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Religion: Jewish Law

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Abigail: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis depict Abigail as a wise and practical woman, capable of acting at the right moment and in the right way. She saves David from committing unnecessary bloodshed, while at the same time assuring her future.

Abortion

The chief biblical source referring to abortion is Exodus 21:22–25 concerning the man who inadvertently strikes a pregnant woman, causing her to lose the pregnancy.

Benvenida Abravanel

Benvenida Abravanel was one of the most influential and wealthiest Jewish women of early modern Italy.

Adah 1: Midrash and Aggadah

According to the aggadic tradition, Lamech took two wives, one for sexual pleasure and the other for procreation. One wife would be in his company adorned like a harlot, and he plied her with a drug that induced barrenness, so that she would not give birth; the other sat alone, like a widow. Lamech’s behavior graphically attests to the process of spiritual decline from one generation to the next and the corruption of the Flood generation.

Rachel Adler

Rachel Adler

The writings of Rachel Adler on Jewish law and ritual have catapulted her into the center of modern Jewish religious discourse, and she is unquestionably among the leading constructive Jewish theologians, translators and liturgists of the modern era, garnering attention from Jewish and non-Jewish scholars, women and men alike.

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.

Ba'alei Ha-Nefesh

A halakhic work composed in 1180 that deals with the laws of behavior during menstruation (niddah), Ba’alei ha-Nefesh (Masters of the Soul) was written by Rabbi Abraham ben David of Posquières (the Rabad, c. 1125–1198), who was also known as ba’al ha-hassagot (critic par excellence).

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.

Ben Ish Hai

R. Joseph Hayyim ben Elijah al-Hakam was a well-known Torah scholar and preacher who wrote many halakhic, Kabbalistic and homiletical books, but never held any public position.

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 Torah she-bi-khetav: Lit. "the written Torah." The Bible; the Pentateuch; Tanakh (the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographia)Torah study as the loftiest means of worship of God.

Beruryah

Beruryah is the only woman mentioned in rabbinic literature who could be conceived of as a Torah she-bi-khetav: Lit. "the written Torah." The Bible; the Pentateuch; Tanakh (the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographia)Torah scholar.

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 The legal corpus of Jewish laws and observances as prescribed in the Torah and interpreted by rabbinic authorities, beginning with those of the Mishnah and Talmud.halakhic discussion.

Conservative Judaism in the United States

Women have played a pivotal role in Conservative Judaism throughout the twentieth century and have been instrumental on both the grass-roots and national levels in propelling the Conservative Movement to confront essential issues including Jewish education, gender equality and religious leadership. The Conservative Movement’s attention over the decades to issues such as the religious education of Jewish girls, the status of the ]agunah (deserted wife), equal participation of women in ritual and the ordination of women has helped to shape the self-definition of Conservative Judaism and its maturation as a distinct denomination.

Contraception

One of the major sources dealing with contraception is (Aramaic) A work containing a collection of tanna'itic beraitot, organized into a series of tractates each of which parallels a tractate of the Mishnah.Tosefta Menstruation; the menstruant woman; ritual status of the menstruant woman.Niddah 2:6: “[T]hree women use a Contraceptive absorbentmokh (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 Lit. (Aramaic) "outside." Halakhah and aggadah from the tanna'ic period that was not included in Judah ha-Nasi's Mishnah.baraita 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).

Gracia Nasi Family Tree

Conversas

The forced conversions of the Jews in Spain that occurred in 1391 changed the face of Spanish Jewry as well as of Spanish history. The random attacks on Jewish communities throughout the country resulted in destruction of property, loss of life and general havoc. Whereas there had previously been Jews and Catholics, now there were Jews, Catholics and converts or conversos. Some of the converts continued to live a Jewish life to the best of their abilities, despite the fact that they now had to attend church and abide by its dogma. Others opted to live as Christians in the hope that new opportunities would await them. Yet others wavered between the two religious lifestyles or opted to follow neither. During the first half of the fifteenth century, the original group of conversos was joined by disillusioned Jews who chose to convert and others who were persuaded to do so in the wake of the rigged Disputation of Tortosa (1413–1414). In the long run, the converso population changed tremendously after nearly a third of the total remaining Jewish population chose to convert in 1492 rather than to face exile. In other words, by the end of the fifteenth century the converso community included descendants of the original forced converts of 1391, descendants of voluntary converts, Jews who chose to remain in Spain as Catholics and even some exiles who returned home within seven years of the fateful decree.

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; Torah she-bi-khetav: Lit. "the written Torah." The Bible; the Pentateuch; Tanakh (the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographia)Torah 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 (A type of non-halakhic literary activitiy of the Rabbis for interpreting non-legal material according to special principles of interpretation (hermeneutical rules).Midrash Tadshe, Ozar ha-Midrashim [ed. Eisenstein], 474).

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.

Equality, Religion and Gender in Israel

A legal system is a mirror of the society in which it functions, reflecting different aspects of social reality at different levels of its infrastructure. Constitutional principles reflect the fundamental societal norms in Israel, formulated by the Lit. "assembly." The 120-member parliament of the State of Israel.Knesset as constitutive assembly and interpreted by the High Court of Justice. In the ordinary legislative process, there is a testing of practical priorities, of the preparedness of a society not only to declare values but also to implement them. Case law, whether constitutional or not, represents an amalgam of the priorities of petitioners, those members of the society who invest their energies in applying to court, and the perceptions of judges based on their professional training and their individual perspectives. The courts provide a forum for a dialectic of opposing views—the plaintiff articulates his or her case, the defendant responds, and the judges determine the norm as they perceive it, each in his or her own way. This litigatory process reveals both the parameters of social activism and the judicial perception of the normative consensus. By examining women’s status in these various legal forums, we can obtain an overview of the position of women in Israeli society.

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.

Rabbi Moses Feinstein

Rabbi Moses Feinstein (1895–1986), one of the great Jewish legalists of the twentieth century, wrote numerous legal decisions responding to and affecting women’s lives. These decisions (Halakhic decisions written by rabbinic authories in response to questions posed to them.responsa, pl.; Halakhic decisions written by rabbinic authories in response to questions posed to them.responsum, sing.) reflect a wide range of The legal corpus of Jewish laws and observances as prescribed in the Torah and interpreted by rabbinic authorities, beginning with those of the Mishnah and Talmud.halakhic possibility and expertise.

Female Purity (Niddah)

In order to understand its development and its centrality in the rabbinic context, menstrual impurity must be seen in the context of the biblical purity system.

Female Purity (Niddah) Annotated Bibliography

Annotated bibliography of books about female purity (niddah).

Feminist Theology

Jewish feminist theology focuses on central Jewish categories, themes, and modes of expression—for example, God, prayer, Torah she-bi-khetav: Lit. "the written Torah." The Bible; the Pentateuch; Tanakh (the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographia)Torah, and halakhah—and asks who created them and whose interests they reflect. It raises meta-questions about Jewish tradition.

Festivals and Holy Days

This essay describes in general terms central ordinances and customary practices regarding women’s observance of the festivals and holy days of the Jewish calendar as recorded in the Shulhan Arukh and other The legal corpus of Jewish laws and observances as prescribed in the Torah and interpreted by rabbinic authorities, beginning with those of the Mishnah and Talmud.halakhic sources.

Abraham Geiger

Like many of his contemporary German-Jewish theologians, Abraham Geiger (1810–1874), the leading theorist and intellectual founder of the Jewish Reform movement, was nurtured in a traditional religious home and schooled in the classic rabbinic texts as a young child.

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