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Distributed for Brandeis University Press

Feminist Rereadings of Rabbinic Literature

This book offers a fresh perspective on classical Jewish literature by providing a gender-based, feminist reading of rabbinical anecdotes and legends. Viewing rabbinical legends as sources that generate perceptions about women and gender, Inbar Raveh provides answers to questions such as how the Sages viewed women; how they formed and molded their characterization of them; how they constructed the ancient discourse on femininity; and what the status of women was in their society. Raveh also re-creates the voices and stories of the women themselves within their sociohistorical context, moving them from the periphery to the center and exposing how men maintain power. Chapter topics include desire and control, pain, midwives, prostitutes, and myth. A major contribution to the fields of literary criticism and Jewish studies, Raveh’s book demonstrates the possibility of appreciating the aesthetic beauty and complexity of patriarchal texts, while at the same time recognizing their limitations.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Sylvia Barack Fishman • Introduction • 1. BACK TO THE BREAST • An Aspect of Feminine Sexuality in the Imagined World of the Sages • 2. DESIRE AND DOMINION • 3. "THEY LET THE CHILDREN LIVE" • The Midwives at a Political Crossroads • 4. JUDITH, WIFE OF R. HIYYA • A Story of Women’s Pain • 5. THE VOICE OF DOUBT • The Wife of R. Simeon ben Halafta and the Uncanny • 6. OPEN TO CONQUEST • Prostitution—Temptations and Responses • 7. THE MYTH IN THE ATTIC • The Call of the Deep • 8. THE CREATION OF WOMAN • Men Are from Babylon; Women Are from the Land of Israel • Notes • Bibliography • Index

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