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Wife Beating in Jewish Law II

 

I. Introduction

In a previous post on this topic, I critiqued aspects of an article by Prof. Naomi Graetz (link). I was rightly criticized for both brevity and errors. I submit the following as a more detailed and precise critique.

Of Graetz’s long article (link), I will be commenting only on her treatment of the positions of five authorities — four generally influential and one fairly obscure but influential on this issue. My contention is that regarding four of the five, Graetz misleadingly quoted, misrepresented and/or mistakenly summarized some of their words. I refer solely to this article (which is featured prominently on the web), having no knowledge of Graetz’s other writings nor whether she subsequently revised or retracted her statements in this essay.

II. Two Views

Before we get started, let me summarize the field we are approaching. There are two main views on this subject. As Graetz rightly notes, no Jewish authority permits wife beating without cause. They all forbid injuring your wife just like they forbid injuring your neighbor. The issue at hand is whether your wife receives the same treatment as your neighbor or better.

  1. According to some, any time you may injure your neighbor you may also injure your wife.
  2. According to others, your wife receives preferential treatment and you may never hurt her.

I fully admit to being uncomfortable with the first position because it yields the following result. You are, in theory, allowed to physically prevent someone from committing a sin. Therefore, according to this view, you may beat your wife to prevent her from sinning. This does not sit well with me but, as Graetz points out, the modern consensus follows the other view — that you may never hurt your wife. Be that as it may, my concern here is for accuracy and I will even be correcting Graetz’s incorrect attribution of the second view to an authority who really holds the first.

The five authorities I wish to discuss are the Rambam (Maimonides; R. Moses ben Maimon), R. Binyamin Ze’ev (of 16th century Corfu), the Mechaber (R. Joseph Karo), the Maharshal (R. Solomon Luria) and the Rema (R. Moses Isserles).

III. Rambam

The Rambam arguably holds the first view, which Graetz accurately shows. She also summarizes the commentarial debate over whether the Rambam allows a husband to physically prevent his wife from sinning or only a court to do so. Commentators disagree, as Graetz describes.

My only critique is more a matter of judgment. The Rambam discusses wife beating twice in his Mishneh Torah but Graetz only quotes one passage, where he (arguably) adopts the first view (Hilkhos Ishus 21:10). I would have quoted the other passage as well (Hilkhos Chovel U-Mazik 4:16), in which the Rambam obligates a husband who injures his wife to pay her damages. Granted, this is certainly referring to a case of unjustified beating (assuming he holds there is ever a justification). However, I would have quoted it anyway to emphasize the dual nature of his position.

IV. R. Binyamin Ze’ev

R. Binyamin Ze’ev wrote a lengthy responsum on wife beating which, thanks to the wonders of the internet, we can access here: link (Responsa Binyamin Ze’ev, no. 88). The first three of the five pages of the responsum reflect a very negative attitude toward wife beating. However, on the fourth page, R. Binyamin Ze’ev adds a qualification — that a husband may beat his wife to prevent her from sinning, which includes cursing him or his parents. In other words, R. Binyamin Ze’ev adopts the first view.

However, Graetz describes R. Binyamin Ze’ev as adopting the second view. She calls his responsum “a major medieval source for responsa which reject wifebeating unconditionally.” While I feel much more comfortable with the second view, R. Binyamin Ze’ev took a different approach. To be generous, perhaps Graetz meant that the first 60% of R. Binyamin Ze’ev’s responsum serves as a major source for other responsa that adopt the second view. Meaning, they quote the arguments in the first part and ignore his further comments. However, even if this unlikely interpretation of Graetz’s words is true, she nevertheless ignored that his responsum (also) serves as a source for those who adopt the first view. This mistake or oversight about R. Binyamin Ze’ev’s view is compounded into an additional misunderstanding of the Rema’s position, as we will soon see.

V. Mechaber

Graetz claims that the Mechaber was inconsistent on this subject. In making that argument, she misinterprets the Mechaber‘s view in two ways. First, she misunderstands the nature of his Kesef Mishneh commentary on the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah. Kesef Mishneh‘s goal is to explain the Rambam’s meaning and sources. Regarding the Rambam’s position that a husband may beat a sinning wife (Hilkhos Ishus 21:10), the Mechaber offers two possible explanations. Neither of the two represent his own position; both are explanations of the Rambam’s position. It is true that sometimes the Mechaber inserts his own view into the commentary but that is a rare occurrence. There is no indication in this passage that the commentary represents his own view, even without taking into account his stated opinion elsewhere to the contrary.

Additionally, Graetz writes that the Rema’s view, which we will discuss shortly, “further complicates” the Mechaber‘s view. I fail to understand how the Rema’s view sheds any light whatsoever on the Mechaber‘s. They were two different people who often disagreed.

VI. Rema

The Rema began writing a lengthy commentary on the Tur, extensively citing all relevant sources from the Talmud through his contemporaries. However, once he saw R. Karo’s Beis Yosef, which was similar in nature, the Rema stopped and instead only wrote glosses to the Tur and Beis Yosef, titled Darkei Moshe. In Darkei Moshe, the Rema sometimes quotes sources verbatim, sometimes just provides summaries and references and sometimes offers his own opinion on how to practice.

On this particular issue, the Darkei Moshe has two glosses. The first is in Even Ha-Ezer 154:16 (link). The Rema quotes the Mordekhai’s quote of the Maharam, in which the Maharam strongly adopts the second view, and then the Rema quotes other similar rulings. In the next entry (154:17), the Rema quotes sources who strongly oppose wife beating and then quotes R. Binyamin Ze’ev at length about the permission to beat a wife in order to prevent her from sinning. The Rema then adds that the Maharam, which he quoted in the previous note, disagrees with R. Binyamin Ze’ev, and cites additional sources on the subject.

Nowhere in these glosses does the Rema reveal his personal view. He quotes sources verbatim on both sides — the Maharam who follows the second view above and R. Binyamin Ze’ev who follows the first. However, Graetz only quotes the Rema’s lengthy citation from R. Binyamin Ze’ev and attributes these words to the Rema. Perhaps she made this mistake because, as discussed above, she wrongly concluded that R. Binyamin Ze’ev adopted the second view and not the first. Quoting this passage as if the Rema wrote it himself is wrong because it ignores the Rema’s other lengthy citation from the Maharam and because it mistakenly attributes the quote to the Rema and not to R. Binyamin Ze’ev.

In a gloss to Shulchan Arukh (154:3), the Rema states that men may not normally beat their wives and then presents the two views. In this work, as opposed to Darkei Moshe, he concludes by siding with R. Binyamin Ze’ev. I believe that Graetz reached the correct conclusion on the Rema’s view but wrongly attributed to him someone else’s words. Personally, I would also have given the background in the Rema’s initial words, generally forbidding wife beating, in order to fully present the Rema’s view. However, this is merely a judgment call.

VII. Maharshal

The Maharshal discusses wife beating in a section in his Yam Shel Shlomo (Bava Kama, ch. 3 no. 9). He quotes from those who adopt the first view. Absent any other information, we could conclude that he adopts that view as well, although he does not say so outright. And this is how Graetz reads the Maharshal.

However, in a later passage (ibid., no. 21 – link), the Maharshal explicitly rejects this view. He cites it as the view of the Rambam, directing readers to his previous discussion, and states that this view is null in relation to the second view, which the Ra’avad adopts. In directing readers to his previous discussion, the Maharshal explicitly rejects the view addressed there (ועוד גם דברי הרמב״ם בטילים נגש הראב״ד). The only possible conclusion is that the Maharshal rejected the first view in favor of the second. However, Graetz only quotes the Maharshal’s first discussion and accepts the view discussed there–the first view–as the Maharshal’s.

VIII. Conclusion

Let me emphasize that I only address here a few points in her article. My silence on other points should not be taken as agreement or disagreement. However, I believe that the reader can rightly conclude that he should independently review Graetz’s sources in that article rather than accepting her presentation or interpretation.

Note that I intentionally refrained from discussing the issue of compelling an abusive husband to divorce his wife because it is a complex subject that requires a lengthy discussion of its own. This issue winds throughout Graetz’s article, including–relevant to our discussion–her treatment on the Mechaber‘s view. For the reason just stated, I chose to only discuss two of her statements regarding the Mechaber.

 

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Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Torah Musings.

 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

47 Responses

  1. emma says:

    “They all forbid injuring your wife just like they forbid injuring your neighbor. The issue at hand is whether your wife receives the same treatment as your neighbor or better.”

    I don’t think I am allowed to have a wife. This may seem petty but it reflects something deeper – that you, like many rabbis, often forget that women are in your audience, that women and men have different experiences, and perhaps that you need to go out of your way to include women’s perspectives if you so easily forget that we are even there.

  2. emma says:

    Presumably the “any time you may hurt your neighbor you may hurt your wife” position is also, theoretically, an “anytime a woman may hurt her neighbor she may hurt her husband” position (physical ability to overcome his self-defense aside). Yes? If so then there is more to say about why only the former is discussed. It has to do with hierarchy and assumptions about who gets to control whom. In some sense the over-protective position is responsive to these issues by removing the possibility of utter (coercive, physical) domination.

  3. Aryeh says:

    Emma, the article is about wife-beating, and the “you” is a general one. It is conversationally accepted as the same thing as “people”, or in this case, “men”.

  4. emma says:

    “you” can mean “one,” but i’ve never seen anyone on this blog use it that way when the “one” is female. As I said, it seems petty, but it betrays a certain set of assumptions. (happy to be proven wrong re: usage of “you” for females btw, but i think i would have noticed.)

  5. Joey says:

    Can you please enlighten me; why would there be a distinction between one’s wife and others in terms of tort law? If halacha generally views beating as prohibited but felt it was a worthwhile endeavor to prevent a sin from being committed, why would halacha not permit wife beating in these circumstances as well?

  6. Hirhurim says:

    Joey: Because you have a special obligation to honor your wife more than yourself.

  7. Hirhurim says:

    Emma: I understand your concern but the man has traditionally been the stronger and dominant person in the marriage. That is why the focus has traditionally been, and continues to be, on his physical treatment of her.

    I am frequently sent communications by an organization that advocates on behalf of husbands who are abused (generally in court rather than physically) by their wives. They don’t get much press for the same reason.

  8. sanhedrin says:

    this post is clearly apologetic. you claim that ” the only discussion is whether a wife is treated like a neighbor or better”. this is also how you set up the two categories that you then use organize all the opinions of the poskim. earlier, you set up a false dichotomy: “everyone agrees you may not beat you wife without a cause”. however, you ignore the middle ground of monetary obligations. the halacha clearly states that one may not physically force someone else to fulfill his monetary obligations to you. (there are exceptions to this, see beginning of the third perek of bava kama, however they are not of interest here.) the rambam in ishus says that if a man’s wife is not fulfiling her monetary obligations to the husband (eg making the bed etc.), he may beat her until she does it. this is certainly different treatment than in regard to a neighbor.

  9. Moshe Shoshan says:

    “The Rema began writing a lengthy commentary on the Tur, extensively citing all relevant sources from the Talmud through his contemporaries. However, once he saw R. Karo’s Beis Yosef, which was similar in nature, the Rema stopped and instead only wrote glosses to the Tur and Beis Yosef, titled Darkei Moshe. ”
    The Darkei Moshe in our Turs is an abridged version. The full version, published under the name “darkei moshe hashalem”. Are you saying the the Rema originally interned to write a work even longer than the darkei moshe?

  10. Hirhurim says:

    sanhedrin: See the Maharshal (Bava Kama, ch. 3 no. 9) who explicitly states that the same rule applies to a wife as to anyone else.

    Moshe: I do not believe that the Rema finished the “Arukh” (or “Shalem”) version. That was the lengthy commentary he began but then abandoned when he saw the Beis Yosef. I believe he personally abridged the “Arukh” version.

  11. emma says:

    I understand why the common case is men beating women. That does not explain why you write “you can beat your wife” instead of “your husband can beat you” or “a man can beat his wife.” that is the choice that I believe betrays a certain bias.

  12. Hirhurim says:

    It’s a language issue. I always defer to the masculine rather than alternating or using third person. It’s not just this post but consistent throughout my writing. I try to use first person and defer to the masculine, as I was taught when I was little. I hate the alternating gender.

  13. Chaim says:

    R’ Student,
    Thank you for being open-minded and humble enough to accept others’ criticism’s and re-do this post. You trult are an ish-emes.

  14. SO says:

    “Nowhere in these glosses does the Rema reveal his personal view. He quotes sources verbatim on both sides — the Maharam who follows the first view above and R. Binyamin Ze’ev who follows the second.”

    Don’t you mean the reverse? Maharam follows the second view and R. Binyamin Ze’ev follows the first.

  15. Hirhurim says:

    Chaim: Thank you

    SO: Yes, that is a mistake which I will correct.

  16. Steve Brizel says:

    I applaud R Gil for reposting on this issue, regardless of the fact that the second post illustrates that Professor Graetz’s expertise in understanding classical Jewish sources certainly can be questionned, especially in light of her feminist and gender theory informed views towards the same.

  17. shaul shapira says:

    EMMA-

    You’ll be happy to know that Richard Lederer has reached the same conclusion as you WRT to the English language being sexist. It’s also rascist. It is also anti-lefties, which I find particularly offensive, considering that I am one myself.

    http://books.google.ca/books?id=aakq9i5kUWMC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

    As for curing this malady, I suggest we all start speaking Láadan-
    assuming we’re all MAN enough to admit how evil our current language is.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%A1adan
    ;)

  18. emma says:

    there are ways to write in gender-neutral without awkward “he/she” (you do it later in the post). All I am saying is that from my vantage point this is one example of the fact that torah discussion often assumes a male audience. “That’s my style” is not a defense, it just restates the problem. In any case, I can leave it at that.

    In other news, does anyone else find the accompanying picture disturbing?

  19. IH says:

    I guess no one should object to “jewing something down” then either…

    What’s been lost in the semantics is the bigger issue, which is that the woman’s perspective is missing in almost all pre-20th century halachic discourse. This is a major challenge in the 21st century world where women have a different status in society and, increasingly, are well versed in lomdus.

  20. emma says:

    here’s another question: how does this textual tradition compare to the mimetic tradition?

  21. Rafael Araujo says:

    My goodness the political correctness and language police….

  22. sanhedrin says:

    quoting the maharshal in 3.9 in relation with the rambam in perek 21 is a complete non sequitur. the maharshal there is discussing a completely different rambam. he is discussing a rambam who seemingly says that a woman who curses her husbands parents is “over al dat moshe”. the maharshal says that based on this it should come out that a husband can beat his wife to prevent her from cursing his parents. the maharshl then says that the ramban (not rambam) indeed permits hitting in this case. all this has nothing to do with the rambam in ishut 21 who clearly says that a man may beat his wife if she does not fulfill her monetary obligations to him. this is in contrast to a regular other person whom one is not allowed to hit if he (or she :-) ) is not fulfilling his monetary obligations to you. rather, you must take him to beis din. i hate to say this, but your bias clearly perverts your reading of the sources as much as graetz’ bias does hers.

  23. emma says:

    sanhedrin, Ishut 21 says “kofin” which does not “clearly” mean that the man does the hitting – it could be beit din. But “be-shot” is strange language for beit din i think.

  24. IH says:

    For someone who wants to do the due diligence: http://tinyurl.com/6r527rk

  25. Hirhurim says:

    Sanhedrin: I’ve been debating how to respond to your comment. I believe you are wrong and encourage people to look up both sections of the Yam Shel Shlomo for themselves. But more than that, your attribution of my “error” to bias rather than a mistake or a different reading is simply nasty. Until you learn how to relate to people respectfully, you aren’t getting any more of my time.

  26. sanhedrin says:

    im truly sorry if i came across as overly harsh. i i certainly didnt mean it personally c”v. it simply upsets me greatly when a talmid chacham says something which seems to be clearly apologetic. you protest the fact that i attribute your misreading to bias, and call this claim “nasty”, and say this shows i dont know “how to relate to people respectfully”. the only reason i brought up bias is because you yourself attributed graetz’s errors to bias and not just a simple innocent misreading. (see the end of your first post.) this claim was repeated many times in the comments. i was simply stating that your bias also seems to cause you to misread the sources. again, i apologize if i came accross as aggressive. “tchilasa milchama ubsofo shalom”. gut shabbos.

  27. Chana Luntz says:

    The reason that the post reads as apologetics has nothing to do with the Rambam. It is there in the basic opening section which states as fact that which Gil wants to prove, I quote this piece in full:

    “Before we get started, let me summarize the field we are approaching. There are two main views on this subject. As Graetz rightly notes, no Jewish authority permits wife beating without cause. They all forbid injuring your wife just like they forbid injuring your neighbor. The issue at hand is whether your wife receives the same treatment as your neighbor or better.

    1. According to some, any time you may injure your neighbor you may also injure your wife.
    2. According to others, your wife receives preferential treatment and you may never hurt her.

    This is not at all the “issue in hand”. The issue in hand ,if you wanted to summarise it this way has *three* questions, not two. the first two as lsited above and:

    3. May you according to any/any authoratative authorities injure/beat your wife in circumstances where you may not injure/beat your neighbour?

    Even if R’ Gil wants to argue that the answer to 3. is No, he still needs to face and address the question head on, as it is at the heart of Naomi Graetz’s piece. Eliding the issue by suggesting that the only alternatives are “wife beating without cause” and the two options he presents reads as a deliberate attempt to use smoke and mirrors to avoid facing the real issue.

    Further he needs to address the following scenario:

    If he overheard his chevruta cursing his parents (or R’ Gil’s parents), is he permitted to beat him within an inch of his life (or even minorly) in order to seperate that chevrusa from sin (as opposed to giving him due warning and then hauling him off to beis din)?

    That is the specific case, as Naomi Graetz correctly identifies, that is discussed in the teshuvos and Rema.

    The implication from R’ Gil’s piece would thus seem to be (since there is no option for the treatment of a wife to be harsher than that of a neighbour) that widespread viligante action is halachically acceptable, well beyond the general concept of rodef. Is that indeed what you are saying R’ Gil?

    In which case, of course, it become difficult to criticise those who, let us say, beat or scream abuse at 8 year old girls whose dress is not up to their standards, because after all, they are attempting to separate them from sin.

    Is that what should be learnt from this piece, that physical violence generally is fine so long as there is some “cause”?

  28. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote:

    “What’s been lost in the semantics is the bigger issue, which is that the woman’s perspective is missing in almost all pre-20th century halachic discourse. This is a major challenge in the 21st century world where women have a different status in society and, increasingly, are well versed in lomdus”

    Take a look at any classical Sefer of ShuT and see how Acharonim wrestle with Agunos. Your comment is essentially the all too familiar and tiresome gender theory based critique of halacha as sexist.

  29. IH says:

    Steve — woman’s perspective is missing; what exists is (nale) Rabbinic expectations of woman’s perspective. It is better than nothing, but no substitute for their direct engagement in halachic discourse.

    Even after 27 years of a very close marriage, I sometimes discover that my wife’s perspective on an issue is different from my expectation of her perspective. And sometimes — after I hear her out — it makes me see the discussed issue in a different light.

  30. IH says:

    By the way, a good example of tracking a relevant issue though the ShuT literature is on women saying Kaddish. Here is an issue where when the woman’s perspective was finally voiced by women, normative halacha has been impacted.

    If that is “tiresome gender theory based critique of halacha as sexist” then so be it.

  31. IH says:

    Steve — see the famous siman רכב in חות יאיר here: http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=857&st=&pgnum=247

  32. RM says:

    Sanhedrin is correct in his reading.

  33. RM says:

    That is there is no setirah between sections 9 and 21 and no retraction. In 21 Yam Shel Shlomo agrees with raavad that you can’t hit her if she doesn’t do her melachah. He rejects Rambam. But in no. 9 he accepts that if she curses him he can hit her.

  34. Hirhurim says:

    Chana: I am a little offended that you accuse me of apologetics, especially since you clearly did not look up the sources I quoted. It could be that I disagree with you without engaging in apologetics.

    1. To your point about whether there is a case in which a husband may beat his wife and not anyone else, that is precisely the case I am arguing does not exist. You claim that I am eliding this case. Aderaba, I’m saying loudly that it doesn’t exist. Now there could be a case close to it, which I avoided, namely that of a “household,” which in Talmudic terms means many people beyond the nuclear family. You didn’t bring that up and I don’t think it is too relevant but a lengthier treatment would have raised it.

    2. The Maharshal EXPLICITLY answers this question in Bava Kama (ch. 3 no. 9): שמותר אדם להכות את אשתו שהיא מקללת אביה ואמה מחמת שעוברת על דת ועביד דינא לשמים… ולאו דוקא הרב לעבדו ובעל לאשתו הוא הדין כל בר ישראל יכול להכות חבירו כדי לאפרושי מאיסורא.

    The case of ifrushei me-issura is complicated and raised twice in Shulchan Arukh. I will IY”H write a post on the subject later this week. It is a machlokes exactly how it applies today.

  35. Hirhurim says:

    Sanhedrin: I appreciate and accept your apology. Thank you.

    I’m not sure why you assume that a wife’s refusal to perform her wifely duties is a money matter. Maybe according to Tosafos that might work but the Maharshal (no. 21) explicitly says it is a matter of issur and compares the case of cursing to that of refusing to perform marital duties: ואפילו לרמב״ם שסבר אם אינה שומעת לעשות מלאכתו המוטלת עליה כופה בשוטים והיינו טעמא כמו שכופה הרב את עבדו במקל ורצועה בענין המלאכה הכי נמי בעל לאשתו מכל מקום לא גרע מעבדו דלא יכול להכותו מחמת ענין אחר אלא בעוברו על הדת כהאי גונא אשה נמי שרי כדלעיל סי׳ ט ולא בענין אחר.

    The Maharshal then immediately says that we don’t follow that Rambam: ועוד גם דברי הרמב״ם בטילים נגד הראב״ד.

  36. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-as far as women saying Kaddish, we have been through this issue before-yes-there is no Isssur against women doing so, but Minhag HaMakom as well as the degree of a woman’s education and whether a woman wants to say Kaddish ,has dictated whether a woman can do so in any locality. That has nothing to do with gender theory masquerading as expertise in Judaic studies.

  37. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote:

    “Steve — woman’s perspective is missing; what exists is (nale) Rabbinic expectations of woman’s perspective. It is better than nothing, but no substitute for their direct engagement in halachic discourse.

    Even after 27 years of a very close marriage, I sometimes discover that my wife’s perspective on an issue is different from my expectation of her perspective. And sometimes — after I hear her out — it makes me see the discussed issue in a different light

    One cannot engage in historical revisionist criticism by ignoring the fact that the notion of learned women is a 20th Century mass phenomenon. Like it or not, many of us whose hashkafic views are those that you differ with also have very close marriages of long durations, and I can assure you that we always discuss issues and exchange complementary perspectives.

  38. sanhedrin says:

    thank you for your response. you are correct that the maharshal compares the two. however, i must admit that i am puzzled regarding how to read the piece from the maharshal that you were kind enough to quote verbatim. first he says that the explanation for the rambam is that a wife is like an eved, and a master can force an eved by beating “beinyan melacha”. then he goes on to say that one can only force an eved “beovro al hadat”. it seems to me that the only way to understand the maharshal is along the lines that you were saying: that not fulfilling monetary obligations is considered “over al hadat”, and can be beaten. but then let me ask the following question: if someone owes you money, and on the day he is supposed to pay you back he refuses to do so, are you allowed to beat him to within an inch of hos life, mafia style, until he cries uncle and agrees to give you the money? according to you, the answer should be yes. but it seems from the gemara and poskim at the beginning of the third perek of kesubos (that maharshal 3.9 is going on) that the most one can use force for is to prevent someone from physically stealing your rightful possessions from you.

  39. shaul shapira says:

    IH- Of all the acharonim to accuse of sexism, you picked the Chavas Yair?! Why didn’t you link to his hakdamah?

    http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=857&st=&pgnum=3

    1) The sefer is named in part after his grandMOTHER.
    2) Who was known far and wide as a talmidah chachamah (I’ll let the maskilim here correct my dikDUK).
    3) Whose remarks are incorporated into his sefer.
    4) Who turned down a shidduch with the Shlah.
    5) Who in turn bemoaned that he wasn’t worthy of her.

    Ha-umnam , IH, ha-umnam?!

    Frankly, I think that the Naomi Graetz’s of the world are the true enemies of the cause of women’s learning. People like her only add to the misperception that ladies are neccesarily amaratizshe. If she wants to be taken seriously, she is going to have to submit to the same rigorous halachic discoure that men do. (She’s also going to have to put up with the same epithets that my male chavruses have to, but that’s another story.) ;)
    Here, again, is Marc Shapiro:
    “There is one more thing that needs to be added, and that is that we have not reached the point where there are women halakhic authorities.[8] I hope I won’t be accused of bashing women by pointing out the following fact, that as of 2012 not one traditional sefer, in Hebrew, written by a woman has been published. By traditional sefer I mean a halakhic work or a commentary on a talmudic tractate. I am waiting for this day, which I hope won’t be too long in the future. I also hope that a learned woman is currently working on a commentary to a tractate, even if it is one of the easier tractates such as Megillah. The point is that for women to be recognized as talmudic and halakhic authorities they will have to do exactly what the men do, and that is show the world that they are serious talmidot hakhamim. The major way to do this is through publishing.”

    BTW, if you’re looking for a woman who really knows her stuff, here’s one. But there’s one caveat: She happens to be charedi.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruria_David

    :)

  40. shaul shapira says:

    It looks like ‘Daas Torah’ has paskened on this issue as well:

    http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2012/06/ropshitzerexplaining-shelo-asani-isha.html

  41. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote:

    “Steve — woman’s perspective is missing; what exists is (nale) Rabbinic expectations of woman’s perspective. It is better than nothing, but no substitute for their direct engagement in halachic discourse.”

    Would you apply that revisionist type of thinking to other aspects of human events-such as if women had been running the world, the world would have known progress without the necesssity of wars, etc?

  42. Chana Luntz says:

    R’ Gil writes:

    >1. To your point about whether there is a case in which a husband >may beat his wife and not anyone else, that is precisely the case >I am arguing does not exist.

    That is not in fact what I said, what I said was: is there a case where you can beat your wife in circumstances where you cannot beat your neighbour? I carefully did not say anybody else, because of course I was referring to the references in the sources to תחת רשותו , which may well pick up others besides a wife, but is most clearly directed at the wife.

    >You claim that I am eliding this case. Aderaba, I’m saying loudly >that it doesn’t exist.

    You are trying to say it doesn’t exist, without referring to it directly. For example you criticise Naomi Gratz for eg allocating R’ Binyamin Zev and the Marashal to what you call the first view, when in fact, she is allocating them (and the Rema) to the third view, ie that one may beat one’s wife in circumstances where one cannot beat one’s regular neighbour.

    But by not acknowledging that there is any possibility of a reading of the third view, you are unable to really engage with what she says and it comes across as apologetics – “couldn’t possibly be that there is anything in the sources that suggests the situation for a wife might be worse than for a regular neighbour”.

    > Now there could be a case close to it, which I avoided, namely >that of a “household,” which in Talmudic terms means many people >beyond the nuclear family. You didn’t bring that up and I don’t >think it is too relevant but a lengthier treatment would have >raised it.

    It is highly relevant. The sources clearly bring as their examples and proof texts sources relating to avadim and shifchos and the key language of the Rema in Choshen Mishpat siman 421 si’if 13 is as mentioned תחת רשותו – where the Rema’s source teshuva (ie the Trumas HaDeshen) is in relation to a wife.

    Now it is possible to argue that this is lav dafka (as per the Marashal you cite). Naomi Gratz doesn’t – she holds that it is davka (although not referring to this particular Rema, but enough of the background material), and rather uses non Jewish parallel sources to ground that.

    But you can’t argue the point convincingly if you refuse to acknowledge what the issue is, and that was what your opening few paragraphs failed to do.

    >The case of ifrushei me-issura is complicated and raised twice in >Shulchan Arukh. I will IY”H write a post on the subject later >this week. It is a machlokes exactly how it applies today.

    But it is key to this question. If you want to argue with Naomi Gratz that the sources she brings do not in fact allow for a man to have the power of wife beating – then you have, as you say, to allow for general ifrushei me-issura powers in the circumstances where the sources appear to allow for wife beating. (You also have to deal with the switch in the Rema from the Trumas HaDeshen’s קללת ומזלזלת באביה ואמה
    to
    מקללתו בחנם או מזלזלת אביו ואמו)

    I not saying that you might not be able to indeed argue the case that you want to argue – it is not, in my view, that we are necessarily “disagreeing” about the sources. But you cannot argue a case if you are not prepared to state, straight out, what the case you are arguing against is. As it is, it appears that you are shadow boxing, attributing to Naomi Graetz readings that she clearly doesn’t hold, and nitpicking (if she correctly summarised the Rema’s view, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t desperately matter whether she then incorrectly read back his view from the Shulchan Aruch into the Darchei Moshe or not). And because of this, the piece reads as though you do not have any better arguments.

    I would love you to write a piece that successfully sails between Scylla and Charybdis – that manages to genuinely explain the bereshuso as lav davka and simultaneously manages to limit the explosion in vigilantism that a reading of lav davka allows. This piece doesn’t do it though.

  43. Hirhurim says:

    Sanhedrin: Isn’t the case you are asking about similar to that in Shulchan Arukh, Choshen Mishpat 4:1? It all depends on which view in the Rema we follow but certainly we allow for some form of “avid inish dina le-nafsheih” regarding monetary matters. All this, of course, is a last resort. If you can go to beis din, then you may not take the law into your own hands.

  44. Hirhurim says:

    Chana: You ignored my second point, in which I directly quoted the Maharshal permitting what you call vigilantism!!! Note that the Maharshal also quotes the Terumas HaDeshen as his source but goes farther to include anyone.

    I believe that תחת רשותו is more expansive than just that the head of the household may beat anyone he wants because, if so, a mother would not be allowed to spank her children.

  45. Naomi Graetz says:

    I innocently stumbled into this discussion of my article which is located in the JWA archive website while looking for by N. Helfgot (Tradition 2010) and found that R. A. Yehuda Warburg has written a new article (“Harnessing the Authority of Beit Din to Deal with Cases of Domestic Violense” in Tradition 45:1, Spring 2012) which I would love to read if someone is willing to send me. The reason that I was asked to write the entry on Wifebeating for Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia (Jerusalem: Shalvi Publishing Ltd) in 2005 was that I had written a book in 1998, Silence is Deadly: Judaism Confronts Wifebeating, which was carefully and painstakingly researched. In the book I go into great detail about some of the points that are raised in the discussion here. If anyone wishes to follow up this discussion there are many used copies out there available on Amazon etc. My basic “agenda” since the late 80’s when I began to study this topic was to present the three major attitudes to wifebeating in Jewish sources: namely those rabbis who allow or accept wifebeating (under certain circumstances); those who oppose (reject) it so much that they would even allow a forced divorce to the victim; and those who oppose wifebeating yet are unwilling to act on their convictions (an approach I refer to as “evasive”).

  46. […] homes and schools, as well as certain forms of wife beating and husband beating (link. However, as we will see, there are important conditions that must prevail before allowing such […]

  47. ba says:

    I found another source (Yesod Teshuvah siman 17, http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=24725&st=&pgnum=8&hilite= ) though I can’t tell what it says (the print is very bad)

 
 

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