Monday, August 26, 2019

Prayer-Nothing a Jew does or thinks is simple. Session 1

Prayer-Nothing a Jew does or thinks is simple.  

(Pages in Hertz Pentateuch)

Session 1

A. Jewish Prayer is a melange’


( Elizabeth Pessin

 Scientists organize prayer into the following types:

·         Contemplative-meditative prayer (e.g., worshiping God, reflecting on the Bible)-

·         Ritualistic prayer (e.g., repeating statements)

·         Petitionary prayer (e.g., asking God for things)

·         Colloquial prayer (e.g., thanking God for things)

·         Intercessory prayer (e.g., praying for others)

How much of this matches Jewish prayer? Contemplation?  Ritual- some. Petition- al little Colloquial-a lot, intercessory-a little. The rest?

Education- the teaching of common goals and objectives.

1st -Why pray? Practical, utilitarian reasons (Same source-Pessin) Unintended consequences.

A.       Health: They found private and public prayer predicted better levels of spiritual health. Specifically, they found that both forms of prayer increased participants’ closeness to God and having a stronger sense of identity. Scientists also suggest that praying for oneself and for others has been found to be beneficial for spiritual-health and relationships.

B. Music?

 William Congreve (1670-1629) To complete the quote: "Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast. To soften rocks, or bend the knotted oak."

According to Dr. Michael Miller, Director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, listening to music that makes you feel good could have health benefits that might prevent a heart attack. (

Nigun-prayer without words

 East European Chazanut- at its peak- was better than the Opera. Yosele Rosenblatt, Moshe Kousevitsky,  Opera singers Richard Tucker Jan Peerce

c. Nice company?

Letter to editor Bintel brief of Der Forwerts. Century ago. Why do you go to shule? Avraham-I go to talk to God. Yitzhak- I go to talk to Avraham! Synagogue- Greek- for Bet Knesset-House of Gathering. Well known that humas heal in company. (.Example from whales and dolphins)

d- Food?-

 Kiddush,  Oneg Shabbat. Ancient Temple- the people shared their meal with God and with each other.Companion-Latin- shared bread.  Earliest synagogues were also the local motel for travelers! .Concept of “ seudat mitzvah”.

e-Intellectual stimulation?

Torah reading, drashah. Bet Midrash- House of Study. Shule- from “school”. Traditional synagogues were not intended to be designed like churches- structure- to observe miracle-Catholic. Or to listen to preacher “ex cathedra”.( Cathedra dMoshe) hence, cathedral. Centered instead, around Bimah- studying, The pew had a student’s table. It had a cabinet to store the books.

Bet tefilah-House of prayer.

f. Exercise!

1) Sit and stand

2) three step shuffle

3) The bend and bow & the once a year push-up

4) The calf stretch

5) the shuckle

6) 2 the right and to the left-forward-side-together circle dance-foot and hand

Kol Atzmotai tomarna-Psalms- All my bones shall proclaim!

g-OH, yes, for worship-

A Glimpse at women's lives through the ages

Jewish Women Through the Ages

A Glimpse at women's lives through the ages- gathered from various sources  

BABATHA OF KARMA. PROPERTY OWNER 2nd century c.e. Time of Bar Kochba

Babatha, a woman of property, is known only through a cache of thirty-five papyrus documents found in 1961 in a cave in the Judean desert

 Probably an only child, Babatha inherited lands and possessions after her mother's death. The properties had originally been transferred from her father to her mother while both parents were still alive.

Babatha was married twice. Her first husband was Joshua, son of Joseph. After his death, Babatha was not named as one of her son's guardians. She later brought a legal action against the two legal guardians in an effort to increase the money used to provide for the care of her son, "orphan Joshua, son of Joshua.'" Babatha's second husband was Judah ben Eleazer Khtusion of Bin-Gedi. He died three years after the wedding, bequeathing to Babatha considerable property. In 131 CE. members of Judah's family, including a first wife, Miriam, contested the will.

Mibtahiah Of ELEPHANTINE, PROPERTY OWNER, (5th century Before zero)

Mibtahiah was a prosperous woman who lived on Elephantine, a small island in the Nile River with a thriving Jewish community. Born in 476 B.C.E. to a well-to-do family that owned property and slaves. .

Mibtahiah had two brothers, Gemariah and Jedaniah. Probably in order to bypass the biblical ruling that daughters cannot inherit if there are sons, her father, Mahseiah, gifted property to her at the time of her marriages.

Mibtahiah's first husband was Jezaniah, the Jew who owned the plot of land next to her father's house. The marriage, which took place in 460 or 459 ac.r. when she was approximately sixteen years old, was marked by two transfers of a deed for a building plot: one by Mahseiah to his daughter, granting her title to the property, and the second to Jezaniah giving him the income only. This was a typical dowry arrangement at that time. Jezaniah died shortly after the marriage, and there was no record of any children.

Eshor the Egyptian was Mibtahiah's second husband, whom she married in 449 B.C.E. For this marriage there is an existing contract called a "document of wifehood; stipulating that either party could initiate divorce, a right that was not common to Jewish women in later periods.Note: assumes monogamy.


Mibtahiahl is my wife and I am her husband from this day and forever. I gave you as mohar for your daughter Mibtahiah  5 shekels . . . Your daughter Miptahiah brought in to me in her hand: silver money, 2 shekels; 1 new garment of wool. striped with dye; another garment of wool, finely woven; 1 mirror of bronze; 1 bowl of bronze; 2 cups of bronze; 1 jug of bronze. All the silver and the value of the goods: 6 karsh. 5 shekel, 20 hallurs(?) 1 bed of papyrus-reed ... 2 ladles; 1 new box of palm leaf; 5 handfuls of castor oil; 1 pair of sandals.

Tomorrow or the next day, should Eshor die not having a child, male or female, from Miptahiah his wife, it is Mibtahiah who has right to the house of Eshor and his goods and his property and all that he has on the face of the earth, all of it. Tomorrow or the next day, should Miptahiah die not having a child. male or female, from Eshor her husband, it is Eshor who  shall inherit from her her goods and her property.

Tomorrow or the next day, should Miptahiah stand up in an assembly and say: "I hated Eshor my husband", silver of hatred is on her head. She shall place upon the balance-scale and weigh out to Eshor silver ... and all that she brought in her hand she shall take out, from straw lo string, and go away wherever she desires, without suit or without process.

Tomorrow or the next day, should Eshor stand up in an assembly and say: "I hated my wife Miptahiah," her mohar will be lost and all that she brought in in her hand she shall take out, from strain, to string, on one day in one stroke, and go away wherever she desires, without suit or without process ... And I shall not be able to say: "I have another wife besides Miptahiah and other children besides the children whom Miptahiah shall bear to me...."


Mibtahiah emerges as a woman who had considerable control over her own life. She was guaranteed status as an only wife, was free to divorce at will, and acted independently in business.


Rufina was an established and respected citizen of Smyrna (Turkey) who owned property and slaves. She is known only by an inscription on a tombstone that she had built for her freed slaves. This inscription specifically identifies her as a Jew and head of a synagogue (archisynagogissa). Hers is one of nineteen Greek and Latin inscriptions referring to Jewish women in the Mediterranean area over several centuries." Many of them were listed as "head of synagogue."There is no mention of a husband and no evidence that her title was derived from a husband or other male relative."


Retina, a Jewess, head of the synagogue, built this tomb for her freed slaves raised in her house. No one else has the right to bury anyone there]. If someone should dare to do so. he or she will pay 198 dinars to the sacred treasury and 1000 dinars to the Jewish people. A copy of this inscription has been placed in the [public) archives.'"

Women in the Cairo Genizah

A Look at Women’s Lives in Cairo Geniza Society

Renée Levine Melammed

Women’s lives in medieval Mediterranean society as based on Cairo Geniza

documents were first deemed significant by S.D. Goitein. The insightful chapter,

which he entitled “The World of Women”, provided a first glimpse into the

rich and varied lives of these women.

It is surprising to discover how many letters were sent by and to women, and

how many extant court documents actually involved them….the women’s world in Geniza society was not isolated one; women with professions or with economic standing were not sitting at home or hiding behind their veils

 Wuhsha al-Dallala, thesuccessful agent in Fustat at the close of the eleventh century….

 This maverick daughter of a banker from Alexandria was a woman who dealt in serious amounts

money, some of which were loans. She clearly had a steady income, which enabled her to contribute to charity, especially as manifested by the figures listed in her will.

. She seems to chose to be a single mother, living with the father of her son. . .. not interested in marrying him. . . the father of her child was not to receive a penny from her estate; she had already provided him with a generous loan, which had never been repaid. . .. this woman was not going to allow her lover to inherit her fortune . Her will reflected the fact that she intended to keep her finances under tight control both while alive and after her demise.

The president of the Iraqi synagogue . . .chose to humiliate her on the holiest day of the year, on the Day of Atonement, and evicted her from the synagogue. However, this did not result in a bona fide excommunication or a shunning of any sort…

Commercial dealings with a number   also she friends with prominent synagogue positions including

the cantor.


A letter in which a mother writes to her son(s) on behalf of her daughter-in-law. The first three lines of this letter in Arabic. The script, presumably that of a scribe, switches from Arabic to Judeo-Arabic, . . .not intended for public consumption, for one could never be certain who might read one’s mail. Since the mother was about to offer a description of suffering on the part of the Jewish community that might well offend the authorities, it must have seemed safer to record this in a language legible only to Jewish eyes.

This woman contended that life in Fustat had become insecure and dangerous; no Jews were entering or leaving the city. According to her report, slave soldiers (mamluks) were the instigators of this havoc; they were running amok throughout the city. The mamluks appear to have entirely destroyed one of the

quarters, having attacked homes, mills and oil presses. The damage was tremendous and the suffering great. The devastation of a house overlooking the Nile that belonged to a family they knew is described.


3)This woman was anxious to be granted a divorce from her miserly and miserable husband.

This petition began with an appropriate blessing.

By the fourth line, the woman petitioner had already gotten down to business At this point, she informed the Nagid ( Leader) Masliah that his “maidservant”  has been with him (her husband) for fifteen years. In all this time, not once has she received anything from him. In her opinion, the most extreme example of his miserliness was the fact that he wouldn’t even give her the silver coin required for payment to enter the bathhouse. This was unthinkable . . .. A husband was required to provide his wife with the entrance fee, as the bathhouse was essential to her health, ritually, physically and psychologically.

Cairo was actually famous for its bathhouses. . . . The bathhouse  was private, and once the women passed through its portals, it might have been one of the only places where they were not subject to male supervision, criticism or limitations. Essentially, preventing one’s wife from entering these

premises verged on outright cruelty.

The husband under discussion was apparently extremely cruel to his wife.her husband never provided her with a headpiece, part of the basics for a woman’s wardrobe. He not only abused her, but beat her; if she complained about the fact that he was harming her, his response was equally cruel and cavalier: she could simply extricate herself from the marriage. All she had to do was to “ransom herself;” his intention was that she should give up her rights to her marriage contract. He would not object to giving her a divorce as long as it would not incur any expenses for him. Her outcry is heard loud and

clear in her letter as she called out to God to punish this man for his actions.

HAMELN, GLÜCKEL OF (Glückel von Hameln):

German diarist; born about 1646 in Hamburg; died 1724 at Metz. . .Glückel frequented the "ḥeder" and was made acquainted with the Holy Scriptures as well as with the German-Jewish literature of the time. When barely fourteen she was married to Ḥayyim Hameln, and settled in the small town of Hameln. After a year the young couple moved to Hamburg

Glückel had six sons and as many daughters, whom she brought up very carefully and married to members of the best Jewish families in Germany.

In 1689 Ḥayyim Hameln died, and Glückel was left with eight young children, the four others being already married. Besides their education she had to direct the large business left by her husband, which she managed with great success. at the age of fifty-four she married the wealthy banker Cerf Levy of Metz (1700). Unfortunately, one year after the marriage Levy lost both his own fortune and that of his wife, and Glückel, hitherto accustomed to opulence, became dependent upon her husband's children. After the death of Levy (1712) she settled in the home of her daughter Esther, wife of Moses Krumbach-Schwab of Metz. Here she passed the last years of her life, occupied with the writing of her memoirs.

Glückel left an autobiography consisting of seven books written in Judæo-German  . She often adds homiletic and moral stories of some length, taken partly from Midrash and Talmud, partly from Judæo-German books, which evidence wide reading.

 Excerpt from Diary: 

IN MY great grief and for my heart's ease I begin this book the year of Creation 5451 [1690-91] —God soon rejoice us and send us His redeemer!

I began writing it, dear children, upon the death of your good father, in the hope of distracting my soul from the burdens laid upon it, and the bitter thought that we have lost our faithful shepherd.

...The kernel of the Torah is, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' But in our days we seldom find it so, and few are they who love their fellow-men with all their heart—on the contrary, if a man can contrive to ruin his neighbour, nothing pleases him more.

The best thing for you, my children, is to serve God from your heart, without falsehood or sham, not giving out to people that you are one thing while, God forbid, in your heart you are another. . .

Moreover, put aside a fixed time for the study of the Torah, as best you know how .3 Then diligently go about your business, for providing your wife and children a decent livelihood is likewise a mitzvah—the command of God and the duty of man. We should, I say, put ourselves to great pains for our children, for on this the world is built, yet we must understand that if children did as much for their parents, the children would quickly tire of it.

A bird once set out to cross a windy sea with its three fledglings. The sea was so wide and the wind so strong, the father bird was forced to carry his young, one by one, in his strong claws. When he was half-way across with the first fledgling the wind turned to a gale, and he said, «My child, look how I am struggling and risking my life in your behalf. When you are grown up, will you do as much for me and provide for my old age?» The fledgling replied, «Only bring me to safety, and when you are old I shall do everything you ask of me.» Whereat the father bird dropped his child into the sea, and it drowned, and he said, «So shall it be done to such a liar as you.>> Then the father bird returned to shore, set forth with his second fledgling, asked the same question, and receiving the same answer, drowned the second child with the cry, «You, too, are a liar!» Finally he set out with the third fledgling, and when he asked the same question, the third and last fledgling replied, «My dear father, it is true you are struggling mightily and risking your life in my behalf, and I shall be wrong not to repay you when you are old, but I cannot bind myself. This though I can promise: when I am grown up and have children of my own, I shall do as much for them as you have done for me.>> Whereupon the father bird said, «Well spoken, my child, and wisely; your life I will spare and I will carry you to shore in safety.>>

Above all, my children, be honest in money matters, with both Jews and Gentiles, lest the name of Heaven be profaned. If you have in hand money or goods belonging to other people, give more care to them than if they were your own, so that, please God, you do no one wrong.

The Maid of Ludomir
A semi-legendary figure, reputed to have been one of the few women in Hasidism who functioned as a fully-fledged spiritual master (Tzaddik or Rebbe).
Hannah Rachel, the Maid, was the only daughter of Monesh Verbermacher, an educated and well-to-do Jew in the Volhynian town of Ludomir (Vladimir-Volynskiy). From an early age she was distinguished not only because of her beauty but also–unusually for a girl–by dint of her ardor in prayer and remarkable aptitude for scholarship.
Her betrothal to a beloved childhood playmate, which entailed the customary separation of bride and groom until the wedding, distressed the Maid and led her to withdraw from society. Her distress was exacerbated by the sudden death of her mother, following which she became a recluse, never leaving her room except to visit her mother’s grave.
On one of her visits to the cemetery she fell into unconsciousness, which was followed by a prolonged and mysterious illness. When she recovered she claimed to have been given “a new and elevated soul.” She broke off her engagement and declared that she would never marry, having “transcended the world of the flesh.”
From then on she adopted the full rigor of male ritual observance and absorbed herself, like a male pietist, in intense study and prayer. She became known as the “holy Maid” or the “Virgin” of Ludomir, and acquired a reputation for miracle working. Men and women, including rabbis and scholars, flocked to the beit midrash in Ludomir which functioned as her hasidic court. She would grant blessings on request and deliver her weekly hasidic teaching at the third Sabbath meal, as was customary among male Tzaddik im.
While her popular following grew, the male leadership of the movement disapproved, viewing her activities as a pathological manifestation of the powers of evil and impurity. Pressure was put on the Maid to abandon the practice of Tzaddikism and to resume her rightful female role in marriage. Following the personal intervention of Mordecai of Chernobyl (1770-1837)–the most eminent tzaddik of the region–she reluctantly agreed to marry, but the marriage was never consummated and soon ended in divorce. She married again, but divorced once more, apparently remaining a “maiden” to the end of her life.
However, her marriages did have the desired effect of putting an abrupt end to her career as a Rebbe. She eventually immigrated to the Holy Land, a remote corner of nineteenth-century Hasidism

 Nehama Leibovitz- the Rashi of our times. I had thee honor to be in her classes as a student and to also arrange for her to lecture for one of my programs when I ran the Histadrut's Center for Jewish Studies in Israel.
Nehama Leibowitz was born in 1905 in Riga, Latvia, to Mordechai and Freyda Leibowitz. She grew up in a home filled with Jewish and general culture, competing in her father’s Bible quizzes against her brother, Yeshayahu, who later became a famous and controversial Israeli philosopher.( Whom I also hosted as a guest lecturer). In 1919 the family moved to Berlin, where Leibowitz taught, wrote articles and studied for her doctorate, , ,  she finished her doctorate they fulfilled their dream and moved to Israel (c. 1930).
She traveled around the country on buses, in taxis and on airplanes teaching Bible and commentaries to teachers, new immigrants, soldiers, kibbutzniks and thousands of ordinary people. She received a professorship at Tel-Aviv University in 1968 and was awarded several prizes in the course of her life, including the prestigious Israel Prize in the Field of Education (1956).
She was a deeply religious person, but of the sort that emphasized halakhah and Torah study, moral responsibility, ethics and humanistic focus, rather than ecstatic and mystical dimensions, which she feared might prove shallow or transient. Thus she had little to do with Hasidism or Kabbalah.
Leibowitz also opposed the ideas of feminism and the feminist movement. . . While she upheld equal pay and rights for women, Leibowitz did not consciously desire to change the balance of designated gender roles within traditional Jewish society. Leibowitz refused to acknowledge that she was a revolutionary in any way; but ultimately her unique achievements changed Orthodox society’s perception of a woman’s capabilities and undoubtedly opened doors for the female Torah scholars who followed; this itself is proof of the power of gradual, evolutionary change.

Women as Shapers of Classic Judaism:

Women as  Shapers of Classic Judaism:

 3rd in series on Women in Judaism

Classic Judaism may be defined as the Judaism of the past two  thousand years, which took shape from the time of the building of the Second Temple through the Talmudic period, an era of a thousand years. It is the development of the Oral Torah, Torah shb’al peh, that defined Judaism, as distinct from Biblical literalist movements.

Women have been important, if overlooked players on the scene

I From the Maccabean period- Two images of Jewish women:

A)   The mother as defender of the faith

Hannah and her Seven Sons,

HANNAH AND HER SEVEN SONS,  II *Maccabees , Chapter 7, of seven brothers who were seized along with their mother by *Antiochus IV Epiphanes, presumably shortly after the beginning of the religious persecutions in 167/166 B.C.E., and commanded to prove their obedience to the king by partaking of swine's flesh. Actually, the mother is anonymous, as are the sons. Found in multiple sources, but name “ Hannah” is not given till middle ages!


2 Maccabees 7

1 It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and thongs, to partake of unlawful swine's flesh. 20 The mother was especially admirable and worthy of honorable memory  . . "I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you. 23 Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of humankind and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws." . . To the youngest son:: "My son, have pity on me. I carried you nine months in my womb, and nursed you for three years, and have reared you and brought you up to this point in your life, and have taken care of you. 28 I beg you, my child, to look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. And in the same way the human race came into being. 29 Do not fear this butcher, but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death, so that in God's mercy I may get you back again along with your brothers."


Two key elements appear in this account that are new to the 2nd Temple period, 1) punishment of the wicked in the next life 2) Reward of the righteous in the next life and the resurrection of the dead.. The mother figure is now the exemplar of that view/ It is this new belief, not found in pre-exilic Bible, that gives new found power to the Jews, and later, Christians.

b)The woman as defender of the people: Modelled after Esther, Deborah, the Jewish woman as powerful, dangerous, and seductive.. Yehudit( certainly a play on Yehudah)

Book of Judith- probably after time of the Macabees. Her figure may have been inspired the reign of Queen Salome Alexandra. Set in the time of Nebuchadnezzar and the saving of one of the cities from destruction at the hands of his key generals,Holfernes.


She was beautiful in appearance, and was very lovely to behold. Her husband Manasseh had left her gold and silver, men and women slaves, livestock, and fields; and she maintained this estate. 8 No one spoke ill of her, for she feared God with great devotion. (First, she cries out to God in prayer, and then marches out to carry out the redemption. The Judean generals are ready to quit and surrender, but she , like Deborah, springs into action.)

Ch 10 10 This done, Judith went out accompanied by her maid, …, an advance unit of Assyrians intercepted them,… I am on my way to see Holofernes, the general of your army, to give him trustworthy information

To the general:  I, your servant, shall go out every night into the valley and pray to God to let me know when they have committed their sin.18 I shall then come and tell you, so that you can march out with your whole army; and none of them will be able to resist you.19 I shall be your guide right across Judaea until you reach Jerusalem; there I shall enthrone you in the very middle of the city.

11 He said to Bagoas, the officer in charge of his personal affairs, 'Go and persuade that Hebrew woman you are looking after to come and join us and eat and drink in our company.12 We shall be disgraced if we let a woman like this go without seducing her. If we do not seduce her, everyone will laugh at us!'… indeed since the first day he saw her, he had been waiting for an opportunity to seduce her.17 'Drink then!' Holofernes said. 'Enjoy yourself with us!'…. 20 Holofernes was so enchanted with her that he drank far more wine than he had drunk on any other day in his life.. . .2 and Judith was left alone in the tent with Holofernes who had collapsed wine-sodden on his bed. ( Like Sisera, from milk, he from wine)  Standing beside the bed, Judith  said, 'Make me strong today, Lord God of Israel!' 8 Twice she struck at his neck with all her might, and cut off his head.

At the end, we have a song of triumph, like that of Deborah

(Note: Jewish woman as temptress is a theme in Protocols of the Elders of Zion.)

II. The period of the Jewish Kingdom-or Queendom, under the Hasmoneans

Jewish women in position of power

a)    Establishing Pharisaic Judaism as the dominant force:

Salome Alexandra or Alexandra of Jerusalem (Hebrew: שְׁלוֹמְצִיּוֹן אלכסנדרה, Shelomtzion or Shlom Tzion; 141–67 BCE),[1] was one of only two women to rule over Judea (the other being Athaliah). The wife of Aristobulus I, and afterward of Alexander Jannaeus,[2] she was the last queen of Judea, and the last ruler of ancient Judea to die as the ruler of an independent kingdom from 76 to 67 BCE. Of key importance: her brother is reputed to have been Shimon ben Shetach, mentioned in Pirke Avoth as the leader two generations before Hillel, and leader of the Pharisee movement. This would indicate that the Pharisaic movement, the precursor to classic Judaism, was by now established as a dominant force, so that one of their own could marry into Hasmonaean royalty.

According to archaeologist Kenneth Atkinson, “There are also some passages in the Talmud that say, during her husband’s reign( Alexander), that she protected Pharisees and hid Pharisees from his wrath.”[8] On his deathbed Alexander entrusted the government, not to his sons, but to his wife, with the advice to make peace with the Pharisees.[9]As a result, she was able to get the Pharisee camp to reconcile with the royalty.They, in turn,backed her claim to title of Queen –despite the Rabbinic interpretation of “ You shall establish a King, not a Queen”.. The Pharisees now became not only a tolerated section of the community, but actually the ruling class. Salome Alexandra installed as high priest her eldest son, Hyrcanus II, a man who was wholly supportive of the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin was reorganized according to their wishes and became a supreme court for the administration of justice and religious matters, the guidance of which was placed in the hands of the Pharisees.

Rabbinical sources refer in glowing terms to the prosperity which Judea enjoyed under Salome Alexandra. The Haggadah (Ta'anit, 23a; Sifra, ḤuḲḲat, i. 110) relates that during her rule, as a reward for her piety, rain fell only on Sabbath (Friday) nights; so that the working class suffered no loss of pay through the rain falling during their work-time. The fertility of the soil was so great that the grains of wheat grew as large as kidney beans; oats as large as olives; and lentils as large as gold denarii… the rewards of obedience to the Law, and what piety could achieve.[10]

 The Gemara relates: King Yannai said to his wife before he died: Do not be afraid of the Pharisees [perushin], and neither should you fear from those who are not Pharisees, i.e., the Sadducees; rather, beware of the hypocrites who appear like Pharisees, as their actions are like the act of the wicked Zimri and they request a reward like that of the righteous Pinehas (see Numbers, chapter 25).

Judaism as a religion that spreads in the Greco-Roman and middle east because of the status of woman and the behavior of their males.

A Jewish Queen who was a convert: The defender of Marital purity

Attraction of Judaism:

For males, this required circumcision, a painful surgery that must have discouraged many a man.  Gentile women who joined a synagogue were required only to undergo a ritual bath, and therefore converted to Judaism in much greater numbers than did men. The importance of women proselytes in the growth of Hellenistic Judaism is obvious.  Josephus says that in 66 CE most of the women of Damascus were Judaean, but their husbands were not.62  Although the evidence is mostly anecdotal, we may assume that in such “mixed” families most children would grow up to be favorably disposed toward Judaism.   Paul‟s companion Timothy (Timotheos meant, literally, “Honorer of God”), for example, seems to have found his way to the synagogue because his mother was Judaean, evidently having proselytized while her husband remained a Hellene.   (}

Helena of Adiabene (Hebrew: הלני מלכת חדייב) (d. ca. 50-56 CE) was a Median queen of Adiabene (modern-day Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan) and Edessa (modern-day Urfa, Turkey) and the wife of Monobaz I, her brother, and Abgarus V. …Helena became a convert to Judaism about the year 30 CE.

Helena of Adiabene was noted for her generosity; during a famine at Jerusalem in 45-46 CE she sent to Alexandria for corn (grain) and to Cyprus for dried figs  "Helena had a golden candlestick made over the door of the Temple. . . when the sun rose its rays were reflected . . . the time for reading the Shema'.[9] She also made a golden plate on which was written the passage of the Pentateuch[10] which the rabbi read when a wife suspected of infidelity was brought before him.

The strictness with which she observed the Jewish law is instanced in the Talmud: Nazirite vow for 14 years.  'The sukkah [erected for the Feast of Tabernacles] of Queen Helena in Lydda was higher than twenty ells. Helena moved to Jerusalem, where she is buried. ( Tomb has been discovered)

III. Rabbinic Judaism:The Mothers of Jewish Law:

a)    IMMA SHALOM (late first and early second century C.E.), wife of *Eliezer b. Hyrcanus, and according to the aggadic tradition of the Babylonian Talmud, also the sister of Rabban *Gamaliel of Jabneh.

Talmudic tale about the excommunication of R. Eliezer at the hands of Rabban Gamaliel and his colleagues. The oven of Achnai, whereby Rabbinic authority is established over direct prophecy form God.!  (BM 59b)  Imma Shalom was not only R. Eliezer's wife but also Rabban Gamaliel's sister, both key figures of the story. After Eliezer's excommunication, Imma Shalom did not permit her husband to prostrate himself in the supplications after the *Amidah (to prevent him praying for his humiliation and so bring punishment upon his excommunicators). On one occasion she found her husband prostrating himself, and exclaimed: "You have killed my brother!" And indeed they immediately blew the shofar to proclaim the death of the nasi Gamaliel. When Eliezer asked how she knew this, she replied: "I have a tradition from my paternal grandfather's house; 'all gates are locked except the gate of wounded feelings.'"

The second aggadah (Shab. 116a–b) tells of a certain "philosopher" in Imma Shalom's vicinity, who served as a judge and who had the reputation of not accepting bribes. She and her brother contrived a lawsuit, ostensibly in connection with the division of their patrimony, inherited from their father, Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel I, for the purpose of embarrassing this judge, and showing up his true character. Imma Shalom sent him a golden lamp before submitting the case to him. He ruled that the patrimony should be divided equally. Gamaliel said to him: "In our Torah it says that where there is a son the daughter does not inherit," to which he retorted: "Since the day you were exiled from your land, the law of Moses has been superseded by a new law" (Mss. read "the law of the Evangelium"), "and there it states that a son and daughter inherit equally." The next day Gamaliel sent him a Libyan ass. When they subsequently came before him he said to them: "I have looked at the continuation of the Evangelium and it states there: 'I did not come to subtract from the law of Moses but to add to it,' and there it states that the daughter does not inherit where there is a son." Imma Shalom exclaimed: "Let thy light shine forth like a lamp"; whereupon Gamaliel retorted: "An ass came and kicked over the lamp."

The third aggadah relates that Imma Shalom and Eliezer had very beautiful children (Ned. 20b). When asked the reason for this, she attributed this to her husband's great modesty in their marital relations, which she described in some detail.( kafaoh Shed)  Kallah (1:1) and Kallah Rabbati (1:15).

Best known: Bruriah

Daughter of the martyr R. Hananiah ben Teradion, and wife of R. Meïr; born in the first quarter of the second century, …possessed a personality corresponding to the emergencies of the troublous times following upon the failure of Bar Kokba's insurrection. They betray intellectual qualities and attainments as well as womanly tenderness and stanch virtues. It is said that she studied three hundred Talmudic subjects daily (Pes. 62b), and R. Judah endorsed a decision of hers, on a question about clean and unclean, in which she went counter to the view of "the wise" ("ḥakamim") (Tosef., Kelim, B. M. i. 6).

Berakhot 10 a  There were these hooligans in Rabbi Meir’s neighborhood who caused him a great deal of anguish. Rabbi Meir prayed for God to have mercy on them, that they should die. Rabbi Meir’s wife, Berurya, said to him: What is your thinking? On what basis do you pray for the death of these hooligans? Do you base yourself on the verse, as it is written: “Let sins cease from the land” (Psalms 104:35), which you interpret to mean that the world would be better if the wicked were destroyed? But is it written, let sinners cease?” Let sins cease, is written. One should pray for an end to their transgressions, not for the demise of the transgressors themselves.Moreover, go to the end of the verse, where it says: “And the wicked will be no more.” If, as you suggest, transgressions shall cease refers to the demise of the evildoers, how is it possible that the wicked will be no more, i.e., that they will no longer be evil? Rather, pray for God to have mercy on them, that they should repent, as if they repent, then the wicked will be no more, as they will have repented. Rabbi Meir saw that Berurya was correct and he prayed for God to have mercy on them, and they repented.

She was also renowned for her sharp wit and often caustic jibes. The Talmud relates[6] that she once chastised Jose the Galilean, when he asked her "By which way do we go to Lod?" claiming that he could have instead said "By which to Lod?" (two Hebrew words rather than four), and thereby kept the Talmudic injunction not to speak to women unnecessarily Eruvin 53b

Sudden Death of Her Two Sons.

Beruriah is best known in connection with the touching story of the sudden death of her two sons on the Sabbath, while their father was at the house of study. …reminded him of his answer to her question about the return of a treasure entrusted to one for safe-keeping, adding the verse from Job (i. 21): "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord( A late source, Yalkut, Mishle, maybe folklore).


The Bruriah scandal: is connected a legend mentioned by Rashi ('Ab. Zarah 18b). To explain R. Meïr's flight to Babylonia, the commentator relates the following:

"Once Beruriah scoffed at the rabbinical saying, 'Women are light-minded' (Ḳid. 80b), and her husband warned her that her own end might yet testify to the truth of the words. To put her virtue to the test, he charged one of his disciples to endeavor to seduce her. After repeated efforts she yielded, and then shame drove her to commit suicide. R. Meïr, tortured by remorse, fled from his home."

This is probably a rumor spread by someone who was opposed to women’s education. Maybe even Rashi himself- who had only daughters!!

The rabbis praised pious women such as Kimhit, the mother of several high priests, who took care not to uncover their hair even in the house (Yoma 47a; Lev. R. 20:11).

Finally-The woman as the supporter of the scholar-still the goal in Orthodox circles:

Rachel the daughter of Kalba Sabua, who loves Akiba, the shepherd, is disinherited, and supports him for 24 years of study.

Rabbi Akiva became betrothed to the daughter of bar Kalba Savua. When bar Kalba Savua heard about their betrothal, he took a vow prohibiting her from eating all of his property. Despite this, she went ahead and married Rabbi Akiva.

In the winter they would sleep in a storehouse of straw, and Rabbi Akiva would gather strands of straw from her hair. He said to her: If I had the means I would place on your head a Jerusalem of Gold, a type of crown. Elijah the prophet came and appeared to them as a regular person and started calling and knocking on the door. He said to them: Give me a bit of straw, as my wife gave birth and I do not have anything on which to lay her. Rabbi Akiva said to his wife: See this man, who does not even have straw. We should be happy with our lot, as we at least have straw to sleep on.

She said to him: Go and be a student of Torah. He went and studied Torah for twelve years before Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua. At the completion of the twelve years, he was coming home when he heard from behind his house that one wicked person was saying to his wife: Your father behaved well toward you. He was right to disinherit you. One reason is that your husband is not similar to you, i.e., he is not suitable for you. And furthermore, he has left you in widowhood in his lifetime all these years. She said to him: If he listens to me, he should be there for another twelve years. Rabbi Akiva said: Since she has given me permission through this statement, I will go back and study more. He turned back and went to the study hall, and he was there for another twelve years.

Eventually he came back accompanied by 24,000 pairs of students. Everyone went out to greet him, as he was by then a renowned teacher, and she too arose to go out to greet him. That wicked person said to her: And to where are you going? As she was excessively poor, she was not dressed in a grand manner, as fit for the wife of one so esteemed. She said to him: “A righteous man regards the life of his beast” (Proverbs 12:10); he knows that I am in this state as a result of my dedication to him. She came to present herself before Rabbi Akiva, but the Sages tried to fend her off, as they were unaware of her identity. He said to them: Leave her. Both my Torah knowledge and yours are hers. When bar Kalba Savua heard that the famous man was his son-in-law, he came before halakhic authorities and requested the dissolution of his vow, and it was dissolved.