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"Shelo Asani Isha" insulting and offensive


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Kislev 24, 5782
How could Chazal have introduced the brocho (bracha/blessing) of Shelo Osani Isho (Isha). Won’t women feel insulted? Couldn’t they have made a similar brocho in a more polite way?
Nice question, but a little anachronistic! The role of women has considerably changed in the western world over the last 50 years, and how much more so, over the last 2,000 years since the inception of that bracha (blessing). The rabbis obviously decree mitzvot and prayers which are appropriate for their time, as well as for future generations, for as long as they are relevant. Then a subsequent Sanhedrin can update or change them for the respective needs of their period. The technical problem is that for 2,000 years in exile, we haven't had a Sanhedrin which can institute those changes, and without that necessary apparatus, such changes are clearly "Reform", which is just one step away from assimilating and totally losing Jewish tradition. The thanking God for giving me more mitzvot than gentiles or women, still applies today, but most will agree that the forthcoming Sanhedrin will probably word it differently. BTW, reviving the Sanhedrin is not a far-off dream, for it is the very next stage of our national redemption! The Talmud (Megilla 17) teaches that after the revival of the desert in the Land of Israel, and the ingathering of the Jews from the dispersed exiles, both of which are well under way and mostly completed, we should already be preparing the revival of the Sanhedrin which is relatively easier than the previous stages (and there are already groups pragmatically dealing with this, but if you have yet to make aliya, you should still concentrate on the previous stage). For more on this topic see:
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