Why Would A Jew Thank God that He Was Not Made a Woman?

Rabbi Judah says, “A man must recite three benedictions every day:

“Blessed be You, Lord, who did not make me a gentile. Blessed be You, Lord, who did not make me uneducated. Blessed be You, Lord, who did not make me a woman.”

I’ve seen this used in Christian literature to show that Jews were against women. This is a terrible misunderstanding. Amy-Jill Levine explains the context and meaning of this prayer.

“Rabbi Judah was responsible for the codification of the Mishnah around 200 CE. This text is from about half a century later. To claim the prayer was recited by all Jews in the first century is a stretch. Second, the prayer praises God that the supplicant is in a position to know and so to follow all the commandments. Gentiles were not under Torah and so were not expected to follow it. The uneducated do not know all the rabbinic commentary and so are unable, in Rabbi Judah’s eyes, fully to understand the practices and the rationales. Women were exempt, in the rabbinic system, from many time-bound commandments, since the rabbis realized that their time was not their own; domestic duties, child care, and so on would have precluded their saying certain prayers at certain times.” (Short Stories by Jesus, pp. 185-86)

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One thought on “Why Would A Jew Thank God that He Was Not Made a Woman?

  1. So…if women were not constrained with domestic duties, they could pray “Blessed be You, Lord, who did not make me a man”?

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