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Education And Trades Of Jewish Women In Pre 1492 Spain Compared With Education And Trades Of Jewish Women In Ashkenaz

2939 words - 12 pages

Education and Trades of Jewish Women in Pre-1492 Spain Compared With Education and Trades of Jewish Women in AshkenazIntroductionThe position of women in the societies of pre-1492 Spain and Ashkenaz has been recognized as differing significantly from that of the woman in traditional Jewish society. Both the societies had great opportunities for women in education and trade. A number of authors have agreed that women in pre-1492 Spain and Ashkenaz played important role for the promotion of education. According to them, women of these societies also played an unusual role in the perpetuation and preservation of observances associated with Judaism. For example, Grossma (2004) provided a broad general idea of the social status of Jewish women in the Muslim and Christian-dominated areas in the Middle Ages. The author has also discussed in detail the role of women in education and trade in the transitional environment of pre-1492 Spain. "In Ashkenaz and Spain, certain financial arrangement was fixed regarding marriage and the rights of divorced or widowed women to inherit the family property. These arrangements were extremely comprehensive, clearly affecting the woman's status, and one can see a clear development therein." (Grossma 149)Moving from an assessment of the common particulars of the medieval Jewish penitential systems to a consideration of their respective historical evolutions, one can hardly avoid noticing importance of Jewish women's role in education and trade. On the whole, this parallel evolution takes the form of a tendency toward spiritualization manifest in the increasing valuation of internal attitudes over external acts. In Jewish culture, there is an obvious devaluation of expiatory acts and a growing emphasis upon contrition, the attitudinal component of penitence. Baumgarten (2004) in his work pointed out some differences in the trends of education for Jewish women in Spain and Ashkenaz. He gave great emphasis to the medical education of women of the two societies. "Explicit instructions that maternal breast-feeding is superior to hired help appear only in Jewish sources from Spain and Italy. This is not surprising, as this advice is found in medical tractates written in Italy and Spain; such tracts were almost nonexistent in medieval Ashkenaz." (Baumgarten 133) But approach towards education for women in the two societies seemed similar. The women helped men in meeting the financial needs of their families and thus had a role in the trade. According to Grossma (2004), husbands in the pre-1492 Spain and Ashkenaz remained concerned about the education of their wives. "We have thus seen that some sages in Babylonia, in Spain, and in Ashkenaz allowed the husband to beat his wife for purposes of education, despite the fact that there is no explicit source for this in the Mishnah or the Talmud." (Grossma 229)Jewish society in Pre-1492 SpainIn order to understand the education and trades of Jewish Women it is necessary to discuss the...

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