See also: Women in the Bible Relatively few women are mentioned in the Bible by name and role, suggesting that they were rarely allowed to navigate the dominant public culture in the way their male counterparts were. A common phenomenon in the bible is the pivotal role that women take in subverting man-made power structures. The result is often a more just outcome than what would have taken place under ordinary circumstances. Today, many of them are considered foundational by feminists because of the insights they provide into the lives of Jewish women during those times, albeit as notable examples of women who broke the male dominance of historical documentation of the time compared to the poor documentation of most women's lives. The Torah relates that both Israelite men and Israelite women were present at Sinai; however, the covenant was worded in such a way that it bound men to act upon its requirements, and to ensure that the members of their household wives, children, and slaves met these requirements as well.
Women in Judaism
Medieval Jewish Women Were Leaders in Religion and Business | My Jewish Learning
Medieval Ashkenaz — The Jewish communities of Northern France and of Germany who constituted Medieval Ashkenaz were situated along the trade routes of the time. These communities were well known for their prominent and accomplished scholars as well as their flourishing businesses. These Jewish communities flourished during the High and Late Middle Ages — as urban centers grew and thrived and centers of Jewish learning expanded. This growth, both material and spiritual, occurred in communities open and aware of the cultural renaissance that was part of the surrounding Christian culture.
Medieval Jewish Attitudes Toward Women
During the middle ages, the center of the Jewish population of Italy shifted from the south to the north. There, during the early-modern period, having been granted charters, local Jews, joined by refugees from Europe, including waves from French, German, and Iberian lands, provided valuable services as moneylenders and merchants. Although this period saw anti-Jewish agitation by churchmen and the establishment of ghettos, new governmental bodies to supervise the Jews, and local inquisitions, the fact that Italy was not unified provided the Jews with opportunities to leave one city-state to bring their services to another that offered greater promise for more tranquility, an incentive for their hosts to ensure their continued presence. In early modern Italy, because French, German, Iberian, Middle Eastern, and local Italian Jewish customs were practiced in close proximity to each other, a situation was created that had a major impact on the range of attitudes towards and behaviors of Jewish women. Few documents by women exist; not many women are known by name; for Jews no statistical records exist which can be mined systematically; and historians have constructed misleading images, both positive and negative, often in the extreme, of the role of women.
There are almost no extant books written by women or specifically for them. The nature of these sources itself suggests that women were not viewed as participants in Jewish legal discourse, nor did the rabbis feel the need to provide women with literature that would allow them to make study a part of their religious life. The Right to a Restricted Social Life These two impulses may be seen in the writings of the Maimonides , one of the greatest legal scholars and philosophers of the Middle Ages, who lived in Egypt.