The Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah)

Book 4, The Book of Women

Translated by Isaac Klein

View Inside Price: $85.00


September 10, 1972
453 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
ISBN: 9780300014389
Cloth

From the point of view of method and organization, the Code of Maimonides, written in the twelfth century, is still considered one of the great codes in the history of jurisprudence.  The Book of Women, the fourth book in the Code, consists of five treatises dealing with the laws on marriage, divorce, levirate marriage, and Halishah, the virgin maiden, and the wayward woman.  Many of these regulations are roughly comparable to modern family law.  In compiling the treatises, Maimonides augmented the basic stipulations of the Talmud with subsequent legal developments and included laws that had long been inoperative, among them the penalties for the rape or seduction of a virgin.
Talmudic law itself, according to the editor’s introduction, reflects the steady improvement in the status of women in Jewish society.  Once virtually a chattel of her father or brother, she gradually acquired the rights of a free person, “practically on a par with the adult male.”  Rabbi Klein emphasizes the social assumptions about the meaning and purpose of marriage behind these legal developments, noting the painstaking and critical insight Maimonides brought to his sources. 

"Isaac Klein's translation into English of Maimonides' Book of Women is one of the finest of its kind. His notes are concise, informative and fill the gap in the translation of the Code which is intended for interested laymen and scholars in fields other than Judaica. Rabbi Klein, who has also translated Maimonides' Book of Acquisition, knows just how to give the literal text its clear meaning and put it in proper perspective."—Israel Law Review

"The English translation of Book 4 of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah (Code of Jewish Law) 'the Book of Women,' is another volume in the invaluable Yale Judaica Series. It is the eleventh volume (out of fourteen) of Maimonides' famous code to be translated in this series and like the other volumes it meets the highest critical standards of accuracy and completeness. The translator, Isaac Klein, has performed his task admirably and is to be commended not only for the accuracy of his translations but also for their stylistic merit."—Journal of Religious Studies

"The translation before us is part of the long-standing project to produce a complete translation of Maimonides' Code. Rabbi Klein has provided, in addition to his thoroughly sound English version, a useful introduction and set of careful notes. In the introduction he discusses briefly the main areas of Jewish law taken up in the book, namely, those which concern marriage, divorce, and family life. in his notes he cites the sources in the Talmud on which Maimonides based his codification of the law, explains some difficult points, and clarifies an occasional textual problem. A glossary of basic terms and an index are also included. . . . The study of this work will be rewarding for students of law, social institutions, or the history of the halakha. It will be doubly rewarding for those who study  it not only as a major text of Jewish legislation, but also as a rare opportunity to confront the subtle genius of Moses Maimonides."—Journal of the American Academy of Religion
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