- Rereading Beruriah Through the Lens of Isaac Bashevis Singer's Yentl
- Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues
- Indiana University Press
- Number 31, Spring-Fall 5777-78/2017
- pp. 123-145
- View Citation
- Additional Information
In this article I offer a new reading of Beruriah, sparked by my reading of Isaac Bashevis Singer's story "Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy." Notwithstanding the differences in time and literary genre, Singer's invention of a twentieth-century version of Beruriah, and the sorrowful ending he creates, prompt us to reread Beruriah as a rabbinic attempt to question the male/female binary and its limitations. In the wake of third-wave feminism, which sees women as now having the choices that Beruriah seems, on some level, to have embraced, this article offers a new feminist reading that builds and expands upon scholarly insights of the past. We have become accustomed to thinking of Beruriah as proof that women became Torah scholars in antiquity, and of medieval commentators such as Rashi as men who sought to call attention to the dangers of women studying Torah. This article proposes that there is more to learn from Beruriah and her husband Rabbi Meir, not to mention Yentl and her study partner, Avigdor.