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Sotah Paperback – September 15, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312570244
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312570248
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 5.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Ragen's latest look at the women of Israel's Orthodox communities (after Jephte's Daughter), a rabbi's daughters deal with love and the fallout of adultery. The story begins as three sisters reach marrying age with limited options due to family finances and the inherited disgrace of an adulterous ancestor. The eldest at 20, Dvorah dutifully accepts the hand of a man who is short and overweight and slurps his soup. Meanwhile, independent-minded youngest sister Chaya Leah meets secretly with a Hasid (improper marriage material) about to enter the Israeli army. The saddest of the three, middle child Dina, must give up her first love and marry instead a laconic woodcarver. Eventually, unfulfilled emotional needs and a lecherous neighbor drive her to sin; after the Morals Patrol catches up with her, she's exiled to New York. Detailed descriptions of weddings and sexual politics offer much insight, showing both the strength and limits of the Orthodox code of conduct. The pleasures of Ragen's book arise not so much from her characters or plot but from thought-provoking comparisons of Israeli Orthodox and American Jewish life. (Sept.)
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From Kirkus Reviews

Love-conquers-all genre takes on deep philosophical questions as Ragen (Jephte's Daughter, 1989) continues her exploration of orthodox Jewish life in this story of a woman accused of adultery- -the sotah. The setting is the ultraorthodox milieu of Jerusalem, where the men study the Torah in yeshivas while their wives bear numerous children, clean and cook, and find outside work to supplement their meager incomes. Here, heroine Dina's struggle to be independent and still religiously observant provides the more profound concerns of a story that, despite its religious background, is basically your typically rosy fade-out into a technicolor sunset, with all problems--and they are not insubstantial--wrapped up in the last chapter. Dina Reich, the beautiful and dutiful daughter of Rabbi Reich and his remarkably energetic and saintly wife, yearns for love, for knowledge of a wider world than the narrow one she is confined to. A brief romance, ended because her family could not pay the requisite dowry, means that Dina must accept a husband chosen by the sect's matchmaker and approved by her parents. She marries good but painfully inarticulate Judah, a carpenter; bears a child; then, bored and lonely, begins a relationship with a more worldly neighbor. Though it's not consummated, religious vigilantes threaten her, and at their behest she flees to New York, where she works as a maid for a wonderful family, who, when she breaks down, do all they can to bring about the inevitable happy ending. Not only is Dina reunited with Judah, whose virtues she now appreciates, but she also finds a satisfactory compromise between the comforting security of religion and tradition and the more fulfilling aspects of sectarian life. Richness of faith and family lovingly evoked, with the other side--religious and cultural intolerance--equally given its due, but it all seems too easy. Philosophy lite. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Great reading a real page turner.
Joan Lucano
The emotional growth and development of the characters is incredible.
Amazon Customer
An excellent book with insights into Orthodox Jewish beliefs.
RMK

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. Kelley VINE VOICE on May 28, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel is a great page-turner! I admire Ms. Ragen's ability to build both atmosphere & characters at the same time. While the outside world (including jews of other streams of Judaism) usually views the women of the Haredi world with either pity or contempt, the portrait of the women here is sensitively rendered. The distance of new arranged marriages is definitely there, along with how these marriage partners adjust and grow during different phases of their marriage. Excellent novel, hope it stays in print for awhile. Toda rabah, Naomi!!!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Diane on February 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
I read this book a long time ago but I remember I couldn't put it down. Ragen takes you to many different places. She very effectively points out the consequences of being an orthodox Jew. I'm Jewish and I found this book terribly enlightening. I'm so glad to see her books are back in print. I've recommended her book to many people but they were unable to get it. She is a great writer.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By J. MOLDOVAN on September 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
The title intrigued me. Sotah is an incredibly difficult topic in Orthodox Judaism and I was interested in what this book had to say about it. I shouldn't have bothered. The book joins a long list of slanderous works which present a completely false picture of Jewish life. It is clearly written by someone who not only hasn't the foggiest clue about the subject but who uses her considerable writing and storytelling skills to push the usual agenda: secularism is liberating, orthodoxy is stifling. The loaded language of the editorial reviews says it all.

I wouldn't have bothered writing this review except for one fabrication that I find truly horrific and which was mentioned by several of the reviewers. There is no such thing as a "modesty patrol" or vigilante "morals police" in the Jewish community and violence, threatened or otherwise especially against a woman, would evoke nothing but condemnation. It is also relevant that for various religious and religious-legal reasons there is no such thing as a Sotah in the modern world so the title is little more than a provocation.

If you like well written, emotional, women's stories (I do not mean that in any derisive way) this book fits the bill. But please, don't think that you can learn something meaningful about the topic it purports to cover.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 2, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I bought this phantastic book at a book store in the opera tower in Tel Aviv, Israel.. I started reading right away and have to say, after ending it: it's worth every shekel; it's one of those books/stories you wish never to end. It gives the reader a authentical view (as I imagine) of the life of religious Jews in Israel.... I loved it and HAVE to recommend it to everyone!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 9, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I just finished Sotah and was just mesmerized. I am not a reader yet I couldn't put the book down. As a Jewish woman who has become somewhat connected to the Orthodox community in America the story provided remarkable insights into the Haredi community in Israel. The book touched me so deeply - stirring thoughts of what it means to be a "good Jew" and how Torah values can become so distorted by a small number of people. My emotions were at full peak - especially the last third of the book - I cried so profusely the last 100 pages I had to get up to wash my face so I could see the words on the page. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Adi Adler on November 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
This was Naomi Ragen's first book to be published in Israel, and it had made a huge impact. It exposed many secular Israelis to the inner workings of the Orthodox sect of the population and the actual people that chose that way of life.
The story itself might seem a little to predictable, but the twists and turns (even at their least surprising) highlight the main motive of the book, and helps its core message clearer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 25, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although this was mostly Dinah's story, it's easy to learn about the lives and choices (at least where a husband is concerned) of orthodox girls from all three sisters - Devorah, who has to marry a very unatractive (physically) man, and then learns how good he really his, Dinah, how follows the rules all the way, even when she has done no wrong, and knows it but follows anyhow, and Leah, who decides to take her fate into her own hands and succeeds. I think that the best lesson dinah, her family and us learn from this book is not following blindly, but checking things by ourselves before "jusmping in", because sometimes the majority can err, too!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 26, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is one of the most touching stories I have ever read. The heroin Dina although not a complex person was truly believable. This is a classic story of redemption told like a modern parable. I have now lent this book to so many people that my copy is worn out and I always have trouble getting it back. Personaly I think the publisher did not do a great job of marketing it or it would have been on the best sellers list for over a year which is the average time it takes for me to get it away from whomever I have lent it to. I am now desperatly trying to find a hard copy for myself. It will not be lent out by the way.
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