Ayelet Ahavim: Iyunim Be-Khokhmat Ha-Ahava (Beloved Doe: Studies in the Wisdom of Love)

By Newman, Zelda Kahan | Shofar, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Ayelet Ahavim: Iyunim Be-Khokhmat Ha-Ahava (Beloved Doe: Studies in the Wisdom of Love)


Newman, Zelda Kahan, Shofar


Ayelet Ahavim: Iyunim Be-Khokhmat Ha-Ahava (Beloved Doe: Studies in the Wisdom of Love), by Naftali Rotenberg. Sifrei Hemed Series. Tel Aviv, Yediot Aharonot, 2004.

Who can resist a scholarly book that trumpets the wisdom of love in Jewish sources? The name beckons and promises much. Unfortunately the book does not fully deliver on its promise.

To be entirely fair, the book's subtitle, "Studies in the Wisdom of Love," hints at its major problem. This is not a book whose parts cohere; it is a potpourri of different essays, sometimes loosely, sometimes not at all, interconnected.

What's more, there is repetition even within each of the essays. While it may be true that a good formula for a speaker is: tell them what you're about to say, say it, then tell them what you've told them, the written medium has no need for so much repetition. A clear exposition is all that's needed. If the reader wants to review the material, she can always flip the pages and reread from the start.

The book has five self-contained sections: 1) Androgyny: Unity, Separation, Passion and Unity (the repetition is in the original Hebrew); 2) a sketch of the scholar of love; 3) the scholar of unfulfilled love: studies on Yehuda Abarbanel's "Talks of Love"; 4) Written on Men by Men: Feminist Revolution and Innovation in the Canonical Sources; and 5) Contrast and Harmony in Partners: On Spirituality and Asceticism. Section One is a careful reading of the Biblical creation story and a comparison of the primal androgynous creature as it is described in Plato's work, and the primal androgynous creature as it is described in rabbinic lore. Section Two is a selection of stories about R. Akiva, his love for the women in his life, his love for people, and his love for God. Section Three is an overview of a forgotten philosophical treatise on love written by Yehuda Abarbanel (son of the noted biblical commentator). Section Four is an apologia for (seeming) rabbinic misogyny, while section five is a discussion of the (seeming) dichotomy between spirituality and carnal love.

Of these sections, the least interesting is section three. Yehuda Abarbanel's treatise on love has been justifiably neglected by history. It is not original and not especially illuminating. It merits an article in a scholarly journal, but no more than that.

Sections Four and Five are weighty topics, each of them worthy of a book unto itself. The subtitle of Section Four suggests a possible foray into the laws of marriage and divorce, a discussion of levirate marriage or perhaps a discussion of the laws of "nida"-the cycle of female purity and impurity.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Ayelet Ahavim: Iyunim Be-Khokhmat Ha-Ahava (Beloved Doe: Studies in the Wisdom of Love)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?