Gender roles solved by the Pythagorean Theorum
Two unrelated pieces of Talmud- one about the role of mankind and one about the role of women – talk about bread and wheat, and lead to a surprising conclusion. Check it out:
The Talmud records a number of conversations between Turnus Rufus, a Roman official stationed in Judea in the 2nd century, and Rabbi Akiva. The Midrash Tanchuma records one such conversation (Midrash Tanchuma, Parashas Tazria, 8):
The evil Turnus Rufus asked Rabbi Akiva, “Which are better, things made by the Almighty or things made by flesh and blood?”He replied, “Things made by flesh and blood are better!”
Turnus Rufus said to him, “But heaven and earth, can a human being make anything like these?”
Rabbi Akiva brought him wheat and cakes and said to him, “These are made by the Almighty and these are made by man. Aren’t these (cakes) better than the wheat?”
Turnus Rufus blieved that G-d/nature was perfect and should not be messed with. Rabbi Akiva disagreed. He was of the opinion that humankind had a role to play in the process of creation, that of perfecting and improving the world. The role of humankind is to take wheat and turn it into bread.
In the second chapter of the Torah, the first woman is created as a “helpmate opposite him”. The Gemara in Yevamos discusses the meaning of this verse (Yevamos 63 1):
It says in the Torah, “I will make him a helpmate.” How does a woman help a man?
A man brings wheat. Does he grind the wheat? Flax. Does he wear the flax?
The man may bring home the wheat but it is useless until the woman makes it into bread, or weaves the cotton into clothing. He provides. She completes. The role of a woman is to take wheat and make it into bread.
Conclusion (a la the Pythagorean Theorum)
If humankind=turning wheat into cakes
and womankind=turning wheat into cakes