (2:21) and closed up the flesh. That teaches you that with the woman was attached the deficit which is Satan who is the Angel of Death. When the Form follow after the Substance the Form obtains the deficit. That is because Gehinom is only the complete deficit as we learn from the names Gehinom itself... But this is only when the husband listen to her regarding worldly matters. But regarding household matters, “He should bend down and listen to her”. That is because it is clear that the Form stands on the Substance and the Substance serves the Form and is like a house for the Substance. Therefore regarding household matters “He should bend down and listen to her”. In contrast in worldly matters, if the Form follows after the Substance – then such is loss and deficit for the Form. However according to the other answer of the gemora that a husband should listen to his wife also for worldly matters that is because the Form stands on the Substance and thus also advice worldly matters are relevant. It is only spiritual matters that should be avoided from the wife. That is because the husband is considered the abstract Form but not the Form in the Substance. In such a case if the man follows after the Substance it would be a deficit for him. That would mean that the Form which is the abstract Form is sunken in the Substance which is a completely negative for the Form. Understand these matters in depth because they are very clear.

רבנו בחיי (בראשית ד:כב): ואחות תובל קין נעמה. דרשו חז"ל (בראשית רבה כג:ג) אשתו של נח היתה ונקראת כן על שם שהיו מעשיה נאים ונעימים. ויש אומרים שהיא היתה אשת אשמדון אם אשמדאי והשדים נולדו ממנה. וארבע נשים היו אמות השדים, לילית, ונעמה, ואגרת, ומחלת, ויש לכל אחת ואחת מהן מחנות וכתות של רוח הטומאה אין מהם מספר. ואומרים כי כל אחת מושלת בתקופה אחת מארבע תקופות שבשנה ומתקבצות בהר נשפה קרוב להרי חושך. וכל אחת מושלת בתקופתה משעת שקיעת החמה עד חצות לילה הן וכל מחנותיהן. ועל כולן משל שלמה וקרא אותם עבדים ושפחות שהיה משתמש בהם כרצונו. וארבע נשים אלו נשיו של שרו של עשו הן ודוגמתו נשא עשו ארבע נשים כדמפורש בתורה. וגם חז"ל האריכו במדרש (שם כד, ו) בענין אדם הראשון שכל אותן מאה ושלושים שנה שהיה נזוף בחטאו שהוליד רוחין ושדין ולילין ומזיקין. וזאת מעלה ושלמות במין האדם שממנו הרוחניים שבגלגלי היסודות גם ממנו יש רוחניים שכליים במרום, והבן זה:


  1. don't forget vilna gaon, even shelaimah 1:8

  2. Compare this to all the nonsense one hears everywhere about women being on a higher plane, naturally closer to God, etc. All given without sources.

  3. What all of this means is that women can be wonderful in the right situation. But they need good influences around them and do not handle the wickedness of the world very well. They should not be in charge. And so no shock the best women are traditional women, the kinds the new woman laughs at. Well the laugh is on them.


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.