Category Shifts in Jewish Law and Practice

Rabbi Ethan Tucker

Parashat Bereishit

The early chapters of Bereishit are devoted to categorization, etiology and even, perhaps, stereotyping. These divisions create order; they also potentially foster rigidity. Just how fixed are these categories meant to be? Are the male and female types in these early chapters of Bereishit meant to be normative extensions of biological differences between men and women? This is a key narrative question, but it is a much broader legal question. How can (and should) categories in halakhah change over time and place? And in particular, what relevance does this have to the way we think about gender in Jewish law? (5776)