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Ralbag and Women

Question:

I read that Ralbag considers women in between animals and Man, being the highest of the animals. I am not sure how to feel about that. Also apparently he said that Hashem did not put much thought into the creation of women which accounts for why women are more prone to sickness. I prefer to believe that Hashem put the upmost care into the creation of both man and woman so I am not sure what to make of that statement.

Felling stressed about this.

 

Answer:

After reading the Ralbag I take issue with the way that it was interpreted misunderstood. Ralbag does not consider women a type of creation between man and animal, such as a sophisticated monkey- heaven forbid. He also does not mean to say that there was less thought put into her creation. Additionally, he does not say that they are more prone to sickness, (and in fact it isn’t true). We believe that God is perfect and whatever he does is perfect according to the intention that He decided for each creation. Besides, God made women as a separate process from all of the animals, and it doesn’t make any sense that an individual creation was done without thought!

The Ralbag is discussing the creation of man. In Genesis Chapter 2 verses 8-18 he explains, that man was originally created with a strong intellect, with the purpose that he should be able to understand deep, esoteric ideas, godliness, and to be able to attach himself to God. However, since man is human and has numerous bodily needs, he needed a helpmate in order to help care for his bodily needs, in order that he should be able to concentrate on his spiritual aspirations. For this reason, God separated a part of man and formed it into Chava, with the intention that that by his being separated into two, Chava will be able to attend to his physical needs, help him in procreation and with bringing up the children. Ralbag therefore says that Chava was created with less of a mind for esoteric abstract concepts, because that is not her goal, as her goal is to help him with his physical needs. (Which as a side point is true in general regarding women, that learning deep abstract concepts, such as those are found in gemora is not for most women, as she is built for other things.) Later on (chapter 3 verse 15-20), Ralbag explains regarding the punishment, that was accorded to Adam and Chava due to their sin, each one was demoted, from their original lofty level. He also says that because Adam’s job is to be involved more with spiritual things, his body was made in a way that his body has certain advantages. He doesn’t have periods, pregnancies or the pain of childbirth, and now due to the sin of eating from the forbidden tree, these things will be painful for her. Ralbag does not mean to say that Hashem concentrated less on her creation than his, as we see clearly that she was specially made for a special purpose. Additionally, it is blasphemous to say that Hashem “didn’t do such a good job while creating her”. This can not be true, because animal also don’t have periods, and pregnancy issue, and only Chava’s children have this, and Chava was created in a special way, with a lot more concentration than the animals. Therefore, all he means to say is that a male has certain bodily advantages in his creation over a woman, because of his inherent job, to tend to spiritual pursuits, and to connect to God in an intellectual way. He also says that a woman’s capability to delve into intellectual ideas is not as strong as a man’s is, because her goal is to deal with more physical things. Additionally he says that although her job is to help her husband, all of the animals were created in order to help her accomplish her job. Therefore, she was called, “the source of all life” meaning that all the animals were created to provide for her. This is aside from the goal that she has that she is the mother of all people.

Ralbag knew that there were numerous women prophets, such as Sara, Rivka, Miriam, Devora, Chulda, Esther and others. All he means to say is that in general, men have more of an intellectual capability to understand abstract ideas … and women are more hands- on practical. Both talents were given to them based on the job that they were created to accomplish.

As stated, Hashem made men and women different, in many different ways, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. The reason being because from their very original creation they were created to accomplish different jobs. Each one was given the tools needed to accomplish that job. Therefore, their bodies are different, which is not our topic right now. Their mental and emotional strengths are also not the same. Men were given a stronger understanding for the abstract, whereas women were given stronger emotional talents, because they are the ones who are to nurture her young children, who need the emotional warmth.

I hope this gives you some clarity.

Best wishes

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3 Comments

  1. Thanks for answering. Does it make a difference if there is a specie of fruit bat and some apes with menstruations? I know the majority of animals do not have periods otherwise.

    1. That is not the point. Even if there would be some species that would have, the idea is that it is clear that it is due to the sin of Chava, and not because her well-fare has been “overlooked”

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