Today is the last day of Women’s History Month, and I found two good passages by Shmuel Safrai in The Literature of the Sages, Part I.
Here is the first one, which is on page 54:
“[A] detail of great interest is the presence of women at the ceremony of reading the Tora [in Nehemiah 8:3]. In preparation for the revelation of the Tora in Exod 19, the nation and the Elders are mentioned, not women. The men, however, are explicitly commanded to refrain from marital intercourse for three days in order to attend the revelation event. Thus the presence of women in Nehemiah 8 is a novel feature; it became a common phenomenon in the later synagogues, which were led predominantly by the Sages, and in public ceremonies most particularly in the circles of the Sages.”
There are feminists who view the Hebrew Bible and rabbinic Judaism as far from egalitarian in terms of their treatment of women, but there was progress, in some areas.
Second, on page 168, Safrai states:
“The Halakha is a vital part of Oral Tora which, as demonstrated above, was created and even edited in the teaching situation by generations of Sages. The teaching situation, moreover, was open to questions from ‘outsiders’ such as the illiterate, women, and even non-Jews, and sometimes these questions brought new ideas and thus were incorporated in Oral Tora.”
I like the idea of being open to learning from all people.
On that note, I have enjoyed blogging through Black History Month and Women’s History Month this year! I’d like to blog through National Autistic Awareness Month (in April), as I did last year, but this will have to wait for April 2012. Right now, I have a lot of reading to do in preparation for two of my comprehensive exams. I’ll probably write additional posts about my readings in my studying—both past and present. Stay tuned!
I like it 🙂