There have been great and virtuous women, but in several respects the tzidkaniot (saintly women) have been unlike the tzaddikim. Beruria, the schoarly wife of Rabbi Meir, the Talmudic sage, and a few exceptional women like her stepped outside the limits of the feminine role, but legend relates how Beruria came to a bad end, implying that her sin was the direct result of her "abnormal" scholarship. There is no continuous tradition of learned women in Jewish history. Instead there are many tzidkaniot, some named, some unnamed, all of whom were pious and chaste, outstandingly charitable, and, in many cases, who supported their husbands. In contrast, there are innumerable accounts of tzaddikim, some rationalists, some mystics, some joyous, some ascetic, singers, dancers, poets, halachists, all bringing to God the service of a singular, inimitable self.
Suggested Discussion Questions:
1. Who are the traditional Jewish female role models? What is Adler's critique of them?
2. Who serves as a positive female role model today? Why?
Time Period: Contemporary (The Yom Kippur War until the present-day)