Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Right [Curse] to Work

Tell me you haven't received at least one email like this (all typographical errors have been retained for your enjoyment):

A woman, renewing her driver's licence ,
was asked by the woman at Registry to state her occupation.

She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.   

'What I mean is, ' explained the woman at Registry,
'do you have a job or are you just a .....?'

'Of course I have a job,' snapped the woman.
'I'm a Mum.'

'We don't list 'Mum' as an occupation,

'housewife' covers it,' 
Said the recorder emphatically.
I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself
in the same situation. 
The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised,
efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like,
'Official Interrogator' or 'City Registrar.' 

'What is your occupation?' she probed.

What made me say it?  I do not know.
The words simply popped out
'I'm a Research Associate in the field of
Child Development and Human Relations.'
The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair and
looked up as though she had not heard right. 
I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words..
Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written,
in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.

'Might I ask,' said the clerk with new interest,
'just what you do in your field?'
Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice,
I heard myself reply,
'I have a continuing program of research,
(what mother doesn't)
In the laboratory and in the field,
(normally I would have said indoors and out).
I'm working for my Masters, (the whole family)
and already have four credits (all daughters).
Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities,
(any mother care to disagree?)
and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it).
But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers
and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money.' 

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she
completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career,
I was greeted by my lab assistants -- ages 13, 7, and 3.
Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model,
(a 6 month old baby) in the child development program,
testing out a new vocal pattern..  
I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy!
And I had gone on the official records as someone more
distinguished and indispensable to mankind than 'just another Mum.'  
What a glorious career!  
 Of course ending with "please send this to all mums that you know!!!!!!"


Variations on this theme are ubiquitous (I'm thinking of the one where someone figures out how much money motherhood would be worth on the job market).  But have a big bone to pick with it all.  Motherhood is not and never will be comparable to a job where people pay you.  It's.  Just.  Not.  In fact, the two have nothing in common.

See, according to Judaism, working is neither a right, an honor, or a privilege.  It's a... ready?

Curse.  Given to... ready?


And pregnancy, labor, and the difficulty in child-rearing is a... (you already knew this) curse!

Given to (you already knew this)...


For what?  For the sin of eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

Now for the disclaimers:

1. For some, working is an outlet, a way to feel useful, to give to society.  I refer to needing to work in order to eat.  (The source states: "by the sweat of your brow will you [be able to] eat bread."  Far cry from part-timing it to deal with empty-nest syndrome.)

2. In some families, women help out with the bread-winning, and men help out with the child-raising.  This is good.  We help each other deal with our mutual curses.  That's called "being kind" and is a pleasant character trait.  Keep it up.  Even, sometimes, women are primary bread-winners, and men are primary child-raisers.  This is OK too.  Nothing forbidden about that.

3. Equal pay for equal work is unrelated to this teaching.

4. We should still be grateful to the members of each gender for their hard work in their respective curses.  Just because they're cursed doesn't mean we have it lord it over them.  But to envy someone else's curse seems rather unseemly.

Do you think?

For those of you that are into sources, check out Genesis/Bereishit/s 3:17 and 19. 


  1. what about the men that learn full time, and then women not only have to do the child rearing, they also have to do the breadwinning. THoughts?

    love your blog!


    1. Hi H. Thanks for your kind words.

      In a kollel arrangement (which is what you're describing) both husband and wife mutually agree that the wife will temporarily lift the burden of earning a living from the husband so he can pursue a mutually desired goal. In this case, a spiritual goal. It would be comparable to the wife working while the husband finishes law school or graduate school.

      Both members understand that when it ceases to be financially feasible, the ultimate burden of breadwinning is the husband's, not the wife's - although usually, what I've seen is that the wife resists her husband ending the kollel stage more than the husband does.

      In a kollel arrangement, husbands usually pitch in significantly with household chores such as carpool, being with the kids during breaks, baths, errands, and grocery shopping.

    2. This is a good arrangement when roshei yeshiva encourage kollel to be a temporary endeavor with an end career goal, like graduate school. Alas, as you likely know, this is not always the case :(

    3. The Rosh Yeshiva is selling Torah. Others are selling college. A personal mentor can help figure out how to apply the balance.

    4. mmmm....nobody is selling college forever

    5. The percentage of kollel men who stay in kollel "forever" is minuscule. Please don't bring examples from the state of Israel, where army service complicates the issue enormously.

      When I said others are selling college, my intention wasn't to put the two on the same plane. I just meant, it is not the Rosh Yeshiva's job to encourage people to learn LESS Torah.

      My math teacher pushed me to go into math and my English teacher pushed me to become a writer. Each professional is there to sell her product.

    6. When I said others are selling college, my intention wasn't to put the two on the same plane. I just meant, it is not the Rosh Yeshiva's job to encourage people to learn LESS Torah.
      Wow. I would have thought it was the job of a Rosh Yeshiva to give his students the best advice for their current spiritual, physical, and economic state, not to maximize Torah study at all costs. I guess this is the difference between theory (my understanding) and practice (what you said.). Public choice theory rules over all.

    7. I googled public choice theory and still have no idea what it means.

      There is a difference between a Rosh Yeshiva and a personal rabbi/mentor. Sometimes that person is the Rosh Yeshiva, and sometimes it isn't. The rabbi/mentor's job is to do just what you stated: give the best holistic advice. The Rosh Yeshiva's job is to model Torah values above all else: kindness, Torah study, self-correction, faith, devotion in prayer.

      That's why I originally stated: "A personal mentor can help figure out how to apply the balance."

    8. The Rosh Yeshiva's job is to model Torah values above all else: kindness, Torah study, self-correction, faith, devotion in prayer.

      I would not attend a yeshiva where the Rosh HaYeshiva believed in kulo Torah (only Torah study without working) as an acceptable long term lifestyle for the masses. If someone does I guess they get what they pay for,

      This is one of the places I comfortably part company with contemporary Charedi hashkafa (philosophy), A life spent studying the laws of business ethics is less well spent than a life spent studying and applying the laws of business ethics.
      As it says in Pirke Avot:

      Rabbi Yishmael his son used to say: He who learns in order to teach will be enabled both to learn and to teach. But he who learns in order to practice will be enabled to learn, to teach, to observe, and to practice.

    9. Yup. Pirkei Avot is an incredible work, filled with much wisdom.

  2. Amy Newman SmithJune 13, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Ruchi, how does this square with the concept that raising children is also advodas HaShem (the service of G-d), and a bracha we daven (pray), to be blessed with?

    As for the the variants of this story, if it makes someone feel better about their role, which is a challenging one, then I have nothing against it. Is it any different than the divrei chizzuk that are often given to women that when we put clothes on our babies and do laundry we are "clothing the naked," the same thing we praise HaShem for. Or the reminders that the chessed we render at home is no less valuable than the chessed we render to others?

    When I stepped out of my career to be a full-time mommy and part-time wage-slave, someone I respected greatly told me, to my face, "Your brains are going to run out your ears and turn to mush. You are throwing your life away." Obviously, I disagree, since I made that choice, Matt and I worked very hard before we had kids and have sacrificed a lot so I could stay home and just work part-time/freelance. But it is a very jarring transition, and the way society responds to SAHMs can make you question your choice.

    If stories like these help women feel better about their choices, I don't see the harm.

    1. I'd rethink the "respected greatly" part if I were you Amy. - Miriam

    2. Same.

      Re: chizzuk. The curse consists of 3 parts: difficulty in pregnancy, difficulty in childbirth, and the anguish of raising kids. Raising kids, in general, is a privilege and honor - and very spiritual work. The agony that goes along with it is the part that was never supposed to be.

      What you say about all these types of emails is true, and that's why people share and forward. My peeve is not they offer encouragement for a worthy endeavor (mothering) but rather that they offer it via equating it with a career. THAT'S what gives it esteem.

    3. Should be workingJune 13, 2012 at 1:29 PM

      Another email/argument that makes me similarly crazy, for similar reasons (i.e. it is misguided to compare mothering to a career) is where someone adds up how much it would cost to find a babysitter, driver, night-nurse, housekeeper, cook, organizer and so forth [surrogate mother, egg donor...], and then adds it up and announces that that is how much traditional women's work is worth.

      This disturbs me on several levels. First, 'mom' is not just a sum of tasks we do, it's an emotional role and also the taking on the position of 'ultimate responsibility for kids', which is different than the set of individual tasks we perform. Second, the wages for many of those paid tasks are anyway too low (think nurses). Third, anyway the whole system of 'market value' for these tasks is perverse [think teachers vs. corporate types]. Fourth, all those 'market salaries' depend traditionally on the UNPAID character of women's work at home, so if women were actually paid 'market value' for their domestic labor it would send up all the other wages and skew the whole measurement. Fifth, the idea that traditional women's work can find a market value misses the point that traditional women's work--and especially the 'production' of babies (if you want to use market terminology)-- can illustrate how 'market value' is a distortion of HUMAN value. And thus how much money we make does NOT in fact correspond to the value of what we do.

    4. These exercises in valuing a mother's work are valuable when determining a family's life insurance needs. Far too many people insure the husband, based on replacing his income if, Gd forbid, something happens to him. It can be equally devastating financially if the wife, Gd forbid, dies, because suddenly he has to hire a cook, a nanny, a housecleaner, etc. We live in a market based society, and it is practical to assign a market value to a woman's responsibilities (and then insure her life accordingly).

    5. Should be workingJune 13, 2012 at 4:19 PM

      I fully agree. I was criticizing the kind of email/article that uses such a calculation to inspire gratitude and esteem for mothering.

  3. Yes. Work and child-rearing are a curse. But they have also evolved. A man can really enjoy his work nowadays, especially since sitting in an air-conditioned office is a far cry from slaving over crops in blistering sun.

    My father was the first one in his family to go to college. My grandfather was amazed: "They pay you to sit by a desk and play with a ruler?"

    Additionally, thanks to epidurals and such, women can go through the birthing process with less pain. Now it is a rarity for a woman to die in childbirth, when it was once all too common.

    The curses themselves no longer have the bite they used to. A man is happy when he gets his paycheck. A woman is happy knowing, chances are, she and her child will survive. And consider disposable diapers! Heaven! I once heard that the age of mochiach is nigh because the curses have lost their strength.

    I do believe the role of the mother is an important one. But I don't like it when people have to protest so much that they are making a contribution. Personal satisfaction comes from within, and does not need to be validated.

    1. I asked my husband about epidurals. He responded as you did, that maybe the curses are winding toward an expiration of sorts...? Just a speculation.

  4. Should be workingJune 13, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    1. What does it feel like (I guess this is a question for literal readers of Torah) to think that we as women are all cursed for Eve's act thousands of years ago? How does that make sense? Is it just 'what God decided', so it doesn't need to make sense? This is something I can't grasp.

    2. If I had to say I feel 'cursed' by anything, it is managing the ambivalent conflict between work AND kids and feeling like I should be giving BOTH of those more of my energy. But the conditions for this conflict are obviously the best blessing I can imagine: I love both the work and the kids. Although kids are on a different scale for sure.

    1. #1. what about the guy's curse? Does that also feel unfair? But the answer to both is yes.

      #2. Yes. This is the double curse of the modern woman.

    2. Should be workingJune 13, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      Ruchi, thanks. I love these biblical passages--but in a very different way than you do, as I've said in other posts. I realize that the 'why curse all women for Eve's disobedience' is not one that troubles O Jews, it's that metaphysical divide again, I guess.

      For readers of biblical Hebrew: does God specifically tell Eve that SHE is cursed or that all women are cursed? Is it a matter of inference that ALL women will be cursed?

    3. AAH!! An appreciative comment. Oxygen.

      It's a question that should and must be asked but I won't say it "troubles" me.

      The analogy I would draw here is let's say you had a marriage where it's possible for the wife to know for a fact that her husband would never be unfaithful. Even if he comes home late, acts weird, or whatever, she's not troubled. She might be curious, confused, want to understand, but there isn't pain involved. That's my relationship with Torah. My axiom is that it is good and true. Now, I must go about understanding.

      As far as your final question, it must be broadened to include men or it sounds like yet another God v. Women thing. Also, when you say "inference" it's important to know, do you mean does God tell Eve specifically in the text alone, or if the Talmud fills in the details, does that constitute an "inference" for you?


    4. Should be workingJune 13, 2012 at 1:41 PM

      Yes, my questions all absolutely include men and the cursing of Adam, I forgot to say that before. For me it's about how to read the Genesis, not about men vs. women. So for me it is more about what 'literal' reading means here. I realize that Adam/men get/s cursed for going along with Eve. So my question can be broadened to whether God tells Adam alone or 'all men' that he/they will be cursed to labor.

      And I think in the Genesis alone God just tells Adam and Eve their curses as individuals, so is it in fact in Talmud that it gets expanded to men and women in general? That for me would be 'inference' with respect to Genesis, but I gather for O Jews the Talmud doesn't count as inference but likewise as straight from 'the horse's mouth'?

    5. Should be workingJune 13, 2012 at 1:42 PM

      Wait, I'm really sorry about that 'horse's mouth' expression. I meant it casually, not disrespectfully.

    6. :) taken as such.

      The Talmud fills in that this is for posterity. And right that for Orthodox Jews that is not considered an inference (at least not in the way you mean.)

      But isn't it fairly obvious that the curses still stand? Or are you saying they're due to other factors and not the curses?

    7. Should be workingJune 13, 2012 at 3:59 PM

      Certainly men's and women's labors come with suffering, whether or not someone believes that derives from curses on Adam and Eve.

    8. I want to understand how you are processing this teaching. Even if you just accept the story as it appears in the text itself, God cursed Adam and Eve with these labors, implying that they did not exist prior. So if you reject the idea that the curses were for posterity, how did we not end up with the curses ending with their death and the world reverting back to being the Garden of Eden again? Because when I look around, I see a world that runs according to those curses. Unless you're saying you take the whole story allegorically - if so, what does it tell you? And if so, it wouldn't really matter so much if the Talmud is fact or inference.

    9. Should be workingJune 14, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      Ruchi, for me it is not a *teaching* as it is for you. It does not in my eyes teach us the 'real story' of why we suffer, nor do I find there a 'moral to the story' for how we should live our lives. But it does explain our lives today as (for me) a great myth does. I'm sure this is a viewpoint you deal with all the time. I've got my own little ideas about allegory, but basically the story is also not for me true in the usual sense of 'allegory' as 'a story told in metaphorical terms'.

      But I find it true 'literarily' or 'aesthetically'. Not sure anyone else really wants to hear all this, since it's a deeply idiosyncratic take, but: For me, it's a spectacular, stunningly crafted [i.e. 'literary'], story. Where I might be a little different than your average reader of Torah-as-myth or -as-allegory is in my infatuation with the literary/aesthetic quality. It is 'true' in my eyes as being aesthetically so perfect.

      Here's my favorite part of the story: 3:8, God is walking around in the garden in the evening breeze! This is so beautiful, God enjoys the breeze, it's evening, it is just stunning. It's "true" in how it aesthetically/literarily/rhetorically so perfectly includes these details and sets them up together.

    10. SBW: For those who believe that Torah is the literal word of God it should come as no surprise that it is a work of the highest literary merit. After all, how can any mortal writer compare to God?

    11. Should be workingJune 14, 2012 at 2:45 PM

      Right. This is where I am probably closest to O Jews, i.e. in this connection of beauty to perfection to truth. For O Jews it's all derived from God's perfection-beauty-truth.

  5. I think the biblical story is more complex than presented here. If Adam and Eve resisted sin and did not eat from the tree, they, and their progeny, would have continued living in Eden for the rest of eternity? Really? That was God's master plan for the world? Two people and their kids living in heaven?

    I think one has no choice but to agree that the sin and its ramifications were all part of the grand design and to the ultimate benefit of humanity. Work and labor and child rearing and death, therefore, cannot be seen in a negative light and I don't agree that they should be all viewed as curses.

    Also, practically, I don't think society is as critical of men who would love to bear and raise a child as they are of women who would love to further their careers. Why is that, do you think?

    1. If your question is what do the Torah sources have to say about this, then the answers are:

      Yes, it was God's original master plan for the world that Adam, who contained the super-soul of humanity, would overcome this one ordeal and thus redeem mankind and we would all bask in the earned glory of the Divine.

      Then we flubbed so onto plan B. Then we were given another chance and flubbed again, with Noah. Onto plan C. Etc. Not sure what letter we're up to by now.

      I don't know of any men who would love to bear and raise a child, or at least, it's far less common than women who are career-motivated. (Why might that be?) But ask a stay-at-home dad what kind of reactions he gets...

    2. Of course the Biblical story is more complex than that. We spent an entire year of high school on it. One could study it one's whole life and not be done. In fact, the Torah teaches that all the secrets of the Torah are buried therein.

    3. Should be workingJune 14, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      @Anon 6/13, 12:35: I feel like women who work are actually much more accepted than men who stay home raising kids. Where I work, it was clear I would take maternity leave and no one blinked an eye, but my husband was STRONGLY discouraged (and that was illegal to discourage it) from taking paternity leave when I went back to work. I feel like this might be because the mindset is, "Women want to work, sure, because money is important! But men wanting to stay home raising kids? Why isn't he more focused on earning money?" Money trumps kids in our system. I guess this might be different in O circles.

    4. What I'm saying here is that if a guy comes to you and says: "I am jealous of women's ability to give life,even with all the pain it entails," you would think "what an insightful, sensitive guy."

      If a woman comes and says "I am jealous of a man's ability to advance in a professional career, even with all those corresponding problems," you do not think " what an insightful, sensitive woman." You think, how sad, she's jealous.

    5. "Giving life" is inherently an act of, well, giving. "Advancing in a professional career" may or may not be.

      Jealousy is rarely admirable. Are you saying that the guy got the better curse?

      Also, I'm not sure that the two curses are meant to be exact parallels of one another. I certainly haven't seen anything in the sources that indicate that they are.

      And also also, both sexes are involved in both acts. Men are involved in giving and nurturing life, and women are involved in helping feed the family - each sex simply carries the primary pain of its curse.

    6. I was responding to this line in your post "But to envy someone else's curse seems rather unseemly."

      I presume you were referring to women envying men for their jobs/careers. But envying a woman for her ability to give life is more acceptable, I guess.

      Advancing in a professional career is very often a noble and useful act. Like I said before : providing for the family, specific scientifica discoveries that make the world a better place, producing goods consumers need, adding to the wealth of the economy, hiring people, etc.

      I guess I don't agree that a woman expressing a desire to have a career on the same level as a man is a negative thing, anymore than a man expressing a desire to nurture life and care for a child.

    7. Do you know of men who do, or is this hypothetical?

  6. So coming from the perspective that a man's role is to work to earn a living, and a woman's role is to bear and raise children, what is the role/purpose for a woman who isn't married/can't have children?

    How do we as a community value these women and give them meaning and purpose?
    The women I know who spent years hoping to get married, or who have spent years davening for children, feel tremendously devalued and purposeless within the Orthodox community.

    1. Whoa. I didn't say that a man's role is to earn a living and a woman's role is to bear and raise children. I said they are respectively cursed that those areas will be their burden.

      A man's and a woman's role is identical: to perfect ourselves, polish our souls, build a relationship with God, and bring joy and goodness to the world via Torah and good deeds.

      There are many ways to accomplish this. For both men and women, the optimal way to reach one's spiritual potential is in the context of family, because it challenges us in precisely the areas that are so difficult. Having and raising a family is a privilege and a blessing and it should be viewed as such.

      A job, for a man, should be viewed as a necessary evil. Not a feather in your cap, not an ego-driver, not a power trip. And one's kids, as well, should not be trotted out as prize ponies in cute clothes and bragged about incessantly. Modesty, humility, and gratitude in both arenas.

      A man who doesn't have a job and a woman who doesn't have a family (presuming she wants one) should not be made to feel devalued. But of course we know that people are people and can be insensitive.

      Two of my female Jewish heroes are Sarah Scheneirer and Rebbetzin Bruria David, the dean of my seminary. Neither had children. One was divorced. Both impacted scores of Jews in enormously spiritual and powerful ways.

    2. A job, for a man, should be viewed as a necessary evil. Not a feather in your cap, not an ego-driver, not a power trip.

      Ruchi, if everyone viewed work like this, as a necessary evil, the world would have never progressed, not even an iota. If work is a necessary evil, why should I be ambitious? Why should I strive to discover cures for diseases or to invent new and useful technology or to start companies and build financial empires that contribute to the economy and produce jobs and products that consumers need? Why should I strive to use my talents in the fullest way possible, if work is just a necessary evil? I'll just go to work and bring home a paycheck and pay the bills and end of story.

      I think being proud of your work, your accomplishments, viewing them as a "feather in your cap," is healthy and ultimately, what drives success.

      Does your husband view his work with JFX as a necessary evil?

      I agree that humility and modesty are good personality traits. But that's very different than saying work should be viewed as a necessary evil.

    3. That's an interesting thought. I think it's important to distinguish between a "job" and a "calling." For some very lucky (blessed) people they are one and the same. Some teachers, clergy, doctors, maybe even politicians, are doing professionally something that is a noble and just cause and repairing the world thereby.

      Then there's the rest of us. I would say if you polled 10 people, less than half would consider their job a greater calling. I could be wrong. And even those that do (my husband and I are among them) there is so much red tape involved in the fact that we need the job to put bread on the table.

      Social workers are bogged down in job insurance, paperwork, office politics, and government regulations. My husband is stuck fundraising. Synagogue rabbis have their hands tied by their board who pay their salaries. School teachers spend hours grading papers. It is these complications that constitute the curse I reference. That's the necessary evil.

      In the Orthodox world I know many men (accountants, lawyers, businessmen - I'm thinking of my father-in-law in particular) who have jobs just to pay the bills. Of course within their jobs they strive to spiritualize the experience - be honest and diligent and be good ambassadors for Judaism, hire people that need help, do pro bono work where possible. But their true contribution to society - their charitable work, hospitality, etc - is outside of their profession.

      I do therefore think there is a lot of truth in what you're saying - that once we are working - a necessary evil - we should bring the fullest extent of meaning to what we need to do anyway.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Mariam--I totally get what you are saying and it bugs me too. Honestly there is no way to get around the pain associated with both feeling "different" than others around you as well as being unable to have children or marry if you want to. That said, I think it's important to realize that women have unique gifts of "motherhood"--even those who are not mothers. There is a general feminine vibe and presence even to the least feminine of women. FURTHERMORE, beyond our gender--we have value as individual people. Not every mother is a super-mom and not every guy is a successful businessman. We are more than our jobs, and our value goes much deeper than our strengths. We are individuals with individual gifts and qualities to share with the world. I think there needs be more focus on this aspect of who we are in both the Orthodox community and beyond. Each person can be a blessing to this world, despite what ability they lack or what skills they posses.

    Also I wanted to touch on something that struck a nerve for me here: It's not that I don't appreciate the sentiment of how epidurals and pain management have decreased "suffering" of the women etc... but I also think it's a very narrow view. The fact is that many people love natural birth (myself included) and don't view medicated birth as a "saviour" to them. (I will refrain from the doula in me giving a lesson on the danger that medicated births have and do pose on many mothers and children.) There is room for a curse to also be a blessing and there is nothing wrong about finding joy in our circumstances. What better thing can we gain through "punishment"--for lack of a better term--then by finding who we are because of it? I, personally, have found nothing harder, scary or more rewarding than facing my fear of the pain of childbirth dead in the eye? I was greatly rewarded and feel very blessed to have been allowed this "curse".

    I am all for women choosing the path in life and in childbirth that works for them, but I would really like to open people up to the idea that unmediated birth doesn't equal punishment, and medicated birth doesn't equal blessing. They can be one in the same. To some one is a blessing and the other a curse.

    1. Beautifully said. Thanks for the interesting perspective. To broaden your idea to the curse of men, some men would prefer not to retire but to keep working. But even the fact that one has a choice is a sign that things are changing.

    2. I'm chiming in here with another nerve that was struck with me...there are many women out there who suffer immensely through pregnancy and birth. To say that "A woman is happy knowing, chances are, she and her child will survive" is not a true statement for women who suffer from the many forms of difficult and high-risk pregnancies. I think too many people speak of pregnancy and birth with this attitude that digs a knife into women who live in fear of another pregnancy, losing another child or the slew of complications before, during and after birth. While it may be rare for a woman to die in childbirth, it is unfortunately not uncommon for the baby to die.
      To add to the above comment, epidurals are not always an option, don't always create a pain free birthing experience and have their own bag of risks attached to them.

    3. Well put. Very good points!

  8. Okay... but most people in the world-wide realm don't have a choice. That seems to wax and wane with the economies. But for the most part (again I'm speaking world-wide) if you don't work, then you don't eat. So I'm kinda confused on this point. Care to elaborate? :)

    1. True. It was mere speculation, not based on any sources, so I'm not invested in the concept. Happy to be disproven.

  9. Ruchi and Friends of OOTB,

    As always, some very insightful posts with the amazing goal of creating understanding.

    I can't speak to the women's curse. The curse now for a man is the pressure associated with providing. When Jacob gave Joseph his blessing he asks that his sons be male; meaning that they should take on the responsibilities of men. In this is the idea of providing for a wife and family. The curse now is the pressure of doing so, even when it isn't in your nature to be comfortable with this. I could go on for hours about how boys aren't raised with this concept as much as they used to be.

    This doesn't mean however that you shouldn't go to work and perform at your very best. Even if you would rather being doing something else you must still work to your full capacity. This isn't easy for everyone and adds to the stress/pressure of working. This is most of us. I'm sure there are titans of industry that would rather be doing something else, but are working at their given profession and have always sought to do their best. Your efforts at work especially when there are other places you want to be can be a reflection of God.


The purpose of OOTOB is Jewish unity via mutual respect and education, and we reserve the right to decline or edit any comments that are rude or mean. Comments are moderated, so it may take some time for your comment to appear. Thank you for your participation!