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Talmud

S. Deborah Ebin

S. Deborah Ebin was a national community and Zionist leader who devoted her life to the advancement of Jewish education and Zionist ideals. A dynamic orator, fund-raiser, and world traveler, she was fluent in several languages and versed in the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:416]Talmud[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary], making her a formidable figure in American Jewish life.

Drisha Institute for Jewish Education

Drisha Institute for Jewish Education was founded in 1979 by Rabbi David Silber to provide women with the unprecedented opportunity to engage in the serious study of traditional Jewish texts. At the time, Silber was a lone pioneer, creating the world’s first model of advanced Jewish scholarship for women. Decades later, Drisha continues to hold a unique spot in the world of higher Jewish education for women, providing a learning environment that encourages seriousness of purpose, free inquiry, and respect for the texts of our tradition.

Divorce: The Halakhic Perspective

Many scholars in the area of Jewish marriage and divorce point proudly to the fact that Jewish marriage is a private ordering between individuals. Those scholars claim that Jewish marriage is a matter of contract between two willing parties, and therefore, unlike the custom in most liberal Western democratic countries, the parties, not the state, determine their personal status. The parties by agreement can decide to get divorced, in the same way that they decided to marry. No reason need be alleged for the divorce. No fault is relevant. No time need elapse between separation and divorce. In theory, parties can marry one day, divorce the next, and then remarry without delay or period of separation.

Contraception

One of the major sources dealing with contraception is [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:426]Tosefta[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:373]Niddah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] 2:6: “[T]hree women use a [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:364]mokh[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] (contraceptive absorbent): a minor, a pregnant woman and a nursing woman. The minor lest she become pregnant and die ... the pregnant woman lest she make her fetus into a compressed fetus [by conceiving a second time causing the second, later conceived, fetus to crush the first, earlier conceived], a nursing woman lest she kill her child [inadvertently by early weaning as a result of the new pregnancy and not being circumspect in providing alternative healthy food] ….” In the continuation of this [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:300]baraita[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] R. Meir recommends coitus interruptus, an opinion rejected by the sages. The minor was defined as a girl from eleven years and a day to twelve years and a day. Although we now define sexual relations with a minor as child abuse and generally non-procreative, early adolescent pregnancies have the highest mortality rate for both mother and child. In antiquity when cesarean birth, hemorrhage control and antibiotics for infection were unavailable, the mortality rate was extremely high. Superfetation (conceiving again while pregnant) is quite rare but the dangers of a multiple pregnancy both for the mother and the infants are significant. The poskim differ as to whether this baraita should be interpreted as “[S]uch women must use contraception,” in which case other women may also use contraception, or “[S]uch women may use contraception,” thus limiting contraception to those women. The kos shel ikkarin (cup of roots) or sama de-akarta (a drug of sterility or a drug which uproots) referred to in BT Yevamot 65b, etc. is generally considered an oral contraceptive (Riddle).

Concubine of a Levite: Midrash and Aggadah

The story of the concubine at Gibeah is one of the most shocking narratives in the Bible. The [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:426]Tosefta[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] attests that these verses are read in public, along with their Aramaic Targum, that is, they are interpreted during the public reading of the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] (Tosefta [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:354]Megillah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] 3:33). The [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:416]Talmud[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] explains that although a matter that publicly tarnishes the honor of the tribe of Benjamin should not properly be aired, the tribe’s reputation is not a consideration in this case (BT Megillah 25b). The Tosefta and the Talmud apparently find educational value in this narrative, and feel that something important is to be learned even from such a troubling occurrence.

Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai

Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai are the two major schools of exposition of Oral Law that existed from the first century b.c.e. to the second century c.e. Talmudic tradition lists over three hundred and fifty disputes or controversies between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel, including more than sixty disputes that deal with issues of family law—that is, disputes in which women are incorporated into the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:317]halakhic[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] discussion.

Beruryah

Beruryah is the only woman mentioned in rabbinic literature who could be conceived of as a [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] scholar.

Rayna Batya Berlin

Born into a family of distinguished lineage, whose members were the intellectual and spiritual leaders of Lithuanian Jewry, Rayna Batya Berlin, like the men in her family, viewed [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] study as the loftiest means of worship of God.

Baraita de-Niddah

The term niddah is used in Jewish tradition in relation to menstruation. It implies “a menstruating woman,” “menstruation,” “menstrual blood,” “bleeding period,” “menstrual impurity,” “laws related to menstruation,” etc. The root of the term is ndd or ndh, which means wandering or exclusion, related most certainly to the exclusion of the menstruant from ordinary social activities.

Akiva, Rabbi

Rabbi Akiva was not merely a transmitter, formulator and redactor of halakhah; he also innovated and changed a great deal in our conception of Jewish law.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Talmud." (Viewed on December 14, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/talmud>.

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