“Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler of the universe who has not created me a woman”
I must have seen this prayer in my Siddur, prayer book thousands of times. I saw it first when I started saying the required Jewish prayers in my girls-only kindergarten. My teacher simply told us to skip out that prayer since it was reserved for the boys and men
For many years, I did not question this practice. I simply accepted it, just as I accepted the requirement to sit behind the wall with the women in our small synagoge and wear a long skirt at the tender age of three. It was just the way we all did things.
Later as a high school student, we grappled with the question as to how this prayer was appropriate nowadays and were given several explanations. Our teacher told us that men are grateful for not having to deal with the pain of childbirth or menstruation. In addition, men were expressing their gratitude since they have more mitzvot, commandments, and more ways to connect to God.
These explanations seemed acceptable to me at the time and I did not question any further, praying daily according to how I was taught. Over the years and especially since my divorce five years ago, my daily prayer practice had fallen to the wayside.
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Recently, I was praying and as I started saying the morning blessings and my eyes fell on the blessing, “who has not created me a woman” I burst into tears. All those years of pent up angst came pouring forth. Long forgotten memories rose up as a torrent that would not be stilled.
I thought back to the little girl reciting the prayers in a sing-song voice who never thought she was good enough and would tug at her skirt, making sure her knees were covered.
I remembered that teenage young girl who wanted to be seen and loved for the powerful strong girl she was becoming, but was told to be quiet and that her role was to be subservient to a man.
I thought of the young married woman, almost a child herself, who gave up her dreams and desires to follow her husband and bear children for him, ignoring the burgeoning womanhood that bubbled within her.
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What impact did seeing this prayer daily in the prayer book have on the choices that I made?
What choices did I make as a result of hearing my brothers, father and husband say this prayer every day?
I was pleasantly surprised to recently discover that this prayer was introduced less than a thousand years ago with many scholars, including the Rambam, Maimonides expressing opposition, claiming that it was against Jewish belief.
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Is it possible that God does not want to hear this prayer said daily after all?
Are we ready to look at the impact this prayer has on our communities and abolish this practice?
Today, as a woman, I proudly say a prayer each morning expressing gratitude for being created as a woman.
“Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler of the universe who has created me a woman”