To deny people’s full humanity is to remove them from divinity, and if we lessen the divine image of anyone, we diminish it in all of us. If we say a woman cannot testify, what do we say about her? If a woman is anchored to someone (who has not given her a divorce), have we subordinated her humanity to his? Ancient Israel could not foresee everything. The Bible never transformed its own social structure. It doesn’t abolish slavery, possibly because the biblical socio-economic system was not capable of surviving without slavery.
When the rabbis came to the decision that slavery was wrong, they abolished it. The domination of one person over another can never lead to God. Patriarchy is another form of domination, by males over females. Now that we have come to this realization, it is our religious duty to dismantle patriarchy. When we examine Halakha according to our best ethical understanding, we are not evaluating Torah by secular values. Our ethical principles are also part of Torah.
- Tikva Frymer Kensky
“Toward a Liberal Theory of Halakha,” from Tikkun
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