Jewish Women and Positive Time-bound Commandments: Reconsidering the Rabbinic Texts

Anat Israeli


The starting point of this article is that Jewish law defined the difference between the sexes and created a gender hierarchy through a broad generalization (accompanied by a long list of exceptions) which created a link between halakhic obligation, gender and time. It argues that there is no coincidence that the halakhic starting point on this issue depends on a time-bound definition. From its inception, Judaism has dealt with the formation of a uniquely Jewish conception of time, different from that of its surroundings, including both linear and circular characteristics, a concept of time widely expressed already in the Bible. After the destruction of the second Temple this Jewish concept of time had an additional challenge to deal with – the structuring of Jewish time as a central component of Jewish identity, which both preserves and protects it. Women were perceived as both belonging and not belonging, capable and incapable, only partial partners in the great cultural and spiritual Jewish challenge. The definition of women’s partial partnership through time is therefore well suited to the place and importance of time in the Jewish concept of the world in general, and the rabbinical one in particular. 

Full Text:


© 1997-2018 Women in Judaism, Inc. ISSN 1209-9392

Women in Judaism, Inc. is a registered not-for-ptofit organization.

Thornhill, Ontario, Canada


If you enjoy this journal, please consider donating.