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Signs of VirginityTesting Virgins and Making Men in Late Antiquity$
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Michael Rosenberg

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190845896

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190845896.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 26 September 2021

Impure Nuptials and Sex as Work

Impure Nuptials and Sex as Work

The Bavli’s Attempted Divorce of Virginity from Violence

(p.148) 7 Impure Nuptials and Sex as Work
Signs of Virginity

Michael Rosenberg

Oxford University Press

A number of Talmudic passages, not specifically about virginity testing, buttress the claims made in the previous chapter. The Babylonian Talmud creates a legal culture in which wedding-night bleeding triggers a prohibition on any further sexual relations, thus discouraging sexual aggression. Similarly, the Babylonian Talmud’s discussion of first-time penetrative intercourse on the Sabbath focuses on divorcing the sexual act from acts of violence; this passage also connects a bride’s experience on her wedding night to that of a baby boy at his circumcision, the latter of which is explicitly marked as painful. Finally, an explicit discussion in the Babylonian Talmud tries to minimize descriptions of brides’ pain on their wedding night, in the process revealing Rabbinic male anxiety about their complicity in causing pain.

Keywords:   Babylonian Talmud, niddah, impurity, Sabbath, circumcision, pain, subjectivity

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