Vayiven: God “Built” the Woman

In Parshat Breisheet 2:20-23 we read: And HaAdam assigned names to all the cattle and to the birds of the sky and to every beast of the field; but as for man, he did not find an “ezer k’negdo”, helper corresponding to him. So God cast a deep sleep upon HaAdam and he slept; and God took one of the sides of HaAdam and God filled in flesh in its place. Then “vayiven” (God fashioned) the side that He had taken from HaAdam into Isha (a woman) and He brought her to the man. And the man said, “This time it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Isha (woman) for from Ish (man) she was taken”.


Rabbi Shimshon Rephael Hirsch explains that the woman’s body was not taken from the earth but rather from the side of HaAdam so that the single human being HaAdam became two separate beings, demonstrating irrefutably the equality of man and woman.


In the Talmud, Niddah 45b Rav Chisda teaches that women mature faster than men (ie a young woman has her Bat Mitzvah a year before a young man has his Bar Mitzvah) this is derived from the word in our pasuk “vayiven” which teaches that God gave “bina yetera”, greater powers of understanding, insight and intuitive intelligence to a woman than to a man.


Rabbi Benjamin Blech points out that unfortunately throughout Jewish history women have not always been treated equally since Jews were affected by their environments as well as by the currents of foreign cultures in which they lived.


It is clear when we return to the creation story that God’s intent was to create women and men as separate yet equal.