Tirzah Meacham (leBeit Yoreh)

Tirzah Meacham (leBeit Yoreh) received a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin (Madison); and a B.A. equivalent, M.A. and Ph.D. in Talmudic and Rabbinic literature from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She edited Sefer haBagrut leRav Shmuel ben Hofni Gaon veSefer haShanim leRav Yehuda haKohen Rosh haSeder (with Miriam Frenkel as translator from Judeo-Arabic to Hebrew, 1998). With Harry Fox (leBeit Yoreh) she edited Introducing Tosefta: Textual, Intratextual and Intertextual Studies (1999). She is an associate professor of Talmudic and Rabbinic literature in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto.

Articles by this author

Reproductive Technology, New (NRT)

New reproductive technology has provided the solution for problems of infertility for hundreds of thousands of couples. For halakhically observant Jews, especially in the pro-natal state of Israel, and in general in the post-Holocaust era, new reproductive technology has been a blessing but has also created a multitude of halakhic problems.

Niddah, Tractate

Tractate Niddah is the tractate most concerned with women’s physiology and their halakhic status concerning body issues.

Legal-Religious Status of the Female According to Age

Codification of basic Jewish Oral Law; edited and arranged by R. Judah ha-Nasi c. 200 C.E.Mishnah Menstruation; the menstruant woman; ritual status of the menstruant woman.Niddah 3:7 gives no status to the embryo prior to forty days from conception: it is considered “mere water.” At three months after conception, the pregnancy is considered recognizable (Niddah 2:4). This does not explicitly change the legal status of the fetus but rather that of the mother in terms of legal presumptions concerning her purity status. Some poskim do make a distinction in reference to abortion between the first forty days and three months.

Legal-Religious Status of the Married Woman

The rabbis established the criteria necessary for legal marriage. These include the man’s acquiring (purchasing) the woman with a formula that indicates that he is the purchaser, the sole active party in the marriage process: payment of the appropriate minimum amount of money; or a document with the appropriate formula; or sexual relations for the sake of marital acquisition (Moses ben Maimon (Rambam), b. Spain, 1138Rambam, Ishut 3: 2–5). There must be two valid witnesses. The acquisition must be done with the woman’s consent and any document must be written specifically in her name. There must be two valid witnesses to the seclusion of the couple for marriage by sexual relations, the man must state that it is for marriage through sexual relations, and he must complete a sexual act even if it is not vaginal intercourse. Although sexual relations for the sake of marriage constitute legal marriage, it was considered inappropriate behavior and the man was flogged for performing this type of marriage (ibid. 3:21). Casual giving of goods using a marriage formula is not considered marriage since it must be part of a serious conversation with marriage as its purpose (ibid. 3:7). The father may betroth his minor and maiden daughter to a Jewish man without her consent, but if she is subsequently divorced or widowed as a minor, she is considered an orphan in his lifetime and he no longer has the right to marry her off (ibid. 3: 11–12). A minor girl cannot arrange her own marriage. Marriage can be accomplished by agency from both the husband’s side and the wife’s side, but it is considered a A biblical or rabbinic commandment; also, a good deed.mitzvah for the man to see the woman prior to marriage lest he find something repulsive in her that the agent would not notice. The woman is not obligated to see the man before marriage because of the rabbinic understanding that she would prefer to be married even if the man was not appealing (ibid. 3:15, 19). A blessing (birkat erusin) should be recited (ibid. 3:24).

Legal-Religious Status of the Moredet (Rebellious Wife)

A Rebellious wifemoredet is defined as a married woman who refuses to have sexual relations with her husband (the most normal case), or refuses to do the assigned work of the wife (Codification of basic Jewish Oral Law; edited and arranged by R. Judah ha-Nasi c. 200 C.E.Mishnah Ketubbot 5:5), a betrothed girl or woman whose set time for marriage has arrived and who refuses to marry, or a The widow of a childless man whose brother (yavam or levir) is obligated to marry her to perpetuate the brother's name (Deut. 25:5yevamah who refuses to undergo Marriage between a widow whose husband died childless (the yevamah) and the brother of the deceased (the yavam or levir).yibbum (Marriage between a widow whose husband died childless (the yevamah) and the brother of the deceased (the yavam or levir).levirate marriage) with the Levir; the brother of a man who died childlessyavam (levir). The cases of the married woman refusing sexual relations and the yevamah refusing yibbum demonstrate that the legal concept of a married woman includes the idea that she has given ongoing and permanent consent to sexual relations and that refusal thus constitutes rebellion.

Legal-Religious Status of the Suspected Adulteress (Sotah)

Perhaps one of the most embarrassing and humiliating situations for a man, particularly in the Middle East, is infidelity on the part of his wife. Suspicion of infidelity creates a similar dynamics in the Jewish legal system but is moderated by issues of doubt. A man’s suspicion of infidelity on the part of his wife is one of the most prejudicial legal situations for women, clearly demonstrating inequality in the marriage relationship. When a man acquires a woman as his wife, he acquires exclusive rights to her sexuality. The reverse, of course, is not true, since a man (until the decree of Rabbenu Gershom [c. 960–1028] for Ashkenazic Jews and the rise of the State of Israel also for Sephardic Jews, with some anomalous situations still existing) is permitted to have more than one wife as well as concubines, and his legal status is unprejudiced by fornication.

Legal-Religious Status of the Virgin

The basic Marriage document (in Aramaic) dictating husband's personal and financial obligations to his wife.ketubbah of a virgin (two hundred maneh [one maneh=fifty shekels]) was double that of a non-virgin (one hundred maneh) (Codification of basic Jewish Oral Law; edited and arranged by R. Judah ha-Nasi c. 200 C.E.Mishnah Ketubbot 1:2). Those who were divorced or widowed while betrothed but before marriage retain their status of virgin. This difference was doubled in the case of the daughter of a priest who was a virgin, whose basic ketubbah was four hundred maneh (Mishnah Ketubbot 1:5). This distinction emphasizes the value of virginity and the significance of sexual exclusivity on the part of the woman to her husband and, in the case of the priest, the value of caste status. A number of situations were described biblically which deal with the seduction or the rape of a virgin who is either unattached or betrothed. Consensual sexual intercourse of the betrothed or married woman with someone other than her husband would put both the woman and her paramour in the category of adulterers. Seduction is considered to be consensual but the cases discussed in the Bible according to rabbinic interpretation were dealing with minor girls who did not have the legal right of consent. Moses ben Maimon (Rambam), b. Spain, 1138Rambam covers this material in Hilkhot Na’arah Betulah.

Legal-Religious Status of the Jewish Female

Hebrew is a gendered language in which women are or may be included in masculine plural address and masculine plural verbs. When the address in the Torah she-bi-khetav: Lit. "the written Torah." The Bible; the Pentateuch; Tanakh (the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographia)Torah is “man or woman” (ish o isha) or “a person” (adam or nefesh), and sometimes in the plural, inclusion of women (sg. isha) can be assumed. When the Torah addresses in unspecified masculine singular language it is assumed that women are included unless they are exempted on grounds of physiology or by particular hermeneutic methods which depend chiefly upon the gendered aspects of the language, such as singular and plural masculine pronominal suffixes which are the norm, and word choice in address such as ish. These include but are not limited tothe sons of Israel but not the daughters of Israel” (for benei Yisrael); “the sons of Aaron but not the daughters of Aaron” (for benei aharon); “your son/s but not your daughter/s” (for banekha or beneikhem); “you [masculine]” (ata or atem) and the like.

Female Purity (Niddah) Annotated Bibliography

Annotated bibliography of books about female purity (niddah).

Female Purity (Niddah)

In order to understand its development and its centrality in the rabbinic context, menstrual impurity must be seen in the context of the biblical purity system.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Tirzah Meacham (leBeit Yoreh)." (Viewed on August 23, 2019) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/author/meacham-tirzah>.

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