Sunday, July 24, 2022

Parashat Matot/Masei: On second thought . . .

From a Wednesday, July 20, 2011 post of mine about Masei:


  • It's rather sad that a woman of the biblical era had to be protected from the right and ability of her father, or, after marriage, her husband, to prevent her from keeping her vows. But I suppose that her being excused from keeping a vow was better than being held responsible for actions that she was not allowed to take. Apparently, the only females of any age who were considered independent agents free to make and carry out their own decisions were widows and divorcees. (See Numbers, chapter 30, verses 2-17.)


On second thought, I missed something major here. 

See Bechukotai, Leviticus, chapter 27.

That entire chapter is about vows made to G-d (the ancient functional equivalent of Yom Kippur pledges), which were to be paid to the Kohanim/Priests. 

And every one of those vows cost money.

It wasn’t the women who were being protected—it was the men.  Any vow made by a married woman, or a single woman who’d never been married, cost her husband or father money, because those women had no authority over the family finances—they, themselves, did not own anything.  Only widows or divorcees had to pay out of their own pockets.  So much for the Torah giving women a break.


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