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Jewish Law

Maimonides

Rabbi Moses ben Maimon ([jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:383]Rambam[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary]) was born in Cordova, Spain in 1138 and died in Fostat (old Cairo), Egypt in 1204. During his lifetime he traveled with his family from Spain to Fez, Morocco, where he studied medicine and practiced as a physician, and from there to [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:309]Erez Israel[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary], finally settling in Egypt, where he became the leader of the community. Maimonides’s vast legal and philosophical writings touch on many topics related to women and their status. Some of his restrictive and negative attitudes seem deeply influenced by the surrounding Muslim culture and women’s socio-economic status within that society. However, his strong philosophical rationalist belief system enabled him also to see women as beings with spiritual potential and at times motivated him to defend and improve their legal rights.

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.

Deborah 2: Midrash and Aggadah

Deborah is presented in the Rabbinic sources as a very talented woman. She was an upright judge, with the same prophetic ability as Samuel; [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] scholars would come to learn from her. This ability was granted her as reward for her good deeds, namely, the preparation of wicks for the Tabernacle. She also encouraged her fellow Israelites to regularly attend the synagogue and Tabernacle, and thanks to her beneficial influence on her husband, he merited a portion in the World to Come. There is a tradition that presents Deborah as being guilty of the sin of pride, which led to her loss of the gift of prophecy, while the other traditions speak in her praise, and number her among the twenty-three Israelite women of outstanding righteousness ([jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:357]Midrash[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] Tadshe, Ozar ha-Midrashim [ed. Eisenstein], 474).

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.

Wifebeating in Jewish Tradition

Wifebeating is found in all cultures, because women’s status is usually lower than men’s and wives are expected to perform specific tasks to serve their husbands.

Turkey: Ottoman and Post Ottoman

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, far-reaching changes took place in the Ottoman Empire in the political, social and geopolitical spheres.

Tannaitic Literature, Inclusion of Women

Generally speaking, the more regular the mechanism of inclusive interpretation, the clearer it is that woman remains outside as the “other” because she requires a special reason to be included. In other words, rather than rendering women an integral part of the population, inclusion renders them as adjuncts, unique unto themselves.

Benjamin Aron Slonik

Benjamin Aron Slonik (c. 1550–c. 1619) was a Polish rabbi of the early modern period whose independent style of textual and halakhic analysis produced important works of responsa and other Jewish legalistic and moralistic tracts. Of particular note are Slonik’s attitudes toward certain women-related issues that placed him in a class of his own within the prevailing Ashkenazic rabbinic culture.

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: A Feminist Approach

Because religious praxis involving material objects plays so major a role in Jewish religion, one of the most significant expressions of the creation of feminist Judaism and its influence on the Jewish people is women’s wide-ranging involvement in the full range of ceremonies that exist both within and beyond halakhah.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Law." (Viewed on December 15, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/jewish-law>.

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