Why Jewish Women are not Permitted to Work on the Festival of Rosh Hodesh: An Anthropological Explanation

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Dr. Fishbane's monograph explores the cultural and theological reasons behind the Jewish ritual of not allowing women work on the festival of Rosh Hodesh. Rabbinic Judaism is patriarchal in nature and the ritual appears to be an exemption to cultural norms.


"Rabbinic Judaism, and especially early Rabbinic Judaism is not compatible with Feminist ideology. In the cosmos of the Rabbis, women were subservient to men. This essay will explore these time exemptions and their literary and historical development. In doing so, I will make use of social scientific tools to derive the motivation behind these customs and why they were never actively incorporated into Jewish observance."

Table of Contents

The Problem

First Consideration: Cross-Cultural Influence

Second Consideration: Women in Judaism

Third Consideration: Structure of the Jewish Family

Work Exemptions in the Yerushalmi

The Position of the other Rishonim

Codification of the Law Against Working

Additional Views of the Achronim

Discussion - Rosh Hodest

Cross Cultural Religion - A Comparison

Additional Illustrations from the Talmud Yerushalmi

The First Nine Days of the Hebrew Month of Av

Three Additional Customs

Not Working on Saturday after the conclusion of the Sabbath
Not Working on Monday and Thursday
Not Working before the Commencing of the Sabbath and Holidays

Two Non-Talmudic Cases

In the Evenings between Passover and Shavuot (sefirat haomer)
Not Working while the Hanukah lights are burning

Summary and Concluding Remarks

Works Cited

Other Jewish Studies Books

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