Women and the mitzvot
in Jewish women in europe in the middle ages
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The highest level of Jewish religious expression is the performance of the mitzvoth, the divine Commandments. This chapter relates to those Commandments that the sages define as inherently 'male'. It describes how the sages attempted to dictate to women the manner of their observance of mitzvot set aside for women alone. The chapter shows that during the Middle Ages, women found a way of their own to relate to the world of mitzvot and keep the Commandments. It also describes the performance of the mitzvot by women and the manner in which they defined and differentiated their femininity by means of the Commandments. Women's exclusion from learning implies that they would not be well versed in the language of prayer in the synagogue. The understanding developed in the consciousness of women that they were the ones who initiated the rituals of the Sabbath and sanctified the holy day.


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