Sisterhood Blog

The End of Women-Only Torah Study?

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

matan.org
Matan founder Malke Bina

It is a sad week for women’s Torah study, with the news that the Advanced Talmudic Institute at Matan — founded 24 years ago by Rabbanit Malke Bina — is closing its doors.

Matan did not confirm its reason for closing, but I suspect that the approaching sunset of one of its main funders, the Avi Chai Foundation may be part of it.

Situated in Jerusalem, Matan was one of a very small handful of programs that made the full-time pursuit of Talmud study available to Orthodox women. Nishmat and Bar-Ilan University’s Midrasha are the other major programs in Israel (along with Pardes, which attracts a primarily non-Orthodox crowd).

In the U.S., Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women offers a master’s in Biblical and Talmudic Interpretation, and last year YU awarded its first-ever doctorate in Talmud study to a woman.

And there’s also Drisha, a Manhattan center for women’s Torah study, which offers a Scholars’ Circle for the most advanced female Torah students, but does not grant academic degrees. When visionary Rabbi David Silber opened Drisha in 1979, it was the only game in town for women thirsty for in-depth, text-based Torah study. Today, there are other options, like the traditional egalitarian Mechon Hadar, which also offers full-time learning fellowships.

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How Badly Do Women Want To Be Married? New Research Challenges Talmudic View

By Elana Sztokman

How badly do women want to be married? This is a question that has been asked from the Talmud to The New York Times, and the answers can be counterintuitive.

Tav l’metav tan du m’lmetav armelu. “It’s better to lie with another body than to lie as a widow.” (Babylonian Talmud Kiddushin 7a) This Talmudic dictate, attributed to the sage and former pirate Resh Lakish, implies that women would prefer to be married to anyone at all than to be single — and it is one of the most controversial policy principles in Jewish literature. The idea that women prefer to be married – even to someone who smells bad, who is perpetually unemployed, or who is obnoxious and abusive – has been used to justify many of the rabbinic laws that make it hard for a woman to get divorced.

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