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Childbirth

Postpartum Impurity: Why Is the Duration Double for a Girl?

Compared to the birth of a son, Leviticus 12 requires a double-period of purification upon the birth of a daughter. Interpreters in antiquity offered two basic models to explain this. The first approach was to utilize biological “knowledge,” the second was to ground the law in the biblical story of Adam and Eve.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Postpartum “Bloods of Purity”

Mesopotamian gynecological texts and what we know about women’s post-partum flow are helpful in parsing the unusual Hebrew idiom demei tohorah, literally, “bloods of purity,” used in Leviticus 12 to describe the second stage of postpartum bleeding.

Prof.

Tamar Kamionkowski

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Gendering a Child with Ritual

A child’s mother remains impure for forty days after the birth of a boy and eighty days after a girl. A comparison of this procedure with similar ones in Hittite birth rituals suggests that this gender-based differentiation may serve as a kind of ritual announcement of the child’s gender.

Dr.

Kristine Henriksen Garroway

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A Sin Offering for Birth Anxiety

Following the purification period after birth, a mother must bring a חטאת –“sin offering,” despite her having committed no obvious sin. This offers us a unique glimpse into the prehistory of the Israelite cult, when apotropaic rituals (used to protect against dangerous forces) like those in other ANE cultures, were the norm.

Dr.

Yitzhaq Feder

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Anxiety over Twins: Anthropological Insights into the Story of Jacob and Esau

Dr.

Kristine Henriksen Garroway

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"God Opened Her Womb": The Biblical Conception of Fertility

Is infertility a divine punishment? 

Prof.

Joel Baden

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The Parturient's “Days of Purity”: From Torah to Halacha

In reference to the parturient, the Torah speaks of a 33 or 66 day period of דמי טהרה “blood of her purity” as distinguished from a 7 or 14 day period “like menstruation.” What is the difference between these two periods according to Leviticus and how did later groups such as rabbinic Jews, Karaites, Samaritans, and Beta Israel understand it?

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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