A Rationale For A Blessing


In his column, “A Woman’s Plight, A Community’s Shame” (April 24), Gary Rosenblatt added his voice to those men who are uncomfortable with reciting the blessing: “Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has not made me a woman.” He correctly noted that the blessing is recited to remind men that they are commanded to fulfill time-bound mitzvot for which women are exempt.

My explanation is that our sages recognized from the moment that they created a fixed text for the Jewish prayers that legislating the recital of the same text several times a day would lead to the recital of those prayers by rote and with little thought.

The blessing about not being a woman is generally recited either just after a man dons his tallit or tefillin, or just before. It is not a coincidence that both of those mitzvot are time-bound, and women are exempt from performing them. The blessing giving gratitude to God for not making me a woman is a not so subtle reminder to not take those two mitzvot — tallit and tefillin — for granted.

May I suggest that Rosenblatt consider a much greater problem in the Orthodox community: synagogues that provide little seating for women and whatever seating is available is so far from where the prayer leader stands that they cannot hear him. That is a much greater insult to women than men reciting the blessing about not being a woman. Unfortunately, instead of bringing women closer to the synagogue service, women are being sent a subtle message that they are simply not welcome to attend synagogue services.