Question:

I recently learned that Abarbanel (Bereishis 1-27) said that women are not created in the image of G-d. Yet it seems all discussions with contemporary rabbis nowadays consider women to be created in the image of G-d so apparently in the past there were others who rejected Abarbanel’s view.

So how do we know which view is to be accepted or rejected?

Answer:

I saw the Abarbanel, and read some of the article, and I think that the interpretation that was given there that women weren’t created in G-d image and therefore by extension women are not humans is surely not what the Abarbanel is saying, and to say so is twisting and exaggerating what he said.

To say that he means that women are not humans is absurd. Did G-d not tell Moshe at Mt. Sinai to first tell the women about the torah and then the men? Does it make sense that the torah should first be given to the sub- humans, and then to the humans? Was Deborah the Prophetess, and other six prophetesses, all capable of connecting to G-d when they were only sub-human, and not in his image? This is obviously not what Abarbanel is saying.

What Abarbanel is saying is that the creation of “man” whose was created above all of the animals, in the sense that that he has intellect to be able to understand sublime, intellectual ideas was essentially fulfilled in the creation of the male. Although both the male a female parts have this attribute and are similar, however the peak of this level was in the male part, as he says later, that it is the man that is capable of seeing the hidden sublime wisdoms, and that it is the woman’s wisdom that is more for domestic things. (This does not mean the women are incapable of it, rather that the man is built for it better)

Then he goes on to say that the male-female creation of all animals are essentially the same, and both are on the same level, (a male and female cat are on the exact same level), with the same nature. By humans however, the male and female are not the same. They were created together, and therefore they are very similar in the fact that they both have intellect, however the female was separated from the male in order to help him, and also to procreate.  They were both created together so that they both have intellect, however after they were separated, it was the male part that has the more sublime understanding of the theoretical. 

The truth is that men’s and women’s intellect isn’t the same. Men minds are more theoretical and abstract, and women’s are more practically oriented. Besides the Abarbanel is surely not going to argue with the gemorah (Nidah 45b) who said that women were given “extra binah” (insight) more than men. Both sexes were given the tools that they need to do the job that they were given. 

Therefore I don’t think that the Abarbanel is saying anything so radically different than everyone else, that men and women have different natures and tendencies, based on the different jobs that they were created to do. 

Tags: creation women

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