Pious and Rebellious Jewish Women in Medieval Europe

ISBN-10: 1584653922

ISBN-13: 9781584653929

Edition: 2004

Authors: Avraham Grossman

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This volume, an amazing act of historical recovery and reconstruction, offers a comprehensive examination of Jewish women in Europe during the High Middle Ages (1000-1300). Avraham Grossman covers multiple aspects of women's lives in medieval Jewish society, including the image of woman, the structure of the family unit, age at marriage, position in family and society, her place in economic and religious life, her education, her role in family ceremonies, violence against women, and the position of the divorcee and the widow in society. Grossman shows that the High Middle Ages saw a distinct improvement in the status of Jewish women in Europe relative to their status during the Talmudic period and in Muslim countries. If, during the twelfth century, rabbis applauded women as "pious and pure" because of their major role in the martyrdom of the Crusades of 1096, then by the end of the thirteenth century, rabbis complained that women were becoming bold and rebellious. Two main factors fostered this change: first, the transformation of Jewish society from agrarian to "bourgeois," with women performing an increasingly important function in the family economy; and second, the openness toward women in Christian Europe, where women were not subjected to strict limitations based upon conceptions of modesty, as was the case in Muslim countries. The heart of Grossman's book concerns the improvement of Jewish women's lot, and the efforts of secular and religious authorities to impede their new-found status. Bringing together a variety of sources including halakhic literature, biblical and talmudic exegesis, ethical literature and philosophy, love songs, folklore and popular literature, gravestones, and drawings, Grossman's book reconstructs the hitherto unrecorded lives of Jewish women during the Middle Ages.
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Book details

Copyright year: 2004
Publisher: University Press of New England
Publication date: 6/1/2004
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 351
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.100
Language: English

The Historical Background
The Chronological and Geographical Framework
The Image of the Woman: Partner or the "Other"?
The Creation and the Superiority of Man
The Temptation in the Garden of Eden and the Superiority of Man
Characteristics of Woman and the Superiority of Man
Women and Sorcery
The "Medical Inferiority" of Women and the Superiority of Men
The Obligation to Perform Mitzvot and the Superiority of Man
Expressions in Praise of Women and their Perception as "Partner"
Between Image and Reality
Age at Marriage
The Talmudic Heritage
The Situation in Babylonia in the Eighth and Ninth Centuries
The Situation in Non-Jewish Society
The Situation in Jewish Society during the Tenth through Thirteenth Centuries
Factors Causing the Large Number of Childhood Marriages
Results of Early Marriage
Engagement, Betrothal, and the Choice of a Marriage Partner
The Ceremonies and their Development
The Ban in Ashkenaz against Cancelling Engagements
Choice of Marriage Partner
Consensual Marriage in Christian Europe
The Institution of Matchmaking and Its Place in Jewish Society
Monogamy and Polygamy
The Biblical and Talmudic Heritage
The Situation in Ashkenaz
Polygamy in Spain
The Atmosphere in the Polygamous Family
Levirate Marriage and Bigamy
Feminine Modesty and Women's Role in Supporting the Family
The Talmudic Tradition
Modesty in Muslim Society
Modesty in Jewish Society in Muslim Countries
The "Miqveh Rebellion" in Egypt
The Situation in Jewish Society in Spain
Feminine Modesty and Women's Work in Christian Europe
The Situation in Ashkenazic Jewish Society
Changes in the Legal Status of Women
Woman as Wife and Mother and Her Economic Status
The Woman within Her Home
Prostitution and Concubinage
The Woman's Economic Status
Women's Culture and Education
The Talmudic Heritage
The Situation in Muslim Society
The Situation in Christian Society
The Stance of the Jewish Sages in the Middle Ages
Learned Women
Education of Women in Jewish Society
Girls' Education and Erudition in Ashkenaz
The Situation in Spain
Education of Jewish Women in Italy and Sicily
The Role of Women in Religious Life and in Family Ceremonies
The Biblical and Talmudic Heritage
The Role of Women in Religious Life in Christian Europe
The Performance of Time-Linked Positive Commandments
Women in the Synagogue
Women in the Celebration of Passover
Women Circumcisers
Women as Ritual Slaughterers
Fast Days and Acts of Charity by Women
Refraining from Eating Meat During the Season of Mourning
Women as Bearers of Halakhic Traditions
The Role of Women in Family Ceremonies
Women's Role in Jewish Martyrdom in Europe in the Eleventh to Thirteenth Centuries
The Descriptions of Women in Chronicles about the Pogroms
The Historical Reliability of the Descriptions in the Chronicles
The Role of Women in Jewish Martyrdom According to Christian Sources
The "Beauty" and "Purity" of the Women
Kiddush Hashem and the Cultural and Social Status of the Women
The Description in the Chronicles and the Public Image
Between the Chronicles of 1096 and Sefer Zekhirah
Violence Toward Women
The Talmudic Tradition
The Situation in Christian and Muslim Society
The Position of the Babylonian Geonim
The Position of the Spanish Sages
Maimonides' Position
The Situation in France and Italy
The Situation in Germany
Wife Beating for "Education"
Summary: Between Theory and Reality
The Divorcee and the "Rebellious Wife"
The Divorcee
The Biblical and Talmudic Heritage
The Attitude of Medieval Jewish Sages to Divorce
Grounds for Divorce
The "Rebellious Wife"
The Change at the Beginning of the Geonic Period
The Retreat from the Taqqanah of Moredet during the Twelfth Century
The Proliferation of Divorce in Ashkenaz in the Thirteenth Century and Thereafter
"Rebellion" of Women in Christian Society
Divorce in Spain
The Attitude to the Divorcee
The Widow and the "Murderous Wife"
The Large Number of Widows
The Biblical and Talmudic Heritage
The Situation in Non-Jewish Society
Life Expectancy in Europe
The Situation in Jewish Society: The Attitude to the Widow's Remarriage
The Commonness of Widowhood and its Social Significance
The Widow's Economic Rights
The "Murderous Wife" (Qatlanit)
Summary: Woman's Status in Historical Perspective
The Positive Changes
Negative Changes
The Silencing of Creativity
Between "Pious" and "Rebellious" Women
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