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Divorce

Killer Wife in Jewish Law and Lore

In Jewish law presumptions play an important role. In the context of our topic, the type of presumption which is relevant is unique in legal systems: the presumption is that if things happen in a certain manner they will continue to happen in the same manner.

Rashel Mironovna Khin

Given her role in late-nineteenth century Russian society, Rashel Mironovna Khin might be cast as Eastern Europe’s “salon Jewess.” Like her counterparts in the West—Rahel Varnhagen, Dorothea Mendelssohn Schlegel and others of eighteenth-century Berlin—Khin presided over a coterie of women and men, Jews and gentiles, gathered together for a social and intellectual event.

Karaite Women

Family law and personal status of women are important aspects of both the daily life and the halakhah of Karaite communities. Karaite legal sources often deal with rules pertaining to betrothal, marriage, divorce, ritual purity and incest. Crucial to the identity and the continuity of Karaite community, these issues had considerable impact on the relationships between Karaites and mainstream Rabbanite Jews.

Norma Baumel Joseph

Canada’s outstanding Orthodox feminist, Norma Joseph, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the second daughter of Moishe (Murray) Baumel (b. Austrian Poland, 1912, d. New York, 2002), a salesman who came to the United States as a child, and Madeline (Kohn, b. Hungary, 1917), a typist-secretary who came to the United States as an infant. Many members of Joseph’s family have engaged in religious occupations.

Jewish Feminism in the United States

Challenging all varieties of American Judaism, feminism has been a powerful force for popular Jewish religious revival. Of America’s four Jewish denominations, all but the Orthodox have accepted women as rabbis and cantors.

Italy, Early Modern

Jews have lived on the Italian peninsula uninterruptedly since antiquity. During the middle ages, the center of the Jewish population of Italy shifted from the south to the north. There, during the early-modern period, having been granted charters, local Jews, joined by refugees from Europe, including waves from French, German, and Iberian lands, provided valuable services as moneylenders and merchants. Although this period saw anti-Jewish agitation by churchmen and the establishment of ghettos, new governmental bodies to supervise the Jews, and local inquisitions, the fact that Italy was not unified provided the Jews with opportunities to leave one city-state to bring their services to another that offered greater promise for more tranquility, an incentive for their hosts to ensure their continued presence.

International Coalition for Agunah Rights (ICAR)

An [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:291]agunah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] (plural: agunot) is a woman “chained” to a husband either unwilling or unable to grant her a Jewish divorce. Because [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:317]halakhah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] (Jewish law) requires that the get (the divorce document) be granted by the husband, an agunah cannot remarry, and any subsequent children she bears are considered mamzerim (illegitimate children) who can never marry legitimate Jews. Legal loopholes exist to allow non-divorced husbands to remarry; none exist to help wives. The plight of agunot has become an increasing problem in contemporary times, with Jewish communities unable to pressure recalcitrant husbands into granting divorces to their wives. In addition, in the State of Israel, both marriage and divorce fall within the realm of religious law; there is no civil alternative.

Infertile Wife in Rabbinic Judaism

Rabbinic Judaism constructed differing legal, religious, and social roles for men and women that were intended to foster women’s reproductive functions and nurturing qualities, even as it placed them under the control of a dominant husband. While childlessness was perceived as a grave misfortune for both men and women, a male’s failure to generate offspring violated a legal obligation, since men alone were obligated to have children. The prooftext frequently cited for this unilateral ruling was Genesis 35:11, where Jacob is commanded in the second person masculine singular to “Be fertile and increase.” According to BT Pesahim 113b, the childless man is reckoned as if menuddeh, “cut off” from all communion with God, like one who has deliberately disregarded divine commands. BT Nedarim 64b, among other texts, accounts him as already dead, together with the pauper, the leper, and the blind. BT Sanhedrin 36b ordains that the childless scholar may not sit on the Sanhedrin.

Herodian Women

The Herodian dynasty produced a large number of seemingly impressive women. However, it is not always clear whether these women were really impressive or whether their literary portrayal made them so. We know that Nicolaus of Damascus, who was Herod’s court historian, was deeply interested in domestic affairs and assigned to women a diabolical role in the turn of events. Even after his writings ceased, other court historians adopted some of his rhetorical techniques. We today know almost everything about these women from Josephus, who used Nicolaus and other sources in his writings.

Halakhic Decisions on Family Matters in Medieval Jewish Society

The [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:414]takkanah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] (regulation enacted by [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:317]halakhic[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] scholars supplementing the Talmudic [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:317]halakhah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary]) was, in practical terms, a legislative tool of major importance in organizing Jewish communities in medieval times. The Jewish communities of the time felt they were subordinate to Talmudic law, which they saw as sacred and binding. But when urgent needs arose which put the Jewish community under pressure, the sages’ preferred manner of coping with them was the takkanah, which the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:416]Talmud[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] refers to as a legislative tool.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Divorce." (Viewed on July 18, 2018) <https://jwa.org/tags/divorce>.

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