Rabbis and Wives: Talmudic Tales on the Role of Intimacy in Marriage

man placing wedding ring on woman's finger

Course Title: Rabbis and Wives: Talmudic Tales on the Role of Intimacy in Marriage
Instructor: Rabbi Carl Perkins (see bio)
Program: Hebrew College Open Circle Jewish Learning, Texts and Contexts
Day/Time: Thursday evenings 7:30-9pm Eastern
Dates:  October 12, 19, 26, November 2, 9, 2023 (5 sessions)
Session: Fall 2023
Fee: $200 Financial Scholarships available

What is the role of intimacy in a marriage? How frequently might husbands or wives reasonably expect to have sexual relations with their partners – then and now? What does it do to a marriage when those expectations are not fulfilled?

In the Talmudic period, spouses could rely on such expectations, and the failure of a marital partner to live up to them could be considered grounds for a divorce.
In this course, we will read a collection of seven short Talmudic tales about rabbis who “tried to have it both ways” – that is, who chose to remain married to wives in one town while pursuing full-time Torah learning in another town, far away from home. What happens when their behavior doesn’t live up to their spouses’ or their society’s expectations?

We will also examine the story of Homa, a Talmudic femme fatale, who buried two husbands – both rabbis. What can we learn from her story?

All sources and English translations will be provided.

Hebrew College Open Circle Jewish Learning classes are for learners of all backgrounds.

Canadian and other registrants from outside of the US: please email Cindy Bernstein to complete your registration. We apologize for the inconvenience.