Suggested Discussion Questions:
1. Note: Hermaphrodite is an outdated, translation of "androgynus" (אנדרוגינוס) deriving from the Greek "andro" (male) and "gyne" (female). The contemporary word for a person of ambiguous sexual identity is intersex. Rabbi Jose's view is that such a person with double or ambiguous genitalia constitutes a unique third sex, being neither male nor female. The sages think that there are only two possibilities, male or female, but they did not rule on the matter. There are two ways to read the rabbis here. Either they felt unable to decide or they actively chose not to vote and to leave the matter without a halakhic determination. What difference would it make if we read this one way or another?
1. What is practical difference might there be between the positions of Rabbi Jose (adrogynus is a third sex) and the rabbis (there are only two sexes but androgyus's sex is unknown)?
2. How do you think Rabbi Jose would justify his view that there exists a third sex not found in the Torah? What might have been his source for such a position?
3. In what ways is sex a biological category and in what ways is it a social category?