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Bereishit: Are Women Superior?

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Does the Bible support the male chauvinist, giving him the power to dominate the world and subjugate women?

Today, we begin reading the Torah anew, starting with its undoubtedly most famous chapters, which relate how God created the world in six days, concluding with the creation of His masterpiece – the human.

Myths abound around this so-called “archaic” and “sexist” account, with the popular stereotype being that man – that is, the male – is the superior center of creation, with the woman merely being his adjunct, his “helper/accessory.” Or – as some would have it – his “temptress” or his “nemesis.”

Indeed, if you ask most people about the biblical perspective on the woman, their knee-jerk reaction will be that she is a “second class citizen.” (This is certainly the impression we have based on the position taken today by some religious fundamentalists, who deprive women of many human rights, hiding them behind burkas and treating them as nothing more than male accessories and tools of procreation.)

But, a close reading of the account of creation shows that nothing could be farther from the truth. Indeed, one could more easily conclude that, according to the Torah, woman is superior to man! Which seems to go well with a slew of studies lately making the case than men are merely accessories to women, if not outright unnecessary. There is even a new book out entitled The End of Men.

But which is it truly?

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