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SIDIC Periodical IX - 1976/3
Women in Jewish and Christian Tradition (Pages 18)

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Women in the Talmud
Judith Hauptman


Emerging from this survey of legal and Aggadic sources is the image of a woman whose role in life was well defined along traditional sociological lines as caring for husband, children, and home, and who was always dependent upon a man, be it her father, husband, or son, for satisfaction of her needs. .. .

The reasons that the rabbis chose to maintain the status quo . . . were both positive and negative. In order to preserve high standards of sexual morality they had to limit severely the social contact between men and women. With these same goals in mind, they also set down strict regulations for a woman's modesty in dress and behavior.

Second, and even more important, the rabbis guided themselves by their ultimate goals. Since they defined Jewish commitment in terms of activism, an ongoing concern for the welfare of the community, and a quest for a dialogue with God, they had to regulate family life in a way that would lead to optimum achievement of these goals. Before they could engage a man's help for his fellowman, or his devotion to God, it was necessary to provide for his family. The easiest and most obvious way of doing so was to keep the woman where she had always been, at home, because her efficient efforts there would free her husband to fulfill his religious and ethical duties outside the home.

(Judith Hauptman, Images of Women in the Talmud , in Rosemary Radford Ruether, Religion and Sexism: Images of Woman in the Jewish and Christian Traditions, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974, pp. 208-209.)


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