Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Women and Talmud Torah II

(Material from Rabbi Kenneth Auman's class presented by Chana. All mistakes are my fault.)

At first this Gemara will seem to have nothing to do with what we are learning.

Please look at Shabbos 33b:

    Now, why is he [R. Judah son of R. Ila'i] called the first speaker on all occasions? — For R. Judah, R. Jose, and R. Simeon were sitting, and Judah, a son of proselytes, was sitting near them. R. Judah commenced [the discussion] by observing, 'How fine are the works of this people!15 They have made streets, they have built bridges, they have erected baths.' R. Jose was silent. R. Simeon b. Yohai answered and said, 'All that they made they made for themselves; they built market-places, to set harlots in them; baths, to rejuvenate themselves; bridges, to levy tolls for them.' Now, Judah the son of proselytes went and related their talk,16 which reached17 the government. They decreed: Judah, who exalted [us], shall be exalted,18 Jose, who was silent, shall be exiled to Sepphoris;19 Simeon, who censured, let him be executed.

    He and his son went and hid themselves in the Beth Hamidrash, [and] his wife brought him bread and a mug of water and they dined.20 [But] when the decree became more severe he said to his son, Women are of unstable temperament: she21 may be put to the torture and expose us.'22

The main point of this Gemara in terms of its significance to us is the expression:
נשים דעתן קלה עליהן
We see here that this expression is used NOT to indicate some kind of derogatory statement but rather to refer to women being unable to withstand torture. (Rabbi Auman amusingly added here- "Who knows? Men might be just as incapable of withstanding torture." He then mentioned his wife and the fact that all women suffer through childbirth, while men do not.) The point is that this statement has nothing to do with the intellectual or mental capacities of the women in this context.

1 comment:

Elaine said...

So what is 'unstable temperament'? this is pure chauvinism and nothing else.