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Rereading the Rabbis: A Woman's Voice / Edition 1

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Overview


Fully acknowledging that Judaism, as described in both the Bible and the Talmud, was patriarchal, Judith Hauptman demonstrates that the rabbis of the Talmud made significant changes in key areas of Jewish law in order to benefit women. Reading the texts with feminist sensibilities—recognizing that they were written by men and for men and that they endorse a set of social relations in which men control women—the author shows that patriarchy was not always and everywhere the same. Although the rabbis whose rulings are recorded in the Talmud did not achieve equality for women—or even seek it—they should be credited with giving women higher status and more rights. For example, during the course of several hundred years, they converted marriage from the purchase by a man of a woman from her father into a negotiated relationship between prospective husband and wife. They designated a bride’s dowry to be one-tenth of her father’s net worth, thereby ending her Torah-mandated disenfranchisement with respect to inheritance. They left the ability to grant a divorce in male hands but gave women the possibility of petitioning the courts to force a divorce. Although some of these developments may have originated in the surrounding Greco-Roman culture, the rabbis freely chose to incorporate them into Jewish law.Rereading the Rabbis: A Woman’s Voice also breaks new ground methodologically. Rather than plucking passages from a variety of different rabbinical works and then sewing them together to produce a single, unified rabbinical point of view, Hauptman reads sources in their own literary and legal context and then considers them in relationship to a rich array of associated synchronic and diachronic materials.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Hauptman provides a clear, scholarly, and accessible study of the treatment of women in Talmudic legal interpretations, comparing these interpretations with the Torah itself. This fresh approach to the problems raised for contemporary Jews by biblical and Talmudic patriarchy and by what the author sees as the second-class status of women leads to important results. Hauptman discovers that while "the rabbis upheld patriarchy as the preordained mode of social organization, as dictated by the Torah...they began to introduce numerous, significant, and occasionally bold corrective measures to ameliorate the lot of women" and occasionally granted women new benefits, "even at men's expense." -- Carolyn M. Craft, Longwood College, Farmville, Virginia
Library Journal
Hauptman provides a clear, scholarly, and accessible study of the treatment of women in Talmudic legal interpretations, comparing these interpretations with the Torah itself. This fresh approach to the problems raised for contemporary Jews by biblical and Talmudic patriarchy and by what the author sees as the second-class status of women leads to important results. Hauptman discovers that while "the rabbis upheld patriarchy as the preordained mode of social organization, as dictated by the Torah...they began to introduce numerous, significant, and occasionally bold corrective measures to ameliorate the lot of women" and occasionally granted women new benefits, "even at men's expense." -- Carolyn M. Craft, Longwood College, Farmville, Virginia
Booknews
While acknowledging that Judaism, as described in the Bible and in the Talmud, was patriarchal, Hauptman (Jewish Theological Seminary of America) demonstrates that the rabbis of the Talmud made significant changes in key areas of Jewish law in order to benefit women. Reading these texts with feminist sensibilities, she shows that patriarchy was not always and everywhere the same. Although the rabbis did not achieve equality for women, or even seek it, they should be credited with giving women higher status and more rights.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813334066
  • Publisher: Westview Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Series: Radical Traditions Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,094,594
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Judith Hauptman, a well-known Talmudic scholar, is professor of Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (in New York).
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
A Note to the Reader
List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
Introduction 1
1 Sotah 15
2 Relations Between the Sexes 30
3 Marriage 60
4 Rape and Seduction 77
5 Divorce 102
6 Procreation 130
7 Niddah 147
8 Inheritance 177
9 Testimony 196
10 Ritual 221
Conclusion 244
Glossary 251
Bibliography 257
Index of Texts Discussed 263
General Index 272
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