Gashmius vs. Ruchnius

I heard this statement yesterday and got very offended.

“In a marriage men have the final say when it comes to Ruchnius (spiritual matters) and the women have the final say when it comes to Gashmius (material matters)”

Shouldn’t marriage be a partnership? What could this Rabbi have possibly meant? The person with whom I was speaking told me this was heard from a rabbi some time ago. As soon as I heard this the buzzing started in my head. Is this another misogynistic statement from the rabbis or could there be merit to it? Did the Rabbi mean that women are more materialistic than men, or that women would make sure that the house didn’t become too focused on material items? Did he mean that men are more spiritual because they daven 3 times a day and supposedly learn more? Unfortunately my “source” did not remember much of the original lecture so couldn’t expand much on it.

Have you heard of such a thing? Can you let me know your thoughts?

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  1. that pretty much contradicts the view of kabalah and chasidus… the woman is ‘akeres habayis’ the spiritual life of the home

  2. mekubal says:

    I second RecoveryRabbi, that is exactly opposite Kabbalah, and most the Rabbinic commentators. For instance most commentators on the incident of Avraham booting Hagar and Yishmael on Sarah’s say so, state that it is because of the ruchniut of women Chinuk has primarily been given into their hands.

    Kabbalisticly the reason a married woman covers her head is on account of her elevated spiritual stature.

    Overall that statement makes no sense. Though I believe that the person heard/gave it over wrong. My understanding was that since men are more earthly minded their primary tikkun is in the realm of ruchniut(hence they need to daven three times a day and learn more and so forth), and women the opposite, since they are so spiritually oriented their primary tikkun is in the realm of gashmiut.

    However, to say one or the other has the final say… that is more difficult, and especially to say that they have the final say in the area where they are in need of Tikkun. That is like saying an alcoholic has final say over whether their is beer in the house.

  3. batya from NJ says:

    i agree with what recoveryrabbi & mekubal has said above. this statement though sounds like it’s on the same vein as the famously offensive talmudic saying “nashim da’atehem kalot” which roughly translates as “women are light-brained (aka not very intellectual beings). truth is, i don’t know the sources for this statement (b/c i am so light-brained ;) but perhaps mekubal can try to explain this one to us. i know that ppl. have tried to come up with explanations for what was REALLY meant by the above but none have ever been satisfactory to me.

    regarding the statement above in the blog that men are in charge of spritual matters & women are in charge of gashmius it sounds to me like the rabbi who said that was assuming that the men were more likely to be more knowledgeable in torah matters (which certainly isn’t always the case) & therefore are more qualified to make the spiritual decisions & in an attempt to placate the women (who are more shallow beings) he says that they should have control of the gashmiusdik (materialistic) things such as buying the halachically appropriate clothing for the family, or which color GPS to buy-LOL etc…all i can say is these kinds of comments remind me too much of those who follow the opinion of “nashim da’ateyhem kalot” which has always been offensive to me, even though it is in the gemara.

    when i first read the blog, it also brought to mind a famous joke about how a lady tells someone, “In my house my husband makes all the major decisions & i make all the minor decisions!” When asked by the listener to clarify, the wife explained, “well, my husband gets to vote on all the important things in life like world peace, solutions for global warming & i make all the minor decisions, like where we should live & where our kids should go to school etc. :)!!!

  4. Batya,
    U stole my joke!
    I’m pretty sure what the Rabbi meant is what Batya said: U stick to picking the color of the sheets, and let ur husband decide if we r going to eat yoshon or not.
    In as much as this MAY have a source in the talmud, I think that the spirit of the statement is negative. Any man who dismisses his wifes opinion on how to spiritually conduct the household not only has a spiritual deficiency, must more importantly he has a marital and psychological deficiency.
    If he wants to go back to talmudic times he can buy himself a slave, and a concubine. If he wants to be in a relationship he better pay attention to his wife’s wants and needs.

  5. Z! says:

    I just took it to mean that a woman takes on her husband’s minhagim- which is true regardless how “strong natured” a woman you are.
    And it is nice to think that Woman are more fiscally responsible, but we do see many times where this is not the case at all.

    A number of years ago, I was speaking to a friend about the type of husband we’d each like to find and marry. We both agreed we’d like to be with a man who goes out to find us a house, but would give us the final say over the decision to make that house a home.

  6. the source is from Michtav Me’Eliyahu (strive for truth in English)

    The point is that for matters that the couple are having a discussion about, and there is a disagreement about a final course of actions, the wife should defer to the husband, who commonly were better educated and more aware halachic ramifications. The way it was explained to me was that the husband provides the direction, and the woman is the one who is actually (usually) the one implemenging it

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