Shaping the Dialogue in the Talmudic Story of an Anonymous Woman’s Arguments for Bearing Children versus the Legal Halakhic Law and the Context of the Story

Michal Blau, Uri Zur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article explores a story taken from the Talmud Bavli (Yevamot 65b) which describes a dialogue between the arguments raised by an anonymous woman and a rabbinical judge, R. Ammi, with regard to her demand for a divorce and for receipt of the payment for her prenuptial agreement. The article examines aspects relating to the design of the Talmudic story, which belongs to the genre of halakhic stories containing an argument, the law, and its explanation, i.e., elements that are not always explicitly stated in the Talmudic text. The article also examines the point of encounter between the pleas of the anonymous woman who sought a divorce from her husband alleged that he was infertile and that she wished to have a child, versus the strict customary legal halakhic law that exempted her from the religious obligation to procreate and therefore did not protect her rights. In addition, the article provides the context of the woman’s pleas in court and the attitudes of the judge towards the woman, as evident in two contradictory rulings with regard to the anonymous woman. Finally, the character of the anonymous woman, as reflected in the story, is described. This article joins a gradually developing trend in recent years within the study of the Talmud Bavli that addresses issues related to women’s status and gender discourse. Nevertheless, it is notable that different orientations emerged in the research with regard to gender issues from the mid-1990s onwards.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128
JournalReligions
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Talmudic story
  • anonymous woman
  • bavli
  • bearing children
  • dialogue
  • yevamot

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