by: Miriam Kosman
Are men and women equal in Judaism? Is equality even a Jewish goal? If it isn’t, how do we reconcile a just G-d with inequality?
In a society in which it is no longer clear who brings home the dough and who bakes it, who changes the baby and who changes the tires, what does it really mean to be male or female? Should gender make any difference in our life, or should we all just do what we are good at and forget labels? These are burning questions in a society where norms are changing at a rapid clip.
Beyond the great divide between the “men-and-women-are-equal-but-different” camp, and the “Judaism-is-patriarchal-and-must-change” camp, Circle, Arrow, Spiral: Exploring Gender in Judaism offers a paradigm shift. Delving into the Midrashic underpinnings of the struggle for equality and its philosophical ramifications, this book explores how female angst plays a cosmic role in awakening humanity to a crucial process.
In the second half of the book, the author addresses some of the thornier issues relating to men and women in Jewish law — including the marriage and divorce structure and public versus private roles — exploring them through the prism of the paradigm built in earlier chapters. Understanding this paradigm sheds light on the entire male/female dynamic and offers insight into navigating this crucial relationship in real life more successfully.
This groundbreaking book peels away layers of diatribe and illuminates the power of the female force in history, in society, and in our deepest relationships. It shows how the entire universe is divided along the fault line between male and female and all of life is an eternal dance between these two forces. It is a book about who we are as human beings, as men and women — and as Jews.
Miriam Kosman is a lecturer for Nefesh Yehudi who lectures to over three hundred university students weekly on Jewish thought and philosophy. She is a columnist for Mishpacha Jewish Family Weekly and has written for the Jerusalem Post and other publications. Mrs. Kosman lives with her family in Bnei Brak, Israel.