The Conception of Woman in the Thought of Maharal of Prague

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Recent research has criticized medieval Jewish thought for perpetuating misogynist models inherited from Aristotle, which legitimate men's domination of women. Critics have focused on hylomorphism. By identifying man with "form"and women with "matter,"Aristotle and his disciples placed the former beside being, intellect, and activity, and the latter beside privation, irrationality, and passivity. This article shows how, during the Renaissance, hylomorphism was transformed by Judah Loew ben Betzalel (Maharal of Prague; 1512?-1609) in a manner more favorable to women. Maharal's thought still has a patriarchal worldview; nevertheless, he recognizes a positive value to matter, the body, and sexuality, assigning woman an active role within the marital couple as well as in the historical process that leads to redemption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-50
Number of pages25
JournalReview of Rabbinic Judaism
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

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  • Aristotle
  • Judah Loew ben Betzalel
  • Maharal
  • Maimonides
  • Satan
  • gender
  • kabbalah
  • matter and form
  • sexuality


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