Download Fertility and Jewish Law: Feminist Perspectives on Orthodox by Ronit Irshai PDF

By Ronit Irshai

This publication provides, from the viewpoint of feminist jurisprudence and feminist and liberal bioethics, a whole learn of Jewish legislations (halakhah) on modern reproductive matters equivalent to contraception, abortion, and assisted fertility. Irshai examines those concerns to probe gender-based values that underlie the interpretations and determinations reached by way of glossy practitioners of halakhah. Her basic aim is to inform, via universal halakhic instruments, a special halakhic tale, person who takes account of the feminine narrative and its lacking point of view.

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But some say: This implies that one who has children may refrain from procreation and may refrain as well from having a wife. Shall we say that this contradicts what Rav Na≠hman said in the name of Samuel? No—[it means that] if he has no children, he should take a wife capable of bearing children; if he has children, he may take a wife incapable of bearing children. What is the practical di√erence? A Torah scroll may be sold to pay wedding expenses only if the marriage is for the purpose of bearing children.

In fact, they argue that the differing concepts of marriage in Roman-Hellenistic society and in the PersianZoroastrian world explain some of the di√erences between attitudes in the two large centers of Jewish life concerning the importance of marriage and procreation, the tension between the intellectual-scholarly world and the institution of marriage, and various solutions proposed for dealing with these problems. In the Land of Israel, men married at a relatively late age, allowing them to study Torah unencumbered by the obligations of married life.

35:11]: ‘‘I am El Shaddai. ’’ (bt Yev. 65b) This mishnah introduces two key innovations: it emphasizes the duty to reproduce, treating procreation as a commandment rather than as the blessing implied by the plain meaning of the biblical verse; and it interprets the verse as addressed exclusively to men, Rabbi Yo≠hanan ben Beroqa’s dissent notwithstanding. Women’s exemption from the commandment to be fertile and increase is surprising, to say the least. Procreation is not a time-determined positive commandment (from which women, as a rule, are exempt), and the gemara’s argument suggests at most that the nature of the commandment (‘‘to conquer’’) is more suited to the male character.

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