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Women Join Talmud Celebration

As the daf yomi cycle of Talmud learning concludes this week, a Jerusalem study group breaks a barrier

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A Different Voice

When a woman learns the art of Torah chanting, she realizes she is part of a new religious tradition—as well as a very old, sacred one

This week, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to gather in various venues around the world for what’s being billed as “the largest celebration of Jewish learning in over 2,000 years.” The biggest American event, in New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium on Aug. 1, is expected to fill most of the arena’s 90,000 seats. The occasion is the siyum hashas, the conclusion of a cycle of Talmud study first proposed by Meir Shapiro, rabbi of Lublin, at the First World Congress of World Agudath Israel—an umbrella organization representing ultra-Orthodox Jewry—in Vienna in 1923. Shapiro’s idea was that Jews around the world could build unity by studying the same page of Talmud at the same time. If a Jew learns one page per day, known as daf yomi, it will take almost seven and a half years to complete all 2,711 pages of the Babylonian Talmud. This week’s siyum hashas marks the conclusion of the 12th cycle of daf yomi study since 1923.

Historically, one group of Jews has often been limited in access to this text: women. The ultra-Orthodox world does not, for the most part, approve of women studying Talmud; as one rabbi representative of this view, or hashkafa, explains, such scholarship is “not congruent with the woman’s role” in Judaism. But other ultra-Orthodox, as well as Modern Orthodox and non-Orthodox, communities are making it possible for women to become increasingly involved in daf yomi study.


While tens of thousands pack MetLife Stadium this week, the changing place of women in Talmud study will be apparent at a much smaller siyum hashas thousands of miles away: At Matan, an institute for women’s Torah study in Jerusalem, women will be the ones leading and participating in the gathering.

Matan was founded in 1988, and its raison d’etre is to give women skills and access to Jewish texts, with the goal of creating “the next link in the chain of Jewish history—Jewish women’s Torah leadership.” Matan does not have a specific affiliation, but many of its students identify with modern or centrist Orthodoxy. There are currently 3,000 women in full- and part-time programs at its seven branches around Israel, as well as 3,200 mother-daughter pairs who have participated in its North American bat mitzvah learning program. Matan has hosted a three-year advanced program in Talmud study since 1999; at the beginning of the last seven-and-a-half-year daf yomi cycle, Matan began its own daf yomi group—led by students from its Talmud program.

This week will mark the conclusion of the Matan group’s first daf yomi cycle. According to the director of development at Matan, Chaya Bina-Katz, about a hundred people are expected to attend Matan’s Aug. 2 siyum hashas, which will include a class, speeches, and a meal with students, teachers, families, rabbis, and community leaders.

Yardena Cope-Yossef, the initiator and leader of Matan’s daf yomi group, says that for her, studying Talmud is like having a “wonderful deep ocean to dive into and be inside, not in the sense that one will drown but the opposite feeling: that of being in the depths, and a part of something greater than yourself in the learning process.”

Cope-Yossef has been studying Talmud, which she calls “the most fundamental body of learning of the Jewish people,” since her high-school days at the Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago in the early 1980s. She asked one of the rabbis, a Holocaust survivor named Rabbi Juzint, to sit and learn with her at Ida Crown, where Talmud was not yet taught to girls. She was surprised that he readily agreed, though actual learning was just a few minutes during breakfast break. When she moved to Israel, she began more serious study, inviting a rabbi to teach a private class along with the women with whom she shared an apartment. She went on to study at Matan, and at Hebrew University, at a more advanced level.

For Cope-Yossef, the existence of a women’s daf yomi group at Matan represents “the opportunity to be there, not to fight for what should be a rightful place.” She added that there may be “frustration” or “surprise,” in what one finds on any page of the Talmud but it is satisfying to be “part of something greater than yourself—part of an endeavor of Jewish people around the world and one that spans Jewish history.”

The image of women studying Talmud is still foreign to many ultra-Orthodox men. Debra Appelbaum, one of the members of the Matan group, said in an email that while traveling “a number of us had experiences, whether on the plane or on the New York subway, of men ‘regular’ to daf yomi either doing a second glance or asking to borrow our Gemara—usually, more of the former,” when they saw the women learning the text.

There are women all over the globe who study the daily page either by themselves or with a partner. Nechama Horwitz studied with her father when she was growing up and had female Talmud teachers at both the Stern Hebrew High School in Philadelphia and the Drisha High School Summer Program in New York; she has been learning daf yomi since her seminary days at Midreshet Lindenbaum. “Daf yomi has been a source of continuity during a period of my life in which I’ve gone through some important changes and growth, including finishing my B.A., M.A., making aliyah, and getting married,” she wrote in an email.

But the idea of a group of women teachers and students learning the entire Talmud is still unusual. The women in Matan’s daf yomi group are not interested in making a statement about female abilities, or pulling a stunt; they’re interested in learning the text, studying Torah lishma, for its own sake. Still, Matan chancellor Malka Bina noted that the siyum hashas has special meaning for the women involved: “This is a historic day for Jewish women’s scholarship,” said Bina. “Women have once again proven that they are capable of the same learning qualities as men.”


Elizabeth Shanks Alexander, a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia and author of a forthcoming book about gender and mitzvot, finds the Matan group’s commitment “personally intriguing.” Alexander studies Talmud every week with the spiritual head of the Yeshiva of Virginia in Richmond and says she admires the “patience with patriarchy” that women who “inhabit the piety of the Talmud” in traditional communities have.

Jacob J. Schacter, a Modern Orthodox rabbi and professor of Jewish history and Jewish thought at the Center for the Jewish Future at Yeshiva University, commended the Matan group’s efforts: “One of the blessings of our generation is the growing number of opportunities granted women for serious Torah study,” he wrote in an email. “Completing daf yomi is an extraordinary achievement for women, as well as for men.” At Yeshiva University there is a graduate program in Advanced Talmudic Studies at Stern College for Women, a two-year program for women to study Talmud; the first woman to receive a doctorate in Talmud from Y.U. completed her degree last summer. Women have been receiving doctorates in Talmud from the liberal seminaries, as well as universities in America and in Israel, since 1982, when Judith Hauptman, currently chair of the Department of Talmud and Rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary, became the first woman to earn the degree.

The Modern Orthodox world is expanding the places where women study and teach Talmud, in single-sex and co-ed classes and forums. At an Aug. 6 Modern Orthodox siyum hashas event in New York, both men and women will speak, including Matan’s Cope-Yossef; Matan is one of the event’s co-sponsors.

There are even some in the ultra-Orthodox world who would agree that women should study Talmud. The late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, wrote that women should be supported and encouraged to study Talmud, both on the strength of the example of the historical figure of the learned Bruria—the daughter of Rabbi Hanina ben Teradion and wife of Rabbi Meir, cited as an authority in passages of the Talmud itself—and because it is important for women as well as men to understand the basis of Jewish law and the oral Torah. Aaron Herman, the rabbi who serves as principal of the Tzohar Seminary for Chassidus and the Arts in Pittsburgh, and a follower of the late Rebbe, teaches the young women at his school “some Gemara,” the more complicated part of the Talmud, which expands and discusses the ideas found in the Mishna. “I would have felt remiss had I not done so,” he noted. “It would be my desire to teach even more Gemara if time allowed.”

Gail Labovitz, a rabbi who teaches in the Talmud department at the Conservative movement’s American Jewish University in Los Angeles, is also concerned about the role of Jewish women. “The opening of serious, strenuous Torah study to women is, in my opinion, one of the most significant social developments in the Jewish world in the last 50 or so years,” she said. Labovitz decided to study daf yomi for the first time after seeing a colleague give a siyum hashas during the previous cycle of learning; she encourages other women to follow suit. “Women have been shut out of the process by which Jewish texts and learning and practices were shaped for most of Jewish history,” she said. “As they become ever more versed in our textual tradition, however, it will be harder and harder to keep those doors shut.”


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Maggie Anton says:

I have been studying Talmud for 20 years, ever since Rachel Adler [now a rabbi and professor at HUC in Los Angeles] started a woman’s Talmud class in her home. It took us 5 years to complete Tractate Berachot, during which time I began the research that would eventually lead to writing my “Rashi’s Daughters” trilogy. My interest in women and Talmud continued unabated, and I began researching the few women mentioned in the Talmud itself. Prominent among them was Rav Hisda’s daughter, and whether one calls it coincidence or bashert, the pub date for my historical novel that bears her name is the same day that the current Daf Yomi cycle concludes.

    The Talmud like the Zohar and Kabbalistic books is a derivative of the primary text.

    The Tanach is part : Genealogy; Drama; Lawmaking and Interpretation; Jurisprudence; Romance; War Battles; Power Dynamics; Place Naming; Object Referencing; Chronology of Actual Events; Prophecy; Allegory; Metaphor ; VIP’s
    and Wise Counsel. Weighing up the relevance of the different pieces
    should be left to very wise souls. The Tanach is the most important book in the
    world. The 79,976 words of the Pentateuch, “Five Tools” in ancient Greek assume primacy. The “value” of all communications can be rated. Certain words carry more weight than others.

      The Talmud is Judaism’s
      holiest book (actually a collection of books). Its authority takes precedence
      over the Old Testament in Judaism. Evidence of this may be found in the Talmud
      itself, Erubin 21b (Soncino edition):

      “My son, be more careful
      in the observance of the words of the Scribes than in the words of the Torah
      (Old Testament).”

      Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby, in “Judaism on Trial,” quotes Rabbi Yehiel ben Joseph:

      “Further, without the Talmud, we
      would not be able to understand passages in the Bible … God has handed this
      authority to the sages and tradition is a necessity as well as scripture. The
      Sages also made enactments of their own … anyone who does not study the
      Talmud cannot understand Scripture.”

      Second century Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai, one of
      Judaism’s very greatest rabbis and a creator of Kabbalah, sanctioned
      pedophilia—permitting molestation of baby girls even younger than three! He

      “A proselyte who is under
      the age of three years and a day is permitted to marry a priest.” 1

      Yebamoth 60b,

      Subsequent rabbis refer to
      ben Yohai’s endorsement of pedophilia as “halakah,” or binding Jewish
      law. 2 Yebamoth 60b

      Has Rabbi ben Yohai, child
      rape advocate, been disowned by modern Jews? Hardly. Today, in ben Yohai’s
      hometown of Meron, Israel, tens of thousands of
      orthodox and ultra-orthodox Jews gather annually for days and nights of singing
      and dancing in his memory.

      References to pedophilia abound in the Talmud. They occupy
      considerable sections of Treatises Kethuboth and Yebamoth and are
      enthusiastically endorsed by the Talmud’s definitive legal work, Treatise

      The Pharisees Endorsed Child Sex

      The rabbis of the Talmud are notorious for their legal
      hairsplitting, and quibbling debates. But they share rare agreement about their
      right to molest three year old girls. In contrast to many hotly debated issues,
      hardly a hint of dissent rises against the prevailing opinion (expressed in
      many clear passages) that pedophilia is not only normal but scriptural as well!
      It’s as if the rabbis have found an exalted truth whose majesty silences

      Because the Talmudic authorities who sanction pedophilia
      are so renowned, and because pedophilia as “halakah” is so explicitly
      emphasized, not even the translators of the Soncino edition of the Talmud
      (1936) dared insert a footnote suggesting the slightest criticism. They only
      comment: “Marriage, of course, was then at a far earlier age than now.” 3

      In fact, footnote 5 to Sanhedrin 60b rejects the right of
      a Talmudic rabbi to disagree with ben Yohai’s endorsement of pedophilia:

      “How could they [the rabbis], contrary to the opinion of R.
      Simeon ben Yohai, which has scriptural support, forbid the marriage of the
      young proselyte?” 4

      1 Yebamoth 60b, p. 402.

      2 Yebamoth 60b, p. 403.

      3 Sanhedrin 76a.

      4 In Yebamoth 60b, p. 404, Rabbi Zera disagrees that sex with girls under three
      years and one day should be endorsed as halakah.

    Talmudic Quotes:

    decisions of the Talmud are words of the living God. Jehovah himself asks the
    opinions of earthly rabbis when there are difficult affairs in heaven.

    Rabbi Menachen, Comments for the Fifth Book

    himself in heaven studies the Talmud, standing: he has such respect for that

    Tractate Mechilla/Me’ilah

    Johanan said: A heathen who studies the Torah deserves death, for it is
    written, Moses commanded us a law for an inheritance; it is our inheritance,
    not theirs. Then why is this not included in the Noachian laws? — On the
    reading morasha [an inheritance] he steals it; on the reading me’orasah
    [betrothed], he is guilty as one who violates a betrothed maiden, who is
    stoned. An objection is raised: R. Meir used to say. Whence do we know that even
    a heathen who studies the Torah is as a High Priest? From the verse, [Ye shall
    therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments:] which, if man do, he shall live
    in them. Priests, Levites, and Israelites are not mentioned, but men: hence
    thou mayest learn that even a heathen who studies the Torah is as a High
    Priest! — That refers to their own seven laws.

    Sanhedrin 59a

    communicate anything to a Goy about our religious relations would be equal to
    the killing of all Jews, for if the Goyim knew what we teach about them, they
    would kill us openly.

    Libbre David 37

    Jew should and must make a false oath when the Goyim asks if our books contain
    anything against them.

    The Book of Jore Dia 17

    beg Thee, O Lord, indict Thy wrath on the nations not believing in Thee, and
    not calling on Thy name. Let down Thy wrath on them and inflict them with Thy
    wrath. Drive them away in Thy wrath and crush them into pieces. Take away, O
    Lord, all bone from them. In a moment indict all disbelievers. Destroy in a moment
    all foes of Thy nation. Draw out with the root, disperse and ruin unworthy
    nations. Destroy them! Destroy them immediately, in this very moment!

    Prayer said on the eve of Passover (Pranajtis: Christianus in Talmudae Judeorum, quotations from:
    Synagoga Judaica)

    Feast of Tabernacles is the period when Israel triumphs over the other
    people of the world. That is why during this feast we seize the loulab and
    carry it as a trophy to show that we have conquered all other peoples, known as

    Zohar, Toldoth Noah

    the Messiah comes every Jew will have 2800 slaves.

    Simeon Haddarsen,
    fol. 56-D

    Lakish said: He who is observant of fringes will be privileged to be served by
    two thousand eight hundred slaves, for it is said, Thus saith the Lord of
    hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out
    of all the languages of the nations shall even take hold of the skirt of him
    that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, etc.

    Mas. Shabbath 31b

    the house of the Goy [Goy means unclean, and is the disparaging term for a
    non-Jew] one looks as on the fold of cattle.

    Tosefta, Tractate Erubin VIII

    a Jew has a Gentile in his clutches, another Jew may go to the same Gentile,
    lend him money and in turn deceive him, so that the Gentile shall be ruined.
    For the property of a Gentile, according to our law, belongs to no one, and the
    first Jew that passes has full right to seize it.

    Schulchan Aruch,
    Choszen Hamiszpat 156

    it can be proven that someone has given the money of Israelites to the Goyim, a
    way must be found after prudent consideration to wipe him off the face of the

    Choschen Hamm 388,

    will be the lost of Israel,
    whom the Holy One, blessed be He, has chosen from amongst the Goyim, of whom
    the Scriptures say: “Their work is but vanity, it is an illusion at which
    we must laugh; they will all perish when God visits them in His wrath.” At
    the moment when the Holy One, blessed be He, will exterminate all the Goyim of
    the world, Israel alone will subsist, even as it is written: “The Lord
    alone will appear great on that day!…

    Zohar, Vayshlah 177b

    the Jewish nation is the only nation selected by God, while all the remaining
    ones are contemptible and hateful.

    all property of other nations belongs to the Jewish nation, which consequently
    is entitled to seize upon it without any scruples. An orthodox Jew is not bound to observe principles of morality
    towards people of other tribes. He may act contrary to morality, if profitable
    to himself or to Jews in general.

    Jew may rob a Goy, he may cheat him over a bill, which should not be perceived
    by him, otherwise the name of God would become dishonoured.

    Schulchan Aruch, Choszen Hamiszpat, 348

    Hanina said: If a heathen smites a Jew, he is worthy of death; for it is
    written, And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no
    man, he slew the Egyptian. [Ex. 2:12] R. Hanina also said: He who smites an
    Israelite on the jaw, is as though he had thus assaulted the Divine Presence;
    for it is written, one who smiteth man [i.e. an Israelite] attacketh the Holy

    Sanhedrin 58b

    [In other words, if a non-Jew kills a Jew, the
    non-Jew can be killed. Punching an Israelite is akin to assaulting God. (But killing a non-Jew is NOT like
    assaulting God.]

    a goy killed a goy or a Jew he is responsible, but if a Jew killed a goy he is
    not responsible.

    Tosefta, Aboda Zara, VIII, 5

    it not been taught: “With respect to robbery — if one stole or
    robbed or [seized] a beautiful woman, or [committed] similar offences, if
    [these were perpetrated] by one Cuthean ["Cuthean" or
    "Samaritan" = goy/gentile/heathen/non-Jew] against another, [the
    theft, etc.] must not be kept, and likewise [the theft] of an Israelite by a
    Cuthean, but that of a Cuthean by an Israelite may be retained?” But if
    robbery is a capital offence, should not the Tanna have taught: He incurs a
    penalty? — Because the second clause wishes to state, “but that of a
    Cuthean by an Israelite may be retained,” therefore the former clause
    reads, “[theft of an Israelite by a Cuthean] must not be kept.” But
    where a penalty is incurred, it is explicitly stated, for the commencing clause
    teaches: “For murder, whether of a Cuthean by a Cuthean, or of an
    Israelite by a Cuthean, punishment is incurred; but of a Cuthean by an
    Israelite, there is no death penalty?”

    Sanhedrin 57a

    [Translation: A Jew may rob a Goy, but a Goy
    may not rob a Jew. If a Goy murders another Goy or a Jew, he should be killed,
    but a Jew will not be incur the death penalty for killing a non-Jew.]

    the Goyim by any means possible.

    Choshen Ha’mishpat

    who sheds the blood of the impious [non-Jews] is as acceptable to God as he who
    offers a sacrifice to God.

    Yalkut 245c

    of the Christians is a necessary sacrifice.

    Zohar, Shemoth

    Tob shebbe goyyim harog – Even the best of the
    Goyim (Gentiles) should be killed.

    Soferim 15, Rule 10

    [NB: Hoffman says, "This passage is not from the
    Soncino edition but is from the original Hebrew of the Babylonian Talmud as
    quoted by the 1907 Jewish Encyclopedia, published by Funk and Wagnalls and
    compiled by Isidore Singer, under the entry, 'Gentile,' (p. 617)." Another
    source says this passage is at Avodah Zara 26b. We have not been able to verify
    any of these references. It does not seem to be at Avodah Zara 26b of the
    Soncino edition.]

    is [the meaning of] Mount Sinai? The mountain
    whereon there descended hostility [sin'ah ] toward idolaters [non-Jews].

    Shabbath 89a

    same has been taught as follows: If the ox of an Israelite gores an ox of a
    Canaanite [non-Jew] there is no liability, but if an ox of a Canaanite gores an
    ox of an Israelite… the payment is to be in full, as it is said: He stood and
    measured the earth, he beheld and drove asunder the nations [Gentiles], and
    again, He shined forth from Mount Paran…implying that from Paran he exposed
    their money to Israel.

    Baba Kama 38a

    [Trans: The property of the Israelite is more
    valuable than that of the Gentile. Mount
    Paran refers to Deut.
    33:2, where God offered the law to the nations (Gentiles), who rejected it. The
    money of the Gentiles is available to the Israelites.]


    then should we not leave female animals alone with female heathens? —
    Said Mar ‘Ukba b. Hama:
    Because heathens frequent their neighbours’ wives, and should one by chance not
    find her in, and find the cattle there, he might use it immorally. You may also
    say that even if he should find her in he might use the animal, as a Master has
    said:Heathens prefer the cattle of Israelites to
    their own wives, for R. Johanan said: When the serpent came unto Eve he infused
    filthy lust into her.

    Avodah Zarah 22a-b

    who pours the oil of anointing over cattle or vessels is not guilty; if over
    heathens or the dead, he is not guilty. The law relating to cattle and vessels
    is right, for it is written: Upon the flesh of man [adam] shall it not be
    poured; and cattle and vessels are not man. Also with regard to the dead, [it
    is plausible] that he is exempt, since after death one is called corpse and not
    man. But why is one exempt in the case of heathens; are they not in the
    category of adam?—No, it is written: And ye my sheep, the sheep of my pasture,
    are adam [man]: Ye are called adam but heathens are not called ‘adam. But is it
    not written: And the persons [adam] were sixteen thousand? — Because it is
    used in opposition to cattle. But is it not written: And should I not have pity
    on Nineveh
    [that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons
    [adam]?–This too is used in opposition to cattle.

    Mas. K’rithoth 6b

    [This passage refers to anointing with oil.
    "Heathens," i.e., Gentiles, are not "adam" or man but are
    equated with cattle]

    objection was raised: And the persons were sixteen thousand!–This is due to
    [the mention of] cattle. Wherein are more than six-score thousand persons that
    cannot discern between their right and their left hand!–This is due [to the
    mention of] cattle.

    Mas. Yevamoth 61b

    [Again non-Jews are referred to as

    Israelites will have a part in the future world… The Goyim, at the end of the
    world will be handed over to the angel Duma and sent down to hell.

    Zohar, Shemoth, Toldoth Noah, Lekh-Lekha

    created the non-Jew in human form so that the Jew would not have to be served
    by beasts. The non-Jew is consequently an animal in human form, and condemned
    to serve the Jew day and night.

    Midrasch Talpioth,
    p. 225-L

    a Jew needs for his church ritual no goy is permitted to manufacture, but only
    a Jew, because this must be manufactured by human beings and the Jew is not
    permitted to consider the goyim as human beings.

    Schulchan Oruch,
    Orach Chaim 14, 20, 32, 33, 39

    Jew may do to a non-Jewess what he can do. He may treat her as he treats a
    piece of meat.

    Hadarine, 20, B;
    Schulchan Aruch, Choszen Hamiszpat 348

    Jew may violate but not marry a non-Jewish girl.

    Gad. Shas. 2:2

    boy-goy after nine years and one day old, and a girl after three years and one
    day old, are considered filthy.

    Pereferkowicz, Talmud t.v., p. 11

    stated: With reference to the Rabbinical statement that [legally] an Egyptian
    [Gentile] has no father, it must not be imagined that this is due to [the
    Egyptians'] excessive indulgence in carnal gratification, owing to which it is
    not known [who the father was], but that if this were known it is to be taken
    into consideration; but [the fact is] that even if this is known it is not
    taken into consideration…. Thus it may be inferred that the All Merciful
    declared their children to be legally fatherless, for [so indeed it is also]
    written, Whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the
    issue of horses.

    Yevamoth 98a

    A non-Jew is "legally fatherless," regardless of whether or not the
    father is known. Gentile children are essentially asses and horses, i.e.,

    daughters of the heathens] should be considered as in the state ofniddah [separation?] from their cradle…

    Avodah Zarah 36b

    decreed in connection with a heathen child that it should cause defilement by
    seminal emission so that an Israelite child should not become accustomed to
    commit pederasty with him…. It is therefore to be concluded that a heathen
    girl [communicates defilement] from the age of three years and one day, for
    inasmuch as she is then capable of the sexual act she likewise defiles by a
    flux. This is obvious!

    Avodah Zarah 36b-37a

    Joseph said: Come and hear! A maiden aged three years and a day may be acquired
    in marriage by coition [intercourse], and if her deceased husband’s brother
    cohabits with her, she becomes his. The penalty of adultery may be incurred
    through her; [if a niddah] she defiles him who has connection with her, so that
    he in turn defiles that upon which he lies, as a garment which has lain upon [a
    person afflicted with gonorrhoea].

    Sanhedrin 55b

    said: Pederasty with a child below nine years of age is not deemed as pederasty
    with a child above that. Samuel said: Pederasty with a child below three years
    is not treated as with a child above that.24 (24) I.e., Rab makes nine years the minimum; but if one
    committed sodomy with a child of lesser age, no guilt is incurred. Samuel makes
    three the minimum.

    Sanhedrin 54b

    said. It means this: When a grown-up man has intercourse with a little girl it
    is nothing, for when the girl is less than this [three years old], it is as if
    one puts the finger into the eye; but when a small boy has intercourse with a
    grown-up woman he makes her as ‘a girl who is injured by a piece of wood.’…

    Kethuboth 11b

    [This debate concerns whether or not someone
    is a virgin. Virginity is prized above all, such that it is believed that a
    girl under the age of three will regain her virginity, even if a man has had
    intercourse with her. (Fn. 7 says, in regard to putting "the finger into
    the eye": "I.e., tears come to the eye again and again, so does
    virginity come back to the little girl under three years.") Since
    virginity is prized above all, one could assume that this conclusion has
    allowed grown men to have sex with little girls with immunity. A grown-up woman
    is not deflowered by having sex with a small boy, however, since he is only
    like a "piece of wood."]

    was taught: R. Judah used to say, A man is bound to say the following three
    blessings daily: “[Blessed art thou...] who hast not made me a
    heathen,” “…. who hast not made me a woman”; and “… who
    hast not made me a brutish man.” R. Aha b. Jacob once overhead his son
    saying “[Blessed art thou...] who hast not made me a brutish man,”
    whereupon he said to him, “And this too!” Said the other, “Then
    what blessing should I say instead?” [He replied,]…h who hast not made
    me a slave.” And is not that the same as a woman? – a slave is more

    Menachoth 43b-44a

    "prayer" or "benediction" to be said by a Jewish man every
    day: "Thank God for not making me a Gentile, a woman or a slave."]

    not save Goyim in danger of death.

    no mercy to the Goyim.

    Hilkkoth Akum X1

    Jew is forbidden to drink from a glass of wine which a Gentile has touched,
    because the touch has made the wine unclean.

    Schulchan Aruch,
    Johre Deah, 122

    he who desires that none of his vows made during the year shall be valid, let
    him stand at the beginning of the year and declare, ‘Every vow which I may make
    in the future shall be null.1 [HIS VOWS ARE THEN INVALID,] PROVIDING THAT HE

    Nedarim 23b

    [Essentially the "Kol Nidre" prayer said every year at Yom Kippur.
    Fn. 1 says: "This may have provided a support for the custom of reciting
    Kol Nidre (a formula for dispensation of vows) prior to the Evening Service of
    the Day of Atonement (Ran.). The context makes it perfectly obvious that only
    vows, where the maker abjures benefit from aught, or imposes an interdict of
    his own property upon his neighbour, are referred to. Though the beginning of
    the year (New Year) is mentioned here, the Day of Atonement was probably chosen
    on account of its great solemnity. But Kol Nidre as part of the ritual is later
    than the Talmud, and, as seen from the following statement about R. Huna h.
    Hinena, the law of revocation in advance was not made public."]

Looks like Rav Ovadia Yosef was on the receiving end of pop star treatment. Good luck to all those who organised and attended this Siyum HaShas ceremony in Jerusalem and for the one tomorrow at MetLife stadium in New York tomorrow. Study is one of the things that has kept the Jewish people going through 3,500 years of trial and tribulations.

jan botnag says:

I have been studying Talmud informally with more liberal streams of Judaism for many years, and recently have studied at Mechon Hadar in New York, which has excellent intensive co-ed Talmud study. It refreshing to know that women’s Talmud study is taking a toehold, albeit small, among some Orthodox institutions. Thanks for an insightful and informative piece.


    It teaches Jews to look down on Gentiles as inferior to
    them. Don’t believe the Jews when they tell you that Judaism does not teach
    contempt for the Gentiles. They’re lying.

    The Jews say they honor “righteous Gentiles.” But “righteous
    Gentiles” for the Jews are not pious Christians. “Righteous Gentiles” for the
    Jews are those who promote Jews and their agendas – like George W Bush and
    Hilary Clinton.

    The Jews use disdainful Yiddish words amongst themselves to
    describe the Gentiles:

    “Goyim:” This is what the Jews derisively call Gentiles to
    indicate an “animal nature” of the Gentiles.

    “Schwartza:” This is what the Jews derisively call blacks to
    indicate an “ape like nature” of the blacks.

    “Shiksa:” This is what the Jews derisively call a Gentile
    woman to indicate a “carnal nature” of a Gentile woman.

    ~ This Yiddish word “shiksa” is derivative of the Hebrew
    word “shegitz” which refers to the carcass of a pig.

    “Goyisha Kup:” This is what the Jews derisively call another
    Jew who is stupid. “Goyisha Kup” means “Stupid Gentile Brain.”

    From whence comes this Jewish disdain for the Gentiles? It
    comes from the Talmud, a wicked book, which the Jews consider more
    authoritative than the Bible.


    THE TALMUD TEACHES: “When it comes to a Gentile in peace
    times, one may harm him indirectly, for instance, by removing a ladder after he
    had fallen into a crevice.”

    (Shulkan Arukh, Yoreh
    De ‘ah, 158).

    During the “Yom Kippur War,” when Jewish soldiers were still
    unclear of how to deal with Arab civilians, an exchange of letters between an
    Israeli soldier, “Moshe,” and a rabbi, “Rabbi Shimon Weiser,” ensued. These
    letters were published in the Yearbook of one of Israel’s
    most prestigious religious colleges, Midrashiyyat No’am, where many leaders of Israel’s
    National Religious Party have been educated.

    Soon the letters, under the title The Purity Of Weapons,
    became the standard policy of how Jews should treat Arab civilians when waging

    Here is an excerpt dated October 1973:

    — “Dear Rabbi. In one of our group’s discussions there was a
    debate about the ‘purity of weapons.’ [From Talmud]. We discussed whether it is
    permitted to kill unarmed men or even women and children.

    I could not arrive at a clear decision whether Arabs should
    be treated like the Amalekites, meaning that one is permitted to murder them
    until their remembrance is blotted out from under heaven. Or perhaps one should
    do as in a just war in which one kills only the soldiers?” —

    Reply of Rabbi Shimon Weiser:

    — “Dear Moshe. According to our sages, war for us is not a
    game but a vital necessity and only by this standard must we decide how to wage
    it. On the one hand we seem to learn that if a Jew murders a Gentile he is
    regarded as a murderer though no court has the right to punish him.

    But we find in the very same authorities saying: ‘The best
    of Gentiles – kill him; the best of snakes – dash out its brains.’ According to
    Tosafot, though during peace time it is forbidden to kill Gentiles, in a case
    that occurs in wartime, it is a mitzvah [religious duty] to kill them.

    According to Tractate Sanhedrin, all Gentiles during wartime
    are to be presumed to have evil intent. And thus the rule ‘Whoever comes to
    kill you, kill him first’ is to be applied. This is the rule of ‘purity of
    weapons’ according to Halakah. (Body of Jewish Law.)” —

jmm64 says:

Interestingly, I have seen numerous pictures of religious Jews dancing and celebrating the joys of being Jewish hanging in religious and non-religious Jewish households ( like the dancing Chassidim pictures, or like the youtube videos shown of Jews dancing ,young and old Jews, at the Siyum ). But, I have never seen any hanging pictures of non-religious Jews dancing and celebrating the joys of being Jewish in non-religious or religious Jewish households. What a shame….


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Women Join Talmud Celebration

As the daf yomi cycle of Talmud learning concludes this week, a Jerusalem study group breaks a barrier