It’s Unlikely That the Rabbis Tried to Undermine the Story of a Talmudic Heroine

Bruriah, the wife of the 2nd-century sage Rabbi Meir, is one of the Talmud’s most compelling female characters, and perhaps one its most compelling characters altogether. Praised repeatedly for her wisdom, erudition, and piety, she is depicted as contributing to the sages’ legal debates and conveying various teachings to her husband’s disciples. Yet according to the commentary of Rashi (France, 1040-1105), her life ended with adultery, suicide, and the flight of her disgraced husband to Babylonia, casting a pall on her legacy.

In a scholarly investigation of this last biographic item, the late Eitam Henkin—who was murdered by Hamas terrorist along with his wife in 2015—argues that it was added to Rashi’s commentary by an erring scribe, and is without basis:

Rashi’s words received little attention over the course of successive generations, and when they did, they were referenced for their halakhic implications. However, in our time, this has changed, with the Bruriah episode receiving much attention in both the Torah and academic worlds. In light of the shift in the status of women in Jewish society and, more broadly, in the modern world at large, the rare figure of Bruriah—the lone woman to attain a status parallel to the [rabbis of the 1st and 2nd centuries]—has received much attention, and even served as an educational model in the revolution in women’s Torah study of the past several decades.

It is widely claimed that the sages used this story to delegitimize women’s Torah study and Bruriah’s exceptional accomplishments in this area. Were this true, we would have found the Bruriah episode in the Talmud itself or in [the other anthologies of the teachings of the talmudic-era sages], and not in Rashi’s commentary alone. Not merely is this not the case, but precisely the reverse is true: the sages often praise Bruriah and learn from her behavior.

Another claim is that Rashi himself invented the Bruriah Episode, constructing a hybrid of motifs in talmudic literature, in order to establish that Bruriah’s end bears out the ruinous path on which she set out. It goes without saying that anyone versed in Rashi’s methodology and commentaries knows that this cannot be true.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Bruriah, Talmud, Women in Judaism

The Ugly Roots of Ireland’s Anti-Israel Policies

Prime Minister Varadkar’s meretricious messaging concerning the freeing of a kidnapped child is only one example of the Irish government’s perverse reaction to Hamas’s assault on Israel. Varadkar has accused the IDF of pursuing “something approaching revenge” in Gaza, and compared the Israeli war effort to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His parliament, meanwhile, came close to expelling the Israeli ambassador. Terry Glavin writes:

In a recent interview, . . . the retired Irish diplomat Niall Holohan put it this way: “We feel we have been victimized over the centuries. It’s part of our psyche—underneath it all we side with the underdog.” But there’s something else in the Irish psyche that’s impolite to mention in the comfy Dublin pubs and bistros. . . . Not a few of Ireland’s gallant and celebrated champions of the underdog, its heroes of Irish freedom, were vulgar anti-Semites and Nazi collaborators.

And in recent years, Irish Jews are commonly baited, harassed, and badgered every time there is some eruption in Israel involving Palestinian “resistance.”

The republican pamphleteer Arthur Griffith approved [of anti-Jewish agitation in Limerick in 1904], calling Jews “usurers and parasites.” Griffiths was one of the founders of Sinn Féin, in 1905, and he served as Sinn Féin’s president in 1911.

There was always a deep division in the Irish nationalist movement between Irish republicans who felt an affinity with the Jews owing to a shared history of dispossession and exile, and Catholic extremists who ranted and raved about Jews. Those Catholic shouters are still abroad, apparently unaware that for half a century, Catholic doctrine has established that anti-Semitism is a mortal sin.

Read more at National Post

More about: Anti-Semitism, Gaza War 2023, Ireland