Pious and Rebellious: Jewish Women in Medieval Europe by Avraham Grossman

By Avraham Grossman

This quantity, an grand act of ancient restoration and reconstruction, bargains a entire exam of Jewish girls in Europe throughout the excessive heart a while (1000–1300). Avraham Grossman covers a number of points of women’s lives in medieval Jewish society, together with just like girl, the constitution of the family, age at marriage, place in family members and society, her position in financial and non secular lifestyles, her schooling, her position in kinfolk ceremonies, violence opposed to ladies, and the location of the divorcée and the widow in society.

Grossman exhibits that the excessive heart a long time observed a different development within the prestige of Jewish ladies in Europe relative to their prestige throughout the Talmudic interval and in Muslim nations. If, through the 12th century, rabbis applauded ladies as "pious and natural" due to their significant function within the martyrdom of the Crusades of 1096, then by way of the tip of the 13th century, rabbis complained that girls have been turning into daring and rebellious. major elements fostered this transformation: first, the transformation of Jewish society from agrarian to "bourgeois," with ladies appearing an more and more very important functionality within the family members economic climate; and moment, the openness towards girls in Christian Europe, the place girls weren't subjected to strict boundaries dependent upon conceptions of modesty, as used to be the case in Muslim international locations. the center of Grossman’s publication matters the advance of Jewish women’s lot, and the efforts of secular and non secular experts to hamper their new-found status.

Bringing jointly a number of assets together with halakhic literature, biblical and talmudic exegesis, moral literature and philosophy, love songs, folklore and renowned literature, gravestones, and drawings, Grossman’s e-book reconstructs the hitherto unrecorded lives of Jewish girls through the heart a long time.

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36 During the Middle Ages, discussion of this facet (beauty) in the halakhic, ethical, and homiletical literature became limited, alongside the extensive involvement with it in secular poetry. The beauty of women was “exploited,” so to speak, for love poetry, becoming part of a genre that many sages did not view with favor, and therefore limited their involvement therein. Talmudic literature also mentions many positive traits of women, such as woman’s pleasant voice, her more compassionate nature than that of men, her superior intuition, and other traits.

They are noted for wisdom, decency, and uprightness. He likewise rebuffs the attacks upon them. Even regarding the temptation in the Garden of Eden, he sought extenuating explanations for Eve and placed the blame upon Adam. The latter had heard directly from God that it was forbidden to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and therefore should have questioned Eve’s proposal to eat of the fruit of the garden and not to accept her words. 8. Between Image and Reality One could invoke many other examples of things said in praise of women, in particular Sefer Hasidim, which presents a positive image of woman and of the .

It follows that his sons-in-law continued in his tradition. The second example is from Sefer ha-Zohar. Unlike the approach of Rashi, which has thus far not been discussed at all in the research literature, the position of women in the Zohar has been discussed in great detail. I shall therefore suffice here with a brief sketch of the main points. The relations between God and the Shekhinah are similar to those between husband and wife. The Shekhinah does not rest upon a person and the multitude of blessings is not drawn down from above except through the joining together of male and female; if one does not marry, his soul does not merit to be included within the realm of Divine holiness in the life of the World to Come.

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