THE MYTH:

Unfortunately, some are circulating the following rumor about the RMb"M (a thousand separations): They say that the RMb"M recommends that women be treated ("jailed"); much like (many) Muslim women are (heaven forbid), and locked (or forced to stay in their house) by their husbands; only allowed to leave twice a month. This is based on the often misquoted and misconstrued verse from Mishneh Torah: Hilkhoth Ishuth 13:11 (Laws of Women).

CLARIFICATION OF THE FACTS:

First of all... anyone one listening to (and openly spreading) this rumor is guilty of Motzi Shem Ra (slander); and is certainly considered leprous (tsrora'at), and most likely deserves to be lashed by a Sanhedrin. Let them be forewarned about this.

Background

The entire book of the laws of Women (Hilkoth Ishoth) rigorously and meticulously details a multitude of protections, enactments, decrees and laws specifically designed to protect the women from abuse of any kind. To pick one verse (out of context) and say it means the exact opposite of this entire book, is like finding an APPARENT black spot on the son, in order to deduce that the entire Sun is totally dark and black.

Here are some VERY disturbing points, which are usually left out of this disgusting perversion of Torah. It turns out that one of my wife's good friends apparently heard this slander in one of her so called "TORAH" lectures - a few weeks ago. After hearing this, she (her friend) openly declared her disdain for the RMb"M (Maimonides), after seeing a picture (of his likeness) on my very wall. What a terrible tragedy... that she bought into this lie. I won't mention which group her friend is learning with.

1-The word in question is מנע (mem-nun-ayin). It literally means to detain someone. We can see this - by following its usage in other places, many of which call on the WOMEN to detain MEN for different monetary or more personal matters. Anyone trying to relate this to certain Muslim concepts (heaven forbid); where women may be beaten or locked away is either sick, mistaken or prejudiced. Either way, they are certainly disgracing Torath Moshe.

2- In the sentence just preceding this verse (which appears in Mishneh Torah: Hilkoth Ishuth 13:11), he pre-reqs this entire comment with the following sentence: "A women is not confined in a jail, from which she can not come and go." And before this, he specifically describes many examples where a women goes to visit the father, mourner, wedding celebration, or friend (and more examples are given). Disgracefully, the (well intentioned) Moznaim mistranslates (as usual) into English that the women is "GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY" to do these things. A thorough reading of the next two chapters will confirm that many of these laws protect the FREEDOM of women. This is the exact opposite of what is being claimed.

3-The real proof of this concept is that the RMb"M uses the following word to describe a women who FREQUENTLY leaves the home, going out one time and going out to the streets the next, as a disgrace ( גנאי ) - (gimmal,nun,aleph,yud). He does not call it an ASUR (something forbidden). And in the other word (he will not "allow" her יניחוה ) can just as easily mean 'facilitate'. And even if you will say it means 'allow' in a few instances, there is no mention here of using force or locking her up. That is foreign to Torath Moshe. Perhaps they could/would take her to bet din, in certain legal instances. However, someone here is trying to Arabize/Muslimize the traditions of Israel. I've seen this done amongst one particular group of people, that I dare not mention by name (for fear lashon hara`). Apparently everyone "not like them" is an Arab.

4-Lastly, I want to point out something critical here. The RMb"M does not pull this out of thin air (Psalms 45:15). Even RaShY himself sees this as a special point about women being the base (light) of the house (without her constant light, the dwelling is clearly found lacking "no attraction").

If this clearly Semitic concept bothers the sensibility of (a minority of) modernized people (usually the Feminist or overly-Europeanized elements) with an ax to grind... too bad!!! Ironically, many in this crowd are the real chauvinists.

Conclusion

It may not be the law, but it is certainly the WAY of COUTH Jewish Women to behave, as is well documented. Sarah's desire to remain in her tent is another such instance of this ancient concept. It does not mean she is trapped there (heaven forbid) - or should not LIVE a healthy and happy life. I guess Avraham must have jailed Sarah too (sarcasm intended).

Return to questions page

Return to articles