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IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 720: Norms and Sex (and Sexual Norms) in Hebrew Sources

Tuesday 2 July 2013, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Patricia E. Skinner, Research Institute for Arts & Humanities, Swansea University
Paper 720-aNaughty Women and the Pleasure of Preaching to Others in Isaac Ibn Sahula's Meshal Haqadmoni
(Language: English)
Sara Offenberg, Department of Arts / Department of Jewish Thought, Bar-Ilan University / Department of the Arts, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva
Index terms: Art History - Painting, Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Religious Life, Theology
Paper 720-bSexual Norms within the Aragonese Jewish Household: The Knowledge Produced by 14th-Century Jewish Scholars and the Interference of the Christian Crown
(Language: English)
Johan MacKechnie, Department of History, Queen's University, Ontario
Index terms: Daily Life, Gender Studies, Hebrew and Jewish Studies

Paper -a:
The Castilian Jewish scholar Isaac Ibn Sahula wrote a Hebrew illuminated fable book called Meshal Haqadmoni in 1281. The fables are accompanied by illuminations with captions written by the author. None of the original manuscripts remained; however, we do have five fully illuminated manuscripts from Germany and Italy all made in the 15th century. Ibn Sahula calls upon his nation to repent and among the many stories preaching on good behaviour, there are few fables which include immoral characters, mostly those of women. In the proposed paper, against the background of contemporary textual and artistic evidence the display of women and their relations with men shall be examined.

Paper -b:
My research focuses on 14th-century Valencia, Spain and the interactions between Muslims, Christians and Jews within households. While 14th-century Valencian religious and royal regulations prohibited interactions between people of different faiths, the reality was that those of different faiths interacted in a number of different spaces, including households. The paper I would like to present at the International Medieval Congress is related to the sexual life of Jews within medieval Iberia. Often, Jewish sexuality in medieval Spain is studied through the works of the scholar Maimonides, who recommended prohibiting sexual relationships between Jewish masters and their slaves. My paper focuses on archival research and 14th-century Jewish responsa that prove that it was normal and acceptable for non-Jewish servants to provide for their Jewish masters' sexual needs. Muslims and Christians were often found employed as household domestics in Jewish homes, and sexual partnerships between these Muslim and Christian working women and their Jewish male masters were common.