Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, 'Adam and Eve,' Family Redeemed, p.71
There is no doubt that in the eyes of the Halakhah man and woman enjoy an equal status and have the same worth as far as their humanitas is concerned. Both were created in the image of God, both joined the covenantal community at Sinai, both are committed to our metahistorical destiny, both crave and search for God, and with both He engages in a dialogue…
(ח) מַה בֵּין אִישׁ לְאִשָּׁה. הָאִישׁ פּוֹרֵעַ וּפוֹרֵם, וְאֵין הָאִשָּׁה פוֹרַעַת וּפוֹרֶמֶת. הָאִישׁ מַדִּיר אֶת בְּנוֹ בְּנָזִיר, וְאֵין הָאִשָּׁה מַדֶּרֶת אֶת בְּנָהּ בְּנָזִיר. הָאִישׁ מְגַלֵּחַ עַל נְזִירוּת אָבִיו, וְאֵין הָאִשָּׁה מְגַלַּחַת עַל נְזִירוּת אָבִיהָ. הָאִישׁ מוֹכֵר אֶת בִּתּוֹ, וְאֵין הָאִשָּׁה מוֹכֶרֶת אֶת בִּתָּהּ. הָאִישׁ מְקַדֵּשׁ אֶת בִּתּוֹ, וְאֵין הָאִשָּׁה מְקַדֶּשֶׁת אֶת בִּתָּהּ. הָאִישׁ נִסְקָל עָרֹם, וְאֵין הָאִשָּׁה נִסְקֶלֶת עֲרֻמָּה. הָאִישׁ נִתְלֶה, וְאֵין הָאִשָּׁה נִתְלֵית. הָאִישׁ נִמְכָּר בִּגְנֵבָתוֹ, וְאֵין הָאִשָּׁה נִמְכֶּרֶת בִּגְנֵבָתָהּ:
(8) What distinguishes a man from a woman? A man lets loose his hair and rips his clothes [as a metzora], and a woman does not let loose her hair or rip her clothes. A man makes a vow rendering his son a Nazirite, and a woman cannot make a vow rendering her son a Nazirite. A man shaves concerning the Nazirite status of his father [if his father dies], and a woman does not shave concerning the Nazirite status of her father. A man sells his daughter, and a woman cannot sell her daughter. A man betroths his daughter, and a woman cannot betroth her daughter. A man is stoned naked, and a woman is not stoned naked. A man is hanged [after execution], and a woman is not hanged. A man is sold for his theft [i.e., to repay it], a woman is not sold for her theft.
פרופסור מנחם אלון, מעמד האישה, עמ’ 40
לעניין מושג השוויון מן הראוי להזכיר, בפתיחתם של דברים, עיקרון גדול בתורת המשפט, שלפיו קיים הבדל מהותי בין “הפליה” שהיא פסולה לבין “הבחנה” שהיא מותרת, היינו שיש להתייחס ביחס שווה לכל אדם ואדם, אלא אם וכאשר קיימים ביניהם הבדלים של ממש, שהם הסדלים אמיתיים ורלוונטיים לנושא מסויים. אימתי ההבדלים בין גבר ואישה הם “אמיתיים” ורלוונטיים”, המצדיקים את ה”הפליה” ועושים אותה ל”הבחנה”?
Prof. Menachem Elon, The Status of Woman (Translated by Shoshana Zolty)
As far as equality is concerned, I would like to point out that there is a major principle in law which distinguishes “discrimination,” which is invalid, from “distinction,” which is valid, such that one must treat every person equally unless there are material differences between them which are real and relevant to the issue. The critical question is, of course: when are the differences between men and women “real” and “relevant” so as to justify “discrimination” and make it into “distinction”?”
The school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: The verse states: “When a man or woman shall commit any of the sins of a person” (Numbers 5:6). The verse equates a woman with a man with regard to all punishments in the Torah. The school of Rabbi Elazar taught: “And these are the civil laws that you shall set before them” (Exodus 21:1). The verse equates a woman with a man with regard to all civil laws in the Torah. The school of Ḥizkiyya and Rabbi Yosei HaGelili taught: The verse states “And it killed a man or a woman” (Exodus 21:29). The verse thereby equates a woman with a man with regard to all killings in the Torah.
(ז) כָּל מִצְוֹת הַבֵּן עַל הָאָב, אֲנָשִׁים חַיָּבִין וְנָשִׁים פְּטוּרוֹת. וְכָל מִצְוֹת הָאָב עַל הַבֵּן, אֶחָד אֲנָשִׁים וְאֶחָד נָשִׁים חַיָּבִין...
(7) [With regard to] all commandments of the son which are [incumbent] upon the father, men are obligated, and women are exempt. And [with regard to] all commandments of the father which are [incumbent] upon the son, both men and women are obligated...
Rav Yehuda said that this is what the mishna is saying: With regard to each mitzva for the father that is incumbent upon the son to perform for his father, both men and women are obligated in them. We already learned this, as the Sages taught : “A man shall fear [tira’u] his mother and his father” (Leviticus 19:3). I have derived only that a man is [obligated in this mitzva]; from where [do I derive] a woman? When it says in the same verse: “A man shall fear [tira’u] his mother and his father” (Leviticus 19:3), [employing the plural form of the verb], this indicates that there are two that are obligated here, [both a man and a woman]. If so what is the meaning when the verse states: “Man”? In the case of a man, it is in his power to perform this mitzva; whereas with regard to a woman, it is not always in her power to perform this mitzva, because she is under the authority of another person. Rav Idi bar Avin says that Rav says: Consequently, if a woman is divorced, then both of them are equal [in obligation].
(ז) ...וְכָל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁהַזְּמָן גְּרָמָהּ, אֲנָשִׁים חַיָּבִין וְנָשִׁים פְּטוּרוֹת. וְכָל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁלֹּא הַזְּמָן גְּרָמָהּ, אֶחָד אֲנָשִׁים וְאֶחָד נָשִׁים חַיָּבִין. וְכָל מִצְוַת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה, בֵּין שֶׁהַזְּמָן גְּרָמָהּ בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא הַזְּמָן גְּרָמָהּ, אֶחָד אֲנָשִׁים וְאֶחָד נָשִׁים חַיָּבִין, חוּץ מִבַּל תַּשְׁחִית וּבַל תַּקִּיף וּבַל תִּטַּמָּא לְמֵתִים:
(7) ... And [with regard to] every positive commandment that is time-dependent, men are obligated and women are exempt. And [with regard to] every positive commandment which is not time-dependent, both men and women are obligated. And [with regard to] every negative commandment, whether it is time-dependent or it is not time-dependent, both men and women are obligated, except for: "You shall not destroy [the corners of your beard]" (Leviticus 19:27), "You shall not round off [the corners of your head]" (ibid.), and "You shall not become ritually impure for the dead" (Leviticus 21:1).
© DERACHEHA: WOMEN AND MITZVOT 2020