Women in the Orthodox Church Brief Comments from a Spiritual Perspective by Archimandrite [now Archbishop] Chrysostomos Anyone reading the sublime words of the Orthodox Church Fathers is immediately struck with a number of overwhelming impressions.
Women in the Bible Relatively few women are mentioned in the Bible by name and role, suggesting that they were rarely in the forefront The role of women in orthodox public life. A common phenomenon in the bible is the pivotal role that women take in subverting man-made power structures.
The result is often a more just outcome than what would have taken place under ordinary circumstances. The Torah relates that both Israelite men and Israelite women were present at Sinai; however, the covenant was worded in such a way that it bound men to act upon its requirements, and to ensure that the members of their household wives, children, and slaves met these requirements as well.
In this sense, the covenant bound women as well, though indirectly. For example, a husband could divorce a wife if he chose to, but a wife could not divorce a husband without his consent.
The practice of levirate marriage applied to widows of childless deceased husbands, not to widowers of childless deceased wives; though, if either he or she didn't consent to the marriage, a different ceremony called chalitza is done instead, which basically involves the widow removing her brother-in-law's shoe, spitting in front of him, and proclaiming, "This is what happens to someone who will not build his brother's house!
Levirate marriage is not performed in our times. Laws concerning the loss of female virginity have no male equivalent. These and other gender differences found in the Torah suggest that women were subordinate to men during biblical times; however, they also suggest that biblical society viewed continuity, property, and family unity as paramount.
These included the provision of clothing, food, and sexual relations to their wives. Women as well as men were required to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem once a year men each of the three main festivals if they could and offer the Passover sacrifice.
They would also do so on special occasions in their lives such as giving a todah "thanksgiving" offering after childbirth. Hence, they participated in many of the major public religious roles that non- Levitical men could, albeit less often and on a somewhat smaller and generally more discreet scale.
Michalone of David 's main wives and the daughter of Saulaccepted the commandments of tefillin only while menstrually pure, as doing so otherwise contradicts the Halacha and tzitzis upon herself, the latter as an atonement for her criticism of her husband for dancing "too" wildly around the Ark on its journey to Jerusalem.
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This was due to a mistaken opinion in her father's personal philosophy that she had until then accepted. Women depended on men economically. Women generally did not own property except in the rare case of inheriting land from a father who didn't bear sons.
Even "in such cases, women would be required to remarry within the tribe so as not to reduce its land holdings". Halacha also provides women with material and emotional protections that most non-Jewish women did not enjoy during the first millennium of the Common Era.
The Talmud states that: Greater is the reward to be given by the All-Mighty to the righteous women than to righteous men  Ten measures of speech descended to the world; women took nine  Women are light on raw knowledge — i. Hiyya heard his mother's footsteps he would say: Let me arise before the approach of the divine presence  Israel was redeemed from Egypt by virtue of its Israel righteous women  A man must be careful never to speak slightingly to his wife because women are prone to tears and sensitive to wrong  Women have greater faith than men  Women have greater powers of discernment  Women are especially tenderhearted  While few women are mentioned by name in rabbinic literature, and none are known to have authored a rabbinic work, those who are mentioned are portrayed as having a strong influence on their husbands.
Occasionally they have a public persona. Eleazar ben Arach 's wife Ima Shalom counselled her husband in assuming leadership over the Sanhedrin. When Eleazar ben Arach was asked to assume the role of Nasi "Prince" or President of the Sanhedrinhe replied that he must first take counsel with his wife, which he did.
Avraham Grossman argues in his book, Pious and Rebellious: Jewish Women in Medieval Europe, that three factors affected how Jewish women were perceived by the society around them: Women probably learned how to read the liturgy in Hebrew.
This goes back to ancient times when women could go only as far as the second court of the Temple. The reasoning behind the Halacha was that a woman and her body would distract men and give them impure thoughts during prayer.
However, recent research has shown that women actually had a larger role in the synagogue and the community at large. Women usually attended synagogue, for example, on the Shabbat and the holidays.
Since the synagogues were large, there would be a designated woman who would be able to follow the cantor and repeat the prayers aloud for the women. Women sitting separately from the men became a norm in synagogues around the beginning of the thirteenth century.
One of the main jobs for women was to beautify the building. There are Torah ark curtains and Torah covers that women sewed and survive today. The rise and increasing popularity of Kabbalahwhich emphasized the shechinah and female aspects of the divine presence and human-divine relationship, and which saw marriage as a holy covenant between partners rather than a civil contract, had great influence.
Kabbalists explained the phenomenon of menstruation as expressions of the demonic or sinful character of the menstruant. At the same time, there was a rise in philosophical and midrashic interpretations depicting women in a negative light, emphasizing a duality between matter and spirit in which femininity was associated, negatively, with earth and matter.
For example, it seems that Jews would analyze the modesty of their non-Jewish neighbors before officially moving into a new community because they knew that their children would be influenced by the local gentiles.
Crypto-Jewish women would slaughter their own animals and made sure to keep as many of the Jewish dietary laws and life cycle rituals as possible without raising suspicion.
Occasionally, these women were prosecuted by Inquisition officials for suspicious behavior such as lighting candles to honor the Sabbath or refusing to eat pork when it was offered to them.
The Inquisition targeted crypto-Jewish women at least as much as it targeted crypto-Jewish men because women were accused of perpetuating Jewish tradition while men were merely permitting their wives and daughters to organize the household in this manner.In addition, in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East where Orthodoxy constitutes the traditional form of Christianity, and in the diaspora where, during the twentieth century Orthodox communities were formed and inculturated in the West, Orthodox women today continue to take an active role in the life of the Church.
The Role of Women in Judaism by Jonathan Sacks from Man, Woman, and Priesthood, pp. , edited by Peter Moore, SPCK London, Republished on our website with the necessary permissions.
JONATHAN SACKS (b. ) is an orthodox Jewish rabbi who read Moral Science at Cambridge and then did research both there and at New College, Oxford. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, with its headquarters located in the City of New York, is an Eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, The mission of the Archdiocese is to proclaim the Gospel of Christ, to teach and spread the Orthodox Christian faith, to energize, cultivate, and guide the life of the Church in the United .
National Philoptochos Society MISSION STATEMENT. To promote charitable, benevolent and philanthropic outreach to preserve the sanctity of life and family and to perpetuate and promote our Orthodox faith and traditions.". One very important role that each woman can fulfill is to encourage other women to live out an Orthodox lifestyle in their homes because it requires the help of others in the parish.
After all, “it takes a village to raise a child,” and our village is the Church. The Greek Orthodox Church traces its origins back to the early Church referenced in the Bible, teaching that its authority is derived from Jesus' apostles, a tradition referred to as apostolic succession.
The Orthodox Church believes that the Scriptures establish that the roles of men and women.