I’m going to start looking at the haftorah, which deals with the prophet Elisha’s interaction with an “אשה גדולה”:
And Elisha prays that she have a child. She does, but then years later, tragedy strikes:
The point I am looking at is how the woman dominates the conversation. Her husband is clueless and passive. How does that what we discussed a few weeks ago:
I said not to take that last part (הוא ימשל בך) literally. But then what does it mean? תנ״ך is full of stories of women who have their own opinions, take things into their own hands, and are deemed correct.
And this is not a one-off thing:
As a side note, the source of שמע בקולה meaning נבואה is from ספר שמואל, where the phrase שמע לקול is explicit:
And admitted, the midrash says Sarah was an exception:
But still, how do we understand הוא ימשל בך? The key is to realize that it’s not a מצוה; it’s a curse. It’s a consequence of not listening to דבר ה׳.
Because fundamentally, men and women have equal authority in the eyes of the Torah (they have different מצוות, but that’s not the same thing):
It’s when we lose the moral law that we are left with biology alone, and then הוא ימשל בך.
There’s something deeper in the way the curse of חוה is worded, as noted by the Targum Yonatan:
From the wording, the אשה is presented as the יצר הרע! That sounds pretty bad, but I think it presents a way of looking at the “יצר הרע” that we don’t usually consider. It’s not “evil” per se; it represents the urges of a person to meet their own needs as opposed to a higher purpose. We’re supposed to use the יצר הרע to serve ה׳. In the absence of that higher purpose, it becomes destructive. And it is the same relationship between man and woman:
And I don’t think it’s gender-specific. Each member of a couple can be the יצר הרע for the other, or can be the עזר כנגדו. And when they are dedicated to Torah values, there is no curse of הוא ימשל בך. Of course the אשה גדולה who is dedicated to הכנסת אורחים will make the decisions in the house.
And as for Sarah, dedicated to a life of חסד, every word of hers is imbued with רוח הקודש. As Rav Amital says: