Wednesday, 18 February 2015

ketubot 15

something happened to her. or rather, someone...
but who? they can't be identified.
more doubt and uncertainty. so have to assume in order to know who else she could be with.

girl goes to local watering spot. girl has a sexual encounter with a stranger. but who? and what was there status. because depending on what his status is will decide if she is 'fit' to marry a priest. because in this discussion, that is what matters. (am waiting for the subject of the discussion to be addressing the injustice done to her...) In doubtful situations, either go with the majority or 50/50. but someone knows definitively what, and who, happened to her.
but he's not going to admit that is he?

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

ketubot 14

when doubt and silence
define status
and marriage eligability

Monday, 16 February 2015

ketubot 13

the lips that spoke in secret might not be able to speak about what was 'said' - they won't be heard or believed.

ketubot 12

putting a value on a field that has already been planted, ploughed or damaged.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

ketubot 11

a poke in the eye or shoved with a stick...

this page discusses the ketubah payment to various women, based on their status as a virgin or non-virgin when married. And describes different sexual relationships. A minor girl and an adult man is apparently like "sticking a finger in the eye" and not sex. A minor boy and an adult woman is the equivalent of a woman being penetrated by a piece of wood - and it is discussed if this is a sexual act (something has happened) albeit not by another person. Childhood sexuality. Saying that nothing really happened to a girl, and reducing what has happened for the boy.... it's more than problematic. 


Friday, 13 February 2015

ketubot 10

examining open entrances
blood stains
and dates

various stories of grooms claiming their bride was not a virgin. The Rabbis question him as to how he could tell, or perhaps he penetrated at a particular angle, or the blood wasn't seen as it was covered by semen. or no blood, due to malnutrition, or family characteristic that the women in her family don't menstruate. And then a discussion about dates. If they are good for the body, bad for the body. Good for the body but not for the mind as they make you drowsy. but they are non-addictive.

ketubot 9

the trap of the 'open entrance'

what is going to stop him making a claim, keeping his money and showing her the door.

if a groom is believed when he claims there is an 'open entrance' - the bride was not a virgin, and so does not receive her ketubah money - then she has to go....
this question is insufficiently answered on the following page. 


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

ketubot 8

all will drink from the cup of death.

but with 'comforters' like Reish Lakish, is it any surprise that the mourners need 10 cups of wine.... 10!

ok. make it 14 cups...

this page refers to brachot said to a mourner, and a story of Resh Lakish visiting R. Chaya after his child died. The verses he gets his colleague to quote aren't exactly comforting - children die as God punishes the parents, young men are all evil and deserve God's anger, and isn't God great! Even the talmud finds this odd and remarks that these aren't comforting words to a mourner. Also on this page is the practice for mourners to drink 10 cups of wine. 3 pre-meal as a aperitif, 3 during the meal, 4 as a digestif post-meal to echo the 4 blessings in grace after meals. another 4 were added to the 10, until they noticed that people were getting too drunk. so they went back to 10. 

this seems to be a Jewish mourning custom that has fallen out of practice. Saying stupid 'frum' things to people in time of grief however, is timeless. 

ketubot 7

it takes 10 men to praise God, and to speak about matters of the womb.

but women are not needed.

why does it need a minyan to say the 7 blessings in a wedding - all about the womb. 


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

ketubot 6

sex with a virgin
there is much to think about.
getting the right angle
and clearing the pebbles.

continuing the discussion about sex with a virgin, and what type of wound that causes, and if it is ok to do on shabbat. A groom who is about to sleep with a virgin has much on his mind, and therefore too distracted to say shema. And the discussion about what type of a wound is made when the hymen is broken and there is bleeding, compares it to pushing through a narrow breach on shabbat and inevitably dislodging pebbles. It's a *lovely* comparison, that makes me wince. And then there are those (non-Babylonians) who know how to penetrate at just the right angle to not cause bleeding in the first place. But where did the groom get his sexual experience and learn this technique? 


Monday, 9 February 2015

ketubot 5

what is the blood on the fingers?
or between the legs?

continuing the debate about what day of the week a virgin should get married, it is discussed if a woman could have sex for the first time on shabbat. This would cause bleeding, which might be problematic from a shabbat viewpoint as it could be understood as causing a wound, and other prohibited shabbat activities.  Also mentioned on this page is a statement that fingers are like spikes, even though they are joined at the base, they are individual. and each finger on a hand is used in a different way in the Temple rituals. Some for measuring, and some for dipping in blood.

Friday, 6 February 2015

ketubot 4


when death and life overlap

when to delay the wedding
& when not to let the food go to waste

this page discusses when weddings are unavoidably delayed, and refers to cases of the couple's parents dying and having the celebrate a wedding and mourn a parent at the same time. It comes down to not wasting the food brought for the wedding feast.

ketubot 3

who is watching the virgin?
is it with intent to protect or to harm?

- either way, both see her as vulnerable.

virgins should marry on a wednesday, then if the groom has a concern about her virginity then he can take her to the court that mets on a thursday. But the court also meets on Mondays, and pre-Ezra they met everyday. So she could also be married on Sunday. However the rabbis are watching over the daughters and want to make sure that the groom properly prepares for the wedding feast for 3 consecutive days. The other 'watching' in the text is during times of danger when there was a perceived threat from the hostile local gentile authority that they would demand to sleep with the bride on her wedding day. 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

ketubot 2

married on the wrong day.
who will feed her
or check her?

virgins should be married on a wednesday. because then, if the groom has any doubts about her virginity, he can go to court first thing on thursday. also discussed is if the wedding is delayed, does the groom have any obligation to provide food for his wife-in-waiting.

hello masechet ketubot. I think we're in for a rough ride. after yevamot, I'm ready...

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

goodbye yevamot


Goodbye yevamot. I think this was perhaps the most difficult and challenging tractates to learn so far. And I questioned many times why I was doing this project. and wouldn't it be easier to just stop... It wasn't because of the technical who is related to whom, but it had everything. Women as property to be a vessel for the precious name and memory of a man who has died without children. And the women who die childless? who remembers them? where is their living legacy? 

I have read various articles about how this is just the Talmudic rabbis being very practical with the realities of a life, sex with minors happened. men went missing and women were dependent on men. But also in this tractate are various incestuous relationships, which they can only discuss by saying this is how gentiles behave. So it isn't really unemotional practical solutions to difficult and complex situations. This is not how a vulnerable widow is given protection in a society, or else it wouldn't make a difference if she was capable of having children or not. There are a lot of value judgements about the capabilities of women. and gentiles. and the mentally ill and physically impaired. Of course it is problematic to impose contemporary understanding on a society and culture that is so very different to today. But here's the thing. Some of the more painful parts of this texts hurt because one can see an echo of these attitudes in all types of society today. Men's names become the family name, and that name continues with the male heirs. Childless women are marginalised. Intimate relationships are about ownership (She/He's mine!) Rabbis wield power over personal status issues. The Talmud is not studied as a fascinating historical record. It calls for a response. 

So this has been my response. There are only so many times I can say WTFYevamot! It is shocking to learn about sex with very young girls being discussed casually as not a problem, they won't get pregnant (which would be dangerous for a 9 year old), because God looks after the simple. The first time that came up, I was appalled. The second time, it was still shocking. The third time, oh here we go again.. but by the fourth and fifth. I barely raised an eyebrow, as I was used to it, could sense it was coming by the way the arguements were playing out. And that really did shock me. The Talmud is not studied as a fascinating historical record. Learning it regularly, it's attitudes and values have become normalised. And I prefer to find sex with 9 year old girls shocking. 

The drawings for Yevamot were done with mechanical pencil on lined notebooks. The drawings were sparse and very simple compared to some of the other tractates. I didn't enjoy learning this material, and so did the lightest of touches for the drawings (although some of them took probably just as long as the more complex drawings. drawing, redrawing, ranting, erasing, redrawing...) Apologies for not posting them daily either. It was just too much. 

But this is just the start of Seder Nashim. A whole section of Talmud discussing women. I have been very cheered by hearing from others that they also find it problematic. and not willing to accept ways to contextualise, intellectualise the difficulties away. And if I stop doing this daf yomi project, I might be happier but these discussions will still be in the Talmud, in the jewish tradition, but my response will be absent. So the outrage is there, and so am I. I am still sitting in my studio learning this stuff. drawing away. for now anyway. Maybe Ketubot will break me.  


yevamot 122

the torah scholars may tell themselves that they are making peace, freeing the widow and allowing her to remarry. based on some people's testimony and throw away remarks.

but not everyone's. after all, there are demons that lurk in the shadows. so has to be under great scrutiny.

yevamot 121

sleeping with the fishes

or

find a way to surf to shore

if a man falls into open water, cannot assume they have drowned, they might have kept their heads down and went with the waves and got to safety. If the water is enclosed and they don't emerge, then can assume that they have drowned. 

yevamot 120

hiding identities and revealing death

who nose whose body this is.

need a nose to recognise the face and how to identify a corpse. after 3 days, the body has decayed. Also discussed is when to testify that the person has died - if they are torn apart, mauled by wild animals, in a fire, fallen in cistern...

yevamot 119

if only legislate for a world where married women are bound to get pregnant, then the need for levirite marriage wouldn't exist.
because if a married man died childless, then somewhere there is a woman who didn't get inevitably pregnant at the right time.

discussed on this page is the case of a couple going overseas, but leaving a wife behind. The message comes through that the man has died. Should the widow wait to hear if her rival wife, the one accompanied him abroad, is pregnant. and then won't need to do yibbum and therefore. can marry anyone? she's in a difficult situation, can't marry the yavam, and can't marry anyone else. Discussed is the assumption that the majority of women get pregnant, and don't legislate for minority cases. 

yevamot 118

you better believe the woman when she says that her husband is dead, or that she is divorced.
why would she lie about such a thing?
a husband, even an idiot husband, is so useful for covering up the infidelities and the awkward pregnancies.

this has to be my favourite bit of misogyny so far (and there is much to choose). women prefer to be married, even to an ant, or a low-class person and see that as high status. why? does it give her stability? love? she's not alone? - nope. a married woman can hide her affairs by claiming the illegitimate children are her husbands.

you talmudic rabbis, you know married women so well. But considering how some of you speak about women, is it any surprise that the wives are looking elsewhere for love and intimacy.... 

yevamot 117

just how many women hate the widow?

is it any surprise that the female members of the family hate her. the only way for the widow to have her money from the ketubah, so she can buy her own food and not take from her late husband's family, is through wanting another husband.
and pretending that she is not really interested in her money.

listed on this page are the various women whose testimony is not to be trusted if the husband is alive or not, which would benefit the widow and allow her to move on with her life. they are various female relatives who hate her, because they have had to share their food with her.  Giving a picture of women against women in competing either for the resources that the men supply, or for the men's intimacy and who knows him best. The animosity between mother/sister/daughter-in-law & the wife of the man seems inevitable in this system of dependency. 

yevamot 116

falling tears or grain.

when is a woman believed?
when she is crying and grieving
or
when it is harvest time?

yevamot 115

the man destroyed by fire or water

leaving the woman stranded

unless there is something to salvage.

yevamot 114

limits if a grown woman's mind

the woman, who in distressing times, will imagine the worst and cannot be trusted.

and the child who eats whatever they want and no one corrects them

discussed on this page is if one is obligated to stop a child breaking a torah law, like eating non-kosher food. also on this page is the case of a couple who went overseas and she returns and claims her husband is dead. if it is a time of war, she is not credible as she is just imagining the worst case scenerio. 

yevamot 113

only the insane woman cannot be divorced without her consent. which she cannot give.

it's enough to drive you mad.

yevamot 112

 the woman who wants to be on her own,

or can't be with anyone.

A woman who is described as insane, an imbecile, is like living with a snake, and the obligation of leverite marriage doesn't apply to her. also on this page is the woman who says that there was no sex in the yibbum marriage, and the woman who vows to not get any benefit from her yavam. she clearly does not want to be married. leave her alone. 

yevamot 111

the one who cannot vocalise her release

and the ones who are bound to grow up together.

a deaf-mute woman cannot do the halitza ceremony as she is not able to say the set text. and 2 children who have a yibbum bond, are put together to grow up together. 

yevamot 110

sex now with someone who is intellectually inferior.

or wait til she's all grown up.

is it better to do leverite marriage with an adult deaf-mute (who is considered intellectually inferior) or a minor. both of whom are rabbinic bond not torah leverite bond.