Rav Avigdor Miller on Who Wears the Pants in the Home 

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Q:
How can you so flippantly hand over the leadership of the family to the husband and the father? Doesn’t leadership depend on certain abilities?

A:
And the answer is if you’re going to make an entrance examination in every instance to determine who is going to be the leader in the family then it will never work. Because, first of all, you don’t have enough offices and enough examiners. Secondly, you have to make an institution that agrees with nature. Not an artificial thing.

And by nature the father is chosen as the leader. When I say nature I mean nature with a capital N. I mean Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Because you see the fact is that all over the world that has been the case. All over the world – whether it’s among the black people or  the Eskimos – wherever you go it’s the case that the father is the leader. And it’s common sense too because he has more physical force. Sometimes he has to fight with his son. In the good old days the father  used the club to give his son a good beating.  And the father was the one who was best able to do it. The mother has a softer heart and physically the father is better suited for the job. And therefore, it’s impossible to wait until we have an examination to see who more is suited for leadership.

This much I can tell you however. In those families where the father is not suited for leadership it automatically is abdicated to the mother. And everybody knows that this is how it was in all Jewish families. Even in Europe there were women who were beriyos, women who wore the pants – not literally, nobody wore pants there. But she carried on the business of the house. Because it happened many times that the woman was more capable, and the father quietly allowed it. Sometimes it wasn’t so quietly, but whatever it was, nature followed its course. But in most cases it’s the father who is the leader. Even when the mother was more capable,  it paid for her to assign to the father a nominal role as the head of the family. It paid for her.

And she used her abilities to tell the children, “Children listen to what Father said.” Because Hashem set up that system, a system that’s ordained for the happiness of mankind. But if you’re going to have competition, the end will be it will be a marriage that will grow on the rocks.

Don’t believe what the magazines, the newspapers, tell you. They quote like this:  “I,” this business woman says,   “I am completely liberated and still, our marriage is successful.”  A nechtiger tohg. It’s impossible. It just cannot be!  And therefore I would advise any young man that’s contemplating marriage to make sure that his prospective bride doesn’t have any ideas of feminism. If she thinks of being a careerist, if she dreams of equality, then you should look elsewhere. Because the marriage is certainly going to be ruined.

It need not be slavery. A woman has to be well treated. It’s important! אוקירו לנשייכו –  “Give honor to your wives.”  And Hakadosh Baruch Hu gives a blessing on a man for that: כי היכי דתתעתרו – “In order that you should become wealthy” (Bava Metzia 59a).  You’ll get rich for that. But it’s on the condition that the wife understands her role in the family. And anybody who tries to make an artificial rearrangement is going to discover that the experiment is not going to work.
TAPE # 200 (January 1977)