I’m Doubting It All

30 Nov

I thought I believed in Women’s Lib, but I think I may have changed my mind.

 This Shabbos has given me a week’s worth of posts, but I’ll start with this.

 My friend’s parents went to the Agudah Convention this weekend, and left her home alone. This of course means one thing: PARTY IN DA HOUSE!!!!

 Actually not.

 We are good Bais Yaakov girls, so we settled on a “Girl’s Shabbaton” (Tons to write about that concept, but later)

 So being the good girls we are, we needed a D’var Torah, or a Jewish Word as my mother calls it.

 I tried to get away with a “Shalom” (That’s a Jewish word, right?)

 But my Yavne Chossid of a friend would not have that. She took out a Chumish, found some obscure commentary, read through it, and then told a beautifully complex D’var Torah which segued into a great discussion on Ahava, Yeara, Bashert, Free Will, Vicissitudes of life etc.

It was really nice and fun and engaging

But I was very disconcerted with my friend’s ease and familiarity with the Chumish. She navigated it like she read it every day (and she doesn’t). In my head that level of skill is reserved for boys. Is it necessary, and useful and natural for a girl to have these skills?

Then again I’m totally jealous of her. I want to be able to do that (I have a the worst kriah and Hebrew in the world, I can understand most concepts presented to me, I just can’t read them in their original context)

 What do you think of girl’s learning skills?


Posted by on November 30, 2008 in Uncategorized


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24 responses to “I’m Doubting It All

  1. Child Ish Behavior

    November 30, 2008 at 7:08 am

    Why not?

  2. The Jewish Side

    November 30, 2008 at 7:10 am

    I’m with you on this one. I was never good at reading it inside the chumash. I actually used to sit with my father on Thursday nights and go through the Parsha and he would help me look up the answers in the Rashi, and this was in 11th and 12th grade! Could be I was just lazy, but I figured my father is doing mavasedra anyways, so he knows the Parsha, so he can help me with it.

    I think it’s great if girls could have the same ease, I don’t think it’s something for boys only. Afterall, they don’t really even know Chumash much, their always learning Gemara!

  3. tooyoungtoteach

    November 30, 2008 at 7:19 am

    Well actually Child Ish, by us woman being as fluent as men in out learning, men are kind demoting themselves…the one thing they had over us “learning” and now if we have the same access ,we don’t have to come to you for guidence on hashkafa, on halacha, or anything…we just keep you around for becuase we’re so nice.

  4. frumcollegegirl

    November 30, 2008 at 7:20 am

    there’s nothing wrong with a girl being able to navigate her way through a chumash. in fact, it’s quite admirable..

  5. G6

    November 30, 2008 at 7:43 am

    Go Yavne Girls!

  6. manly lips

    November 30, 2008 at 9:01 am

    how would your friend do with a gemara? i don’t think she’s as fluent as a man in that area…

    women thruout the ages have been familiar with the chumash – i think it’s a beautiful thing. wish i could d it too!

  7. tooyoungtoteach

    November 30, 2008 at 9:08 am

    Manly you can’t?

    Or you just haven’t done it in really long time?

  8. NMF #7

    November 30, 2008 at 10:10 am

    I agree with Manly-
    It’s no shame to be fluent at reading Chumash!!
    In fact, it might even be more appropriate that instead of reading the latest Jewish novel on Shabbos- open up a bit of Tanach with mefarshim and try to decipher a bit.

    I used to be hopeless at this- throughout my school years. Then seminary forced me to read inside, stop relying on English translations so much- and it really became very beneficial.

    Oh- and your comment about men feeling demoted if we know some Chumash as well-
    let me tell you, those men who learn Gemara as well as many of the other sefarim- Mussar, and such- will still be WAY over my head- even if I learn Chumash in depth, and other such things.

    I find it actually very enjoyable to discuss with my husband Torah concepts- usually with my broad base of Tanach, and his knowledge of Gemara- it creates a stimulating conversation.

    So- Go learn Tanach! What could it hurt?

  9. NMF #7

    November 30, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Oh, and I linked to you- thanks for a great post!

  10. Jacob da Jew

    November 30, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    “This of course means one thing: PARTY IN DA HOUSE!!!”

    Wait…did you just say “Da” ?!? Is Da Jew rubbing off on you? Maybe she shouldn’t keep company with such nefarious company…Although, to your defense, you probably don’t visit da blog often.

  11. Nonny

    November 30, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I don’t see anything wrong with it. in fact, i’m even a little jealous. i went to BY elementary and HS AND sem and theres still so much i dont know or ive forgotten… i always sit at my shabbos table and listen to my brothers’ or father’s divrei torah and i’m like- i never heard this before! some of it is totally new to me…

  12. tooyoungtoteach

    November 30, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    I love to learn, and I can do it myself…with an English aid, so there’s only so far I can go, then I have to rely on my brother to translate (that’s when he’s home and has the patience to humor me)
    …most of the learning I do is based on articles and shiurim, and I hate that, I wish I could just open up a Chumish and understand the Ramban…at the same time, somewhere in my head, it’s a “man’s” thing.

  13. offthederech

    November 30, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    I’m sure you guys have better things to do with your time than learn 😉

  14. KT

    November 30, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    I don’t get it, why aren’t boys and girls taught at the same level?

  15. Child Ish Behavior

    November 30, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Really, I still don’t understand. Women can read just as well as men. Women can also understand things just as well. If you want to learn go right ahead. You have no Commandment to do so, so it will probably be easier for you.

    Read some chumash, Nach, halacha. Even knock yourself out with some gammara. You only think it’s a man’s thing because men are the ones with the commandment to learn.

    By learning when you have no commandment to do so doesn’t prove that you are better than men.

    The Gammarah says, ” Greater is the one that is commanded and does, than the one that does without being commended to do so.”

    Have fun!

  16. manly lips

    November 30, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    TYTT: nah, i was never good at it. ( contrary to popular belief it seems…) If we learned i in school, yeah, but on my own… it’s hard. you wanna have a chavrusa session to get into it??? JK
    btw, Child Ish, I really don’t know any women fluent in gemara, do you? Why not?

  17. Child Ish Behavior

    November 30, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    ML: Do anything long enough and you get good at it. Men start learning Gemmara when they are in the 6th grade. Bal Teshuva’s and others have a hard time learning because they do not start at such and early age. People are good at what they specialize in. I don’t know any fellow that knows how to embroider, do you?

  18. JellybeanLover

    December 1, 2008 at 2:07 am

    Hey Manly Lips I think it is “1-derful” idea for you and TYTT to have a chavrusa session =) =p

  19. Mikeinmidwood

    December 1, 2008 at 2:39 am

    I don’t think you know how many men cant learn on their own. They use artscroll to get by.

  20. tooyoungtoteach

    December 1, 2008 at 4:46 am

    Mike: I dunno who you know, but I don’t know a single man that uses artscroll…then again, I don’t know many men, just my family and the guys I’ve dated….

    Child Ish: I’ve turned annoying into an art, I took it up as child, practiced an awful lot, and now I’m an expert and loving it! I also took up eating.

    KT: What is your background that you are asking that question?

  21. KT

    December 1, 2008 at 5:31 am

    TYTI: Jewish. I was just curious because I didn’t realize that boys&girls have slightly different curriculums in Judaic studies.

    nice blog btw

  22. tooyoungtoteach

    December 1, 2008 at 5:54 am


    In the ultra orthodox circles, well girls learn tanach, but not gemora. And when they learn it, well some schools are more intense than others, but being able to learn a piece on your own is not a requirement…for boys it is, and they are learning on a completley different level than girls. It’s almost like comparing apples to oranges.

    The reason for it is simple, girls are not allowed to learn gemora, also we don’t have an obligation to learn, so if we learn anything, very nice, but we don’t have to. Boys are obligated to learn and therefore have different standards.

  23. KT

    December 1, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Very informative, now I get it

  24. kulmus

    February 1, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    I come from a background where there was basically no difference between boys and girls in education, so when i did teshuva it was a mAAAjor shock to learn about the differences and then get over every girl-baal-teshuva’s inferiority complex. But basically i think you’ve got to learn what you need to know. So if a bit of parsha-hashkafa-stuff gives you the inspiration to carry on making the cholent, make sure you get it! Or if you can’t keep up with your kids’ homework, time to improve your skills! (I haven’t reached that stage yet so maybe it’s over-optimistic to think my girls will be taught things over my head any time soon…)

    But the other thing i want to say is that when i was 22 i could barely read Hebrew and by the time i was 24 i could translate a Rambam etc with help, and now by 28 i can wade thro a kli yakar as long as my husband’s there to chuck in the odd word or tell me what some obscure aramaic phrase means – so none of these excuses about not being taught in school! neither was Rabbi Akiva & neither – lehavdil – was i! 🙂


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