A Medieval Jewish Scholar’s “Feminist” Reading of a Talmudic Passage

Written in a mixture of Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic (a Jewish dialect of Arabic written in Hebrew characters), a fragment found in the Cairo Genizah and authored by an anonymous medieval scholar presents a decidedly modern reading of the decidedly un-feminist opening of the talmudic tractate Kiddushin, which begins “A woman is acquired in three ways.” Zvi Stampfer writes:

Why use the passive voice and not simply say “a man betroths a woman in three possible ways”? . . . . The Talmud states that the focus on the woman is to emphasize that the marriage cannot take place without her will. Our commentator takes this one step further and offers an interpretation that can be seen as a “feminist reading” of the Talmud.

According to this interpretation, the Jewish sages taught that in the marriage contract the groom seems active and the bride passive, while in fact the opposite is the case. The groom’s role in the ceremony is to satisfy the bride’s will and to act accordingly. This is why the groom gives his bride a ring (or equivalent). Perhaps our anonymous commentator sought to advise young couples in how they should interact and respect each other throughout their married life.

It is fascinating to see a medieval scholar espousing such an apparently “modern” approach to the relationship between husband and wife. The concept that women have their own will, separate from that of their husbands—a will that men should listen to and respect—is relatively uncommon in medieval literature. Furthermore, our medieval scholar undertook a creative re-reading of the traditional Jewish text. While maintaining a respect for its authority, he used it as a [basis] for reading his ideas on the relations between the sexes into the very texts that seem to posit the opposite.

Read more at Cambridge University Library

More about: Cairo Geniza, Feminism, Jewish marriage, Religion & Holidays, Talmud

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security