Women, Slaves, and Minors
The triad ‘women, slaves, and minors’, which is so pervasive in rabbinic halakhah, especially in tannaitic texts, seems to have been more than a convenient theoretical construct circumscribing the ‘other’ from which free male Israelites distinguished themselves. It seems to have been based on actual social circumstances and common assumptions associated with these groups. Women, slaves, and minors were associated with the private domain of the house, which was considered to be in need of proper regulation. The private sphere had to be subordinated to what was considered to be the common good. Rabbinic ordinances concerning various aspects of private life affecting women, slaves, and minors can similarly be regarded as attempts to control and regulate a sphere which was commonly considered to be chaotic and threatening to the proper order of society.
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