Women and men
Chapter 1 Are Women and Men Equal?
Will the struggle ever end, or are men and women destined for perpetual conflict?
What are the roots of this strife?
And most importantly what are the unique roles of a man and woman?
These questions are compelling, for how we define ourselves as man or woman greatly determines who we are and how we live our lives.
How we identify with our gender lies at the very core of a person’s essence.
Contemporary society is just beginning to delve into the true distinctions between men and women.
Besides the obvious physiological difference, there is also differences in the way men and women think, speak and behave.
Some of this is due to social conditioning but some can also be traced to the inherent characteristics of each gender.
Great is the challenge today for men and women to be internally honest about their relationship with their particular gender.
Increasingly, the boundary has been obfuscated. Ostensibly men and women are the same: But are they?
There is a mass identity crises abrew: Each gender in an earnest attempt for equality, has sacrificed its own uniqueness.
In school, at work, and in the community, men and women have become nearly fully integrated; as a result, questions abound about their similarities and differences.
Trying to conform to society and especially the work marketplace, men and women often behave in ways that suppress their natures.
In order to protect themselves, they may be overly aggressive; in order to please everyone, they may be unduly passive.
Our perceptions of gender roles has been shaped and distorted by many years of social programming, manipulation, and abuse.
Many men used their strength to dominate women and abuse their positions of authority.
And women, eager to make their own mark on society, have grown increasingly frustrated.
In a backlash effort, some women have become equally aggressive in asserting themselves.
How and why G-d created man and woman
How can we untangle this mess and reveal the true man and true woman that lie beneath the distortion?
First we need to explore how and why G-d created man and woman.
The question many people ask is this: did G-d create man and woman as equals? This is the equivalent of asking whether an engineer built two parts of a machine equally – the parts may be utterly different from one another, but without either one, the machine would either cease to function or malfunction.
As our sages state “G-d did not create anything in vain.”
We must recognize that man and woman were created by design as two equal beings, yet each with a distinct role to play toward one unified goal.
In order to understand the essential nature of man and woman, we must put aside limited human subjectivity and peer through G-d’s eyes.
All human beings, men and women, were created for the same purpose – to fuse body and soul in order to make themselves and their world a better and holier place.
In their service of G-d there is absolutely no distinction between a man and a woman; the difference lies only in the manner in which their service manifests.
Men and women have been given different tools with which to fulfill their common goal.
Indeed, their physiological, emotional, and psychological differences are a result of their divergent spiritual mandates as instructed by G-d.
Were each of us designed to fulfill exactly the same role in life, there would be no need for so many forms of expression.
G-d created the human race as one entity and then divided them into two – “a single individual with two faces.”
Just as each person is composed of two elements, the body and soul which we must learn to fully integrate, man and woman are the two elements of humankind.
The unity between man and woman is most profoundly experienced in the framework of marriage, through which both a man and a woman, each in his or her own way, can achieve the fullest potential for growth by learning to transcend their own individuality.
Man and woman are drawn to each other because they each yearn to connect with their other half, the partner with whom they were originally joined before they were divided into two.
Paradoxically, through the merging of one’s self with another, a person has the capacity to reach his or her most personal essence, his or her real individuality.
Chapter 2 What are The Energies Of Man and Woman?
Partners not Competitors
In order to appreciate the harmony between men and women, we must appreciate their sameness in serving G-d.
When men and women humbly recognize and join in their shared purpose, with an understanding that through their sameness, self-actualization of the highest form will follow, they can develop mutual respect for one another – as true equals.
When they serve only their own needs, there is room for discord between them.
Man and woman represent two forms of Divine energy, they are the male and female elements of a single soul.
Indeed every aspect of the entire universe is distinguished by these two dimensions.
G-d is neither masculine nor feminine, but has two forms of emanation: the masculine form, which is more assertive, and the feminine form which is more subtle.
For a human being to lead a total life, he or she must have both forms of energy: the power of expression and the power of deliberation; the power of strength and the power of subtlety; the power of giving and the power of receiving.
And ideally, these energies are merged seamlessly.
Man and women encompass both dimensions.
In general though – and in their most spiritual undiluted form, undistorted by societal and cultural pressures – man and woman primarily embody one of these two energies.
Men are physically stronger. By nature, a man is often more assertive and externally orientated.
In dramatic contrast, a woman often embodies the ideal of inner dignity.
Society at times mistakes such subtlety and calls it weakness; in truth it is more formidable than the most aggressive physical force. True human dignity does not holler; it speaks in a strong steady voice; it resonates from within.
The nature of a woman is subtle not weak.
And the nature of a man is assertive not brutish.
Feminine energy is who you are and masculine energy is what you do.
For man and woman to be complete then they must each posses both energies.
Ones noblest values or ideas become meaningless unless they are actualized.
So too action without the dictate of an inner voice of truth is also meaningless.
In general, the mans primary role is to utilize his assertive masculine energy to refine the material world, while the woman’s primary role is to utilize her subtle feminine energy to reveal the innate G-dliness in all that exists.
The man “goes out” in search of G-dliness, the woman absorbs G-dliness.
The man provides the seed to create life, the woman bears life.
The man teaches his children how to live, the woman is life.
The man gives love, the woman is love.
This is not to say that only man can refine the outside world or that only woman can reveal innate goodness.
Indeed, experience has proved that in “conquering” and creating change in the world, the feminine approach can often be more effective than the masculine approach, which often hinges on confrontation.
So the man must access his sensitivity and subtlety, while a woman must access her assertion when necessary.
The answer is not for men and women to try to be alike – nor, for that matter, for men to be like other men and women to be like other women.
All men and women must be themselves, realizing that G-d has given to each of us unique abilities with which to pursue our goals, and that our primary responsibility is to take full advantage of these abilities.
G-d asks of man to understand himself in the context of his maleness, which incorporates his “feminine self” and asks of a woman to understand herself in context of her femininity, which incorporates her “male self.”
And above all we are ultimately each responsible as a freestanding human being to G-d and society.
In order to unite forces in a wholesome and constructive fashion, men and women must first learn to appreciate their true selves and their true differences.
This includes a certain modesty and mutual respect in their manner of dress, conduct and communication, as well as recognizing that a physical union between man and woman is possible only within the Divine union of marriage.
It is no coincidence that a good marriage also requires both the feminine and masculine dimensions, so that a couple cooperates to build a strong union while having the introspective faith to face life’s inevitable vicissitudes.
Chapter 3 What Are The Forces Dividing Men And Women Today?
Uniting Male and Feminine Energies
It is a great challenge to achieve the proper blend of masculine and feminine energy.
When Style Supersedes Substance
We live in a time where the material world supersedes the world of the sublime in many people’s eyes.
When ego and power prevail, style takes precedence over substance, form over spirit; the true and healthy balance between man and woman becomes distorted.
Their distinct energies, rather than being integrated toward a unified goal, become amplified and serve only to separate them.
When we place more emphasis on the material than the spiritual, the masculine and feminine energies begin to diverge, and the male assertive energy is inclined to dominate.
When we value external power and control over hearth and family, when we value aggressive business tactics over sensitivity and wisdom, we are placing a higher premium on a man, or rather, on the parts of the man that find this form of expression natural and comfortable.
We thus create an environment where masculine energy dominates and is valued most.
Inevitably, both man and woman suffer from this distortion of priorities, but it is women who feel its brunt, for a woman’s primary strength lies in the sublime and the sensitive.
Some dismiss or underestimate these strengths misinterpreting them as vulnerability, this distortion and men’s subsequent abuse of the distortion is the most compelling reason for today’s feminism. And indeed it is warranted.
Though feminism rightfully calls for the stop of male domination, and for equal rights for women, it is vital to get to the root of this distortion – that our focus in life as man or woman must not be to satisfy our own ego or needs but to serve G-d.
True women’s liberation does not mean seeking equality within a masculine world, it means liberating the Divine feminine aspects of a woman’s personality and using them for the benefit of all humankind.
Women need to clamor for their rights because the world insists on it for its cosmic well being.
Many women just as many men have succumbed to the growth of materialistic values at the expense of spiritual ones.
The women’s movement has accomplished much tangible good, yet it has stunted its own potential by failing to address the root problem.
The feminist fight for equality and validation on masculine terms ultimately fuels the power struggle between men and women.
Instead of using their distinctive traits toward a united goal, they often simple fight for domination, fostering deep resentment.
Practice and Theory
The only response to such a standoff is to reintroduce spiritual values into our lives – to reintroduce humility, to learn to recognize and appreciate the innate personalities of men and women, to see them as complementary halves of the same whole, serving one G-d.
This is not to say that we should abolish careers and forfeit the opportunities presented by contemporary life; rather we must refocus our priorities.
Instead of seeing the workplace as the core of your existence, instead of seeing money as the richest reward, you must see who you really are: a man or woman created equally by G-d to use your particular strengths to improve the world.
For some, this might mean considering a career that enables them to enhance their family life rather than compromise it.
For others, it might mean taking time from work to pursue their own spiritual growth, community work, or humanitarian efforts.
Some people may find themselves happier and more fulfilled dedicating themselves to educating their children at home, a trend that is intensifying of late.
As we become more spiritually orientated our appreciation for the responsibilities of building a home life will continue to grow.
After all, building a home, - transforming this material world into a G-dly home – is the purpose for which we were created.
But whether you pursue a career outside the home, make your home your career or fuse the two, it is vital to reassess your priorities in life, and concentrate on your role as man or a woman under G-d.
Women, because they are more sensitive to spiritual energy, must spearhead this new awareness.
This would be the ultimate feminist revolution – to topple the walls that separate spirit from matter, to lead a rebellion to a state in which there is true harmony between the masculine and feminine energies.
Practice and Theory
For this to work, men and women must realize their respective equal roles and strive to complement each other in their shared struggle to improve life.
In order to correct the abuse of male dominance, men must concentrate on using their dominant qualities for the good.
They must use their strength to preserve and protect the feminine character, helping women realize their true potential in exposing G-dliness, which the world so desperately needs today.
We must use “the battle of the sexes” as a catalyst to reach back into our true selves.
We must undo the distortion that has blurred the male and female roles as two unique Divine energies and come to understand how every man and woman must fulfill himself and herself.
We must always remember that they are two halves of the same soul, and they complement each other.
Practice and Theory
Ask yourself this question: Are you being true to your nature or are you contradicting it in order to succeed in the material world?
Practice and Theory
Learn about what it means to be a man or a woman, about masculine and feminine energies.
Practice and Theory
Learn to live up to your potential, to balance these energies, to lead a productive and meaningful life – a G-dly life.
Practice and Theory
Learn to respect your male or female counterpart.
After so many years of male dominance, we are standing at the threshold of a true feminine era.
We are witnessing a return to higher values, we have recognized that materialism cannot make us happy, that an exclusively materialistic life and meaningful life are in contradistinction to one another.
We have seen a resurgence of feminine energy, of the power of the serene.
It is time now for the woman to rise to her true prominence.
When the subtle power of the feminine energy is allowed to nourish the overt power of the masculine energy.
We have already proved that we can use our strength to slay the demons around us, let us now learn to nurture the G-dliness within.