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Talmud

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 [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] 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.

Leadership and Authority

All early biblical leaders of the Jewish people were elected by God. The matriarchs and patriarchs, priests, prophets, kings, judges and warriors were chosen by divine plan to lead the nation at different points in its history. The [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] offers us glimpses into the relationships between Sarah and Abraham, Rebecca and Isaac, Rachel, Leah and Jacob, based on the principle that ma’aseh avot siman le-banim (the deeds of the ancestors serve as a model for the descendents). Beyond the biblical text, the influence of matriarchal faith and insight is conveyed in the midrashic literature which expands the role of wife, helper and mother to include prophetess, teacher and visionary. Yet it is clear from the biblical narrative that females did not serve in the broader leadership roles filled by males.

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook

The basic approach of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook to women corresponds with his hierarchical approach to existence and to humankind (Yaron 1974; Bin Nun 1988): “I cannot make absolute divisions between entities, but only divisions according to rank” (Sarid 1998, 144).

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.

Judaic Studies in the United States

When the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS) was established in 1969 as the professional organization of scholars in the interdisciplinary field of Judaic studies, there were no women among its founders. In 2005–06 women comprised 41% of the AJS membership. Within the past generation a field that was traditionally dominated by men has gradually witnessed the emergence of a significant number of women scholars.

Regina Jonas

Regina Jonas, the first woman to be ordained as a rabbi, was killed in Auschwitz in October 1944. From 1942–1944 she performed rabbinical functions in Theresienstadt. She would probably have been completely forgotten, had she not left traces both in Theresienstadt and in her native city, Berlin.

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.

Ishah Hashuvah (Woman of Distinction)

The Hebrew term ishah hashuvah appears in seven [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:409]sugyot[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] (Talmudic discourses) in the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:298]Babylonian Talmud[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] but never appears in the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:333]Jerusalem Talmud[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary]. The term is not defined, though in a few instances its meaning is evident from the context.

Imma Shalom

Imma Shalom (Mother of Peace) is identified in the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:298]Babylonian Talmud[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] as the wife of R. Eliezer, a prominent sage who flourished circa 75 c.e., and the sister of Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh, the head of the Sanhedrin. She is mentioned only a few times in rabbinic literature. After R. Eliezer defied his colleagues in the story about the oven of Aknai, his wife tried to save him from the harm she predicted would befall him. However, she failed because she erred regarding the New Moon (BT Baba Mezia 59b). Upon hearing her husband predict that a student who treated him disrespectfully would not finish out his week, she asked him if he were a prophet (BT Eruvin 63a).

Huldah, the Prophet: Midrash and Aggadah

Huldah is one of the seven women prophets of Israel enumerated by the Rabbis: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah and Esther (BT [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:354]Megillah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] 14a); she is also mentioned among the twenty-three truly upright and righteous women who came forth from Israel ([jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:357]Midrash[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] Tadshe, Ozar ha-Midrashim [Eisenstein], p. 474).

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Talmud." (Viewed on June 24, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/talmud>.

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