Ask the rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • General Questions

The Curse on women/Eve and their search for a husband


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Cheshvan 6, 5777
In Bereishit/Geneisis 3:16 it says: "and thy teshukah (longing, desire) shall be to thy husband" and it continues that the husband will rule over the woman. I have 3 questions about this: 1. The words teshukah (longing, desire) are often thought of speaking about the power struggle within marriage. But I think that it is not what the text says exactly. The woman will desire, long for her husband not will want to rule over him. Women don’t want to rule over their husbands but want to have their voice heard and respected. They would want to have a husband who is trustworthy enough to have the final say. I think that the emotional state of the woman is what Genesis 3:16 speaks about here. I want to know why longing and desiring the husband is seen as a curse. Is this longing and desiring out of proportion that it has become a curse? Does the woman make a G-d out of her husband and with that becomes an idol worshiper? How should then a woman FEEL for her husband? I am not talking about what to forgive him or not or how to react towards certain things he does, because that is only actions that she can do mechanically but still long and desire for her husband in some poisonous way for her soul. So how should a woman FEEL towards her husband? 2. Why is man not given this curse? Is man emotionally different than a woman? If her emotions can be cursed (frustrated) than is turning to G-d putting her in a higher position than a man can have the potential to be? Can a woman love G-d more emotionally than a man? 3. We, women both want to find that emotional-captivity- state- kind-of- erotic- love and are also afraid of it because it can rob us from our freedom to be ourselves. We think that by being good girls, will be someday rewarded by finding a husband, who is not only good marriage partner but will somehow cause us to feel like we have found the missing part of ourselves, the man we truly belong to because after all woman was taken out of man’s rib. And this connection is not just about practical matters of building a household, raising children, being friends, helping each other etc...because that can be done by any reasonable woman and man. I am talking about the gravitational pull and physical attraction that a man and woman can have exclusively for each other and no other human being. . We want the FEELING to be such that as a couple we have become closer to G-d, that we somehow gain visions, we FEEL magnetic and electrical powers running between us etc... Does this thing exist? We want that to exist so it must. If it does, is it felt during the first few meetings, or it can be created during living together? Let’s suppose the feeling grows within marriage. Before marrying, how can we distinguish between a short-lived attraction and the real bio-chemical-magnetic bond with the true soulmate? And how can we have this feeling and not mistake it for the curse of Bereishit/Genesis 3:16 about desire/longing for our husband?
There are so many varied and complex commentaries on the first several chapters of Breishit (Genesis) so it’s difficult to answer. Our rabbis tell us that these chapters are clearly not meant to be taken literally, and are very symbolic. I am not saying your innovative understanding is right or wrong, just that there are many diverse ways of explanation! The most oft-quoted and taught commentary here is that of Rashi, who deduces from the context (“… and they realized they were naked… your pregnancy… you shall give birth… and your desire shall be for your man…”), that it’s referring to sexuality, where the women (in the world as we know it) is more passive and shy to explicitly request her sexual needs or desires. In this context, the man is more active, independent, direct and explicit, and accordingly, his wife is more dependent on him. 2. I have never seen any commentary go in the direction which you take on these particular verses, but your conclusion is often accepted: that women are more spiritual and naturally Godly than men. This is actually explicit in the 13 attributes of God (Shmot, 34, 6-7) which are especially typically feminine traits: mercy, forgiving, patient, kind…”. RShR Hirsch, Rav Kook and others explain that the extra mitzvot which only men are obligated to do, are geared to raise them to the spiritual level of women, who don’t need those commands to reach Godly heights. Statistically, the vast majority of criminals are men, and contrarily, the vast majority of converts are women. 3. Again, without necessarily any connection to those verses, the goal is to find that special soulmate, who brings out the Godly potential in each of the partners, and makes each one feel complete, good, and natural, sometimes even magnetic and electric! In general, every individual and couple are different, where some feel that specialness already during the first few meetings, but more often, as almost everything important and lasting in life, it doesn’t come easy and develops through investing time, effort, and mutual giving and altruism. Just as God is perfect and doesn’t need to take but rather gives, so too, the beauty of love is based upon that Godly desire to give, be merciful, forgiving, patient, kind, etc. Through doing so, each side benefits as well!
את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר