I found this unique, framed message at a resale shop recently. When I saw it, I immediately thought about the wonderfully strong women in my life – my mother Loretta, my Rabbi Shoshana, and so many others; however, the list would not be complete without adding the grand matriarch, Sarah imeinu.
At our weekly Lunch with the Rabbi, someone asked why women did not feature more prominently in the Torah. It was after leaving that meeting that I stopped at the resale shop on the way home. I sometimes find some interesting things there from time to time. I even found a half set of the Zohar just a few months ago. I kept going back to see if I could find the other volumes to complete the set. This time, I found the frame, and considering the recent conversation at Lunch with the Rabbi, I just had to purchase it for only $0.99!
To answer the question, “Why are women not mentioned more in the Torah?” I say that this has nothing whatsoever to do with inequality or sexism. Just because some things are mentioned more times than others does not make those things better in comparison. For the most part, women play a more subtle but vital supporting role. Judaism teaches that women are more spiritual than men. Our sages also teach that our mother Sarah’s gift of prophecy surpassed her husband’s. Women enjoy several exemptions regarding religious service; whereas men have many spiritual requirements they must carefully observe.
Now it would take a lot more than one blog post to give the subject proper justice as to why the Torah is not elevating one gender over the other. The Torah values men and women who display faith and courage. People who act for the sake of heaven will get heaven’s attention regardless of whether they are male or female.
We must also consider the fact that there are a number of people of either gender who are mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures not because they were righteous but because of their evil deeds. The women who are mentioned due to their wickedness stand out very sharply: Jezebel, Delilah, and Athaliah, to name a few.
Others like Sarah and those who call her mother already exist so to speak on a more exalted plane; therefore, a great deal of their influence and accomplishments remain hidden from the natural world.
So, how can we emulate these great women and reveal their accomplishments to our world? Proverbs 31 dedicates a third of the chapter in order to answer this very question. It introduces us to the Eshet Chayil – Woman of strength/virtue which is modeled after none other than Sarah Imeinu. Thus, through the composite provided in Proverbs 31:10-31, we can learn to be like our righteous and holy mother Sarah.
And in the words of that framed message: