Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Did Jewish women's lib peak in the twelfth century?

I am thoroughly enjoying Elisheva Baumgarten's Mothers and Children: Jewish Family Life in Medieval Europe. In the chapter I just finished, for example, she discuses the medieval circumcision ceremony in Ashkenaz communities. Baumgarten, a lecturer at Bar Ilan, explains that in the twelfth and thirteenth century, the sandek -- then known as a ba'al brit -- was actually often a ba'alat brit, or a woman. She would wash the baby, bring him into the synagogue, and hold him on her lap in the synagogue (in the male section) while he was being circumcised.
After the thirteenth century, the woman becomes absent from the men's section during the ceremony, and the term 'ba'alat habrit' refers to the wife of the 'ba'al habrit,' whose role simply consists of bringing the baby to the synagogue door. This followed a ruling by the Maharam, R. Meir of Rothenburg, who objected to women adorned with jewels entering the men's section, and objected to women 'snatching' mitzvot from men.
To put things in context, Baumgarten explains that in general, during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, there is lots of evidence of women taking upon themselves 'obligations that were traditionally male... among them, the donning of tefillin and zizit' -- and even, perhaps, acting as the mohel(et) -- although clearly, women acting as ba'alat brit was by far the most common of these, probably the only one which really was common.
"During the course of the thirteenth century, the Hebrew sources begin to express discomfort with women's adoption of such practices, and the objections became more prevalent.... The objections to women performing a variety of ritual activities -- ba'alot brit, tefillin and zizit -- as well as the question of the kind of blessing they were allowed to make when performing the rituals, were all widely discussed during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries."
Putting this in an even wider context, she explains that a similar process took place in the Christian world, where
"following a period of relative religious freedom for women, as is evident in the growth of lay piety and female orders in the twelfth century, church authorities of the thirteenth entury were determined to curb women's opportunities and especially their religious functions. Thus, for example, women who tried to preach were gravely reproached. Many of their religious practices, including fasting andother devotions, were criticized."
Could it be -- that in some spheres, the golden age for Jewish women was not the twentieth or twenty-first, but the twelfth century?


nope said...


I'm sorry for being intrusive in to your blog. But I am Melissa and I am a mother of two that is just trying to get out of an incredible financial debt. See my hubby is away in Iraq trying to protect this great country that we live in, and I am at home with our two kids telling bill collectors please be patiant. When my husband returns from war we will beable to catch up on our payments. We have already had are 2001 Ford repossessed from the bank, and are now down to a 83 buick that is rusted from front to back and the heater don't work, and tire tax is due in November.

I'm not asking for your pitty because we got our ownselfs into this mess but we would love you and thank you in our prayers if you would just keep this link on your blog for others to view.

God Bless You.

Melissa K. W.
To see my family view this page. My Family

TV Central - Download full TV shows and series, newest movies, plus other downloads. Watch TV and movies online. Burn Them right to Blank CD's and watch them over and over again.

Messenger City - 10,000+ emoticons - Use Yahoo, MSN, ICQ and AIM all in one, skins, nicknames, bots, add-ons, emoticons, avatars and smilies.

Baja música gratis ahora. Busca y encuentra MP3, Películas, Software y más. Downloads ilimitados, Quema CDs & DVDs.

musica said...

We Offer The best methods to Stop Premature Ejaculation to learn more please click the next link Premature Ejaculation and visit our web site about Premature Ejaculation or

retrogade ejaculation or
Pre Ejaculation
or Male Ejaculation
or Stop Premature Ejaculation or

Premature Ejaculation cure or
Premature Ejaculation treatment or
Premature Ejaculation help or
prevent Premature Ejaculation

Also we Offer:

We offer help for acne cure you can find information in

acne cure or
natural acne cure or
natural cure acne treatment or
acne home cure or
nature cure acne


Also we Offer:

We offer help for dog obdience you can find information in

dog trainer or
dog training or
dog obedience


Also we Offer:

We offer entertaiment and you can get this visting

Download music or
free Download music or
free music Download or
mp3 Download music or
mp3 music download or

Download music or
free Download music or
free music Download or
mp3 Download music or
mp3 music download or


Also we Offer:

We offer help in penis enlargement visit

Penis enlargement or
Penis enlargement pills or
Penis growth


Also we Offer:

We offer help in search engine position visit

search engine positioning or
search engine position or
internet marketing or
blog submitter or
blog or


Also we Offer:

We offer help in Travel bargain visit

travel bargains or
discount travel or
discount airfare or
airline tickets or
cheap hotels

wlbcpa said...

Just 4 Women. I want to introduce you to a website that is an internet resource for Women. Get answers, tips and ideas all in one place. Women

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful invention it is, this thing we call the Internet!

nomorespots said...

I've just found you site after doing research for **NoMoreSpots**. is an Acne Treatment resource site that may have further information of interest.

retrogade ejaculation said...

Your blog is perfect and nice, we are offering ejaculation to learn more visit ejaculation or this post