Review by Deborah weissman Essay

Introduction

The article by Deborah weissman, education of Jewish women is an American year book of historical transformation that argues over the issue of educating women.  Deborah in this article argues that the world has been fashioned in a certain hierarchical line whereby women are to be ruled by men. This she claims to have originated from the Garden of Eden which indicates that it was ordained that Adam would rule over eve.

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However remarks of Zerubbabel in the article indicate that women rules kings. This signifies that women can not just be ruled by men every time but can also rule not just men but great men. In this point the author purposes to encourage women to know that they can also rule but not be ruled all the time.  To support the claim Zerubbabel argues that woman gave birth to a king and that every man desires a woman to an extent that he would do anything to win her. This is also supported by a biblical verse in Judah 15:5-6 which says that the angle of God showed me that women have mastery over both kings and poor men.

Another point in the article is that women should be taken as witnesses. There is a claim that there are testimonies that a woman is allowed to give but some testimonies are not supposed to be given by women. Their testimony should not be ignored as there are some testimonies which could not be obtained from any other source but from the woman. She argues that in such situations such testimonies by women ought to be accepted by all means. The importance of this key point is to inform women that they should always be ready to fight for their rights. The author purposes to inform people that the views of women should not be ignored as they can sometimes be very important.

The women’s right to inherit is another key point discussed in this article. In this case she looks into the story of Rabban Gamaliel and his sister Imma Shalom who had to bribe a Christian judge so that they could share in the inheritance of their father. Under the Jewish law a woman who laments unfairness suffers. Another instance of inheritance in this article is that of Judith who got her wealth through an inheritance from her husband. In case of transferring the property from a father to a daughter was through writing into her kettubah. She argues that a woman only enjoyed the wealth of her husband when he was a live but when he dies the property is lost without being held accountable. However when the woman died before the husband the property went over to the husband and his family and lost over to his family. The purposes to inform women that they should know how to acquire the property that is meant for them as inheritance be it from father or from husband (Weissman 1986-87).

A related point to this is whether a woman should stay in a sukkah. She relates this to the story of Queen Helene who resided in a sukkah of more than 20 cubits high where elders entered and left without saying a word to her just because she was a woman and women as they said were not allowed to sit in a sukkah. The significance of this point is that women should not allow themselves to be oppressed but should stand firm in their decisions and let other respect their decisions.

Another commandment where women were not to participate in was the nazirite vow. Three women are known from the second temple to have made the nazirite vow and offered sacrifices up to its end. The instances of vow taking by the three women made it a fashion of nazirite vow taking by women who belonged to the high class towards the end of the second temple period. This is also another lesson to women that they ought to always stand firm in their decisions.

Deborah says that a woman performance of the house chores is compensation to the husband for his maintenance to him. It is argued that even if a woman brings to her husband hundreds of servants he will still force her to work because would lead to lechery. Keeping busy on the other hand protects a woman’s chastity and also indicates a woman’s industry and high quality. The point at this stage is that women should stay confined in the houses as the tasks to which they should dedicate themselves are also confined in the house implying that husbands have the full responsibility of caring for his family.

The idea of a woman’s participation in business is a contradiction to the rabbinical world view. Additionally the law of the Jews does not permit women to be included in the religious matters to study torah. Even though others argued in the side of giving their daughters the information of torah others argued that giving daughter knowledge of torah is like teaching her lechery. Others even thought that the teachings of torah should be burned instead of expressing them to women.

In many cultures like the Jews culture men obtain education while women remain illiterate. This makes the question on whether the Jewish women could read the bible or to what extent they could read and write less obvious. Women in royal household are said to have knowledgeable in reading and writing. However it is argued that letters written by royal women are not evidence to show their ability to write. There is an indication that even though Babatha did not distinguish how to read and write she clearly signed document during her involvement in the violent lawful fights. In addition women are capable of writing bills of divorce as well as torah scrolls the question being only on whether they are qualified to do so or not. This shows that women could get other means of learning how to read and write even if they don’t get access to school (Weissman 1986-87).

Conclusion

Even though the Jews culture does not give women access to education, women should find their own ways of gaining education to be able to know their rights and avoid oppression by men as they can also do what is done by men. For instance as others think that women who study torah would abandon their traditional responsibilities in the house Eliezer thought that some matters of halakhah were more suited to women than to men.

Reference

Weissman, D. 1986-87, Education of Jewish Women, 29-36 in Encyclopedia Judaica Yearbook

Jerusalem, Keter.