Who was Beruryah?

BERURYAH, Second Century C.E., Israel (from our article in the Encyclopedia of Religion)

Beruryah was one of the few famous women in rabbinic Judaism of late antiquity. She was the daughter of R. Hananyah ben Teradyon, wife of R. Meir.

In rabbinic sources Beruryah appears several times together with the rabbis of the generation of scholars centered around the Galilean town of Usha. She is mentioned twice in Tosefta (in T. Kelim B.M. 1:6 by name and referred to in T. Kelim B.Q. 4:17 as the daughter of R. Hananyah ben Teradyon) and seven times in the Babylonian Talmud.

Beruryah's contemporary importance lies in her prominence as a rare woman-scholar in the male-dominated rabbinic culture. Goodblatt believes that Beruryah exemplifies the possibility, though quite uncommon, of a woman receiving formal education within rabbinic society. Goodblatt argues however that the traditions which ascribe rabbinic learning to Beruryah appear to be late, not telling us about Roman Palestine, the setting which they depict, but informing us better concerning the situation of Sassanian Babylonia, the place where they were formulated in the process of Talmudic compilation.

Whether historical or not, the rabbinic traditions do portray Beruryah as a sensitive yet assertive figure. The Talmud recounts anecdotes illustrating Beruryah's piety, compassion and wit. In one source she admonishes her husband Meir not to be angry at his enemies and not to pray for their death. She suggests that instead he pray that their sins cease and that they repent (b. Berakhot 10a)...more...


Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Thank you for the thorough compilation on this fascinating woman. Have you even come across a source for Rashi's seduction story?

Tzvee Zahavy said...

nope, never have