When the Dead Want to Primp: Talmudic Gender as Theological Prompt BT Berakhot 18b
- Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues
- Indiana University Press
- Number 28, Spring 5775/2015
- pp. 120-133
- Additional Information
This article examines a sugya in BT Berakhot about interactions between the living and the dead and argues that attention to gender is crucial to discerning theological themes that animate it. Bodies in this sugya are vividly gendered and pointedly juxtaposed. The sugya’s editors construct a striking contrast between living (male) rabbis, who adorn themselves with distinctively male ritual objects (phylacteries and fringes), and a dead (female) innkeeper, who yearns for objects needed for female adornment (comb and makeup). I argue that the sugya’s editors communicate the urgency of using the (male) body to respond to divine command while still living by juxtaposing it to a female body in the realm of the dead.