The Tanak and Talmud both describe different roles for men and women.
Judaism recognises that each parent has something different to give to their children to contribute to their religious, educational, emotional, social and material needs. This is expressed in the greatest of commandments… The Shema (DET 06:04-09)
Raising a family is a sacred duty to Jewish life. It’s a way to express loyalty to the God of Avraham Avinu.
Roles of men and women in the family
In Judaism, be it Messianic / Traditional / Orthodox etc, the role of women is generally seen as separate but of equal value. Women’s obligations and responsibilities are different from men’s, but no less important. The primary role of a woman is as wife and mother. In Jewish families, parents and children are responsible for each other as a way of honouring God. Parents are seen as partners in God’s creation of each human being, so to honour one’s parents is to honour God.
In the same way, to disrespect, or show violence toward one’s parents is to do so to God.
The 5th commandment requires you to “Honour your father & mother” They are after all your personal creators. Children should learn to respect their parents as well as caring for them when they are old. Likewise, parents have a duty to care for and educate their children.
The Torah tells parents to teach their children about Judaism and their duties as Jews, this is found in the Shema where it says “You shall teach them diligently to your children”. Most Jewish parents want to raise their children to become a mensch, meaning a kind, responsible and honourable person.
Parents are expected to feed, clothe and educate their children plus encourage them to support themselves.
Faith and spiritual development
Family life is regarded as a training ground for the Jewish way of life. Children receive their earliest education in the home. Parents show them how to live as Jews. Jewish parents are expected to make the home a place where their Judaism is alive. They can do this through acts of Jewish worship, such as guarding the Shabbat each week and upholding the Biblical festivals known as Moedim in Hebrew meaning appointments.
From the time the child first speaks, they are often taught the Shema from DET 06:04-09. A boy may begin his religious study from the age of three.
What does this mean in practice?
Contribution of the synagogue to family life
The Kehilla contributes to family life in various ways including:
- 1. Encouraging families to worship together on Shabbat
- 2. Running a Cheder, a school where children learn Hebrew & Torah
- 3. Providing youth clubs and social centres
- 4. Helping with the promotion of Jewish life throughout their community.
The Rosh-Kehillah or Rabbi of a synagogue may contribute to family life by offering advice to a family in need or supporting a family with matters of Jewish law.
Eight days after birth, most Jewish boys attend Brit-Milah (circumcision). It is done as an outward sign of the covenant (brit) It’s at this time the baby’s name is officially announced.
A girl’s birth is officially announced in the synagogue when the father is given the honour of being called up for an Aliyah. To say a blessing over the Torah. He announces the girl’s name.
Every Jewish child begins their religious education at an early age. One reason for this is to introduce them to the Mitzvot, the duties and responsibilities for their adult life. The ceremonies are different for boys and girls.
A Jewish boy is considered to be an adult when he reaches his 13th birthday. The occasion is marked by him becoming a Bar-Mitzvah, meaning ‘son of the commandment’. This age is simply the minimum, it’s not uncommon for men in their later years to become Bar-Mitzvah when they repent and turn to their God.
A Jewish girl at around 12 years old have a ceremony called Bat-Chayil, which means ‘daughter of valour’. During this ceremony she is allowed to read in the Kehillah but not from the Torah. Some Kehillat will allow a Bat-Mitzvah but it depends on each individual
For Jewish life, marriage is very important because family and the home are thought to be great blessings.
A man without a woman is doomed to an existence without joy, without blessing, without experiencing life’s true goodness, without Torah, without protection and without peace. – Talmud
The wedding ceremony can take place on any day other than the Shabbat or a feast day.
Care for elderly family members
Families are encouraged to look after ageing parents and is actually Biblical
LEV 19:32 Show respect for old people and honour them
Death and mourning
In Judaism, death is not always a tragedy; it is seen as part of the natural process.
Death is considered to have meaning and be part of God’s plan. It’s how we live this life that defines where we will be in the world to come upon the return of Yeshua as Mashiach ben David.
Jewish practices relating to death and mourning have two purposes:
- 1. to show respect for the dead
- 2. to comfort the living
Biblical funerals consist of a burial. Cremation is an ancient pagan practice that’s not authorised in Biblical practice and burial should take place as soon after death as possible.
The mourners traditionally make a tear in an outer garment either before the funeral or immediately after it. The tear should be on the left side, often over the heart and clearly visible for a parent and on the right side for siblings, children, and spouses.
When visiting Jewish graves, the custom is to place a small stone on the grave. This shows that someone visited the gravesite and is also a way of participating in the mitzvah of burial. Why a stone…?
Well it may not be as pretty as flowers, which die & wither after a few days. It’s actually much deeper
The hebrew word for stone is evin / אֶבֶן which has three letters.
In hebrew, we can make two new words from this word “evin”, remembering Hebrew is R>L and English is L>R
The 1st + 2nd letters make the word “Av / אָב” meaning father
The 2nd + 3rd letters make the word “Ben / בֵּן” meaning son.
We learn that the Father and the Son are inseparable & (like a stone) eternal
There is obviously much much more and the learning never stops just as our Father in heaven never stops (PSM 121:04)