August 19, 2021 / Elul 11, 5781 • Parshat Ki Teitzei
Issue 680
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

True Gender Equality

Moses told the Jewish people,
“A man’s attire must not be worn by a woman”
לֹא יִהְיֶה כְלִי גֶבֶר עַל אִשָּׁה וְלֹא יִלְבַּשׁ גֶּבֶר שִׂמְלַת אִשָּׁה כִּי תוֹעֲבַת יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ כָּל עֹשֵׂה אֵלֶּה

Deuteronomy 22:5

This directive implies that men should strive to actualize all their G-d-given potential as men, and women should strive to actualize all their G-d-given potential as women, in accordance with the Torah’s guidelines for self-refinement. Although we all comprise male and female qualities, our biological gender clearly indicates which qualities we are meant to chiefly manifest.

Manifesting our G-d-given potential—free of any societal pressure to be something we are not—is true “equal rights.” When a woman mistakenly

thinks that she must behave like a man and pursue a man’s path, she

implicitly affirms that women are intrinsically inferior to men. In order to cultivate a sense of self-worth, she must therefore compete with men.

The Torah forbids such an affront to the status of women. Instead, it

celebrates and values women’s femininity, encouraging them to develop

their innate female qualities. In this way, women can make their unique

and crucial contributions to society, bringing the world to its ultimate, Divine fulfillment.

—from Daily Wisdom #1