Rereading The Rabbis: A Woman's Voice, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Rereading The Rabbis

A Woman's Voice, 1st Edition

By Judith Hauptman


300 pages

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Paperback: 9780813334066
pub: 1998-12-11
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Fully acknowledging that Judaism, as described in both the Bible and the Talmud, was patriarchal, Judith Hauptman demonstrates that the rabbis of the Talmud made significant changes in key areas of Jewish law in order to benefit women. Reading the texts with feminist sensibilities?recognizing that they were written by men and for men and that they endorse a set of social relations in which men control women?the author shows that patriarchy was not always and everywhere the same. Although the rabbis whose rulings are recorded in the Talmud did not achieve equality for women?or even seek it?they should be credited with giving women higher status and more rights. For example, during the course of several hundred years, they converted marriage from the purchase by a man of a woman from her father into a negotiated relationship between prospective husband and wife. They designated a bride's dowry to be one-tenth of her father's net worth, thereby ending her Torah-mandated disenfranchisement with respect to inheritance. They left the ability to grant a divorce in male hands but gave women the possibility of petitioning the courts to force a divorce. Although some of these developments may have originated in the surrounding Greco-Roman culture, the rabbis freely chose to incorporate them into Jewish law.Rereading the Rabbis: A Woman's Voice also breaks new ground methodologically. Rather than plucking passages from a variety of different rabbinical works and then sewing them together to produce a single, unified rabbinical point of view, Hauptman reads sources in their own literary and legal context and then considers them in relationship to a rich array of associated synchronic and diachronic materials.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments, A Note to the Reader, List of Abbreviations and Acronyms, Introduction, The Rabbinic Texts, The Plan of the Book, Notes, Sotah, Biblical Basis for Sotah and Problems, The Warning and the Seclusion, The Ordeal in Detail, Merit and Its Protection, The Paramour, Abolishing the Ordeal, Conclusions, Notes, Relations Between the Sexes, Men and Women Alone Together, Attitudes to Sexual Sin, Men's Perception of Women's Sexuality, Conclusions, Notes, Marriage, The Framework of Jewish Marriage, The Marriage Contract: From Bride-Price to Ketubah, The Betrothal: From Purchase to "Social Contract,", Consent to the Betrothal, Women's Initiation of Betrothal, Conclusions, Notes, Rape and Seduction, Rape and Seduction in the Torah, The Rabbinic Paradigm Shift: From Crime Against Father to Crime Against Daughter, From Fixed to Variable Fine, Men's Understanding of Women's Pain, Creation of a New Legal Category: The Bogeret, Sex with a Minor, Conclusions, Notes, Divorce, The Biblical Basis of Divorce Law and Grounds for Divorce, Standardization of the Get and Comparison with the Writ of Manumission, Recurrent Themes: The Vacillating Husband and Compatible Divorce, Annulment of Marriage, Forced Divorce, A Husband Who Claims That He Issued the Get Under Duress, The World of Divorce According to R. Meir, Conclusions, Notes, Procreation, Three Questions Arising from the Mishnah, The Tosefta's Approach: Women's Obligation to Procreate, The Bavli's Decision to Force Divorce at the Request of a Barren Wife, The Yerushalmi's Decision in Support of Childless Women, Conclusions, Addendum: The Desirability of Marriage and Children, Notes, Niddah, Niddah in the Torah, Self-Examination and Sexual Relations, R. Akiva's Intentional Leniencies, From Tannaitic Leniency to Amoraic Stringency: The Seven "White Days,", Behavior During the Week of Niddah, Niddah's Benefits to Men: Sexual Strategies for Giving Birth to Sons, Niddah as Didactic Construct, Immersion, Conclusions, Notes, Inheritance, Inheritance Law in the Bible, Dowry as a Share of a Woman's Father's Wealth, Gifts in Contemplation of Death, Disposition of a Mother's Estate, Conclusions, Notes, Testimony, Women's General Reliability, Allowing a Woman to Testify About a Man's Death, Women Testifying on Behalf of Women, The Social Status Argument for Women's Exclusion, A Second Rationale for Women's Exclusion, Other Cases in Which Women May Testify, The Scriptural Derivation of Women's Exclusion, Conclusions, Notes, Ritual, Women's Ritual Obligations: A Chronological View, From Exemption to Obligation, Women Discharging the Responsibilities of Men, Women's Voluntary Performance of Mitzvot from Which They Are Exempt, "Blessed Be God for Not Making Me a Woman,", Conclusions, Notes, Conclusion, Notes, Glossary, Bibliography, Index of Texts Discussed, General Index

About the Author

Judith Hauptman is professor of Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (in New York).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies