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Niddah

Mikveh Dreams

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about niddah, or the laws having to do with a women’s monthly immersion in the mikveh (this is what happens when you run a Jewish blog---you read a lot of random things). I am no expert on this issue---far from it---but I think it’s a really interesting topic, and something that more women should be aware of, especially in light of the battle over mikvaot that is going on in some communities in Israel right now. 

Observance of Mitzvot: Custom and Halakhah

Numerous accounts scattered throughout early halakhic literature indicate that women had many traditions and customs of their own. Their religious life was characterized by a degree of independence and was not exclusively dependent on external halakhic norms. The manner in which women observed mitzvot was extremely influential in the formative stage of halakhah, before it was crystallized, recorded and sealed in the Shulhan Arukh.

Morocco: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

The female gender roles and status of Moroccan Jewish women during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were influenced by a patriarchal order, by Jewish religious writings and their interpretations by local rabbis, and by the surrounding Muslim society, which was often hostile to the Jewish communities.

Mikveh

The mikveh is a ritual bath designed for the Jewish rite of purification. The mikveh is not merely a pool of water; it must be composed of stationary, not flowing, waters and must contain a certain percentage of water derived from a natural source, such as a lake, an ocean, or rain.

Eve: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis view Eve, the first woman, as embodying the qualities of all women, and of femininity in general. As God’s handiwork, she is portrayed as the most beautiful woman who ever lived, and there was no fairer creature but her husband Adam. The midrashim about her exude an air of primacy: the first mating between Adam and Eve is described as a magnificent wedding, and their first intercourse aroused the serpent’s jealousy. The primal sin is generally symbolic of man’s sins, and through it the Rabbis seek to clarify why men trespass. The depiction of the woman’s creation leads the Rabbis to inquire into gender differences and the nature of the female sex, all through the eyes of the male Rabbis. They discuss woman’s different temperament, her mental maturity, her habits, the physical shape of her body, her behavior, and other aspects of female existence. The Rabbis attempt to provide an explanation for gender differences by means of a portrayal of woman’s different creation, and also as being a result of the sin of the Garden of Eden. Eve’s punishment is examined at length in the dicta of the Rabbis, who exhibit a certain degree of empathy in their ability to describe women’s suffering during the first three months of pregnancy, during birth, in instances of miscarriage, the pain of raising children, that of menstrual periods and other afflictions.

Esther: Midrash and Aggadah

Queen Esther, the central character in the Biblical book named after her, is extensively and sympathetically portrayed in the Rabbinic sources. In their commentary on the Book of Esther, the Rabbis expand upon and add details to the Biblical narrative, relating to her lineage and history and to her relations with the other characters: Ahasuerus, Mordecai and Haman.

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef

Of his numerous works the major one is [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:386]Responsa[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary]: Yabbia Omer (YO), the ten volumes of which contain his responsa on many subjects of Jewish law.

Seder Mitzvot Nashim

The title Seder Mitzvot Nashim (the order of women’s precepts) refers to the genre of literature in Ashkenazic and Italian communities, written in the vernacular. Such compositions explained the specifics of how women should observe the commandments that were particularly associated with them.

Samaritan Sect

The status of Samaritan women today seems to be dominated by four factors: the dearth of women in the community, the desire of the community to avoid diluting its traditions, genetic problems deriving from inbreeding, and the rules pertaining to ritual purity.

Ritual in the United States

Ritual is an act or a set of actions that employs symbols meaningful to the participants in a formal, repetitive, and stylized fashion. Ritual behavior is one of the fundamental pillars of Judaism, and of all religions, whose concern is precisely with ultimate meaning and purpose.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Niddah." (Viewed on September 19, 2014) <http://jwa.org/tags/niddah>.

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