Jewish Studies | Gender and Rabbinic Literature
J303 | 28424 | S. Imhoff

Gender and Rabbinic Literature
Sarah Imhoff
JSTU-J 303 Arts & Humanities Topics in Jewish Studies #28424 / REL-A
300 Studies in African, European, & West Asian Religions #27788 (3
TR 1:00-2:15 p.m.
A&H; Jewish Studies Religion & Thought course

We might expect that a group of texts written by men primarily for
other men might have little to say about gender and sexuality. But
Jewish texts like the Talmud and Midrash suggest otherwise. When the
Rabbis discussed social life, they mused: Is marriage like a
property transaction? What do women do when men are not at home? Why
are women gossipy? They also wondered about gendered aspects of
religious questions: Why do men and women have different religious
responsibilities? Which sorts of sexuality and sex acts are
acceptable, and when? The Rabbis also discussed questions about
anatomy  like the meanings of circumcision or menstruation  and
some of their conclusions can be quite surprising from our modern
standpoint. In turn, as modern readers, we might wonder: why do
these rabbis seem different from some modern versions of
masculinity? Were the women they described really so gossipy (and
worse), or was that a stereotype? This class will discuss how
rabbinic texts present men, women, gender, and sexuality and the
legacy of these representations.