Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Jewish Woman's Goal (Per R' Avigdor Miller)

I think it is important to read and to learn even from those with whom we disagree. Thus, case in point, I provide this excerpt from Sing, You Righteous by R' Avigdor Miller. Don't rush to criticize- just think about what he says- even if it's entirely against everything you believe. If I can do it (and I'm precisely the type of person who will end up with a 'ruined life' per him), I'm sure you can.


G. We shall always continue, but there [the Yeshiva] is where you will become great. Everyone needs the Torah-environment. If you had a sister, her road would lead to Beth Jacob.

A. And afterward?

G. To early marriage. The greatest career for a woman is to be wed to a disciple of the Sages, which is equivalent to a lifelong sojourn in the Yeshivah. This is the way to join the Shechinah. "You shall cling to Him" (Dvarim 10:20); "Cling to the Sages and their disciples, and it is considered as if you ascend on high" (Sifri, Dvarim 11:22), "Therefore one should attempt...to wed his daughter to a Talmid Chacham, and to eat and drink with Talmidei Chachamim...and to associate with them in every way" (Kesubos 111 B; RMBM, Deos 6:2). There is no better opportunity for this than marriage. When a woman's children become Talmidei Chachamim, or are married to them, she comes still closer to God. The false lure of a "career" leads nowhere at best, and it usually ends up in a ruined life. Marriageability shrinks with each additional year, and one is reduced to second choices. There is no Romance as truly beautiful and rearding as a Jewish home where the Shechinah dwells. Even the Mishkan and the Mikdash are but an echo of the Sanctuary wherein Abraham and Sarah lived their noble lives. And how much more so when blessed with many children, for then is added the infinite achievement of new worlds ("One who adds another soul to Israel is as if he had built a world"- RMBM, Ishus 15:16). Such a happily-busy woman is like a Rosh Yeshivah, and even her household chores are like Torah-discourses.

A. Is that all?

G. It is more than all else. Certainly it depends on the degree of intent for the sake of Heaven, just as even the Rosh Yeshivah must teach for the sake of Heaven. In addition is the world of Kindliness, Charity, Znius and endeavor for the strengthening of the Torah, all of which are available to the daughters of Jacob. Some may find opportunity for Chovos Halvovos, RMBM (Deos and Teshuvah), Cusari, Shaare Teshuvah (Rabeinu Yonah), Mesillas Yesharim and many other treasuries of Torah; and also biographies of Zaddikim. Some might become capable of writing books to inspire the youth. But a Torah-home is in itself an achievement of a skilled architect: "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tear it down" (Mishle 14:1). The wise mother is a builder of the nation. David said: "I am Your servant, the son of your handmaiden" (Tehillim 116:16); i.e. my mother was my model of service of G-d. Shlomoh said: "Hear, my son, the instruction of your father; and forsake not the teaching of your mother" (Mishle 1:8); and we have a chapter of his mother's admonitions (ibid., 31). The self-control, diplomacy and foresight of the wise Jewish wife make her an analogy for the Torah (Koheles 9:9; Kiddushin 30B): "See life with the woman you love."

~pages 355-356


Now, if you are anything like me, your lips have already curled up in distaste. It's hard to entertain other people's viewpoints, isn't it? But worthwhile, I think. Personally, my favorite quote is "Such a happily-busy woman is like a Rosh Yeshivah, and even her household chores are like Torah-discourses."

I wonder what would happen if I told my Bais Yaakov friends they were like Roshei Yeshiva! I'm almost tempted to do it.


Anonymous said...

I commend you for considering with tolerance and poise opinions with which you strongly disagree.

Partisan ranting (whether on politics, religion, or any other topic) is not only unlikely to change any minds, it's also less likely to be well thought out. Passion has its noble uses, but it does something terrible to clarity of thought.


Chana said...

Thanks! What does AW stand for?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. I did not know that it is possible to find those words in writing. I thought they were only preached by female teachers who are trying to feel good about cleaning floors and changing diapers.
The fact that this was put down in writing by a man, shows how much of an ideology this has become and not only for the fanatical religious people.

Anonymous said...

AW stands for AgnosticWriter. I was raised frum, have been OTD openly for over 10 years, and have periodically waded in to some of the frumskeptic blogs and forums. Most of my writing energies, however, I reserve for print. I saws a link to your blog and was impressed with the dignified tenor of your post.


הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Ugh, Avigdor Miller wasn't making that stuff up; it's pretty Talmudic in origin. Avigdor Miller himself was pretty "modern" as it happens. If you(/we) feel the Talmudic guidances have changed in regards to women since then that's one thing, but to "diss" Rav Miller's "Cheridishkeit" is another.

I personally believe he's a great speaker to listen to if you're some agnostic writer. I never agreed with a lot of stuff he said but have always been a "big chasid" of his...

Stubborn and Strong said...

you need to sent to all Kollel guys because wives are very busy with their careers to support to their husband... :snickers:

Gavi said...

At the risk of drawing the ire of the blog-mistress: early marriage does not have to come at the expense of knowledge or career.

Look at my wife: she got married at 21, knows a heck of a lot more Torah than I'll ever know (I guess that isn't saying too much) ;-), and is a great science teacher! But then again, she never went in for much of the "housework-is-my-Torah" business...

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Forgot to subscribe to comments!

harry-er than them all said...

Im not saying i fully agree with R' Avigdor Miller, but he has a point that there are plenty of women who find in enjoyable to be able to raise their children in a completely sheltered way. Im not saying its for everybody, or even the majority, but i understand the attraction to it.

(on a funny side note- the noda beyehuda has a teshuva where he bashes those who wont marry a girl who has the same name as his mother, but will marry a girl who isnt a 'bas talmid chocham'. one is a gemara, and one is a minhag, not even)

EJB said...

Just an interesting slightly related source to ponder:

רמב"ם איסורי ביאה כא:לב
לא ישא אדם בת עמי הארץ שאם מת או גולה בניו עמי הארץ יהיו שאין אמן יודעת כתר התורה.
What is this "Keser Torah" Rambam talks about, and why does he assume women can not possess it? Or, is he just making a writing based on the metzius?

The Talmid said...

Comment on Rabbi Miller: A "lifelong sojourn in the yeshiva" does not mean that that person in the yeshiva will ever be a talmid chacham.