Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Not His Finest Hour

"A woman who studies Torah is rewarded, but not as much as a man is, for the reason that she has not been commanded to learn. Anyone who does something voluntarily is not rewarded as much as someone who is obligated to do it is. Even though she is rewarded for learning, the Sages commanded that one should not teach Torah to one's daughter, for the reason that most women don't have the mentality for learning, and they think of Torah matters as being nonsensical. The Sages said that teaching one's daughter Torah is like teaching her trivialities. This is talking only about the Oral Torah, but one nevertheless shouldn't teach her the Written Torah either, but if one did it is not like teaching her trivialities."

- The Rambam, Hilchot Yiseodei Hatorah


Prince Imrahil said...

Everything you write today about social mores and gender issues will be seen as absurd in 20 years, forget about 800 years from now (when our neurons may be grafted onto silicon fibers and we shoot through cosmic worm-holes simply for fun). The Rambam is simply echoing the infamous statement from the Talmud which has its opposition, in that same sugya. Why he rules that way is simply not interesting to me because it has nothing to do whatsoever with modern life. It was a social convention and is not from the Torah. (Obviously, the obligation part is).

He also says people shouldn't work for more than 4 hours a day.

Cheap shot...

Shtern_Zeyer said...

Honored Prince,
Your humble servant begs you like a beggar at the door to let your voice be heard here

This is what I just wrote to someone there,
I would be a little more forgiving for a society 3000 years ago that would require a lender to return every evening his collateral he collected from the poor borrower. Or one that makes a whole to do about an anonymous dead body found in the wayside, a society that practiced animal humaneness 3000 years ago and prohibited shutting the mouth of an animal while having thresh the wheat. Or one that repeated thrice in horror the utter disgust of boiling a kid goat with milk, milk that is supposed to nourish and nurture this innocent kid goat yet here you are boiling it with this selfsame milk in order to fill your belly. (making the point in all its brutality by saying ‘don’t boil a kid in its “mothers” milk’

In a hundred year from now when Peta will have achieved their goal and the world would recoil in horror if one would kill an animal for our own pleasure (I am too much of an optimist no? especially the time frame) will it be right of them to say that this highly ethical and righteous person here was terribly immoral because he ate meat? Or will he be judged by the majority of his deeds which were selflessly ethical?

Prince Imrahil said...

Shtern Zeyer,
How do I log on or join the site. Could you help me out with that? Thanks...

Prince Imrahil said...

Great points!
If people would just forget religion and this God business maybe they'd be impacted by some of those issues. Alas...

Anonymous said...

The real story of Slifkin that GH and Gil Student refuse to allow on their sites.

(Don't bother tracking my IP. I am using anonymizer) z

Shtern_Zeyer said...

I set up an account for you.
Please email me at and I'll give you all the info.

Anonymous said...

I like to think Rambam didnt know any better

Enigma4U said...


Whoever translated
כל המלמד את בתו תורה, כאילו לימדה תפלות
was either attempting to whitewash the message or is just plain ignorant.
תפלות is not "trivialities", but rather a synnym for זנות. The Rambam feared that women knowledgable in matters that are best left for the menfolk, may use it for all kinds of unsavory sexual trickery

Prince Imrahil said...

Mr. Enigma,
Unfortunately, you don't know what your talking about. You've never heard of Tafal?
The Rambam uses sexual and erotic love and obsession! for a woman to be the model of the Love of the Prime Being - HaShem. You sound like religious people...

Orthoprax said...


Sorry I took so long to respond, but I've been rather busy in the real world this week.

"Why he rules that way is simply not interesting to me because it has nothing to do whatsoever with modern life. It was a social convention and is not from the Torah."

That may be, but there are those who _do_ take it as Torah-true and it is for those that this post is intended. You may excuse yourself from this group if you choose to. But in general my post is directed to those hardy people with strong emunat-chachamim. Even the greatest rabbi was still just human and was capable of error.

Orthoprax said...


I'm not saying that Maimonides was immoral, just pointing out that he was human and was capable of error. I'm not judging his whole person, or even judaism in general, just this one statement.

Orthoprax said...

Enigma and Prince,

"Tiflut" is discussed on Sotah 21b. Rashi does understand the word as immorality: "Through [study] she understands how to be crafty, and is able to sin without [it] being revealed."

Rambam (who we are discussing here) however, in his commentary of he same spot says that tiflut is defined as "vanities and parables," which is more along the lines of how it is translated in the original post.

srulli said...

most women . . . think of Torah matters as being nonsensical.

Apparently they were more perceptive about gemara than the men back then.