#timesup or Behind the Times? #metoo Meets the Talmud
1 א

I. Sexual Humiliation and Women's Rights to Their Own Bodies

2 ב

מתני׳ התוקע לחבירו נותן לו סלע ... העביר טליתו ממנו פרע ראש האשה בשוק נותן לו ארבע מאות זוז

MISHNA: One who strikes another must give him a sela [for the embarrassment suffered].... or if he removed the other’s cloak from him, or if he uncovered the head of a woman in the marketplace, in all of these cases, he must give the injured party four hundred dinars.

3 ג

... ומעשה באחד שפרע ראש האשה בשוק באת לפני רבי עקיבא וחייבו ליתן לה ארבע מאות זוז אמר לו רבי תן לי זמן ונתן לו זמן שמרה עומדת על פתח חצרה ושבר את הכד בפניה ובו כאיסר שמן גילתה את ראשה והיתה מטפחת ומנחת ידה על ראשה העמיד עליה עדים ובא לפני רבי עקיבא א"ל לזו אני נותן ד' מאות זוז א"ל לא אמרת כלום החובל בעצמו אף על פי שאינו רשאי פטור אחרים שחבלו בו חייבים והקוצץ נטיעותיו אף על פי שאינו רשאי פטור אחרים חייבין:

...And an incident occurred involving one who uncovered the head of a woman in the marketplace, and the woman came before Rabbi Akiva to request that he render the assailant liable to pay for the humiliation that she suffered, and Rabbi Akiva rendered the assailant liable to give her four hundred dinars. The man said to Rabbi Akiva: My teacher, give me time to pay the penalty, and Rabbi Akiva gave him time. The man then waited for her until she was standing by the opening of her courtyard, and he broke a jug in front of her, and there was the value of about an issar of oil inside the jug. The woman then exposed her own head and she was wetting [metapaḥat] her hand in the oil, and placing her hand on her head to make use of the oil. The man set up witnesses to observe her actions, and he came before Rabbi Akiva, and he said to him: Will I give four hundred dinars to this woman for having uncovered her head? By uncovering her head for a minimal benefit, she has demonstrated that this does not cause her humiliation. Rabbi Akiva said to him: You did not say anything, i.e., this claim will not exempt you. One who injures himself, although it is not permitted for him to do so, is nevertheless exempt from any sort of penalty, but others who injured him are liable to pay him. In this case as well, the man was liable to compensate the woman for shaming her, despite the fact that she did the same to herself. Similarly, one who cuts down his own saplings, although it is not permitted for him to do so, as this violates the prohibition of: “You shall not destroy” (see Deuteronomy 20:19), is exempt from any penalty, but others who cut down his saplings are liable to pay him.

4 ד

מתני׳ המבייש את הערום המבייש את הסומא והמבייש את הישן חייב...

גמ׳ ת"ר ביישו ערום חייב ואינו דומה ביישו ערום לביישו לבוש ביישו בבית המרחץ חייב ואינו דומה ביישו בבית המרחץ לביישו בשוק אמר מר ביישו ערום חייב ערום בר בושת הוא אמר רב פפא מאי ערום דאתא זיקא כרכינהו למאניה ואתא הוא דלינהו טפי וביישיה

MISHNA: One who humiliates a naked person, or one who humiliates a blind person, or one who humiliates a sleeping person is liable...

GEMARA: The Sages taught in a baraita (Tosefta 9:12): If one humiliated another who was naked, he is liable, but the magnitude of humiliation felt when he humiliated him while naked is not comparable to the magnitude of humiliation felt had he humiliated him while clothed, since one who chooses to be naked is less sensitive to humiliation. Similarly, if one humiliated another in a bathhouse, he is liable, but the magnitude of humiliation felt when he humiliated him in a bathhouse is not comparable to the magnitude of humiliation felt had he humiliated him in the marketplace. The Gemara clarifies the baraita: The Master says: If one humiliated another who was naked, the one who humiliated him is liable. The Gemara asks: Is a naked person subject to humiliation? Is it possible to humiliate him in this state? Rav Pappa said: What does the baraita mean when it says: Naked? It means a case where a gust of wind came and lifted his clothes, and then this one came and raised them higher and humiliated him.

5 ה

ערום בר בושת הוא - בתמיה. כיון דאין מקפיד לילך ערום בפני בני אדם מי הוי בר בושת:

Is a naked person subject to embarrassment?--[The question is asked] in astonishment. Since he is not particular about walking around naked in front of others, can he really be considered someone subject to embarrassment?

6 ו

ערום בר בושת הוא - פי' בקונטרס ... וק' לפירושו מ"ש דפריך אברייתא הוה ליה למפרך אמתניתין דקתני המבייש את הערום חייב ונראה לפרש דאמתניתין לא פריך דפשיטא דערום בר בושת הוא אם רוקק בו או סטרו אבל לשון הברייתא משמע ליה ביישו ערום שמביישו במה שמגלהו ומערימו ועוד דקתני אין דומה ביישו ערום לביישו לבוש ואם רוקק בו או סוטרו כך מתבייש כשהוא ערום כמו כשהוא לבוש ולכך פריך ערום בר בושת הוא אם הוא ערום היאך הערימו ...

"Is a naked person subject to embarrassment?"-- [Rashi] explains...But there is a difficulty with his explanation: Why did [the Gemara] make this challenge [that a naked person is not subject to embarrassment] based on the Baraita? It should have challenged our Mishnah, which states "someone who embarrasses a naked person is liable."

It seems better to explain that the Gemara is not challenging the Mishnah [i.e. the notion that a naked person is subject to embarrassment in general], as it is obvious that a naked person should be subject to embarrassment if someone spits at him or slaps him. Rather, the language of the Baraita is suggesting regarding the embarrassment of the naked person that [the assailant] is shaming [the naked person] specifically by revealing him and making him naked.

And furthermore, [the Baraita] teaches "the shaming of a naked person is not comparable to shaming a clothed person." If [the assailant] spit at him or slapped [a naked person], he would be just as embarrassed when naked as he would have been if he had been clothed. Therefore, the Gemara challenges: "is a naked person subject to embarrassment?" if he is naked, how can [the assailant] denude him?

7 ז

II. Humiliation Through Speech

8 ח

תני תנא קמיה דרב נחמן בר יצחק כל המלבין פני חבירו ברבים כאילו שופך דמים א"ל שפיר קא אמרת דחזינא ליה דאזיל סומקא ואתי חוורא אמר

h/t Rebecca Hornstein

The Gemara relates that the tanna who recited mishnayot and baraitot in the study hall taught a baraita before Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak: Anyone who humiliates another in public, it is as though he were spilling blood. Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said to him: You have spoken well, as we see that after the humiliated person blushes, the red leaves his face and pallor comes in its place, which is tantamount to spilling his blood.

9 ט

III. Death Before Using Women

10 י

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב מעשה באדם אחד שנתן עיניו באשה אחת והעלה לבו טינא ובאו ושאלו לרופאים ואמרו אין לו תקנה עד שתבעל אמרו חכמים ימות ואל תבעל לו תעמוד לפניו ערומה ימות ואל תעמוד לפניו ערומה תספר עמו מאחורי הגדר ימות ולא תספר עמו מאחורי הגדר פליגי בה ר' יעקב בר אידי ור' שמואל בר נחמני חד אמר אשת איש היתה וחד אמר פנויה היתה בשלמא למאן דאמר אשת איש היתה שפיר אלא למ"ד פנויה היתה מאי כולי האי רב פפא אמר משום פגם משפחה רב אחא בריה דרב איקא אמר כדי שלא יהו בנות ישראל פרוצות בעריות.

h/t Nechama Barash Goldman of Pardes

Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: There was an incident involving a certain man who set his eyes upon a certain woman and passion rose in his heart, to the point that he became deathly ill. And they came and asked doctors what was to be done with him. And the doctors said: He will have no cure until she engages in sexual intercourse with him. The Sages said: Let him die, and she may not engage in sexual intercourse with him. The doctors said: She should at least stand naked before him. The Sages said: Let him die, and she may not stand naked before him. The doctors suggested: The woman should at least converse with him behind a fence in a secluded area, so that he should derive a small amount of pleasure from the encounter. The Sages insisted: Let him die, and she may not converse with him behind a fence. The Gemara comments: Rabbi Ya’akov bar Idi and Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani disagree about this issue. One of them says: The woman in question was a married woman, and the other one says: She was unmarried. The Gemara tries to clarify the issue: Granted, according to the one who says that she was a married woman, the matter is properly understood, since the case involved a severely prohibited forbidden relationship. But according to the one who says that she was unmarried, what is the reason for all this opposition? Rav Pappa says: This is due to the potential family flaw, i.e., harm to the family name. Rav Aḥa, son of Rav Ika, says: This is so that the daughters of Israel should not be promiscuous with regard to forbidden sexual relations. Were they to listen to the doctors’ recommendations, Jewish women might lose moral restraint.

11 יא

מִי שֶׁנָּתַן עֵינָיו בְּאִשָּׁה וְחָלָה ... שֶׁלֹּא יְהוּ בְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל הֶפְקֵר וְיָבוֹאוּ בִּדְבָרִים אֵלּוּ לִפְרֹץ בַּעֲרָיוֹת:

One who coveted a certain woman... so that the daughters in Israel shall not be without protection [lit. free], and thereby become accustomed to consider unchastity lightly.

12 יב

IV. Coercive Sex

13 יג
ואמר רמי בר חמא אמר רב אסי אסור לאדם שיכוף אשתו לדבר מצוה שנאמר ואץ ברגלים חוטא ואמר רבי יהושע בן לוי כל הכופה אשתו לדבר מצוה הויין לו בנים שאינן מהוגנין אמר רב איקא בר חיננא מאי קראה גם בלא דעת נפש לא טוב
The Gemara cites another halakha derived from the verse mentioned in the previous discussion. Rami bar Ḥama said that Rav Asi said: It is prohibited for a man to force his wife in the conjugal mitzva, i.e., sexual relations, as it is stated: “And he who hastens with his feet sins” (Proverbs 19:2). The term his feet is understood here as a euphemism for intercourse. And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Anyone who forces his wife to perform the conjugal mitzva will have unworthy children as a consequence. Rav Ika bar Ḥinnana said: What is the verse that alludes to this? “Also, that the soul without knowledge is not good” (Proverbs 19:2). If intercourse takes place without the woman’s knowledge, i.e., consent, the soul of the offspring will not be good.
14 יד

...וְלֹא יִבְעל מִתּוֹךְ שִׁכְרוּת וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ מְרִיבָה וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ שִׂנְאָה וְלֹא יָבוֹא עָלֶיהָ עַל כָּרְחָהּ וְהִיא יְרֵאָה מִמֶּנּוּ... וְאִם עָשָׂה כֵּן הַבָּנִים אֵינָן הֲגוּנִים אֶלָּא מֵהֶן עַזֵּי פָּנִים וּמֵהֶן מוֹרְדִים וּפוֹשְׁעִים:

...Nor may he initiate sex while drunk, nor out of spite or hatred, nor may he rape her or initiate sex while she is afraid...If [the husband] does any of those things, the children will not be proper [citizens] but brazen, rebellious [people] and criminals.

15 טו

V. Blaming Women for the Male Gaze

16 טז
ברתיה מאי היא הויא ליה ברתא בעלת יופי יומא חד חזיא לההוא גברא דהויא כריא בהוצא וקא חזי לה אמר לו מאי האי אמר ליה רבי אם ללוקחה לא זכיתי לראותה לא אזכה אמר לה בתי קא מצערת להו לברייתא שובי לעפריך ואל יכשלו ביך בני אדם

h/t Nechama Goldman Barash of Pardes

The Gemara asks: What is the incident involving his daughter? He had a very beautiful daughter. One day Rabbi Yosei from Yokrat saw a certain man piercing a hole in the hedge surrounding his property and looking at his daughter. Rabbi Yosei said to him: What is this? The man said to him: My teacher, if I have not merited taking her in marriage, shall I not at least merit to look at her? Rabbi Yosei said to her: My daughter, you are causing people distress. Return to your dust, and let people no longer stumble into sin due to you.

17 יז

(ישעיהו לג, טו) ועוצם עיניו מראות ברע א"ר חייא בר אבא זה שאין מסתכל בנשים בשעה שעומדות על הכביסה היכי דמי אי דאיכא דרכא אחריתא רשע הוא אי דליכא דרכא אחריתא אנוס הוא לעולם דליכא דרכא אחריתא ואפ"ה מיבעי ליה למינס נפשיה

h/t Nechama Goldman Barash of Pardes

"And shuts his eyes from looking upon evil” (Isaiah 33:15). Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba says: This is referring to one who does not gaze at women while they are standing over the laundry, as it was common for them to stand in the water and raise the hems of their garments while laundering their clothing. The Gemara clarifies: What are the circumstances? If it is referring to a case where there is another way to his destination, then placing himself in a situation where he will be tempted to gaze at them, is wicked. Alternatively, if it is referring to a case where there is no other way by which he can reach his destination, then he is a victim of circumstance, so why is he required to shut his eyes? The Gemara explains: Actually, it is... a case where there is no other way, and even so, he is required to compel himself to avoid gazing at the women.