Sunday, 31 May 2015

nedarim 2

the many ways to shun the other and not get any benefit from them. no matter what order you put it.

goodbye mesechet ketubot

goodbye mesechet ketubot.... this section begins with asking who has responsibility for the betrothed bride whose wedding has been delayed. Who will give her food and drink? It ends with stories of the miraculous produce of the land of Israel. Gargantuan fruits and grains, enough to sustain a nation of abandoned brides.

I was always led to believe that the ketubah, the marriage document, was instituted by the rabbis to protect the vulnerable women, so that they would have property should the marriage end in divorce, or her husband dies first. But steadily, bit by bit, the property isn't really hers. She has to contest it with the orphans, some of whom might be her own children. At one point in the discussion they note that the ketubah was paid in money, but those funds were too readily available to those who might be quick to anger and divorce. So the ketubah was kept in land, which is not so easily sold. And if she would want to sell it, she is paid in installments by the court.... many times over these months I have wanted to argue back - It's HER money!!! not the courts, or the heirs. but hers. These were the legal conditions she entered the marriage, and yet what should be hers is legally withheld from her.

Another bit of rabbinic cognitive dissidence, is when it is remarked that perhaps treating a wife badly would make her want to leave, and so one shouldn't do it. (e.g. distrusting her and making her swear an oath that she won't steal if he makes her a steward in his business) - the rabbis tell themselves that one wouldn't choose to live with a snake in a basket. Meaning, that no one really wants to stay in an abusive situation. I don't expect Talmudic rabbis to have the sensitivity of today with respect to domestic abuse situations, and why people 'choose' to stay with abusive spouses. But I do expect them to listen to their own words. Because also repeated throughout this tractate is an argument that a woman prefers to be married than single, even to an idiot, or a poor man who cannot provide food. (It is amazing how much of this is about food...) Because he gives her status in society.  In this society, the rules are such that single, divorced, or widowed women are vulnerable, find it hard to access their money and support themselves. They exist on the margins and the objects of pity and charity. These are rules of society that the rabbis discuss, refine and legislate.

Yet again I have faced the question: why am I learning this stuff.... and have found it hard to write up my thoughts and drawings every day. (Hence the huge chunk that I have posted today) But I keep coming back to the same answer. These difficult texts are not easy to walk away from. They form the basis for Jewish life and law, containing stories and discussions that are an ongoing conversation in beitei midrashim, academic halls and synagogues, online, and even art studios. Between the religious, the critical, the searching and the curious. I could read these texts with a sense of contextualisation - isn't it fascinating how society worked back then. But mainly I read these text with a sense of outrage that women weren't part of the discussions. How much could have been different if only women had the right of reply when certain assumptions were being made, or at least been better informed as to how the law worked, what questions to ask and how to manage one's resources... My stopping this learning won't silence the texts and make them a lesser part of the tradition. All it would do is silence my voice and prevent me being part of the conversation.

And so I picked up the ink-stick, ground it against the stone, dissolving it in water, and made the grey washes, and formed my reply. It's just not a voice I really wanted broadcast every day. Sorry.

ketubot 112

the fertility of the land, even the burial sites - but there's no guarantee of entry. Just ask the man buried, lost on the mountain.

ketubot ends discussing how fertile the land of Israel, even Hebron which is rocky and so used for burial. there is a story of a rabbi who was so keen to enter  he didn't wait for the ferry to cross the water. He was anxious as he didn't want to assume he was better than Moshe and could enter Israel.

ketubot 111

the land where the dead come back to life fully dressed, and the trees are heavy and sticky.

but the heartbroken ones die alone.

this page discusses the unique value of the land of Israel. the righteous who are buried there will come back to life, but fully dressed (no naked zombies...). those who are buried outside of the land will also be resurrected, but would have to roll to the land through underground tunnels. In the Venice Jewish cemetery there were some ancient gravestones, moved from the old cemetery that had circles cut out from the part that was below ground. So the dead wouldn't have any obstruction when they start rolling. Also on this page, Rabba's brothers write to him in Bavel trying to persuade him to move to Israel. They tell him of a man who loved a woman overseas, but he didn't have permission to move, so he died alone.

ketubot 110

who you can, and can't, force to move homes - but all change is dangerous.
even if it is for the best.

ketubot 109

the land with no path
and the bride with no dowry. both left and abandoned.

ketubot 108

the outrage of the male scholar of not being able to inherit due to gender.

ketubot 107

when the husband disappears without a trace - who, and what, will take care of the wife?

ketubot 106

those who transcribe the prophet's books in boxes,
and those who write holy scrolls are paid in temple coins

ketubot 105

how to corrupt a judge

ketubot 104

while he is welcomed and greeted above,
she has only limited time to state her case and claim what is hers to those below.

ketubot 103

deathbed concerns for the women, and Torah, left behind and may become forgotten.

ketubot 102

writing vs. verbal
does writing down a verbal agreement make it more or less official?

ketubot 101

in the absence of the father - who takes care of the daughter?

ketubot 100


silence prevents the slave from escaping
& the barren women from receiving her money.

ketubot 99

agent vs. court acting for the seller - agents can have their own mind.
but the courts establish the value of the land.

ketubot 98

if the widow takes what is hers, she keeps it.

but how can the widow claim what is hers and her sales aren't trusted - who would buy from her?

ketubot 97

when she sells her property - pay her in installments.

but a woman involved in too much court procedures are just so unattractive.

ketubot 96

how long is the widow the heirs' responsibility?
 her silence = walking away

ketubot 95

buying and selling property when others have a claim on it - nothing is fixed. land is bigger then all of them.

ketubot 94

concerned she will take everything from the land, or give it away twice.

ketubot 93

the surviving widows dividing the estate according to time - connected to each by inheriting from the same man, they disconnect from each other.

ketubot 92

the circle of debt and land claims,
 selling something that you owe another.

ketubot 91

while the brothers and half brothers fight over the insufficient estate, the daughter is empty-handed.

ketubot 90

pitching orphan against orphan.
the one who still has a mother, and the one without.

ketubot 89

getting married and divorced in dangerous times, without witness or documents.

- puts her at greater risk and in more danger.

ketubot 88

the orphaned heirs vs. the widow

but who are these orphans to her?

ketubot 87

whoever is less precise needs to swear an oath.

ketubot 86

a woman prefers to be married.

even to a snake in a basket?

ketubot 85

standing before the judges and scholars, better have their wives on your side - or be a scholar.

ketubot 84

the hands that grab and try to claim her grave as theirs.

ketubot 83

the husband who leaves his wife's land's produce alone...
so when does he, or his heirs, get their hands on it?

ketubot 82

locking the women's payment into land - harder to get at than money, which is too easily given in anger.

ketubot 81

jealous men who trick the women and make them eat and drink.

ketubot 80

he works her land, but it is still hers.
but who buries the dead betrothed girl/

ketubot 79

her land
her trees
his fruits

ketubot 78

can the land really be hers if he cancel her sales and gifts?

ketubot 77

blemished me with fragile lives
perfect men who steal death's knife.

ketubot 76

comparing exchanging defective animals with marrying a blemished bride.

ketubot 75

the blemished bride

ketubot 74

sleeping with her and then walking away from the commitment and fulfilling the promise.

ketubot 73

no return.
once she left his house, she doesn't return to her father's house... so where does she go?

ketubot 72

can't keep her locked behind doors.
but divorce her if she goes out too much.

ketubot 71

if she is turning herself repulsive and refusing pleasure and adornment
- just let her go.

ketubot 70

even when he is dead to her, he has to sustain and look after her.
or set her free.

ketubot 69

the women who may be outed from the land

and the man who threatens to drown into the sea.

ketubot 68

not all who beg have self-inflicted injuries - some never got their tenth.

ketubot 67

the women who gives charity directly from home don't get burnt.
women who set up homes and not beg

ketubot 66

nothing stays the same - they increase and decrease in value.
everything turns to shit, even wealthy, proud women and widows.