- Hardcover: 168 pages
- Publisher: Targum; F First Edition edition (1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0944070043
- ISBN-13: 978-0944070048
- Package Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,005,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Secret of Jewish Femininity Hardcover – 1988
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The only thing I would like to add to the critique is that this book was written in the 80s, a good 3 decades ago. While it is likely that not much has changed in ultra-Orthodox communities, I wonder if, in the Modern Orthodox movement, Taharat Hamishpacha is practiced differently.
The book has two aims. First, it seeks to explain Taharat haMishpacha in some detail. Second, it hopes to persuade the female reader that keeping these laws is the right thing to do. This is a book with a mission, not merely a technical explanation.
The book is readable and intelligently organized. It provides a good introduction to the topic, appropriate both for women who are learning about Taharat haMishpacha for the first time, or for someone who would like to refresh her knowledge.
The book is a translation from Hebrew, but, unlike other translations, reads naturally in English. Abramov utilizes stories to illustrate her point and these have been "Anglicized" and make sense in the American or British context.
There are few things to bear in mind when reading this book. First, this is a strict Orthodox interpretation of the Taharat haMishpacha laws. If you are looking for a Conservative or Reform take on this topic, this is most definitely not the place to seek such enlightenment.
Second, the idea of utilizing anecdotes to illustrate one's point is both a good one and deeply rooted in Jewish tradition (long before Harvard Business School claimed to invent this method of teaching). However, the stories that Abramov tells are rather primitive. They are so clichéd and cartoonish that they may annoy the college-educated reader (or, at any rate, THIS college educated reader). A bit of sophistication is definitely missing from the book.
Finally, Abramov presents three arguments for following Taharat haMishpacha laws:
1. It's commanded by God for Jews. You can take this argument or leave it, but it's not one that can be refuted logically and I therefore think that Abramov is entitled to use it without hesitation.
2. Following these laws provides a strong foundation for a marriage. This argument is more shaky, considering the large number of happy marriages all over the world that thrive without the spouces ever having heard about Taharat haMishpacha. However, this too is an argument that can be couched in logical terms. Rabbi Boteach makes this argument much more successfully in his book "Kosher Sex", which I have reviewed elsewhere.
3. Keeping these laws is good for a women's health, creates fertility and stops disease (specifically cervical cancer). Abramov also hints that healthier children are born to women who keep these laws. This argument, which Abramov is by no means the first to offer, has long annoyed me. Billions of women all over the world reach a ripe old health in perfect health despite not keeping these laws. While it is true that Orthodox women have a lower incidence of cervical cancer, this is most probably related to a lower number of sexual partners and has nothing to do with immersing in the mikveh. I find it pitiful that in our day and age, Orthodoxy seems to need to frighten women into keeping Taharat haMishpacha laws. I much prefer rabbi Boteach's method-one of gentle persuasion and logic. I do wish these threats of disease would stop. We should be past this.
Therefore, while I consider this a pretty good guide to the Orthodox take on Taharat haMishpacha laws, I would recommend that the reader bear in mind these limitations.
Rebbetzin Tehilla Abramov, the renowned instructor to more than 30 thousands of kallah teachers around the world, is the founder of the Jewish Marriage Education Network. [...]
Her book sensitively details the Taharas HaMishpacha halachos, with insights to their beauty and wisdom. Appreciate how these laws have a powerful effect on a woman's femininity and the stability of her marriage. Add the moving, true stories - and you have an essential read for every kallah and married woman.