Counting Our Blessings
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Counting Our Blessings

Gary Rosenblatt writes that in his morning prayers he
cannot bring himself to say the traditional blessing recited by men thanking
God for “not making me a woman.” (“A Woman’s Plight, A Community’s Shame,” Editor’s column, April 24.)

He objects to the common defense of this
blessing, namely, “that men express their gratitude for having more mitzvot
to fulfill than women.” This defense was repeated by Mr. Abe Katz in his Letter to the Editor, May 1.

Although Rosenblatt’s objection to this defense may be
valid, it is my opinion that the blessing has an entirely different meaning, 
one with which he may be sufficiently comfortable to return to the
traditional blessing. The blessing expresses a man’s recognition of the
gender-specific physical and psychological challenges faced by a woman, and
his appreciation of being relieved of such burdens. In particular the burdens
of the reproduction process and the physical and emotional challenges
associated with it fall almost entirely on the woman.

Furthermore, the
statement that men have more mitzvot than women is not exactly on the mark. 
Indeed all negative commandments must be observed by men and women, but a
woman is excused from particular positive commandments that potentially
interfere with her ability to meet her special challenges, including her
obligations as a mother. Thus the “defense” of this blessing is that it is
man’s understanding of the burdens of the woman and not a claim of religious
superiority.

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