A Quick Reflection on the Covenant

Chag Sameach/Happy Shavuot! Shavuot is a fairly new holiday for me, as someone still in the early stages of her Jewish Journey. In short, this is a holiday that celebrates when the Israelites received the Torah from G-d at Mount Sinai.

In this chapter of the Torah (Exodus chapters 19 and 20), we see G-d tell Moses to gather the people and prepare, for three days, to receive the 10 Commandments directly from G-d. But what Moses does instead is striking.

He instead only instructs the men.

It is clear here, that Moses has deliberately decided that G-d’s holy words are not meant for women. On this important holiday, read year after year, women are reminded (usually by men) that they have been, quite literally, shunted to the side.

But we must remember that G-d explicitly included women when commanding the Israelites to prepare. G-d commanded women to prepare for the revelation. G-d was speaking to the women just as much as the men.

It is Moses who has inserted his own patriarchal views into the holiness of the revelation. It is one man who decided that women were too ritually impure to receive the Commandments.

It is crucial that women understand that this passage should not be a justification as to why we are left out of Judaism. This passage that we recite every year should serve as a reminder to men in positions of power in Judaism that they cannot leave women out. That men are obligated to remember G-d’s own words. That women belong in Judaism just as much as they do.

Because women do belong in Judaism.

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