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    Women’s rights – Vayyetzei

    The Bible is not nearly as anti-women as some critics suggest.

    Here in Parashat Vayyetzei we have a husband who does not impose his will on his wives or dictate to them. There is discussion and a joint decision.

    A week or so back, we find the Torah describing a matchmaker, Eliezer, who offers a marriage for Rebekah. Once again, a woman is not dictated to but asked, “Will you go with this man?”

    Abraham’s wife Sarah is a person in her own right. Moses’ wife Tzipporah is a woman to be reckoned with.

    Biblical women are not chattels or nobodies. Many other societies denied women the right to speak or think for themselves, but not Judaism.

    As recently as the last few decades there were still husbands who ordered their wives around and fathers who were dictators to their daughters (and their sons too, but that’s another story).

    By way of contrast, in situations in which Jewish women appeared to be in a disadvantaged position the halachah tried to ameliorate their position.

    There are one or two areas, notably the agunah, where much still needs to be done, but the general sense of Judaism is that women cannot and must not be pushed around.

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