Blessed are you Hashem, our God, King of the universe, for not having made me a woman
Ever since I can remember, I have always found the verse in my prayer book: “Blessed are you, Hashem, our God, King of the universe, for not having made me a woman”, offensive.
In high school, it was explained to us that men say this verse because women are on a higher level, and therefore men are grateful for not having to measure up to us. I never bought it. I simply read it as it is. I didn’t feel that looking deeper into it and trying to turn this disturbing verse into something else, was the truth. I think that this verse was written during a time when women were considered second-class citizens. Women did not have equal rights. Women were unfortunately treated a lot differently than men.
Recently, my daughter Naama, who is a strong young lady, came to me and asked me why girl’s (women) say that we are “made according to His will”, and men say “for not having made me a woman?” My nine year old realizes that this doesn’t make sense. I told her that she’s right. Naama is taught what I was taught as a student, what most of us who have attended Orthodox schools have been taught growing up.
Naama realizes that sometimes, even if it’s something that is being taught to us, it doesn’t mean that we personally think that it’s okay, that it’s right, or that it’s something that we believe should be done.
The fact that Naama thinks for herself, and analyzes issues that don’t make sense to her, makes me proud.
My two-year-old, Yishai, might be learning to say this prayer at his school already. My baby who came out of the body of a woman. My son, who is being taught to respect men and women equally, is going to learn to say this offensive prayer. It’s going to be my job to figure this one out with him. Although, like his older sister, he may come up to me with the same question, and I will give him the same answer.
Yesterday I read an article regarding this prayer. From the article I read, I understood that the Rabbi who created this prayer thought that women are not serious-minded:
We have had many strong women who have set examples and have been role models for both men and women throughout history. That didn’t change the fact that women were still not considered to be on the level of men. Which in my opinion, is why men were blessing God for being created male.
As the centuries changed, we gained equal rights to those of men, thanks to the many women who fought for our rights. Women have gained power in the public sphere. We can say how we feel about issues, in public.
“Blessed are you, Hashem, our God, King of the universe, for not having made me a woman” is offensive.
Times have changed. It’s time to change with the times.