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Blessed be God ... Who Didn't Make Me a Man

May 8, 2009 | by Emuna Braverman

Jewish feminism doesn't mean wanting to be a man. It means thanking God for creating you perfectly female.

When I graduated law school, I hung my degree in the family room of my parents' home, resigned my membership in all radical feminist and leftist organizations, and headed for yeshiva.

Now, having been “married with children” for awhile, those feminist ideas have receded even farther into the past.

Not only do I NOT want to be a man, I don't want equal access to his responsibilities, at least not in the Jewish world. Not only do I take pleasure in my responsibilities as a woman, I take pleasure in not having a man's commandments to fulfill.

Women are frequently distressed by men's daily thanks for not being created female. I, on the other hand, am grateful for fewer commandments that I am required to fulfill, especially when it's 10 o'clock at night and I'm curling up in bed with a good book, while my husband is putting on his jacket and heading out the door to pray maariv.

I whisper a little prayer, thanking the Almighty for not creating me male.

I whisper a little prayer, thanking the Almighty for not creating me male. On Shabbos morning when I pull the covers up over my head as my husband leaves for the synagogue, I am glad not to be obligated in time-bound commandments. I have no desire to put on tefillin, I think I look ridiculous in a kipa, and I enjoy the freedom to pray on a more relaxed schedule.

Having carried, given birth and nursed nine children, I wouldn't trade my biological destiny for anything in the world. I don't have to prove my strength or value in male arenas. I don't believe that I would nourish my family or friends better if I learned Gemara.

I enjoy nurturing and raising my children. I enjoy opening my home to guests and those in need. I thrive on the intellectual stimulation of learning Torah, but I need it to be balanced by practical application. And I enjoy communicating these ideas to others.

I like cooking, dancing, ice skating and throwing a football around, none of which is hampered by being female or observant. I can go to Broadway shows, dance recitals and concerts, all of which are off bounds to my husband because of kol isha (prohibitions against hearing a woman sing) or immodest dress of the performers.

Blessed be Hashem ... who didn't make me a man.

I have a long way to go to truly achieve my own potential. It's a tremendous job, exciting and rewarding. I appreciate my feminine strengths and I want to make the most of them. I'm happy with who I am and who I could be. Maybe I'm still a radical feminist after all.

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