Roles of men and women, Judaism.
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What is the importance of the family unit in Judaism?
- Many of the highest ideals of Jewish religion are realised in the home rather than the synagogue. - The home is a very important place for Judaism.
- Family is the foundation of Judaism - as a strong family unit keeps religion and community strong. (contrast to Christianity which have nuns and monks)
- In a home, father is the 'priest' and the table the 'alter'.
- Each parent has carefully defined roles.
What evidence from the Scriptures and Talmud suggest that marrying is a very important part of Jewish culture.
- 'Be fruitful and multiply' (Genesis) is said to be the first mitzvot given by God to mankind.
- God said 'it is not good that a man should be alone. I will make a helper fit for him'.
- Talmud praises marriage as giving 'joy, love and harmony'.
- Also a Talmudic duty to find partners for your children.
Often, Jewish families use _________ _____ to find the right partner for their son/daughter.
Husband's duty to wife is stated in a legal document called what given to the bride? Outline what it states.
- It states husband's obligations to his wife, and the amount of money he will pay her in the event of a divorse. (built into the wedding the possibility that there might be a divorse)
What reason is given for why men are bound by halakha to study the Torah/Talmud, whereas women are not?
Men are seen as more prone to bad influences, as they are 'out in the world', so the continuous stufy of Torah reminds Jewish man that he is a member of a Holy Nation and has to conduct himself well in all areas of life.
Give the quote that instructs Jewish men to teach the Torah to their sons.
"And you shall teach them to your sons to speak about them" (Deuteronomy 11)
What are some of the commandements men have to obey in terms of worship?
- Wear tefillin in weekday services.
- Pray 3 times in a minyan.
- 4 times on Sabbath and 5 on Yom Kippur.
- Required to follow all 613 mitzvot.
- Must study Torah until he dies (Deuteronomy 4).
Briefly outline the idea of royal priesthood
- Jewish home is a miniture temple, and the father the 'priest', the mother 'priestess', and the table the 'alter'.
- It is where children can grow up under protection and guidance, and where Jewish religion can be practiced and transmitted from generation to generation.
- Many of the most important of Judaism take place in the home. (eg. Sabbath, Sukkot).
Why are women exempt from some commandements?
- Because she has other duties, such as looking after the children, which take up time, and thus following some mitzvot would be difficult. (eg. not required to pray in morning, because she has to pay attention to children).
- Also some talmudic rabbis believe that women are naturally more spiritual than men, and therefore require less demanding religious mitzvot.
What does the Talmud state about men and women's roles of following mitzvot?
- For all positive time bound commandements men are liable and women are exempt.
- But all positive commendments not limited to specific time, are binding to both.
- Women are relieved of obligations of putting Talit or Tefillin, and of praying at fixed times, but still have to pray once a day, preferably shema or amidah, at any time.
The talmud does stress 3 commandments (except for non-time bound ones) that women in particular must follow. What are they?
- Nerot: lighting candles to mark beginning of Sabbath or holiday. (rabbinical mitzvah, rather than from Torah).
- Challah: separating portion of dough from bread before baking it (in Numbers). Because it instructs to leave some aside for the Temple priest.
- Niddah: Purity laws. Immersion in a mikvah after the end of the menstrual period.
What other major set of rules do women need to follow that are not laid down in the Torah but are in the Talmud?
Modesty laws - Tznius - so to help men not get the 'evil inclination'.
What is the woman's role in the home?
- Responsibility for the day to day running of the home, in some cases family business too, to free her husband to study the Torah.
- Required to keep a kosher home.
- Bring up and teach the children how to run a Jewish kosher household, how to plan for festivals, the modesty laws, and family purity.
- General responsibility of ensuring that all that goes on in the home is expressive of Judaism.
Outline the inequalities in Jewish divorse.
- Only a man can issue the divorse certificate (the get). Thus if a man deserts or just refuses to issue a get, the woman becomes an agunah (a 'chained woman') and cannot remarry under Jewish law, or her children would become 'mamzer' (illegitimate).
- In Torah, man could divorse a woman for any particular or no reason. The woman's consent is not needed. Later, rabbinical authorities gave women rights by not allowing a man to divorse without wife's consent.
What is a niddah? When can a woman remove this label?
- A woman who is on her period.
- This label remains until the relevant rituals are fully completed.
- Niddah also used to describe the whole process of ritual purity for women (eg. mikvah).
What are the positives for the practice of niddah?
- Deepening of sexual relations in marriage.
- Creating and cherishing of friendship between spouses.
- Protection of women.
- Reducing objectification.
- Personal and spiritual experience for women.
- Opporutnity for the woman to be empowered and take control of their faith.
What are the negatives for the practice of Niddah?
- Degrading women.
- Treating them as a subordinate gender.
- Can be seen to be treating women as objects of desire, pleasure of men.
- Sexually restricting women
- Alienating mentruating women.
- Taboo of menstrual blood.
- Gender stereotyping (eg. regular impurity of women.)
In which book are laws of niddah found?
What does the Hebrew word "niddah" literally mean?
Give quote from Leviticus about niddah.
"If you have sex with a woman during her monthly period, both you and the woman will be cut off from the people of Israel." (Leviticus 20)
Water is seen as pure as a niddah is required to submerge in the mikveh after her period. What other example is there to suggest water is pure?
In Tashlich, 'cast off', on Rosh Hashanah where Jews gather at a body of water and toss bread crubs in a symbolic gesture of self-purification.
Link Niddah and Mikveh to the idea of life and death.
- Menstral blood represents death (of potential foetus etc) then, mikveh water, is the antithesis (opposite) of mentruation, and therefore life-giving.
- Niddah - prohibition of sexual relations, which is potentially life-giving.
- Also, the niddah laws and the separation and prohibition of sexual union and potential for life, gives both husband and wife a higher appreciation of life and death.
Slightly off topic. The _____ between the ____ and the ____ is an identifying _____ of Judaism. Give examples too.
- The separation between the sacred and the profane is an identifying element of Judaism.
- eg. Sabbath is sacred, rest of week is profane.
- Woman at time of niddah is profane and becomes sacred again through mikveh.
- Profanity of sin is removed at Yom Kippur
- Profanity of food eaten by gentiles is negated by kosher food laws.
What is one argument put forward when orthodox Jews argue that followig laws are important?
- Because it turns the most trivial, mundane acts, such as eating and getting dressed, into acts of relgious significance.
- By doing so, it makes Jews closer to God. ("I am the Lord your God, therefore sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I am holy" Leviticus 11)
Laws/mitzvot that have unclear meaning is called...
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