Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Changing Role of Jewish Women/ Part 2
5 Lectures

Item #: S323

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The modern world has changed the lives of Jewish women in areas of education, community, and work. Rabbi Berel Wein discusses the current Jewish view of the role of women in society today: their participation in communal organizations, their needs to balance family and career, and the rabbis' attempts to deal with the apparent disadvantage of women in divorce.

Individual lectures:

Jewish Women in the Modern Era - Liberation ideologies abounded at the dawn of the 20th century, but nothing liberated women more than technology. Rabbi Wein depicts women's lives in the shtetl in minute detail, from the hardships of doing laundry without indoor plumbing to the ingenuity required in cooking with a scarcity of ingredients. But with industrialization came other changes, bringing us to the present moment in which women's issues are at the forefront of Halachic debate.

Reproduction - Contradictory to popular belief, contraception always existed amongst the Jewish people, though in different forms than today. Even in Biblical times, contraceptive potions were known and used, but were permissible only when the women's lives were in danger. What constitutes "danger," however, has since become a matter of interpretation, and Rabbi Wein raises and answers some of the complex questions surrounding the Torah commandment to "be fruitful and multiply."

Public Office - Though Jewish women traditionally do not occupy public roles, Jewish history has some highly notable exceptions. Devorah the Prophetess acted as leader in Biblical times, and Queen Shlomtzion reigned for 13 years in the Second Temple period. In the 20th century, the public role of women became a hotly contested issue, and Rabbi Wein, citing Halachic responsa, brings forward a timely debate with a touch of humor.

Monetary Rights - Money is central to everyone's life and is often at the heart of most marital stress. Torah Law protects women's monetary rights, particularly with the ketubah, the marriage contract. With an in-depth analysis of the ketubah, its Biblical requirements and Talmudic innovations, listeners will be astounded at the rabbis' judiciousness toward both women and men in marriage.

Inheritance - In Torah Law, women do not inherit property but are considered creditors to their husbands' or fathers' estates. This Halachic status actually puts them at a surprising advantage. Rabbi Wein brings his legal and Halachic expertise to this complex topic and rounds it out with his own advice on how planning can maintain peace in all families.

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