Gender and Relationships in Torah
We will look study several Halachic sugyot which shed light on Chazal’s attitudes towards gender and sexuality. We will specifically look at how contemporary Poskim relate to changing attitudes in this realm.
Gender and Relationships in Torah: Lesson 1
KIRUV L’ARAYOT: THE PROHIBITION OF: In our first class, we will aim to define our topic more specifically. We will begin with the passage in Vayikra which outlines the forbidden sexual relationships. We will then focus specifically on the phrase “lo tikrivu” (“do not come close” to those sexual relationships). We will examine several Rabbinic sources intepreting this phrase. We will try to get a sense of Rabbinic attitudes towards cross-gender interaction.
Gender and Relationships in Torah: Lesson 2
THE PARAMETERS OF KIRUV L’ARAYOT: We will continue examining Rabbinic interpretations of the prohibition of “kiruv l’arayot.” According to Haza”l, what is the scope of this prohibition? We will then trace the Rabbinic attitudes into the Halakhic literature, specifically focusing on the position of the Rambam.
Gender and Relationships in Torah: Lesson 3
CASE STUDY: GRANDFATHERS AND DOCTORS: We will continue tracing the halakha of kiruv l’arayot from the Biblical and Rabbinic texts into the Rambam and subsequent Halakhic codes. What are the parameters of kiruv l’arayot according to the Rambam? On what point does the Ramban (Nachmanides) disagree with the Rambam (Maimonides)? Which phrase in the Rambam does the Sha”ch emphasize? What examples are excluded from this prohibition, according to the Sha”ch?
Gender and Relationships in Torah: Lesson 4
CASE STUDY: HAND SHAKES AND SUBWAY RIDES: Is it permissible for a man and woman to shake hands? If not, how should one behave when a member of the opposite sex extends his/her hand? We will see how modern Halakhists intepret the Biblical and rabbinic sources which we have learned previously in order to resolve this contemporary dilemma.
Gender and Relationships in Torah: Lesson 5
CASE STUDY: PLATONIC RELATIONSHIPS: We will now broaden our discussion of “kiruv L’arayot” – does this prohibition include non-physical contact? How does this prohibition inform us about general guidelines of conduct between men and women? We will focus on a twentieth century responsa on the topic written by Rav Moshe Feinstein. Once again, we will confront the issue of applying rabbinic texts to changing social realities.
Gender and Relationships in Torah: Lesson 7
Gender and Relationships in Torah: Lesson 8
CLOTHING AND GENDER IDENTITY (CONTINUED): Building upon the sugya that we learned in our last class, we will now turn to the Halakhic codes to see how they define the parameters of the prohibitions of “kli gever” and “simlat isha.” We will continue with the sources posted last week.
Gender and Relationships in Torah: Lesson 9
CASE STUDY: WOMEN & PANTS: First, we will continue our survey of the Halakhic codes to formulate a definition of the prohibitions of “kli gever” and “simlat Isha.” We will then turn to twentieth century responsa to see how various poskim apply this definition to the specific case of women wearing pants. Attached sources include an abridged form of the sources we have seen to date, with the addition of the twentieth century sources.
Gender and Relationships in Torah: Lesson 11
YIHUD: We will now turn to another prohibition whose goal is to avoid illicit sexuality – the prohibition of yihud. We will, along with the gemara, first examine the basic sources and apparent underlying logic of the prohibition. We will then define the parameters of the prohibition.
Gender and Relationships in Torah: Lesson 12