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A Kabbalistic Perspective on Gender-Specific Commandments: on the Interplay of Symbols and Society

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 October 2009

Talya Fishman
Rice University, Houston, Tex.
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Unlike other symbol systems, whose precise influence on cultural mores is hard to pinpoint, Kabbalah's impact on mainstream Jewish culture can be traced, at least in the realm of practice, for this mystical theology and symbol system is rooted in law and expressed through ritual behavior.

Copyright © Association for Jewish Studies 1992

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1. Recent cross-cultural writings on the relationship between symbols and the societies in which they are found have stressed the symbol's transcendent nature. Symbols are not mirrors which merely reflect societal beliefs and attitudes, nor do they, in and of themselves, determine those beliefs and attitudes. See Bynum's, C. W. introduction to Gender and Religion: On the Complexity of Symbols, edited by Bynum, C. W., S. Harrell, and P. Richman (Boston 1986), pp. 122;Google ScholarBynum, C. W., “Women's Stories, Women's Symbols: A Critique of Victor Turner's Theory of Liminality,” in Anthropology and the Study of Religion, ed. Reynolds, F. and Robert Moore (Chicago, 1984), pp. 105125.Google Scholar

2. The studies of Gershom Scholem, Jacob Katz, Meir Benayahu, Yisrael Ta Shema, and Ze'ev Gries have shed light on Kabbalah's relationship to various facets of Jewish society and culture which find expression in halakhic writings. Scholem's pioneering work drew attention to the ways in which kabbalistic theory and symbols led to the creation of new rituals within Jewish life. Scholem, G., “Tradition and New Creation in the Ritual of the Kabbalists,” in On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, (New York, 1965), pp. 118157.Google Scholar And see idem, , Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (New York, 1941), pp. 2829;Google Scholar idem, “The Meaning of Torah in Jewish Mysticism,” in On the Kabbalah, pp. 32–86. The studies of Katz and Benayahu have done much to clarify the ways in which Kabbalah relates to existing halakhah, identifying those jurisprudential conditions which best lent themselves to kabbalistic interpretation or even adjudication, and underscoring Kabbalah's tendency to introduce stringencies into Jewish law. See, e.g., the first five essays reprinted in Katz's, JacobHalakha veKabbalah (Jerusalem, 1984), pp. 9126;Google ScholarBenayahu, M., “Vikkuah Ha-Kabbalah 'im HaHalakhah,” Da'at 5 (1980).Google Scholar Yisrael Ta-Shma's study of a particular liturgical practice of kabbalistic origin traces the stages of a custom's evolution and utimate incorporation into the worship of non-kabbalists. Ta-Shma, Y., “El Melekh Ne'eman: Gilgulo shel Minhag,” Tarbiz 39 (1970): 184194.Google Scholar Ze'ev Gries's ongoing research has shed light on the ways in which kabbalistic (and particularly Lurianic) customs recorded in the margins of standard halakhic texts were incorporated into later editions of these works. Gries, Z., “Hagdarat haHanhaga keSug Sifruti be Sifrut haMusar ha-Ivrit,” Kiryat Sefer 56 (1981): 176202.Google Scholar

3. The first full version of Sefer HaKanah was published in Poritsk, 1786. On the editions of this work, see Kushnir-Oron, M., HaPeliah veHakanah: Yesodot haKabbalah shebahem, Emdatam haDalit Hevratit veDerekh 'Izzuvam haSifrutit (Jerusalem, 1980), pp. 5152. Page references to Sefer HaKanah in this paper correspond to the Cracow, 1894 edition, reprinted in Jerusalem, 1973.Google Scholar

4. The patent falseness of Sefer HaKanah's claim to antiquity was pointed out in the sixteenth century by Cordovero, R. Moses in Shi'ur Komah (Jerusalem reprint of 1883), p. 80a.Google Scholar

5. Michal Kushnir-Oron, HaPeliah veHakanah, pp. 6–19; Ta-Shema, Y., “Heichan Nithabberu Sifrei HaKanah veHaPeliah?” in Perakim beToledot haHevrah haYehudit beYemeihaBeinayyim uba'et haHadashah, Festschrift in Honor of Professor Jacob Katz (Jerusalem, 1980), pp. 5663. A bibliography of earlier writings about these two works appears in M. Oron's article “Sefer HaKanah,” Encyclopedia Ivril, 29:868. Another possible indication of Sefer HaKanah's Byzantine provenance appears below, n. 32.Google Scholar

6. Steven Bowman's suggestion that the editor or final author of this work may have been R. Shem Tov b. Ya'akov Ibn Pulia, a Spanish emigre who was active as a scribe in Greece in the generation after 1391, builds upon the findings of Kushnir-Oron and Ta-Shma while incorporating Netanyahu's observations about the Spanish influences which the text exhibits. Bowman, Steven, “Mi Hibber et Sefer HaKanah veSefer HaPeliah?” Tarbiz 54 (1984–85): 150152;Google ScholarNetanyahu, B., “Zeman Hibburam shel Sifrei HaKanah vehaPeliah,” Salo Baron Jubilee Volume (Jerusalem, 1975), Hebrew sec, pp. 247267.Google Scholar However, this hypothesis has recently been questioned. Oron, Michal, “Mihu Mehabber Sefer HaPeliah veSefer HaKanah?” Tarbiz 54 (1984–85): 297298.Google Scholar

7. Graetz, H., Geschichte der Juden (Leipzig, 1890), 8:453.Google Scholar

8. Baer, Y., Toledo! HaYehudim BeSefarad HaNozril (Tel Aviv, 1949), p. 224.Google Scholar

9. Horodetzky, S., HaMistorin BeYisrael, vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1952), pp. 362363.Google Scholar

10. Kushnir-Oron, HaPeliah veHakanah, p. 267 n. 60; p. 245.

11. Ibid., pp. 1, 261.

12. Scholem, Major Trends, p. 208.

13. Scholem observed that Sefer HaKanah was the only kabbalistic work studied by Sabbetai Zevi apart from the Zohar. Major Trends, p. 292; idem, , Sabbalai Zevi: The Mystical Messiah (Princeton, 1973), pp. 115117.Google Scholar

14. Tishby, I., Netivei Emunah UMinut (Ramat Gan, 1964), p. 18. Tishby cites the pupil's claim that wearing zizil is “close to the behavior of madmen.”Google Scholar

15. Kushnir-Oron, HaPeliah veHakanah, pp. 234–235.

16. Ibid., p. 267, n. 60.

17. See below, n. 25.

18. Scholem, “Tradition and New Creation in the Ritual of the Kabbalists,” in On the Kabbalah, pp. 118–157.

19. Just as the Zohar has been shown to have certain Ashkenazi influences, so too, Ashkenazi influences on Sefer HaKanah may be seen in the teacher's rulings regarding women's performance of milah and fashioning of zizit. On Ashkenazi influences on the Zohar, see Katz, J., “Hakhra'ot HaZohar beDivrei Halakha,” Halakha veKabbalah (Jerusalem, 1984), pp. 3839.;Google ScholarTa-Shma, I., “Be-era shel Miriam: Gilgulei Minhag Ashkenaz beSe'udah Shelishit shel Shabbat,” Mehkerei Yerushalayyim beMahshevet Yisrael 4 (1985): 269270.Google Scholar On the connection between Ashkenazi and Byzantine Jewish culture, see Ta-Shma, I., “Derush Ashkenazi-Zorfati Kadum leMidreshei Bereshit veVayikra Rabba, Mekhilta veSifrei beKhtav Yad,” Tarbiz 55 (1985): 6175.Google Scholar

20. Nathan of Gaza, Sabbetai Zevi, and Abraham Miguel Cardozo might all be regarded as kabbalists who attempted to radicalize halakhah in a revolutionary manner.

21. Following Schatz, Rivka, “Harut 'al HaLuhot,” Yediyot Aharonot, 22 Kislev 1978, p. 4.Google Scholar

22. Kushnir-Oron, HaPeLiah veHaKanah, p. 236, and see above.

23. The sixteenth-century kabbalist Moses, R. Cordovero condemned Sefer HaKanah for this reason. Shi'ur Komah (1883 ed., reprinted Jerusalem, 1966), p. 80a.Google Scholar

24. Scholem, Major Trends, p. 177.

25. See Katz, “Hakhra'ot HaZohar,” pp. 47–48. Though a later testimony, R. David Ibn Abi Zimra's categorical statement may be taken as emblematic of Kabbalah's conservative influence on the evolution of halakhah. He declared that where the law itself is the subject of dispute, kabbalistic considerations led him to embrace the more stringent option. She-elol UTeshuvot HaRadbaz, IV.80.

26. Ta-Shema, “El Melekh Ne-eman,” pp. 184–194, and Katz, “Hakhra'ot haZohar,” pp. 39–43, discuss the divergent teachings of these two kabbalistic works regarding the recitation of Shema'. Sefer HaKanah deviates from the zoharic tradition of repeating the last three words of Shema', a practice which was halakhically problematic, declaring instead that the words to be repeated were “Ani Adonai Eloheikhem”–a practice which was halakhically irreproachable.

27. See Soloveitchik, H., “Three Themes in Sefer Hasidim,” AJS Review 1 (1976): 311358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

28. M. Yeb. 7:1–2; B. Yeb. 67a.

29. This corresponded to the nedunya, or dowry.

30. See Friedman, Mordecai, Jewish Marriage in Palestine: A Cairo Geniza Study, vol. 1 (Tel Aviv and New York, 1980), pp. 299 f.Google Scholar

31. See Assaf, S., “LeHayyei HaMishpaha shel Yehudei Byzantz,” in S. Krauss Jubilee Volume (Tel Aviv, 1936), pp. 172 ff.Google Scholar

32. The contrast between this Romaniyot tradition and that of the Castilian Jews is apparent in Ibn Habib's concluding comment that while the custom of the “Romaniscos” is a wise one (and perhaps wiser than his own), the Castilian emigres are nonetheless correct to retain their own custom, whereby a husband takes the property which a wife brings into the marriage, “even if it is thousands of gold dinars–and he treats it as if it were his inheritance from his own father.” “She-elot U-Teshuvot R. Ya'akov Ibn Habib Ba'al Ein Ya'akov 'al Inyan Sivlonot” on Even HaEzer 43, in Zera' Anashim, ed. Frankel, D (Husyatin, 1902), p. 82. Sefer HaKanah's discussion of a husband's access to the nedunya, or dowry, may well reflect this unique regional practice, for the treatise's author can apparently conceive of situations in which the husband does not take responsibility for the nedunya–a situation which could only have arisen among Romaniyot Jews: “If [emphasis added] the husband took upon himself responsibility for the nedunya, then he is obligated, and all the benefits and risks are his, as in any other debt. And this is called nikhsei tzon barzel. And If [emphasis added] the husband did not take that responsibility upon himself, then all [the property] belongs to the woman, and the husband has no claims on this property. Rather, he benefits from the usufruct, and the capital belongs to the woman. And that property for which the husband did not assume responsibility is called nikhsei melug.” Sefer HaKanah, p. 201.Google Scholar

33. In this case, all or half of the nedunya would revert to her heirs from her parents' house.

34. Teshuvot Rid, no. 67, Wertheimer ed. (Jerusalem, 1967), pp. 331 ff.; cf. Bowman, Steven, The Jews of Byzantium, 1204–1453 (Tuscaloosa 1985), p. 125. Assaf speculates that this tradition may have been influenced by Karaite practice. Assaf, “LeHayyei HaMishpaha,” pp. 173–174.Google Scholar

35. On nashim hashuvot, see below.

36. Describing the study of Byzantine Jewry as the “stepchild of Jewish scholarship,” Ankori sets forth some of the factors responsible for its relative neglect. Z. Ankori, foreword to Bowman, Jews of Byzantium pp. ix ff.

37. On women in Byzantium, see Herrin, Judith, “In Search of Byzantine Women: Three Avenues of Approach,” in Images of Women in Antiquity, ed. Averil, Cameron and Amelie Kuhrt (Detroit, 1983), pp. 179 ff.Google Scholar On women in Latin Christendom, see Wemple, Suzanne F., Women in Prankish Society: Marriage and the Cloister, 500–900 (Philadelphia, 1985), pp. 149174;Google ScholarMcLaughlin, E., “Equality of the Soul, Inequality of Sexes: Women in Medieval Theology,” in Religion and Sexism, ed. Rosemary, Ruether (New York, 1974), pp. 237 ff.;Google ScholarFontette, Micheline de, Les religieuses a I age classique du droit canon: Recherche sur tes structures juridiques des branches feminines des ordres (Paris, 1967), passim;Google ScholarGrundmann, H., Religiose Bewegungen im Mittelalter, in Historische Studien Verlag Dr. Emil Ebering, vol. 266 (Berlin, 1935; reprint ed., Lubeck, 1965), pp. 170319. I am grateful to Professor Emily Hanawalt for bibliographic assistance regarding women in Byzantium.Google Scholar

38. Among the issues discussed were the leadership roles of women in churches, the question of whether bishops had the right to enter a local convent, and whether the priest administering the sacraments had to be appointed by some ecclesiastical authority. See Herrin, “In Search of Byzantine Women,” p. 180. And cf. Patlaegean, E., “L'histoire de la femme deguisee en moine et devolution de la saintete feminine a Byzance,” reprinted in Structure sociale, famille, chretienne a Byzance (London, 1981), pp. 613 and 614 n. 54;Google ScholarBeauchamp, Joelle, “La situation juridique de la femme a Byzance,” Cahiers de civilisation medievale 20 (1977): 150151. On the backlash in the Latin West, see McLaughlin, “Equality of the Soul,” pp. 241–244; Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast, pp. 19, 20, 22, 23.Google Scholar

39. See Herrin, “In Search of Byzantine Women,” pp. 179–180.

40. See Kushnir-Oron, HaPeliah veHakanah, chap. 10, pp. 321 ff.

41. Cf. Bowman's hypothesis that Sefer HaKanah's author or editor may have been a Spanish emigre. See above, n. 6.

42. Criticism of Romaniyot marriage practices is found in the responsa of Isaiah di Trani. See Assaf, “Le Hayyei HaMishpaha,” p. 173; Ta-Shma, I., “HaRav Yeshaya di Trani HaZaken U-Kesharav 'im Bizantion veErez Yisrael,” Shalem 4 (1984): 412.Google Scholar Di Trani also attempted to correct the deviant observance of laws pertaining to the menstruant's immersion in the mikvah. See Teshuvot Rid, nos. 1, 15, 22, 27, 62, and Bowman, Jews of Byzantium, pp. 123–124, 213–214. Takkanot Candia veZikhronoleha, ed. Hartom, A. S. and M. D. Cassutto (Tel Aviv, 1943), ordinances 12, 15, 28, 72, which attest to the fact that the mikvah was used as a place to do laundry, tan leather, and prepare barrel ties! R. Eliyah Mizrahi criticizes Romaniyot judicial practices in a responsum written in sixteenth-century Constantinople. She-elot uTeshuvot Eliyahu Mizrahi, no. 16, and cf. Assaf, “LeHayyei HaMishpaha,” p. 175.Google Scholar

43. Sifrei Beshallah 115; Y. Kid. 1:7; B. Kid. 29a, 34a.

44. Anatoli, Matmad HaTalmidim, Parashat Lekh Lekha, Lik ed., no. 15.

45. Sefer Abudraham, Sha'ar 3, Birkat HaMizvot.

46. Listing several positive time-bound precepts which women are obligated to perform and several positive precepts which are not time-bound from which women are exempt, the Talmud goes on to record R. Yohanan's assertion that the formula cannot be taken as authoritative, even though exceptions are noted (Kid. 34a). Elaborating on R. Yohanan's pronouncement in his Commentary on the Mishnah, Maimonides does even more to minimize the significance of the tannaitic dictum. Adding to the list of exceptions, he asserts that women's obligations and exemptions have nothing to do with the formula; rather, they stem from oral tradition, and only the teaching of tradition can be authoritative in this regard. Maimonides, Commentary on the Mishnah, Kid. 1:7. Cf. Mishneh Torah, Hil. Akum 12:3. Three other rabbinic approaches to the dictum are explained in Goren, S., “Nashim beMizvot 'Aseh SheHazeman Geraman,” Mahanayyim 98 (1965).Google Scholar

47. See Scholem, Major Trends, pp. 28–32.

48. On women's ritual enhancement of commandments which they alone are obligated to fulfill, see Weissler, C., “The Traditional Piety of Ashkenazi Women,” in Jewish Spirituality from the Sixteenth Century to the Present, ed. Green, A. (New York, 1987), 2:245275.Google Scholar

49. Tur, O.H. 589, and especially the testimony of Isserles, Shulhan 'Arukh, O.H. 589:6; H.Y.D. Azulai, Birkei Yosef, O.H. 654:2.

50. R. Jacob of Marvege, She-elot U'Teshuvot Min HaShamayyim, no. 1; Hakham David Azulai, Birkei Yosef, O.H. 654:2; idem, Yosef Omez, responsum 82.

51. R. Abraham b. David of Posquieres infers from Maimonides's words that women do not recite the blessing in the sukkah, but notes that “not all agree with him.” Gloss on M.T., Hil. Sukkah 6:13. Whatever the regnant practice in a given community, it would seem that women performed the commandment of sitting in the sukkah.

52. Joseph Caro noted that Sueslin Alexander HaKohen, author of the fourteenth-century Sefer HaAgudah, asserted that a woman who is the firstborn should participate in the fast, learning this from the case of Pharaoh's daughter Bitya. Caro, Beit Yosef on Tur, O.H. 470. Even those who did not hold this view asserted that mothers could fast in place of their young firstborn sons if the father was himself a firstborn.

53. See Avraham Gumbiner, Magen Avraham, O.H. 489.1 end; H.Y.D. Azulai, Birkei Yosef, O.H. 489.22; R. Akiva Eiger, Responsa, addenda to no. 1.

54. See, e.g., Moses of Coucy's testimony that the wife of the tosafist R. Yehuda Sir Leon wore a lallit with zizit, and similarly, the report that a woman in the neighborhood of the Maharil wore zizit. Sefer Maharil, p. 82; Sefer HaAgur, 27.

55. Writing in the late thirteenth to early fourteenth century, R. Aaron Hakohen of Lunel noted that while R. Meir of Rothenburg had taught that “if women come to don tefilin, do not listen to them,” he himself was troubled by this approach, given the assertion of R. Solomon b. Adret, who permitted women to don tefilin and recite a blessing, based on the talmudic case (Er. 96) of Saul's daughter Michal. Orhot Hayyim, Hil. Tefilin 3 (Jerusalem, 1955), p. 15. The approaches of R. Meir and of Rashba both attest to the fact that such cases existed. Cf., e.g., R. Jacob Toledano's report that the wife of R. Hayyim ibn 'Attar wore tefilin. Yam HaGadol, OH 40. The remarks of the Maharshal and the Levush would seem to imply that an exceptionally pious woman might be permitted to wear tefilin. R. Solomon Luria, Yam shel Shlomo, Kid. 1, 64; R. Mordecai Yaffe, Levush, O.H. 17.2.

56. A long list of learned women mentioned in rabbinic literature appears in HaCohen, R. Mordechai, “Hinukh HaBat LeOr HaHalakha,” Mahanayyim 98 (1965).Google Scholar

57. Thus, for example, I have not included the comment of R. Jacob Moellin, who said that the behavior of foolish women who wore zizil seemed like a display of arrogance. Sefer HaAgur, no. 27. Similar motives were attributed to women who wore lefilin ( phylacteries) insofar as they are only to be worn in a state of ritual purity, and women, it is claimed, generally do not know whether or not they are in such a state.

58. Hag. 16b, after Sifra, Lev. 2.

59. R. Yose's perspective might be seen as having its latter-day equivalent in Yeshayahu Leibowitz's well-known assertion that women's performance of mizvot from which they are exempt is merely a form of “sport.” The concrete acts which constitute the mizvot are not inherently meaningful, Leibowitz claims; theological significance is only conferred upon them by context, i.e., the fact that they feature in a contract between the commander, God, and the commanded, who in this case is male. Leibowitz asserts that there is nothing inherently sacral about such activities as donning zizit or tefilin; their religious “power” is only derived from the fact that they are commanded by God. Leibowitz, Y., “Ma'amadah shel halshah: HalakhahuMeta-Halakhah,” Amudim 449, Iyyar 1983.Google Scholar

60. Tosafot, Kid. 31a, “Delo mafkidnah.”

61. Rashi, B.K. 30a.

62. R. Asher on Kid. 31a.

63. Pes. 108a. David HaReuveni's description of the Arabic-speaking Firna, wife of Yitzhak Abudrahin, whom he met in Rome in the early sixteenth century, as an ishah hashuvah should probably not be read as a reference to her legal status. In Sippur David HaReuveni, Aescoly, ed. (Jerusalem, 1940), p. 39.Google Scholar

64. Writing in the late twelfth to early thirteenth century, R. Eleazar b. Judah of Worms explained that an “important woman” is “one whose husband is not strict with her.” Rokeah, no. 283.

65. R. Samuel b. Meir, Commentary on Talmud, Pes. 108a.

66. R. Manoah of late-thirteenth to early-fourteenth-century Narbonne, cited in J. Caro, Kesef Mishneh on Hil. Hamez U-Mazzah 7:8.

67. I.e., “the daughter of the great [scholars] of the generation.” Ibid.

68. I.e., “a woman of valor [and] God-fearing.” Ibid.

69. Mordecai on Pes. 108a.

70. See Rosenthal, E. S., “Al Derekh HaRov,” Perakim 1 (1967–68): 183204;Google ScholarRosenberg, S., “Ve-shuv al Derekh HaRov,” in Manhigut Ruhanit beYameinu, ed. Belfer, E. (Tel Aviv, 1982), pp. 87103.Google Scholar

71. As in the case of women, rabbinic law also identifies men who do not fit within the group as a whole, such as the mourner, the pupil who is in the presence of his rabbinic master, etc. Pes. 108a and commentaries.

72. Documents from fourteenth to sixteenth-century Italy record efforts made to provide (at least some) women with a Jewish education. See, e.g., Assaf, S., Mekorot LeToledol HaHinukh beYisrael (Tel Aviv, 1936), 2:112113, 121;Google ScholarBuksenboim, Y., ed., Iggerot Melamdim (Tel Aviv, 1986), passim;Google ScholarRoth, C., Jews in the Renaissance (Philadelphia, 1959), p. 50.Google Scholar See, however, Bonfil's, challenge to the Burckhardtian approach of Roth and Shulvass in “The Historian's Perception of the Jews in the Renaissance: Toward a Reappraisal,” in Revue des etudes juives 143 (1984): 5982.Google Scholar

73. Thus, in a play on B.M. 16a he writes, “I see a woman [of worth]; I do not see a question [of worth].” Cited in Assaf, Mekorot leToledot haHinukh, 4:28–29.

74. M. Sotah 3:4.

75. Cited in Assaf, Mekorot leToledol haHinukh, 4:28–29. The excerpt of this letter appearing in Baruch Epstein's Torah Temimah commentary (Vilna, 1904) ends with the line, “Pursue [your studies] and succeed, and may heaven assist you.” B. Epstein, Torah Temimah on Deut. 11:19, no. 48.

76. Recent studies suggest that more opportunities existed in Italy for the education of Christian women than in other European societies. See, e.g., Labarge, Margaret Wade, A Small of the Trumpet (Boston: Beacon Press, 1986), p. 41. C. Roth's assertion that the Jewish community imitated the Christian community in granting women educational opportunities modeled on those of men has recently been challenged by R. Bonfil. Roth, Jews in the Renaissance, pp. 49–50; Bonfil, “Historian's Perception of the Jews in the Renaissance,” pp. 65, 71–72.Google Scholar

77. Sefer HaKanah (Cracow, 1894), p. 73b. However, in both Ashkenazi and Sephardi lands, women did hear the shofar on Rosh HaShanah, though they were legally exempt. See, e.g., R. Asher b. Yehiel on R.H. 32a; R. Nissim, loc. cit; Hagahot Maimuniyyot on M.T., Hil. Shofar 2:1.

78. As most editions of Sefer HaKanah do not contain this introduction (see Kushnir-Oron, HaPeliah veHaKanah, p. 20, n. 2; p. 232), the following passage is taken from Kushnir-Oron, p. 65: “Thus you see that commandments of performance [i.e., mizvot ma'asiyyot] protect against the torment of Gehinnom…. And the great proof is that, were the yoke of the reward for positive commandments not weightier/stronger than the … punishment [for the violation] of negative commandments, then how could positive commandments come and supersede negative commandments?! Should a matter which draws no punishment if left unperformed [i.e., a positive commandment] be strong enough to supersede a matter [i.e., a negative commandment] whose performance draws punishment?” The argument that the reward resulting from the performance of a positive biblical commandment is greater than the punishment which results from the violation of a negative biblical commandment is derived from two halakhic principles. The talmudic sages ruled that where positive and negative biblical commandments are in conflict, mizvat aseh doheh mizvat to ta'aseh, i.e., the positive commandment supersedes the negative commandment. See, e.g., Ber. 10a; Yeb. 3a, 5a, 7a. And in circumstances where a positive biblical commandment is in conflict with a negative rabbinic commandment, the policy is to abstain from the performance of the positive commandment, in keeping with the principle of shev ve'al ta'aseh. See Yeb. 90 a–b, and Elon, HaMishpat Halvri, 2:413 ff. Sefer HaKanah's final question is rhetorical. The very fact that the rabbis ruled that a positive commandment supersedes a negative commandment–notwithstanding the fact that the violation of a negative commandment brings punishment (and the violation of a positive commandment under certain circumstances does not)–is seen as evidence for the “strength” of the positive commandment in the realm of reward.

79. First published in Koretz, 1784. See Kushnir-Oron, HaPeliah veHakanah, p. 51.

80. Sefer HaPeliah (Przemysl 1883), pt. II (which has its own pagination), p. 20a.

81. Kid. 35a, based on Num. 5:6.

82. Kid. 31a and elsewhere.

83. Several discussions appear in the Talmud regarding the permissibility of placing zizit of linen on a woolen garment, and vice versa. Cf. Men. 39b. Moreover, the priestly garments were made of a linsey-woolsy blend. Men. 43a.

84. See Ber. 10a, Yeb. 5a.

85. I.e., mimekom mehizatah. I have opted for this playful translation in order to approximate the alliteration of the original.

86. Play on Gen. 31:36.

87. Sefer HaKanah, p. 44b.

88. Kid. 34a, following Mekhilta, Massekhta dePasha 17. Though lalmud torah is not a time-bound commandment, it is integrally linked to the dictum exempting women from positive time-bound commandments by means of a two-stage hermeneutical process, (a) By means of a hekkesh, the exemption of women from the obligation to study Torah is the basis for their exemption from the precept of tefilin. (b) The subsequent hekkesh comparing tefilin to the entire Torah results in the dictum: women are exempt for positive time-bound commandments.

89. Kavvanah as a prerequisite of prayer is enjoined in Tos. Ber. 3:6, Pes. 114b, and elsewhere. A review of the debate over whether or not prayer requires kavvanah appears in Urbach, E. E., Hazal: Pirkei Emunot veDe'ol (Jerusalem, 1971), pp. 344345.Google Scholar

90. Sefer HaKanah, p. 22a.

91. See, e.g., Sefer Hasidim, Freimann-Wistinetzki ed. (Frankfurt, 1924), no. 835; Isaac of Corbeil's introduction to Sefer Mizvot Katan; She-elot U-Teshuvot Maharil, no. 199; Moses Isserles, gloss on Shulhan 'Arukh, Y.D. 246.

92. I know of no precedent for this notion in rabbinic literature. Cf, e.g., Sefer Hasidim's explicit exclusion of omek haTalmud, veta'amei hamizvot yesod haTorah from the list of things which women–and children–are to be taught. Sefer Hasidim, no. 835.

93. Ber. 20b.

94. See, e.g., Zohar, Margaliot, ed. (Jerusalem, 1970), pp. 53a–b;Google ScholarMa'arekhet HaElohut (Jerusalem, 1963 reprint of Mantua ed.), p. 115a. And see Matt, D., Zohar: The Book of Enlightenment (New York, 1983), pp. 54, 214–216.Google Scholar

95. Sefer HaKanah, p. 15a.

96. The influence of this work on Sefer HaKanah is noted in Kushnir-Oron, HaPeliah veHa- Kanah, pp. 82, 99 n. 78, and in Tishby, I., “Ma'amarim miSefer Ma'arekhet HaElohut biSefer HaZiyyoni,” Kiryat Sefer 19 (1942–43): 55, n. 1.Google Scholar

97. The phrase kizzuz baneti'ot, which in Midrash Gen. Rabbah 19:3 refers to Adam, is used in Hag. 14b with reference to Elisha b. Abuya to convey this idea. On the phrase itself, see Scholem, G., “Te'udah Hadasha leToledot Reshit haKabbalah,” in Sefer Bialik (Tel Aviv, 1939), p. 153;Google Scholar Tishby, Mishnat haZohar 1:221. And see, e.g., R. Ezra's Commentary on Song of Songs, attributed to Nahmanides, in Chavel, C., ed., Kitvei HaRamban (Jerusalem, 1963–64), 2:546;Google Scholar Bahya b. Asher, Commentary on the Torah, Lev. 23:40. Cf. Scholem, G., Pirkei YesodbeHavanat haKabbalah uSemeleha (Jerusalem, 1977), chap. 6, esp. pp. 194199. Not all kabbalistic schemes attribute this sin exclusively or primarily to Eve, however.Google Scholar

98. Deut. 11:21.

99. Kid. 34a.

100. “And you shall bind them for a sign … and you shall teach them … and you shall write them … in order that your days and the days of your children be multiplied.” Deut. 11:18–21. On medieval Jewish exegetes' recognition of the importance of context in establishing peshuto shel mikra. see Talmage, F., David Kimhi: The Man and the Commentaries (Cambridge, 1975), pp. 84, 116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar And now, see Halivni, D. Weiss, Peshat and Derash (Oxford, 1990), pp. 79 ff.Google Scholar

101. Sefer HaKanah, p. 6a.

102. As claimed in Sifrei Deut. 46. and Kid. 29b; Sefer HaKanah, p. 5b. Sefer HaKanah's pupil goes on to ridicule the notion that the phrase benei Yisrael (“sons of Israel”) appearing in the commandment of zizit (Num. 15:38) and in the commandment of sukkah (Lev. 23:43) was intended to exclude women from both precepts. Sefer HaKanah, p. 79a.

103. Suk. 28a; Sefer HaKanah 44a, 68a.

104. Sefer HaKanah, p. 6a. In point of fact, rabbinic literature had never denied the inclusion of women in the biblical commandment of assembly, notwithstanding its status as a positive time-bound precept. Why, then, did Sefer HaKanah's pupil draw attention to this case? It may well be that he wished to underscore the inaccuracy of the dictum exempting women from positive time-bound precepts.

105. This definition of hekkesh is found in Jacobs, L., The Talmudic Argument: A Study in Talmudic Reasoning and Methodology (Cambridgeshire, 1984).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

106. Sefer HaKanah, p. 73b. This proposed hekkesh follows the model of the talmudic hekkesh responsible for the inclusion of women in the obligation to eat mazzah on the first night of Passover. Pes 43b, and see Y. Kid. 1:7.

107. Kid. 34a.

108. Pes. 43b; cf. Y. Kid. 1:7. Sefer HaKanah, p. 70a.

109. Not only did they appeal (in B. Suk. 28 a–b) to the exclusionary import of the terms ha-ezrah (“the citizen”) and benei Yisrael (“sons of Israel”) (Lev. 23:42 and 23:43, respectively), he notes, but they also invoked the dictum exempting women from positive time-bound commandments. Sefer HaKanah, pp. 79a, 44a. Cf. Sefer HaKanah's criticism of the rabbinic exemption of women from the commandment to circumcise their sons. Sefer HaKanah, p. 57a.

110. The pupil occasionally flashes his knowledge of Kabbalah, as if to inform the reader that, in challenging his teacher, he is merely playing the role of straight man. The teacher's kabbalistic insights hardly seem new to him: “Teacher,” he exclaims, “how many times have I told you that I know your opinions? Just as you have heard the destruction/heresy from my mouth, hear from me the construction as well.” Sefer HaKanah, p. 68b. On several occasions he articulates kabbalistic explanations in reponse to his own questions, as in his discussion of the prohibition against eating the sciatic nerve and his ultimate exegetical remarks on why women are excluded from talmud torah. Sefer HaKanah, pp. 79a, 80a.

111. M. Men. 4:1, Men. 44a.

112. According to Kabbalah, the “power” of tefilin is derived from tefilin shel rosh (phylacteries of the head), which is associated with the male. See Zohar, Bereshit 14a, Vayishlah 168b, Bo 43a, and Shelah 175b, III. 248a, I. 266b. (However, Sefer HaKanah refers to tefilin shel yad as kedusha kallah, or “light sanctity,” spelling kallah with a kof, where R. Bahya refers to tefilin shel yad in connection with kallah,-spelled with a kaf. See R. Bahya on Exod. 13:16. This may be a scribal error, or it may be an intentional reference to the fact that it is “lighter” and “weaker” than tefilin shel rosh, in that the tefilin of the arm contain the scriptural passages written on one parchment, while that of the head is divided into four compartments, each containing a separate piece of parchment.) Cf. Sefer HaKanah, p. 58a.

113. Sefer HaKanah, p. 6b.

114. Ibid., p. 6a.

115. Ibid., p. 68a. And cf. the pupil's remarks on the prohibition against eating the sciatic nerve. Sefer HaKanah, p. 79a.

116. Pes. 43b.

117. Sefer HaKanah, p. 73b.

118. Shab. 23a.

119. Pes. 108a.

120. Meg. 4a.

121. Sefer HaKanah, pp. 70a, 79a-b. Following Suk. lib, the medieval exegetes Rashi and Nahmanides explain that the God-given “booths” which sheltered the Israelites during their journey through the desert were, in fact, the Clouds of Divine Glory.

122. See, e.g., the pupil's remarks on women and sukkah in Sefer HaKanah, pp. 79a-b.

123. See above, p. 00.

124. Cf. the observations about Karaism's linkage to talmudic Judaism, in Ankori, Z., Karaites in Byzantium (New York, 1959), pp. 14, 18, 19. Cf. also, Fishman, Shaking the Pillars of Exile chap. 2 (forthcoming).Google Scholar

125. On the place of sevara in the halakhic process, see, e.g., Elon, HaMishpat Halvri, passim.

126. See, e.g., Shab. 97a, and Halivni, Peshat and Derash, p. 79–88.

127. Cf. the exegetical remarks of R. Solomon b. Meir on tefillin. Num. 12:8, and the comments of R. Abraham ibn Ezra, Exod. 13:9.

128. See Halivni, D. W., Midrash, Mishnah and Gemara, (Cambridge, 1986), chap. 7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

129. See above, n. 89.

130. In this sense, Sefer HaKanah's criticisms of the halakhic sources regulating women's participation in Jewish life share some methodological similarities with remarks found in Kol Sakhal, a pseudonymous critique of rabbinic authority and tradition composed in northern Italy in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century. As in Sefer HaKanah, a number of passages in Kol Sakhal pinpoint rabbinic teachings pertaining to women in the service of a global critique of halakhic method. See, e.g., Kol Sakhal, in Reggio, I. S., Behinat HaKabbalah (Gorizia, 1852), pp. 39, 41. Cf. Fishman, Shaking the Pillars of Exile, chap. 2 (forthcoming).Google Scholar

131. Sefer HaKanah, p. 57a.

132. Perhaps the image is that of an intestinal polyp flowering from a stalk. Ibid., p. 43b.

133. Ibid., p. 79a.

134. Cf, inter alia, Meshullam b. Solomon da Piera, Ya'akov b. Sheshet, Moses de Leon, Isaac of Acre, Yosef Ya'avetz, Judah Hayyat, Meir Ibn Gabbai, Azariah Figo.

135. See Baer, Y., “HaReka' hahistori shel haRa'aya Meheimna,” Zion 5 (1940): 144;Google Scholaridem, History of the Jews in Christian Spain (Philadelphia, 1961), 1:270277;Google Scholar Scholem, On the Kabbalah, pp. 66–71. On the differences between Sefer HaKanah and Sefer HaPeliah on the one hand, and Ra'aya Meheimna and Tikkunei Zohar on the other, see Tishby, I., Mishnat haZohar (Jerusalem, 1982), 2:397398.Google Scholar

136. Sefer HaKanah, p. 68a.

137. Cf. Jacob Katz's observation that pre-zoharic kabbalistic literature refers most frequently to those mizvot which earlier midrashim had endowed with mystical significance and to other mizvot the details of which (e.g., numerical associations,) made them easily identifiable with divine attributes. Katz, “Halakhah veKabbalah: Magga'im Rishonim,” in Halakhah veKabbalah, pp. 11–15, 28.

138. Scholem, G., Pirkei Yesod beHavanat haKabbalah U-Semaleha (Jerusalem, 1976), pp. 187212; Kabbalah (Jerusalem, 1974), pp. 122–128.Google Scholar

139. On the possibility of Kabbalah's debt to gnosticism, see Scholem, G., Origins of the Kabbalah (Philadelphia, 1987), pp. 151160.Google Scholar Perspectives on gender in gnostic writings are discussed in Michael Williams, “Uses of Gender Imagery in Ancient Gnostic Texts,” in Bynum et al., Gender and Religion, ed. pp. 196–227. Idel, however, questions Scholem's assumption about the gnostic influence on kabbalistic syzygies. see Idel, M., Kabbalah: New Perspectives (New Haven, 1988), pp. 128136;Google Scholaridem, , “Sexual Metaphor and Praxis in Kabbalah,” in The Jewish Family, ed. Kraemer, D. (Oxford, 1989), pp. 203 ff., 211.Google Scholar

140. See, e.g., the teaching regarding the mizvah of sending away the mother bird prior to taking the eggs from her nest, in the early kabbalistic work Sefer HaBahir, Margaliot, ed. (Jerusalem, 1950), nos 104–105.Google Scholar

141. See Wolfson, Elliot R., The Book of the Pomegranate: Moses de Leon's Sefer HaRimon, Brown Judaic Studies 144 (Atlanta, 1988), pp. 6371.Google Scholar

142. See Ibid., p. 70, and references in Hebrew sec, n. 309; cf. above, n. 112.

143. The precise relationship between the uppermost sefirah and the realm of the undifferentiated Ein Sof is defined differently in different kabbalistic systems.

144. This conclusion was drawn by Kushnir-Oron, HaPeliah veHaKanah, p. 245.

145. Kid. 34a, following Mekhilta, Massekhta dePasha 17.

146. See, e.g., Zohar, Kedoshim, p. 81a. (Page references are to the Margaliyot ed., Jerusalem, 1940.)

147. Woven of the letters of the Tetragrammaton, the Written Torah-which-hints-at-Tiferet is a manifest emanation (unlike the upper three sefirot), yet receives its full elucidation only later, in the form of the Oral Torah, which hints at the final sefirah, Malkhul. On these associations, see, e.g., Zohar, Mezora', p. 53b.

148. See, e.g., Zohar I.50b, II.120a.

149. Sefer HaKanah, p. 6b. Similarly, the children, i.e., the six sefirot of Creation, are also blessed through the husband of the household, i.e., Tiferet. Sefer HaKanah, p. 6b.

150. Ibid., p. 15a.

151. Ibid., p. 43a.

152. Ibid., p. 6b. An additional reason may be inferred from Sefer HaKanah's discussion of the transgression incurred when one interrupts the donning of phylacteries by speaking. According to the teacher, if one recites the blessing, dons the arm phylacteries, and then speaks before donning the head phylacteries, it appears as if his blessing was only intended for the arm phylacteries, which correspond to the tenth sefirah, Malkhut. In interrupting the performance of the ritual as a whole, the individual would thus be guilty ofperud vekizzuz, i.e., of fragmenting Divinity by mistaking the lowermost extremity for the whole. Sefer HaKanah, p. 30a.

153. Kid. 34a, following Mekhilta, Massekhta dePasha 17.

154. Sefer HaKanah, p. 6a.

155. See, e.g., Zohar, VaYishlah, p. 168.

156. Sefer HaKanah, p. 6a. Similar reasoning appears in the teacher's deadpan reply to the pupil's presumably sarcastic observation that the sages would have made a more convincing case for women's exemption from tefilin had they compared it to circumcision. Ibid.

157. Tikkunei Zohar I.24a and elsewhere.

158. Sefer HaKanah, p. 22a.

159. Suk. 28b.

160. Zohar v.III, pp. 239a-b.

161. Cf. R. Ezra, Commentary on Song of Songs, attributed to Nahmanides. In Chavel, Kitvei HaRamban, 2:546; Moses de Leon, Sefer HaRimmon, Wolfson ed., Hebrew sec, p. 27, 1.11–12; Ma'arekhet HaElohut, p. 115a. Andcf. Scholem, Pirkei Yesod beHavanat haKabbalah uSemaleha, pp. 194–199; idem, Origins of the Kabbalah, pp. 71–72, 263; Safran, B., “R. Azriel and Nahmanides: Two Views of the Fall of Man,” in R. Moses Nahmanides: Explorations in His Religious and Literary Virtuosity, ed. Twersky, I. (Cambridge, 1983), pp. 75106, esp. p. 89.Google Scholar

162. Sefer HaKanah, p. 68b; Sefer HaPeliah, chap. 2, p. 53a.

163. Sefer HaKanah, p. 68b.

164. See, e.g., Zohar, VaYetze, p. 157a.

165. Sefer HaKanah, p. 44b.

166. Zohar I.260a, III.152b in Ra'aya Meheimna, and elsewhere.

167. I am grateful to Rabbi Dr. Nehemia Polen for discussing this passage with me.

168. Wolfson, E. W., “The Left Contained in the Right: A Study in Zoharic Hermeneutics,” AJS Review 11 (1986): 27–52, esp. pp. 40 ff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

169. Ibid., pp. 40–9.

170. Ibid., p. 50.

171. Indeed, during the Sinaitic revelation following the Passover celebrated in Egypt, the feminine left side reemerged as an equal partner with the male right side. This notion is set forth in the Zohar's discussion of why loaves of the previously banished hamez are brought as wave offerings on the festival of Shavuot. Zohar, II. 183a–b, and see Wolfson's translation and explanation in “Left Contained in the Right,” pp. 50–51.

172. See Bynum, C. W., Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women (Berkeley, 1987), pp. 282288.Google Scholar

173. In Abulafia's writings, the human soul is portrayed as the passive female, while the Active Intellect, which enters the soul, is portrayed as the bridegroom. Idel, , The Mystical Experience in Abraham Abulafia (Albany, 1988), p. 205.Google Scholar

174. R. J. Z. Werblowsky, review of Tishby's, I.Mishnat HaZohar, in Tarbiz 34 (1964): 204; Idel, Kabbalah, p. 210.Google Scholar

175. Bynum suggests that men were more inclined to utilize the imagery of symbolic inversion because “the precise gradations of society were self-definitions that might bear down with a psychological weight that demanded periodic release.” Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast, p. 286. The writings of Christian female mystics, on the other hand, display little use of gender inversion. Though medieval Christian women who sought to intensify the quality of their religious experience might actually try to pass as men, disguising themselves in order to enter monasteries or make pilgrimages, Bynum notes that female mystics were more likely to utilize imagery of continuity and of oneness with all mankind. Ibid., pp. 288–294. On crossdressing among women religious in the Byzantine world, see Patlagean, “L'histoire de la femme deguisee,” pp. 597–623. And cf. Anson, J., “The Female Transvestite in Early Monasticism,” Viator 5 (1974): 132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

176. On gender transformation, see M. Idel, “Sexual Metaphors and Praxis in Kabbalah,” in Kraemer, Jewish Family, pp. 208–209.

177. Hag. 16b, Hul. 85a, R.H. 33a, Er. 96b, after Sifra Lev. 2.

178. Zohar II. 166b, III.40b, and see Scholem, On the Kabbalah, pp. 47–50. Following the Zohar, Sefer HaKanah notes that the Oral Law, literally, the law which is transmitted by mouth, is associated with the tenth sefirah of Malkhut, or Kingship, citing, among other points of connection, the reference to the phrase “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” (Song of Songs 1:2), where “him” refers to the King.

179. See e.g., Talmage, DavidKimhi, pp. 82–83, 122–134; Scholem, Kabbalah, pp. 172–173.

180. On the interpretation of aggadah, see Saperstein, M., Decoding the Rabbis (Cambridge, 1980), chap. 1, and Scholem, Major Trends, pp. 28–32.Google Scholar

181. On the problem of attributing hidden metaphysical meaning to rabbinic texts and precepts, see Katz, Jacob, “Halakha Vekabbala–Maggaim Rishonim,” Halakha Vekabbala (Jerusalem, 1984), p. 16.Google Scholar

182. Text-destroying impulses are found in a range of kabbalistic sources, including the writings of Abulafia, Sefer HaZerufand Sefer HaTemunah. See, e.g., Idel, Mystical Experience of Abraham Abulafia, p. 140; idem, Kabbalah, pp. 208–215; idem, , Language, Torah and Hermeneutics in Abraham Abulafia (Albany, 1989), pp. 121124.Google Scholar

183. Sefer HaKanah, p. 76a.

184. Kid. 31a, B.K. 87a.

185. B.K. 87a, Kid. 31a. Drawing heavily on the Tosafot to Er. 96a-b, R. Asher b. Yehiel sets forth the reasoning underlying R. Tarn's decision in his commentary on Kid. 31a.

186. Kid. 31a.

187. See Tosafot, Er. 96b, “Michal bat Cushi”; R. Asher b. Yehiel, Kid. 3 la; R. Nissim, loc. cit.

188. R. Asher b. Yehiel gathers these alternate reasons in his commentary on Kid. 31a. Writing in the fourteenth century, R. Nissim confirms R. Tarn's conclusions, but inverts the order of causality: Women should recite the blessing asher kiddeshanu bemizvotav vezivvanu precisely because they receive reward for their performance of positive time-bound precepts. R. Nissim, Kid. 31a.

189. Sefer HaKanah, p. 76a. Cf. B.K. 87a, Meg. 24a, and Tosafot, loc. cit.; Tosafot on Er. 96b; R. Asher b. Yehiel and R. Nissim on Kid. 31a.

190. Sefer HaKanah, p. 76a. The teacher might have been expected to charge women in this situation with reciting a berakhah levatalah (i.e., a wasted blessing) in violation of the commandment against taking God's Name in vain. We might speculate that he avoided identifying this as their transgression in light of the discussion found in Tosafot Kid. 31a, Er. 96a–b; R. Nissim, R.H., no. 955.

191. Maimonides, M.T., Hil. Zizit 3:9; cf. Shulhan 'Arukh, O.H. 589:6. These rulings were quickly challenged and qualified by legists who held that women were permitted to recite blessings in such cases. See, e.g., the animadversion of R. Abraham b. David on M.T., ad loc; Isserles' gloss, ad loc.

192. See above, p. 00.

193. The futility of woman's voluntary performance of the precept of zizit is graphically conveyed in the teacher's depiction of woman's inability to approach the realm of the seven time-bound sefirot, entangled as she is in the colored eighth thread of the zizit. Sefer HaKanah, p. 43a. Here the teacher adopts the zoharic identification of tekhelet with the last sefirah, Malkhut, the takhlit, or end, into which all the sefirot flow, which at the same time includes, i.e., kolelet, them all. Zohar III.33a, III.175b. (On the identification of the sefirah Malkhut, generally thought of as the tenth or the seventh, with the number eight, see the Zohar's remarks on the holiday of Shemini Azeret, Zohar II. 187a, III.96b. I am grateful to Dr. Elliot Wolfson for clarifying this matter.)

194. Sefer HaKanah, pp. 75b–76a.

195. See, e.g., Chavel, Kol Kitvei Ramban, 1:150; Galia Raza.ed. R. Elior (Jerusalem, 1981), p. 65; Tikkunei Zohar, Introduction, p. 6a; Sefer HaPeliah, p. 4b.

196. See above, n. 59.

197. Sefer HaKanah. pp. 56b–57a. Cf. Tikkunei Zohar III. 18b, XXXVII.78a.

198. Sefer HaKanah, pp. 56b–57a. Cf. the halakhic ruling against performing circumcision at night. Ibid., p. 57a. In an oral communication, Dr. Elliot Wolfson has raised the question of whether the perspective of Sefer HaKanah's teacher represents a deviation from other kabbalistic attitudes on the sacral efficacy of “fighting fire with fire.” Nahmanides' commentary on Num. 21:9 seems to view this as a potent strategy and uses it to explain the efficacy of the copper serpent in saving those Israelites who had been bitten by snakes. One way of harmonizing the perspectives of Nahmanides and Sefer HaKanah is to assume a basic difference between the case of the copper serpent, on the hand, and women's performance of circumcision on the other. The copper serpent (fashioned by Moses following God's advice) may be understood to represent the demonic force within the divine, which is capable of subjugating the power of evil within the realm of Creation, thereby initiating the two-stage process of Redemption described by Wolfson. “The Left Contained in the Right,” pp. 27–52. The forces of Judgment which woman embodies, on the other hand, are evidently not regarded by Sefer HaKanah's teacher as representative of the forces of Judgment within the Godhead, and are therefore unable to eradicate other forces of Judgment from outside the realm of Divinity.

199. A.Z. 27a.

200. Cited in Sefer Halttur (New York, 1953), Hil. Milah, p. 53a.

201. Sheiltot, no. 37, Parashat Shemot (Venice, 1546), pp. 25–26.

202. Halakhot Gedolot, Hil. Milah (Vienna, 1810), p. 20d.

203. Alfasi on Shabbat, end chap. 19.

204. Or Zaru'a, Hil. Milah 11.97 (Zhitomir, 1862), p. 50b.

205. Cited in Hagahot Maimuniyyot on Hil. Milah 2:1.

206. Sefer Halttur, Hil. Milah III.53a.

207. M.T., Hil. Milah 2:1.

208. Abraham, R. b. David of Posquieres, Temim De'im, no. 171 (Warsaw, 1897), p. 43d.Google Scholar

209. Tur, Y.D. 264.

210. The tosafists note that even though R. Yohanan's opinion prevails in disputes with Rav, the opposite is true in the case at hand, due to the existence of a beraita attributed to R. Judah the Patriarch which accords with Rav's position. Tosafot, AZ 27a, s.v. “Ishah.”

211. Sefer Mizvot Katan, no. 157 (Jerusalem, 1968), p. 123. This is cited in Kol Bo, Milah, no. 73 (Fuerth, 1782), p. 33d. In his commentary on the Tur, Caro records a compromise position, stating that women ought not to perform milah, but if they have already done so, the circumcision is ritually valid. Beit Yosef, Y.D. 264.

212. B. A.Z. 27a.

213. Ibid.; Sefer HaKanah. p. 61b.

214. In a poetic elegy to his wife, Dulcea, who was killed by crusaders in 1197, R. Eleazar of Worms includes the following in a list of her virtues: “She looked for white wool with which to make zizit; she spun with enthusiasm.” The elegy of R. Eleazar of Worms for his wife, Dulcea, appears in Kamelhar, Israel, Rabbenu Eleazar miGarmaiza HaRokeah (Rzeszow, 1930), pp. 1719.Google Scholar This translation appears in Marcus, Ivan, “Mothers, Martyrs and Moneymakers: Some Jewish Women in Medieval Europe,” Conservative Judaism 38 (1985–86): 4042. Two generations later, Mordecai b. Hillel notes that “it is a custom that women make zizit” Mordecai. Men. 42, no. 949.Google Scholar

215. Tosafot on Men. 42a, “Minayyin”; Tosafot on Git. 45b, “Kol Sheyeshno”; and cf. Hagahot Maimuniyyot, Hil. Zizit 1:9. This perspective was later upheld in the Shulhan 'Arukh, O.H. 14:1, though it was qualified by the Ashkenazi glossator, Isserles.

216. Sefer HaKanah, p. 43a.

217. Described in Tosafot, Git. 45b, “Kol sheyeshno”; Rosh, Gittin, chap. 4, 46; Hagahot Maimuniyyot, Hil. Zizit 1:9; Beit Yosef on Tur, O.H. 14. Writing in the sixteenth century, R. Abraham Gombiner asserted that R. Tarn only prohibited women from tying the ritual fringes onto the corners of the garment, but not from spinning or weaving them. Magen Avraham, Shulhan Arukh, O.H. 14:1.

218. Cited in Mordecai, Menahot, no. 949, and Sefer HaAgur, no. 30 (Jerusalem, 1960), p. 21. Mordecai b. Hillel, who was a student of the Maharam, set forth a “compromise” view, ruling that, a priori, it is preferable that the zizit be made by a man. Piskei Mordecai, Halakhot Ketanot, no. 549.

219. Sefer HaKanah, p. 43a. Cf. Sefer HaBahir, Margaliot ed. (Jerusalem, 1950), pp. 92, 93; R. Ezra, Commentary on Song of Songs, in Chavel, Kitvei HaRamban, pp. 525–530.

220. Sefer HaKanah, p. 264.

221. Zev. 31b.

222. Tosafot, Hul. 2a.

223. M.T., Hil. Shehitah 4:4.

224. Sefer Mizvot Gadol, end of Positive Commandment 63 (reprint of Venice, 1547), p. 141a.

225. Sefer Mizvot Katan, no. 197 (Satu Mare, 1935), p. 189.

226. Mordecai, Hullin, no. 571 (beginning of chap. 1).

227. R. Asher ben Yehiel, Hullin 2a, beginning of Hullin, chap. 1.

228. Maggid Mishneh and Radbaz on M.T., Hil. Shehitah 4:4.

229. Beit Yosef Tur, Y.D. 1.

230. Duschinsky, C., “May a Woman Be a Shohetet?” in Occident and Orient: Gaster Anniversary Volume, ed. Schindler, B. (London, 1936), pp. 96106.Google Scholar

231. Roth, Jews of Renaissance Italy, p. 52.

232. Shulvass, M., Jews in the World of the Renaissance (Philadelphia, 1973), pp. 163166.Google Scholar

233. Bonfil, “Historian's Perception of the Jews,” pp. 73–75.

234. Though Eldad was regarded as an impostor by certain medieval writers, including Abraham Ibn Ezra and Meir of Rothenburg, his legal rulings were widely cited by rabbinic authorities. Azriel Shohat, “Eldad HaDani,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, 6:576–577.

235. Sefer HaAgur HaShalem. no. 1062, Hershler ed. (Jerusalem, 1960), p. 171.

236. Shab. 33b, Kid. 80b.

237. Bayyit Hadash, Tur, Y.D. 1.

238. Ibid.

239. Sefer HaKanah, p. 264, and similarly Zohar 1.70, 1.261a.

240. Sefer HaKanah, p. 264. Cf. the Zohar's statement that the sitra ahra, i.e., the realm of evil, bears some relation to shehitah, and as soon as any particular act of slaughter is rendered invalid, the powers of evil dominate. Zohar 1.151b.

241. See, e.g., Gries, “Hagdarat HaHanhaga keSug Sifruti biSifrut HaMusar halvrit.”

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A Kabbalistic Perspective on Gender-Specific Commandments: on the Interplay of Symbols and Society
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A Kabbalistic Perspective on Gender-Specific Commandments: on the Interplay of Symbols and Society
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A Kabbalistic Perspective on Gender-Specific Commandments: on the Interplay of Symbols and Society
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