Gender Differences: The Better Half?


The Feminine Revolution

— Honoring Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka —

Most of history testifies to a male dominated hierarchy, with women, especially in the last generation, trying to level the playing field, with questionable results. But recent studies are making the case that women are actually more significant than men, if not outright superior. Articles and books titled “Are Fathers Necessary?” and “The End of Men” argue that the human race is dependent on women and not on men.

Fascinatingly, these latest findings confirm an age-old truth of the Torah that feminine energy is indeed more evolved than its masculine counterpart. Furthermore, the Kabbalah states that we are now on the verge of a new feminine revolution. So who is in control: men or women?


A man wears the pants, but the woman tells him what pants to wear — Old saying. Source unknown

Woman to man: What do you think about women’s intuition?
Man: Hogwash!
Woman: How did I know you were going to say that…

The feminine mystique has, well, mystified humans from the beginning of time. Just read the Biblical verses about the original woman and man in the Garden of Eden.

Most of history testifies to a male dominated hierarchy, with women, especially in the last generation, trying to level the playing field, with questionable results. But — listen to this surprise: recent studies are making the case that women are actually more significant than men, if not outright superior. Articles and books titled “Are Fathers Necessary?” and “The End of Men” argue that the human race is dependent on women and not on men.

Greg Hampikian, biology professor at Boise State University, puts it bluntly: “Women are both necessary and sufficient for reproduction, and men are neither. The father contributes an infinitesimally small packet of DNA, less than one-millionth of the embryo’s mass. And by the time the baby is born, it is the mother who has contributed all its weight. In contrast, the father’s 3.3 pico-grams of DNA comes out to less than one pound of male contribution, counting from the creation of Adam and Eve and the birth of some 100 billion babies since then.” He concludes: “If a woman wants to have a baby without a man, she just needs to secure sperm (fresh or frozen) from a donor (living or dead) … If all the men on earth died tonight, the species could continue on frozen sperm. If the women disappear, it’s extinction.”

To thicken the plot, there are recent studies finding that all fetuses begin as females, and then the male chromosome kicks in, which some see as a mutation…

The Female Brain, a book by neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, sums up hundreds of studies on the neurological differences between men and women. All human beings, she writes, start out with a brain that looks female. But around the eighth week in the womb, testosterone surges through male brains, killing cells in some regions (communications) and growing cells in others (sex and aggression).

By the time they are three months old, girls are, on average, much better at making eye contact with other people and picking up information from faces. During play, girls look back at their mothers, on average, 10 to 20 times more than boys, to check for emotional signals. Girls can also, on average, hear a broader range of sounds in the human voice, and can better discern changes in tone.

Later, girls are much more likely to use sentences that begin with “Let’s …” while playing: Let’s do this or Let’s do that. They are more likely to take turns. As a result girls are inclined to pursue certain goals: for example, to forge connection and to create community. In other words, to build a home.

Pretty strong words. Turning on its head the long-held notion that men are superior to women. Can that perhaps be the deeper reason that men always needed to demonstrate their dominance — due to their unconscious fear that they may be negligible?

What does the Torah have to say about this? And what then is the role of men in what appears to be a predominant female world? And above all, what truly defines us as women and men? If you are not aware of your true identity how can you expect to be acting on it, or even worse — how do you know if you not undermining it?

Fascinatingly, these latest findings about the power of women confirm an age-old truth of the Torah that feminine energy is indeed more evolved than its masculine counterpart. Furthermore, the Kabbalah states that we are now on the verge of a new feminine revolution.

Here’s the story — in brief:

In order to understand the essential nature of man and woman, we must do away with human subjectivity and look through G-d’s eyes.

In truth, since G-d created both men and women, it should be clear that both are absolutely necessary and indispensable. Yet, due to the many myths and stereotypes mentioned earlier – and the long history of male domination – our perspective has been distorted. It is time to get beyond that and to set the record straight.

Man and woman represent two forms of divine energy; they are the male and female elements of a single soul.

G-d is neither masculine nor feminine, but has two forms of emanation: the masculine form, which is more aggressive, and the feminine form, which is more subtle.

The female side is more of an inward energy – we could call it the majestic element of humanity, for it projects an inner dignity, an inner force (“The dignity of the king’s daughter is within” – Psalms 45:14). The male side is more of an outer force, more expressive, more aggressive.

Men are physically stronger. By nature, they are usually more externally oriented. In contrast, a woman usually embodies the ideal of nurturing and gentleness. Some people confuse such subtlety with weakness; in truth, it is stronger than the most aggressive physical force imaginable. True human dignity does not shout; it is a strong, steady voice that speaks from within. The nature of a woman, while subtle, is not weak. And the nature of a man, while aggressive, is not brutish.

In some ways the manifestation of inward energy is about the power to listen, the power to step back from your own ego, the ability to receive, to take in something greater than yourself. While the manifestation of the outward energy is about giving.

But receptivity is not a passive state at all, in a way it’s a very aggressive state, except it’s aggressive silence. It’s like we are intentionally willing to absorb at this point. That is a feminine energy in its quintessential form.

All this is discussed at length in Kabbalah and other spiritual traditions, as well as in psychology. It is called yin and yang, it is called male and female, it is called receptive and communicative.

For man and woman to be complete and lead a total life, they must each possess both energies: the power of strength and the power of subtlety; the power of giving and the power of receiving. Ideally, these energies are merged seamlessly.

Both the male and the female were created for the same purpose – to make themselves and their world better and holier. In their service of G-d, there is absolutely no difference between a man and a woman; the only difference is in the way that this service manifests itself.

In short, it is not about the male being superior nor of the female being superior. It’s about the whole, neither dominant, neither superior or inferior, both together as one.

The answer to the male/female battle then is not for men and women to try to be alike. All men and women must be themselves, realizing that G-d has given each of us unique abilities with which to pursue our goals, and that our primary responsibility is to take full advantage of those abilities.

Today’s reality is that we live in a male dominated hierarchy, and women are trying to achieve equal respect and status, and rightly so.

Men, simply because of their physical position and physical strength have had the upper hand for too long. And that is not at all healthy.

Indeed, according to Genesis (3:16).male dominance is actually a “curse,” an aberration – which resulted from the sin of the Tree of Knowledge This is the root of the distortion in our society, which worships physical strength and aggression – and one of the many terrible repercussions of that first sin.

It is our mission to correct this imbalance by realigning the material world with its spiritual purpose, and reconciling the divine roles and powers of both men and women.

We stand at the threshold of a new age. As the Rebbe says:: “After thousands of years of male dominance, we now stand at the beginning of the feminine era, when women will rise to their appropriate prominence, and the entire world will recognize the harmony between man and woman.”

Living in a materially aggressive society – one overly dominated by male energy – we need today more than ever to reintroduce and appreciate anew the inner feminine mystique, the subtle spiritual energy of the woman.

What does this mean practically? It means that – just as G-d told Moses to speak to the women at Sinai first (as we read in last week’s Torah portion) – we too must speak first to the feminine energy within us all (women and men). For by so doing, we will awaken the spiritual (feminine) revolution – a new appreciation of subtlety, dignity, of listening and absorbing, of inwardness and intimacy.

So, what about all the studies about the disappearance of men and their power? Frankly, if the material world insists on dominating with sheer aggression and brute power (male energy), instead of through love and sensitivity (feminine energy), then it has written its own obituary, as the studies show. Rule by the sword; fall by the sword.

But when we embrace the feminine approach – when the power of love will be stronger than the love of power – then both energies together, feminine strength coupled with the harnessed male power, will transform the world and each one of us into perpetual forces of light and warmth.

An Exercise

Let’s all separate these two forms of energy from the ideas of man and woman that we are familiar with. Let’s look at them objectively.

And now let’s look at ourselves and compare, asking ourselves the following:

“Where do I stand in my ability to receive? Where is my inner dignity? Am I overly dominant and aggressive? Am I inward and quiet. Is that healthy?”

Having analyzed ourselves, let’s recognize the necessity for a balance. The imbalance that exists in society today is a direct result, in a subtle form, from the misalignment that happened when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge.

Since that time, humanity no longer had mutual respect – the feminine and the masculine acted like separate entities, each on its own.

But the fact is that men and women need each other. We were created that way, and it’s high time we recognize the need for more harmony between the sexes.

Let us commit to investing all we have in building healthy and nurturing homes permeated with domestic harmony (sholom bayit), and to improving our relationship with our spouses, so that together – as partners – we will turn our homes into beacons of light that will illuminate all our surroundings and all whom we touch.

A closing story about the great 16th century master of Kabbalah, the Arizal (related in Shivchei HaArizal):.

It was late in the afternoon, just before Shabbat, and – as was their custom – the Ari and his disciples went out to the outskirts of Tzfat (Safed) to greet the Shabbat Queen. In the midst of their singing, the Ari turned to them and said, “My friends, would you like to go to Jerusalem now so we can spend Shabbat there?”

Some of the students said yes, while others wanted to go home first and inform their wives.

When the Ari heard this, he trembled greatly and struck his hands together in anguish. He said, “Woe is us, that we did not have the merit to be redeemed. Had you all replied that you wanted to go, unanimously and joyfully, the entire Jewish people would have been redeemed, as it is now an auspicious time for the redemption. Since you refused, the exile has been re-imposed because of our many sins.”

The Rebbe once cited this story and concluded that when the Messiah is ready to come in our days, he will notify the women first, just as G-d instructed Moses to do at Sinai.

And the women will surely respond immediately, without waiting to consult their husbands. And their husbands will surely come scrambling after them..

Women today ought to lead the way in building a divine home in this universe, and use their unique skills and talents to inspire others in the same direction.

We are on the threshold of a new age — the feminine era. For millennia we valued brute strength over subtlety, quantity over quality. Today we are learning to appreciate the invisible — the cellular, the sub-atomic, the supramolecular, DNA, energy, nanotechnology.

The ultimate is the fusion between the internal, intimate an the external, expressive. The union between the microscopic quantum state and the macroscopic classic state. The joining of the inner feminine and the outer masculine; the gentle and the aggressive, the nurturer and the warrior.

And we — we have the power to shape the future destiny of the world by embracing this fusion.

What an honor? What a time to be alive?


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9 years ago

I sincerely appreciate the manner in which you conveyed this concept. As a learned lecturer and brilliant scholar, I laud your efforts. These ideas are truly valuable for all to hear and internalize. If more observant men would be opened to this partnership, more shalom bias would exist, and Moshiach times would reign.

4 years ago

Thank you 🙂

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