Ask The Rabbi

Does Bob Equal Fred?

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Equality

Name@Withheld wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I am pondering the role of women in religious activity and maybe home life. I was raised with the feminist viewpoint, and view women and men as equals. Though it seems that the Torah, G-d's will, does not. I struggle with this in trying to give my will over to G-d's. What does the Torah say about this situation?


Dear Christensen Low,

Logically speaking, no two people are equal. Otherwise, why would G-d create them both? One of them would be redundant.

The Torah views each person as a world unto himself. That, says the Talmud, is why Adam was created alone (whereas the animals were created en masse all at once), to teach that each person is different, and the whole world was fitting to be created for any one individual. (That includes you!)

The Torah doesn't view people as equal, as we see from the fact that Jews are given special commands that are not given to the other nations, such as keeping Shabbat, as the Torah says "The Children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath...It is a sign between Me and the Children of Israel." And among Jews, there are kohanim (priests) who are commanded by the Torah to serve in the Holy Temple, whereas if an ordinary Jew who is not one of the kohanim tries to do the Temple service, he is doing a sin, as the verse says "The zar (non-priest) who approaches shall die."

In short, no person is exactly the same as any other person, and therefore there are differing roles among people, based on the situation into which G-d has seen fit to put their soul. Yet, each individual has cosmic importance, so much so that the entire world was worth it just for him.


 
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