Rereading The Rabbis: A Woman's Voice (Radical Traditions S)

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Rereading The Rabbis: A Woman's Voice (Radical Traditions S)

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...
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