This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Source: differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. 7.2 (Summer 1995): p41. From Literature Resource Center. Document Type: Article In her recent Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing & Cultural Anxiety, Marjorie Garber has written: "The male nun, the female monk, the feminized Jewish man are recurrent figures of fantasy as well as of history and propaganda. They too are 'third kinds,' figures who put in question received beliefs - in this case, the very kinds of signifying practices (like, for example, celibacy and circumcision) that create and police religious faith" (213). What is it that conjoins these figures, i.e., how is it that monks and Jews are similar in the European imaginary? Garber's solution to this question attempts to force Judaic culture into a pattern that just does not fit it: "Since ecstatic religion depends to a certain extent upon the existence of exceptions, chosen persons who explicitly violate the very tenets that faith and custom ordain for the ordinary practitioner, the presence of transvestite figures, or of the phantom of the transvestite in the representation of holy personages (saints, virgin martyrs, rabbinical leaders) is in a way, oddly, to be expected: these are the exceptions that prove the rule." For all its powerful insight, there is a confusion here involving the placement of rabbis into the category of holy personages and the assumption that it was only rabbinic leaders who were characterized as feminized, while in fact it was all Jewish men. Secondly, while there are transvestite nuns and monks, the really interesting question that Garber's work raises explicitly is that of the "feminization" of all Christian religious - and even married Protestant divines. Finally, rabbinic leaders were not threatening to a religious status quo (unless it was the Christian one); the Rabbis were in this sense "ordinary practitioners" writ large, not saints or ecstatics who disturb and threaten the established order of things. These cultural conflations becloud the true insight that Garber sees perfectly (in the first quoted passage), namely the existence of a category - a third gender - formed by Jewish men whose characteristic or ideal mode of existence is scholarlybookish, and therefore nonphallic and unmanly for Eurochristian performances of gender, and monks for whom the same is largely true (McNamara 6). Garber's brilliant insight can be reconfigured and recaptured. Christian and Jewish images of gendercrossing, and particularly of the feminization of the male, have in common that they are forms of resistance to a culture that equated power and dominance with maleness and maleness with the "husband's natural position" in coitus. Where Roman culture despised the submissive male, both early Christian and early Jewish cultures valorized him.(1) Both early rabbinic Jews and early Christians performed resistance to the Roman imperial power-structure through "gender-bending," thereby marking their own understanding that gender itself is implicated in the maintenance of political power. (2) Thus various symbolic enactments of "femaleness" - as constructed within a particular system of genders - among them asceticism, submissiveness, retiring to private spaces, and circumcision (interpreted in a distinctive way, see below) were adopted variously by Christians and Jews as acts of resistance against the Roman culture of masculinist power-wielding. This point is made by Virginia Burrus about early Christianity: "For men, the pursuit of Christian ascesis entailed the rejection of public life and therefore of the hierarchies of office and gender; in this respect, their opponents were not far off the mark when they insinuated that male ascetics were 'feminized' through their rejection of the most basic cultural expressions of male identity" (Making).(3) Historically the Jewish male is from the point of view of European culture a sort of woman.(4) I should state early and often just what I mean by this term, in order to prevent misunderstanding of my intent. I am not claiming a set of characteristics, traits, behaviors that are essentially female but a set of performances that are culturally read as non-male within a given historical culture. This culture can be very broadly described as Roman in its origins (Veyne) and as European in its scope and later history. It is the culture of romance that, while always contested - in large part precisely by "feminized" Christian religions - maintained hegemony as a male ideal, ever gaining power through the nineteenth century and beyond. Bernadette Brooten has well formulated it:
Active and passive constitute foundational categories for Roman-period culture; they are gender coded as masculine and feminine respectively. In their presentations of a wide range of sexual behaviors and orientations, astrologers often categorized an active sexual role as masculine and a passive sexual role as feminine; for this reason they described passive men as effeminate and active women as masculine. A very recent writer - a psychoanalyst - continues to reflect this ideology of maleness by assuming confidently that "strength, assertiveness, activity, stoicism, courage, and so forth" (Lane 147) are "gender syntonic" for men. In this, he just continues the common wisdom of a culture within which, as a recent critic has written of Havelock Ellis, the patronizing assumption is that "men whose deepest sexual desire does not involve dominance of women must be in some way physically deficient" (Siegel 59). As Jo Ann McNamara has written of the dominant men of twelfth-century Europe: They had fused personhood with manhood, and to defend their manhood they had to become ever more manly. They had to persecute with ever-increasing severity anyone who threatened the inner core of that image. Women were victimized by their exclusion and male victims - heretics, homosexuals, Jews, any rebels who didn't fit the mold - were turned into women. This was a tragedy for women and for the notmen, half-men, effeminate men who were the objects of this relentless persecution. (22) I thus suggest a certain continuity of ideal gender patterning as a dominant strain within European culture from the Romans, through medieval romances, and into the modern phenomena known as the romantic in all of its values, both high-cultural and low - from Wagner to Gone with the Wind - hence, Roman/ce. Within the context of a culture in which "strength, assertiveness, activity, stoicism, courage and so forth" were the essential characteristics of manliness, Jewish men (and certain classes of Christian men as well) appeared to be not-male or feminized.(5) Cultural construction and its category formations involve the manipulation of stereotypes, of self and other. For various, mostly quite obvious, reasons, accounts of stereotypes have been generally described from the perspective of dominant populations, thus male stereotypes of females, European of colonized people, straight of gays, Christian of Jews. Dominated populations also engage in stereotyping behaviors vis-a-vis their oppressors, and these practices have various functions, from self-defense to selfdefinition. There is an arguable correlation between an "ur-orientalizing" phase in Roman elite writers vis-a-vis their eastern others - including Jews - and feminization of those same others.(6) One might expect a defensive posture within which those others represented themselves as masculine and found, perhaps, ways of feminizing their dominators. Such representations of self and other by Jews are not absent by any means. Much more interesting, however, in my opinion, is the evidence that Jews in the rabbinic period stereotyped the "Roman" as being possessed of a certain despised hyper-masculinity, interpreted as violence and crudity, and read themselves as feminized, i.e., they accepted the stereotype but transvalued femininity and feminization. In this essay, I will be looking quite closely at two talmudic narratives, the common thread of which is the constitution of a homosocial couple in which one of the male partners is figured as "wife" to the other, and this wifeliness is projected as a paradigm for male deportment. The cultural theme that I am describing in rabbinic Jewish culture can easily be countered by citing contradictory texts. I am not claiming an essentialist, pure (and utopian) construction of masculinity in the Talmud or in later Jewish cultural practice but focusing on a particular theme that attracts me, owing to my own particular set of identifications and desires (political and erotic), in certain talmudic texts. This is an openly tendentious reading but not, I trust, a dishonest one. I am tracing a cultural theme, an overtone, or voice in the polyphony that I wish to isolate and to amplify. I will attempt to show at the same time how some of the very talmudic texts that play this theme also are aware of its problems and contradictions. At the very moments in which I find a utopian alternative to the "dominant fiction" in talmudic culture, I also try to show how even that utopian instant itself produces its own pitfalls. We must constantly reckon, indeed struggle, with the ways that "utopian" analysis can slip from a hermeneutics of recovery, connoting that a wish and hope for something vastly new and better shows through a cultural product, into a hermeneutics of conservation, whereby that wish and hope are taken for the already existing reality and thus used as an alibi for a fundamentally conservative, indeed reactionary position.
so the world cannot exist without Israel." [Caesar] said: "You have spoken well. of course. and those who acquire the Next World only after many years!" Antoninus served Rabbi. therefore. and when Antoninus died. At the point that we enter the tale. All of its princes but not all of its ministers. this kind of text has something like the force of dreams in Freudian theory (Kristeva 41).18]?!" "That applies only to one who behaves as Esau." analogous to Fredric Jameson's "political unconscious" I suggest that for rabbinic culture at least it is to be found in these fantastic sagas of the Rabbis and their adventures. but not all of its kings. and the Caesar Antoninus." [Antoninus] said: "May I be a couch under you in the Next World!" [Antoninus] said: "Will I come into the Next World?" [Rabbi] said: "Yes.The Emperor "Wife" The first text is a story that occurs as part of a cycle of tales about the relations between Rabbi Yehudah Hannassi. should he cut it off and live or leave it and suffer?" They said to him: "Let him cut it off and live!" Keti a bar Shalom said to him: "First of all. what is . you won't be able to defeat all of them.but not all of its kings! All of its princes . "but is it not written: 'Edom is destroyed with its kings and all of its princes' [Ezekiel 32:29]?!" "Its kings . and I will pass. except for Keti a bar Shalom. "but is it not written: 'There will not be a remnant left of the house of Esau' [Obadiah 1. He said to his courtiers: "If someone has a wart on his leg. except for Antoninus the son of Severus. that is. but anyone who defeats the king [in argument] gets thrown into a hollow furnace.10] . son of Severus. a certain Matron said to him: "Woe to the ship that goes without the toll!" He fell on the end of his foreskin and bit it off. Rabbi said: "The tie is rent!" (Avoda Zara 10b)(8) Reading this text will provide us with important insights into rabbinic self-fashioning on several levels.(7) we are informed: Every day [Antoninus Caesar] used to serve Rabbi.but not all of its kings! All of its princes . from the Jewish point of view. And secondly. the political and religious leader of the Palestinian Jews under Roman rule. a paradigmatic representation of Jewish and Roman masculine ideals. they will call you a king who cuts. If we can speak of a "cultural unconscious. In fact." A voice was heard [from Heaven]: "Keti a bar Shalom is invited to the Next World!" Rabbi cried and said: "There are those who acquire the Next World in one instant.What is this 'as the four winds'? It ought to read 'to the four winds'! Rather it means that just as the world cannot exist without winds. that is." And what is this story of Keti a bar Shalom? There was a certain Caesar who hated Jews. for it is written.but not all of its ministers! Its kings. We have." [Rabbi] said: "It is not appropriate to demean the kingship so. In its function as wish-fulfillment. "[Antoninus] said. The most obviously dream-like aspect of the story is the fantasy of the Roman Emperor who serves as a foot-stool for the spiritual leader of the Jews. The way that this particular fantasy is played out in the story is much richer than mere revenge. When Rabbi wished to get up on his bed. after having been regaled with the Rabbi's great wisdom and how he and the Caesar became great friends and the Rabbi became a trusted adviser to the Roman ruler. 'I have scattered them as the four winds of the heavens' [Zachariah 2.but not all of its ministers!" There is also a tannaitic tradition that says this: "Its kings . He said: "I have paid the toll." When they were taking him out [to be executed]. He used to feed him and give him drink. however. [Antoninus] would kneel down before the bed and say: "Get up on me to your bed." [Antoninus] said. known simply as Rabbi.
the political and religious meanings of these stories seem quite obvious. Indeed. and this cannot be. . In the first episode. The services that he performs for Rabbi. to Jews. washing the husband's hands and face is the third of the most intimate services that the menstruant wife is forbidden to perform. that God Himself will reward the subjected population in the Next World with a much greater benefit than that which the tyrants enjoy in the present world. however. By treating the two stories as "mirrors" of each other. preparing his bed for him. in fact. . He becomes socially . all strongly mark him as the female partner in a marriage. The way that he earns this exceptional status is.. the wife is described in this world as a "mattress for her husband. dilemmas of men" (Gravdal 15). Finally. according to the Babylonian Talmud (Yevamot 62b). and it is precisely these that Antoninus performs for Rabbi. fascinating. According to the Babylonian Talmud Ketubbot 96a. I do not discount the critique or its usefulness if I notice at the same time that it "shifts the gaze away from the physical suffering of the female body to the . claim that such servility had the same meanings for men as for women." At first glance. just as a feminized servility was receiving positive valorizations within Christian culture at about the same time. nor does it eradicate the differences between cultures within which submission was despised and only domination prized and cultures within which submissiveness was valued. I do not. one point of the story is precisely to present that model of feminine service and homoerotic attachment as a male ideal. exhaust the meaning that such valorization of submission has within culture. of course. A subject people fantasizes two forms of reversal of its subjugation: one. preparing food and drink for him. then it is even more the case for Jewish men. The ideal rabbinic disciple is described as "washing the teacher's hands" . It is these that are forbidden during her menstrual period in order to prevent any possibility that husband and wife inadvertently will be swept away into sexual passion. that the very leaders of the dominating political power will become subject to the leaders of the dominated group (compare Jean Genet's The Blacks and The Maids) and the other. almost to the point of triviality. Indeed. it is." i. of course. in displaced fashion. the gendered meanings are quite palpable. a rich reading of the role of gender and power and their symbolic connection with circumcision in rabbinic culture begins to develop.e. of course." and. This feminization is thus positively marked within the culture. This Caesar is an exception to the general rule that kings of "Esau" have no place in the Next World by virtue of his sympathetic treatment of the Jews. In addition. If acting as a wife towards important scholarly men is what gets Roman men into the Next World. however.if not sexually . nevertheless. preparing his drink and his bed are the two most intimate services that the wife is expected to perform for her husband. . only for Roman men. Tania Modleski has well put it by referring to "how frequently male subjectivity works to appropriate 'femininity' while oppressing women" (7)."(9) As we already know. The overly "male" Roman emperor becomes righteous and earns his place in the Next World through feminization. The logic of referring to it as appropriation grows out of the very fact that it uses the female body as its metaphor for critique of modes of male hegemony." glossed forthrightly by Rashi as "Our love which has joined us soul to soul. This feminization of Antoninus is again strongly signified by Antoninus's desire to be "bedding" for Rabbi in the Next World. positively marked for both men and women within the culture. the strongly homoeroticized character of this imaginary friendship is inscribed in Rabbi's lament on the death of Antoninus. the "Jew. a homoerotic relationship in antiquity always inscribes one of the partners as gendered female. however.indeed "He washed the hands of the Rabbi" is a common metaphor for "He was the Rabbi's disciple" . and even. This performance wins him his exceptional place among all Roman rulers in the Next World. it could be argued that the adoption of femininity by men in a culture within which there is a major disparity in power between the genders (virtually all human culture until now) will always form an appropriation of femaleness. "The tie is rent. Moreover. As servile as this position is. Rome in rabbinic symbolism. this "wifely" ideal as the proper relationship of student to master is explicitly coded in the texts. As we shall see. as well as a partial interruption of that stereotype through the recognition of exceptions to it. the two consecutive episodes that I have excerpted here from the larger narrative sequence double each other in their presentation of the "Roman" vs. the Rabbi and the Caesar.and sure enough.thematized in this text is both a presentation of a stereotyped "Esau" or "Edom. it is the reward of the virtuous wife to serve as his footstool. and the talmudic text is addressed. in the Next World.Rabbi's wife. Noting its appropriative aspect does not.
two faces. as one would cut out . the Caesar who loves the Jews. defines what the stereotype of "Roman" is. established you in lasting and stable matrimony. in Edwards 64). as an echo of the previous one. Son of Peace") to pass the tollgate and enter into the Next World. (13) Dale Martin has derived some fascinating evidence to this effect from inscriptions: The very names of slaves and freedpersons and the epithets they accepted for themselves demonstrate their acceptance of patronal ideology: many slaves were named Philodespotos. Slaves have something to teach us about demystifying masculinist ideologies. When Cicero wishes to attack Antony. as in Greek times. Rather. investments which still. of an emotional dependence of men on men. for example.(10) If the ideal Jewish feminized male has some critical force vis-a-vis general European models of manliness. validate "tops" over "bottoms" (Foucault. and Changeable." (28-29. for his class-based oppression of other Jewish men as well. an ironic reflection of the Roman toll-gatherer who would normally prevent the subject populations from passing without paying the toll." evidently in opposition to Antoninus. it was precisely dependence on other males that was honored. emphasis added) (14) Before rushing to dub such data as mere evidence of false consciousness. what the self-definition of Jewishness is. Well-wed."(11) Any attempt at a feminist rereading and rewriting of Jewish tradition must come to terms with this material fact and the legacies of pain that it has left behind. reduced him to a position of slave-like dependence" (64-65). 'master-lover. drew you away from your meretricious trade and.(12) Catherine Edwards. I am going to read this story.and indeed. Pilot. They bear. The traditional valorization of femininity for Jewish men hardly constituted good news for Jewish women. at the same time a critique must be mounted against "him" for his oppression of Jewish women . even if it did not mandate. can be garnered from Roman texts. No boy bought for sexual gratification was ever so much in the power of his master as you were in Curio's" (qtd. he implies. "Cicero contrives to make a stable. probably without shame. it was the dependence of one man on another. that was considered shameful and not their sexual practices. therefore. as if he had given you a matron's robe. Gain. This echoing effect is supported by two moments within the narrative: one.' and one freedman is complimented as being a master-loving man in spite of the fact that this very term occurs in literary sources as an insult similar to 'slavish. We have here the founding moments of a culture characterized recently by Lee Edelman as one in which there is "a deeply rooted concern about the possible meanings of dependence on other males" (50). as I have said above. and this is how he earned his place in the world to come. frequently enough. "but soon Curio turned up. "The Cut One. names that bespeak servitude. not only allowed himself to be dependent on the leading rabbinic sage of his day but even behaved towards him as a wife toward a husband. we would do well to examine our own ideological investments. and secondly in the activity of stooping in order to circumcise himself that enables him to pass. and the culture authorized. the explicit antithetical notice of Keti a bar Shalom as the servant of a Caesar who "hates the Jews. emotionally and materially.The politics of this project have. There is no question that women were disenfranchised in many ways in traditional Jewish culture. However. for slaves it seems.(15) The "good" Roman emperor. This reading is doubled by the puns on the Hebrew root kt '"to cut. and explicitly marked as such. and even more to the point." and this because "Antony's emotional attachment to Curio. I am now in a position to read the even more symbolic story of Keti a bar Shalom who also. makes the excellent point that what offends here is not primarily the sexual practice. he first accuses him of having been a prostitute and then. Hope-bearer. An effective ground for this figure of a valorized submissiveness. But the struggle against women's oppression within Jewish culture need not (and must not) lose sight of the critical force that Jewish culture can bring to bear on models of gender that were developed within romantic European culture.' Several slaves honored a deceased fellow slave by saying he was a real lord-lover (philokyrios). for as she says. according to this Jewish legend. Politics 300). lasting relationship sound far more reprehensible than prostitution. namely the ignorant who were sometimes characterized as being "like women. efflorescences of misogyny as well. The act of stooping and mutilating his phallus is what provides the possibility for Keti a bar Shalom (whose name is the obviously emblematic. in citing this passage. by being an exception." The Caesar considers the Jews to be a painful blemish on his realm and wishes to cut them out.
in fact. was it necessary for him to be circumcised in order to achieve a place in the Next World. the newly circumcised boy is addressed: "And I say to you [feminine]: In your [feminine] blood. that there is here further evidence for a valorization of such feminization. not by a Jewish voice at all. in Gleason 69)." The term that Keti a bar Shalom uses to indicate the way that the king will be stereotyped is.6). non-official and even perhaps unarticulated meanings. a representation of the "official" meanings of circumcision. Moreover. Within Jewish culture.a wart." These texts suggest strongly the possibility that circumcision was understood somehow as rendering to the male something of the attributes of the female. and the long foreskin was considered a sign of masculinity. the same representation. the act is proposed in the text. Epictetus. This transformation is powerfully enacted at the ritual level. "I found you weltering in your blood. Ezekiel's metaphor of weltering in one's blood becomes the vehicle for a transformation of male blood into female blood and thus of male Israelites into female. if we read it in the light of its immediate context. What I propose. In Roman literature this feminization through circumcision appeared as a thoroughly negative representation. Although this reading of circumcision as being a positively marked feminization of the male body is quite speculative. which also means (in the passive voice). "Cutter" is thus structurally opposed to "Cut One. Since making oneself less male on purpose through depilation was considered depraved. is that. i. This complements the transvaluation of feminizing servility that I read in the first episode of the text. circumcision. precisely his name. a deliberate "feminization" . seem possibly to have had feminizing significances. Keti a bar Shalom both warns him (citing chapter. both the very act of submission and perhaps the mutilation of the genital itself. but by a matrona.. the slave with the intact foreskin is the more "virile" lover (Daniel). until today.would have seemed to these Romans to be just as perverse as depilation. among the acts of molding the male infant's body that a nurse is expected to perform in order to thoroughly virilize him is stretching his foreskin should it seem undeveloped. The short foreskin. the text is proposing here a self-construction through the eyes of a Gentile character. ironically enough.in the very terms of their cultural construction of the foreskin .e. therefore. he could have done so under the rubric of Righteous Gentile. consists of the same kind of symbolic feminization that was encoded explicitly in the story of Antoninus and Rabbi. Moreover. as I have shown elsewhere ("'This We Know'"). but many of the adepts in Israel are male.1. thereby. I am suggesting. Once more. God says to her. Given the echoes and doubling from the previous story in the context. which he clearly was. became positively marked. at Jews.27-28)" (qtd. And I say to you [feminine]: In your [feminine] blood. in his Discourses. however. to Judaism. it can be supported from other rabbinic texts. was among the other signs of an effeminate nature (Gleason 71). and that Keti a bar Shalom also stooped to conquer. nor. the cut one. They are all the more significant for all that. and that event is circumcision. and the concurrent bleeding.(18) The talmudic text that we will read in the next section will prove sharply critical of the "without women" of . and midrash of course!) that he will not be able to succeed at that aim (Jewish wish-fulfillment) and that he will then be stereotyped as a "cutter. then. what are we to make of a man who depilates himself (3. writes "Nature made women smooth and men hirsute. verse." This blood is interpreted in rabbinic literature as the blood of circumcision!(16) This displacement involves very complicated semiotic transactions. as it were. that which every Jewish male undergoes. I suggest. He has not converted. a figure for Roman culture. then." and blesses her. There is important support for this notion from the reading of the famous verse of Ezekiel in which Israel is figured as a female child (16. Israel is female partner with respect to God. It should be noted that Keti a bar Shalom's self-circumcision has no halakic (normative) status. therefore. you [feminine] shall live. An event must take place in their bodies that will enable them to take the position of the female. If a man born hairless is an ominous sign (teras). this form of Gentile attainment of the Next World. the circumcised one. looking. you [feminine] shall live. when at a traditional circumcision ceremony." as evil (the bad king who hates Jews) to good (the righteous Gentile who saves Jews). and the intentional removal of the foreskin could only be read as perverse. We do not have here.(17) thus making it possible for the male Israelite to have erotic communion with a male deity within a homoerotic economy in which one partner must always be feminized. circumcision as feminizing. "Live in your blood. but of public. In Petronius. in addition to whatever other meanings this legend encodes.
At the same time. of course. I am deeply offended when a Pauline scholar refers to Paul's use of the term "Jew" as not being really about Jewish people but about "the Jew inside of all of us. I think a good case can be made that the Rabbis represented Roman maleness as aggressively phallic. mutually confirming stereotypes. This explicit marking of the exception . This raises an important theoretical issue in cultural studies of the stereotype. Parallel to this is Freud's later refusal to imagine a dephallicized masculinity as anything but castration. I do not claim that it successfully achieves it. thus inscribing his inability to distinguish between the phallus and the penis (Geller. Ultimately the point that needs to be emphasized is that this is not a discussion of "real" differences between Roman/ce and Jewish male behavior but about different cultural models signified in large part in specular. The ideal Jew is portrayed in contrast to a stereotyped Roman Other. from the talmudic to the early modern period. Remarkably. which may say nothing about Roman culture but nevertheless is significant for describing the culture of the Rabbis. the question was precisely how it was constituted. in modern terms. like "them. Nonetheless. I hypothesize here the Talmud as a resisting reader of itself. macho. while Jewish men are represented by European Christian culture as feminized." It cannot be denied that this "racist" mood overtakes Jewish culture here and there. and we see what a complicated process that is indeed." because it implies that having a Jew inside is an evil thing. violent. into medieval aristocratic and ultimately romantic culture. it interrupts a simply racist notion of: We are not like them.(19) Rabbis and Their Pals . This formation was resisted from within European (Christian) culture as well. to agree with each other that the Jewish male lacks the phallus that the Gentile possesses and thus to propose a homology between political and sexual domination. manliness was a highly contested quality for the Romans also. On the one hand. It would be equally offensive if all evil in Jews were referred to as their being "like Goyim. however. they in turn represented the "Goy" as crude. one that would still privilege "top" over "bottom." there is a reinscription of an essentialized negative stereotype of "their" culture. "Jewish"). as if to grant that male sexuality is violent and aggressive by nature and the only way to renounce such violence is by renouncing. with Jews now "on top." This is a double-edged sword. every male (nearly) wanted to be manly. Virtually all of the texts I am discussing. i. however. This story and analysis begin to give us some insight into rabbinic collective male self-construction. notably however by celibates and celibacy. Romans who are more like us. In fact. as for instance in the Yiddish proverb: Alle Yevonim hobm ein ponim (All Greeks/Ivans have one face [Funkenstein 1])."Its kings . Thus." Crucial to my argument. On the other hand. In other words.both reinforces the stereotype and enables the narrative of proper male behaviors and relationships as appropriating the "feminine. in order to achieve his true destination as nurturing . then the "racism" of the representation of the Gentile male in European Jewish culture is more cultural critique than chauvinism.e. this same religious and political leader of Palestinian Jewry. who is portrayed as violent and cruel in his masculinity. Rabbi himself. "Reading"). rejects the phallus as a representation of male sexuality and thus imagines the possibility of a nonphallic male sexuality. as it were. Something else. is the assumption that we should not read this story as a mere fantasy of reversal of status. must be emphasized here as well.. "Freud"). the stereotype is complicated by allowing that there are exceptions even among the Romans.not conquering . that is. broadly speaking. If we read this way. Here is an analogy. Jewish culture. I would argue that it is not an essentialized "Goyishness" that is being stereotyped so much as a particular European cultural formation of masculinity. in some ways. "Male". The stereotypes seem to confirm each other. one that is formed (and resisted) within Roman culture and passed on. as we shall see in the next section. had also to become "female" through a painful mimesis of the pain of childbirth. masculinity itself (Burrus. represent the "Goy" not by depicting a Gentile but by depicting a Jew who is. but an interesting one.but not all of its kings" .hero. and their "more-like-us-ness" is figured as feminization.this "feminism" at the same time that it also insists on the worth of the feminization itself. by inscribing the negative pole as "Goyishness. I suggest." Against such a reading stands the fact that according to another talmudic legend that I have discussed elsewhere (Boyarin. as Maud Gleason has recently made eminently clear." a reading that would leave the representations of gender exactly where they were. neither does the Talmud. hypermale.
" [Resh Lakish] agreed. and Rabbi Yohanan was greatly mournful over him. "What can we do to comfort him? Let us bring Rabbi El azar the son of Padat whose traditions are brilliant. "to force a woman. after all. and I used to supply twenty-four refutations. Rabbi Yohanan was bathing in the Jordan. aggressive machismo as a definition of manliness. the word esforcement. it seems aware (at times) of the liability of its own ideals. Old French. and in the eastern reaches of the Sassanian Empire where it is being told. I will give life' [Jeremiah 49." "For the sake of my widowhood!" He said. sexually aggressive masculinity (Barton 12-15. "from the time they are polished in the water. builds rape into its very definition of masculinity by using as its prime term for rape the "euphemistic" paraphrase. There is." Resh Lakish said. "Son of Lakish. practices. I will give you my sister who is more beautiful than I am. military force. He crossed the Jordan after him by placing his lance in the Jordan and vaulting to the other side.e. Kathryn Gravdal has recently demonstrated brilliantly how the semantics of one successor language to Latin. "Your beauty for women!" He said to him. "from the time they are forged in the fire. and violent. but he seems here to have been as much a soldier or gladiator as a thief. also in the late twelfth century. From the . the next text presents a Rabbi who is (or was) like "Romans" but became a "proper" Jew. and rape." while otherwise retaining the lexeme "force" as its main defining feature of manliness: Within this chivalric rubric of admirable strength and heroic efforts appears.(21) The term that is used to describe him at this stage in his life is listes. brigand. Every point that he would make. desire. a thematization of rape at the very beginning of the story. "'Place your widows' trust in me' [Jeremiah 49. [Rabbi Yohanan] taught [Resh Lakish] Mishna and Talmud and made him into a great man. including. in this context. and put him before [Rabbi Yohanan]. is clearly in the beginning of the narrative stereotyped as a follower of Roman cultural paradigms. In complementarity with the above stories that presented Romans who were like Rabbis. the son of Lakish [Resh Lakish].1]. although "ethnically" Jewish." Rabbi Yohanan said. "If you repent. we see that at the same moment that the narrative presents the rabbinic male ideal it contests its own presentation and questions the validity of its own ideals: One day. he said. The Rabbis said." They brought Rabbi El azar the son of Padat and put him before him. power. "Your strength for Torah!" He replied. these figures would probably have been conflated in the cultural imagination into a single image of violent. "there is a tradition which supports you. Resh Lakish. weapons are your metier]. Resh Lakish." vaults over the river with clear and aggressive sexual intent. the evils of the erasure of female agency. and subjectivity from its homotopic world of Torah-study.(22) Indeed. to focus on the issue of male intimacy that it encodes and problematizes. "Look at the orphans!" He said to her "'Leave your orphans. accordingly. he said to him. "a brigand is an expert in brigandry" [i. however." Resh Lakish died. His sister [Rabbi Yohanan's sister. "Do I need this one?! The son of Lakish used to raise twenty-four objections to every point that I made. and Resh Lakish became ill [owing to a curse put on him by Rabbi Yohanan]. [Resh Lakish] said to [Rabbi Yohanan]. strikingly enough. sarcastically: You should know of what you speak. (Baba Metsia' 84a) I propose to read this legend as a paradigmatic story of the formation of the Jewish male subject and especially.1]. and all you can say is that there is a tradition which supports me?! Don't I already know that I say good things?" He used to go and cry out at the gates. The Rabbis prayed for him and he died. "Look at me!" He did not pay attention to her. denoting effort. Resh Lakish saw him and thought he was a woman. Once they were disputing in the Study House: "the sword and the lance and the dagger. [Resh Lakish] wanted to cross back to take his clothes but he couldn't. until the matter became completely clear." [Rabbi Yohanan] said. and a sexual libertine as well. and institutions. Resh Lakish's wife] came to [Rabbi Yohanan] and cried before him. from whence can they become impure?"(20) Rabbi Yohanan said. the quintessential "Goy.At the same time that the Talmud imagines an alternative to phallic. bravura. 48). Since the end of the story is tragic. where are you?" until he became mad. "What have you profited me? There they called me Rabbi and here they call me Rabbi!" [Rabbi Yohanan] became angry. When Rabbi Yohanan saw Rabbi Shim'on. by the time that this story is being told. She said.
The beauty of Rabbi Abbahu is like the beauty of our father Jacob. By desiring Resh Lakish's ." The questions being considered in this passage have to do with rabbinic. built into the military culture in which force is applauded in most of its forms.. Resh Lakish in turn answers with the ambiguous. "Your beauty for women. The beauty of our father Jacob is like the beauty of Adam." and that of Rabbi Yohanan is not mentioned. Rabbi Yohanan's remarked lack of a beard explicitly marks him as less beautiful. and bravery. a beauty marked however by his effeminate appearance. we move to the knight's striving after heroism. the Torah imagined as female. "One who wishes to see the beauty of Rabbi Yohanan should bring a brand new silver cup and fill it with the red seeds of the pomegranate and place around its rim a garland of red roses. particularly according to the version of the text that does not explicitly claim that Resh Lakish thought he was pursuing a "real" female. the biographical legend. however. Rabbi Yohanan did not have a beard [lit.e. we have a sort of "thinking with rabbis. i. I would argue that here we can locate almost explicit evidence for my claim that certain textual/ideological strands. marked in the text by the explicit statement that Resh Lakish thought that Rabbi Yohanan was a woman. the object of this sexual aggression.(24) While from the perspective of "Jewish" values. and to each other. But he is left out of the list of the most beautiful men in history because his face is not marked with the mark of "true" masculine beauty.(25) Since Rabbi Yohanan is arguably one of the two or three most central rabbinic heroes and models within talmudic literature. "I have survived from the beautiful of Jerusalem." the virility of the lance with which you vaulted the Jordan. (Baba Metsia(c) 83b)(23) Rabbi Yohanan's beauty is described as an almost angelic beauty." those who devote themselves to the service of the female Torah . Is that true?! But haven't we been taught by our master that: "The beauty of Rabbi Kahana is like the beauty of Rabbi Abbahu. the questions of philia and the phallus. seems to be burlesquing this very Roman/ce male ideal of force and rape. the gray beard of an aged sage. ideal Jewish maleness and its relationship to homosocial desire. leaving his clothes . and that it is about Jewish collective male self-construction in the context of a dominant Greco-Roman culture.behind. and he has already been introduced to us within the immediate context in highly erotic. his presentation as androgynous is highly significant. manliness. or even sexualized. The nature of the surprise is. I suggest. This specifically medieval glissement suggests that rape is part of the feudal hegemony. a culture which this text projects as its other. were at pains to construct their ideal male figures as androgynes or as feminized men. (3) The talmudic text. Resh Lakish is in for a surprise. Rabbi Yohanan invites Resh Lakish to join him in the fellowship of "real men.(26) The sexual meanings of such erotic male-male desire and its relation to learning were. and that radiance is something like the beauty of Rabbi Yohanan." Such manhood is wasted in the pursuit of mere physical sex objects. splendor of face]. left tantalizingly inexplicit. it seems also calculated to inscribe him (from the perspective of Roman/ce culture) as the appropriate object of Resh Lakish's desire. "for Torah. After vaulting over the river. and then to the idea of forced coitus. Instead of rabbis thinking. and let him place it at the place where the sun meets the shade. Rabbi Yohanan.but not his lance ."Your strength. imagery both as of extravagant beauty and as androgynous or effeminate in appearance: Said Rabbi Yohanan. The talmudic academy consists of an all-male grouping structured around intensely eroticized relations to the object of study.notion of strength. no less an issue for the Talmud than they are for Plato's Symposium. four hundred years earlier than the Chanson de Roland. particularly within the Babylonian Talmud."(27) For both characters there is a powerful element of identification and envy in their utterances. Our text and its larger context provide us with a reflection on this subject through one of talmudic culture's favorite media for such thinking. and especially to the phallus as a definition of masculinity. I shall suggest that whatever else is going on here. is the quintessential symbol of rabbinic Jewish maleness. the understandings of "proper" manhood and proper male intimacy and their consequences for women are central to the text. to women.
This. but that nevertheless remains a system within which men are empowered virtually exclusively to make decisions about the lives of women. merely displacing the domination from the personal to the political level. a structure that is at least as much about protecting women from male exploitation as it is about institutionalizing exploitation.(28) The narrative has set up two alternative homosocial communities. There is no way that he could betroth his sister without her consent. even requiring consent or assent to marriage arguably does not mean a great deal. I offer that this suggestion of a suspicious reading by the text of its own social formation is borne out dramatically in the continuation. Even if the formal. the woman has as little to say about her fate as does the Torah herself. Illegitimate rape is replaced by legitimate marriage.mediation of male erotics through "female" texts or female people . institutional arrangements exclude sexual and other violence against women. the narrative is both offering the latter as a better alternative to the former and raising the suspicion in our minds that they are not all that different. and a human female as well. and agency is the fatal flaw that brings the hero down in a denouement best described as tragic. the very condemnation of male violence against women is arbitrary within a system in which women have no voice. a structure of intense homosocial (even homoerotic) connections between the male denizens of the Study House. Interestingly enough. I submit that the text proposes a marriage within which the subjectivity.(50) Lest it seem to readers that I am tendentiously conveying or even smuggling modern ideas into this text.(29) "I will give you my sister": in this imagined world of homosociality. in effect. by itself. subjectivity. desire. moreover who has exactly the same carnal characteristics that attracted you to me. it is: Bring that beauty to me. He says to him: You can have it all. However. as we shall yet see. and agency of the female partner are effectively ignored as being the virtual moral equivalent of a leap over a river to rape an attractive nude bather. The structure that is set up is a perfect synecdoche of rabbinic homosociality. is not so startling a revelation. Rabbi Yohanan is also expressing desire to have that strength himself.seem to reproduce the twin foundations of a bynow model pattern of homosocial desire (Sedgwick. In replacing Resh Lakish's unsanctioned desire for coerced sex (with Yohanan . so the threat of such violent domination is always there. Resh Lakish in his . the Torah. When the female is only a symbolic function of displaced homoeroticism. Between 2). By desiring Rabbi Yohanan's beauty for women. At first all seems to be going well between Rabbis. according to talmudic law what Rabbi Yohanan did here was impossible. both the spiritual female.strength for Torah. setting up a dual hermeneutic within which the latter is represented as the proper substitute for the former but also suggested as its virtual equivalent. Even when the male text condemns male violence toward women. For Resh Lakish. In a sense. One might say that the shiddukh (match) that he makes between the new ephebe . it is still assuming and arrogating to itself the power to condemn or approve of such violence and thus.as we will see Rabbi Yohanan is the dominant male in his. then her will or subjectivity is hardly relevant. Rabbi Yohanan introduces Resh Lakish fully into the world of Torah. what seems astonishing here is the extent to which it is the talmudic text itself that produces (as opposed to being subjected to) this critique. Rabbi Yohanan's next rejoinder to Resh Lakish proves to he disingenuous at best. the story as story represents the actual social situation perhaps in ways that a statement of the law cannot. share it with me in a love that will be mediated through our erotic attachment to the Torah.whether he knows him to be male or not) with a sanctioned (but apparently no less coerced) sexual relationship. the story is a mise en abyme of the entire rabbinic structure of gender relations. both having exactly the same erotic economy: an all-male hierarchical society . Rabbi Yohanan's appeal is: Bring that virility to me. this is analogous to the situation in other cultures within which an individual man (and even most) may totally avoid such violence and be repelled by it but still benefit from it. one. share it with me in the love that will be mediated through our common pursuit of women. In other words. The envy will remain throughout the story. These two possibilities . Resh Lakish speaks his envy of that beauty. for in a society in which the disparities in power are as great as they were between men and women in rabbinic culture. wherein we see that the erasure of female desire.structured around close male attachments with female figures "between" the men. initially resisting Rabbi Yohanan's invitation.(31) Read this way. channeled through and partly displaced via their focus on two types of "female" objects: the Torah that they study and their wives.
but with a specific cultural formation. The latter point. on the other hand. it would seem. this renders the sexual theme more explicit and might have been censored out for this reason. gives no indication that the pain suffered by Rabbi Yohanan was caused by a sense of sinfulness on his part. rabbinic male. and the like.not. obviously. In any case. . where are you? Son of Lakish. is a moment of undecidability between manuscripts. He produces Resh Lakish as an adult. whether or not the latter "knew the truth" of his gender. . however.(37) On the one hand. It depicts. friends. This story would not fit into a tale type of the sinner redeemed. hoplites. the biblical one. Rabbi Yohanan's gender is uncertain from the beginning of the story. a purpose beyond itself in action.(36) this moment is made almost superfluously obvious by indicating that Resh Lakish actually thought that Rabbi Yohanan was a woman. metaphorically realized as a sort of battle. Edwards 78.explicitly signified by the "ethnically" Jewish but culturally "Roman" gladiator.(33) (I shall suggest below that the positive significance of this substitution is being both asserted and contested within the text at one and the same time. One manuscript tradition leaves it quite uncertain as to whether he thought he was pursuing a woman or a man attractive just because he had the physical attributes of a woman. but the Homeric one very likely as well. so much as anxiety about gender and the boundaries of gendered performance (cf. rather.(34) Now this is precisely the feature." then. and the weapons of war are lost" (2 Samuel 1. the ending fits as well.(35) In the version of the narrative that I have reproduced here. "the shield-bearers.we see him going from door to door. 87-88).e. Traditional interpretations have sought to reduce the unsettling nature of this moment by insisting that its pathos is Rabbi Yohanan's consciousness of the sinfulness of his behavior. a type of heroic friendship which is better captured by terms like comrades-in-arms. Resh Lakish . have been added at a time when such anxiety was more powerful. a man desperately missing the man he has killed. This sentence is the literary equivalent of David's Lament for Jonathan: "I am pained for you my brother Jonathan. The dialectics of the Rabbis are frequently referred to with metaphors of gladiatorial combat or battle. They thus both recuperate Rabbi Yohanan as hero via his "repentance" and eliminate the homoerotic desire from the text. Each of the . is an exceptionally valiant warrior: we are dealing not with an instance of some neutral or universal sociological category called "friendship." i. in the accomplishment of glorious deeds or the achievement of political ends. accordingly. The rabbis sought fruitlessly to comfort him with another friend and his crying is not of self-contempt or repentance but of loss and desire: "Son of Lakish. "I am a sinner.26-27). a wanderer in the city. As David Halperin has described such alliances. Your love was wonderful beyond the love of women. boon companions. therefore. How have the heroes fallen. The text. The two Rabbis are imagined as a sort of rabbinic Jewish answer to such archetypical pairs as Achilles and Patroclus on the one hand and David and Jonathan on the other. if we may judge by the wife's distress at the prospect of losing him. The Rabbis themselves are called in the Talmud. whatever [their] sentimental qualities." and apparently as an adequate husband as well. The exquisite portrayal of Rabbi Yohanan's bereavement . Before the narrative even begins we are ceremoniously informed by the Talmud that the reason that Rabbi Yohanan was omitted from the list of the most beautiful men was his lack of a beard. [they] always [have] an outward focus." There are several indications in this text that the anxiety that inhabits it is not anxiety about sexuality. a great "man. into the folk-tale type of lover killed in jealousy and then bitterly mourned. crying out for his lost love . that recommended him as sexual object to Resh Lakish. fitting. where are you?" . You were exceedingly pleasant to me.strongly supports the reading as well. if you will. it reduces the homoerotic subtext and might. drawing on another manuscript tradition. . I am a murderer.the valor of warmaking is replaced by the valor of Torah study. (77) Within this text of rabbinic self-fashioning over-against their fantasies of Roman culture .and the two female figures is highly successful.(32) Both of these couples and their associated meanings would have been available in the rabbinic sociolect.) Following this reading of the narrative as being constructed within the Mediterranean paradigm of heroes and their pals. the conflict between the two manuscript traditions points up that the question of gender undecidability is in the "unconscious" of this text. indeed.
(44) Altogether. this refers "both to their lovemaking and their way of life" (139). the powerful emperors had active sexual lives and cuckolded others (Richlin 88-89). This is a highly overdetermined moment in the text. however." i. Clearly the implication is that a satisfying male sexuality will be "warlike. that the text itself is animating such a symbolism . you should be joining me in lusting after learning. o worst part of me? / So I have been taken in by your promises before. Amy Richlin has given abundant examples to support the Roman cultural identification of the phallus as a weapon. women and their lovers (male or female).like me.e. violent.that holds the greater potential for multiple readings. Catherine Edwards also makes clear the connection between seducing other men's wives and political power (47-48). sexual activity and potency were considered homologous with political effectivity.(43) A nice.knowingly.as they were. I have preferred the reading that contextually makes the most sense. According to at least one poem of Martial. Resh Lakish's response "Your beauty for women" . the entire narrative is engendered by the confusion that his body represents: is he male or female?(39) A final hint of the underlying cultural disquietude of this text has to do with the curious detail about Resh Lakish's attempted return to take his clothes.(42) and this is. of course. caught weaponless because of you [per te deprensus inermis]" (qtd. thrusting masculinity. rather. at some level. of course. A narrative that has a man vault over a river on his lance. indeed. Although Yohanan's invitation is not without its ironies. instead of seeking to seduce (rape?) me. His lance no longer works. in Rome than anywhere else. / You're cheating your master.(38) The phrase itself can also mean. and especially to those it subjugated. that physical prowess is wasted on the pursuit of carnal objects of desire . Bram Dijkstra has made the point that painters of the nineteenth century frequently used snakes as a symbol of male sexuality. The weak emperors had inactive sexual lives and were cuckolds. The image of the phallus as weapon is a common one" (59). why aren't you a woman? Once more the blurred status of Yohanan's gender is what is at stake here. He will no longer be wearing the clothes that he wore before." and as Richlin comments. example can be cited from Ovid. and much of that was a face . not imagining that it is a psychically universal "phallic symbol. The penis itself was most commonly figured as a weapon." but rather that this text has summoned it as a symbol of a repudiated active. This change is doubled in the text by the failure of Resh Lakish's lance as a means of propulsion back to the masculine signifiers of his clothing. In the text above. with a big gun. Richlin makes the excellent point that (at least following Suetonius). There is no more reason to doubt tender. seems clearly to be symbolizing masculinity through the working or non-working of the lance.(46) The important issue here is what face Roman culture presented to its others.A second point of undecidability in the narrative has to do with the repartee between the two Rabbis once Resh Lakish arrives at the scene. and relatively decorous. that beauty is wasted on a man. invoking some putative Freudian notion of a phallic symbol here. or kinaidoi and their lovers. the masculine clothes of a Roman man presumably the toga virilis. who after a bout of impotence was moved to write: "Why do you lie there full of modesty. Roman sexual discourse was pervaded with images of violence. join me in seeking women. according to her. undergo a spiritual transformation in which gender is explicitly thematized and then be unable to vault back on the same lance. militat omnis amans [every lover a soldier]. to Freud as well (Dijkstra).(40) he will now be wearing the robes of a scholar of the Talmud. an unsatisfactory husband. namely that beauty is wasted on the pursuit of spiritual objects of desire. moreover.. not because they were under thrall to psychological symbolisms that they could not control and that Freud would diagnose. a "cinaedus" is described as "unwarlike [imbelles]" and "soft [molles]. considered by the Romans a "positive" representation: "All these patterns depend on a scale of values in which the Priapus figure is top or best and the other figures are subordinate. in Richlin 118). but because these symbolisms were culturally available to them ."(45) It is very important at this point to emphasize that I am sure that actual sexual life and discourse in Rome was much more complex and heterogeneous than this picture would allow.(41) I am not. I am suggesting. I am making a similar claim about the symbolism of the lance here. Nor were such representations of masculinity entirely foreign to actual Roman cultural productions. Yohanan's immediate response to Resh Lakish's "virility" is "Your strength for Torah. He is emasculated. it is. sexual love between some husbands and wives. as we shall presently see.
who exclusively devoted themselves to study. traditional Jewish culture. however. the Rabbis.(53) One of the remarkable aspects of narrative as cultural discourse is."(47) For Romans. it is only the equation of the phallus with the penis that would lead to an unproblematic . Studying Torah is a kind of cross-dressing.although these actually subvert the paradigm through parodic appropriation thereof.of violence. were feminized vis-a-vis the larger cultural world. These former achieve the status of "third sex" by escaping sex (and sexuality) altogether (Warner 146). not so the Rabbi. however. cuts the phallus down to size. the "public" meanings of maleness. This image would have been received through a variety of discourses. He marries and fathers children. These were. Martial. and here they call me Rabbi. this sublimated penis that we have come to call the phallus.(49) Note that the metaphor of gladiatorial activity for Torah study is marked at least twice in the text: once in the dialogue between Resh Lakish and Rabbi Yohanan in the beginning and once more when the former bitterly complains: "There they called me Rabbi. Since the text projects it as belonging to the "Other.to the gladiatorial arena. For the Romans ." Resh Lakish. but from within the rabbinic Jewish perspective. resisted. I read the (first part of the) story. explicitly figured in our text by the pre-Torah Resh Lakish. It is also a story in which same-sex desire and homoerotic intimacy can be comprehended within a context of a fulfilling of paternal functioning as well. of a male sexuality suffused with brutality and domination. and Ovid . Such perceptions of men as feminized whether by self or other are hardly productive of interruptions of gendered hierarchies. its haunting ability to tell a hegemonic story and contest it at the same time. In other words. paradigmatic of Roman culture for the Rabbis. can even be defined as resistance to." this forms a comment on the fancied antiphallicism of the projecting culture . The traditionally definitive talmudic commentator Rashi suggests this interpretation when he glosses the non-working lance as "his strength had been sapped [like that of a woman]. For Lacan. demonstrating that the choice is not between a phallus and castration and that a man can have a working penis even if he has "taken off" his phallus . according to Edwards.although here too the dominated men understood themselves positively as feminized as well.a man who did not have a weapon was not a man at all."(48) Resh Lakish's lance is replaced by his speech. deprived of the "phallus. as a utopian fantasy about the production of a normative.at least as they were imagined by Jews and presumably for many Jews themselves . Roman femininity is significantly like rabbinic masculinity in certain ways." Among the pivotal notions of Western culture is the phallus as the principle of spirit which is abstracted. Levine . sublimated from the male body. as it turns out.(50) The same difference obtains between the nonphallic monk (or the transvestite female saint) of European culture and Jewish talmudic scholars. I have read this story as a story of Jewish male subjectivity. as pointed out to me by Molly M. in the utopian moment of the narrative.or never had one to begin with. nonphallic Jewish male subjectivity. and understood that feminization as a positive aspect of their cultural identity.a self-critical and ironic one. Using for the moment psychoanalytical terms. he is merely circumcised. I suggest. to a great extent.(52) But again I emphasize. the text indicts that Rabbi Yohanan taught him Torah and Mishna and made him a "great man. therefore. marked by Resh Lakish's crossing of the river and doubly marked by his inability to cross back on his masculine lance to take up again his masculine clothing. a subjectivity that is explicitly figured here as at the margins. I am suggesting that precisely those practices and performances that defined the rabbi as feminized from the point of view of the dominant culture were those that constituted masculinity within the dominated culture . beginning with the Talmud and through an opposition to Roman ideals of the male. Given the larger cultural context within which they worked. With a certain irony." nevertheless is not castrated. Traditionally Jewish men identified themselves as feminized in some ways. not of a dehistoricized masculinity. this feminization does not imply emasculation.(51) He was castrated. ranging from graffiti to the poetry of such canonical figures as Catullus. but at the margins of the Roman cultural Empire. They neither had nor wanted "the phallus. My thesis is that rabbinic Judaism. it was rather "sexual indulgence" that "sapped a man's strength and made him like a woman" (86).
and frankly. than the gladiatorial combat that "they" engage in. The same. applies to the nonreferentiality of the phallus. Another way of making the same point would be to avow that. as the Jews constructed it of course. this resistant male subjectivity turns out to be just as brutal . Precisely because the penis is not the phallus but signifies the phallus.the penis. represented almost allegorically within our story as a fatal flaw in its hero. The narrative thus essays. Resh Lakish in his former life is the very figure of Roman masculinity. the text seems to suggest with its deadly ending. that constitutes its ability to project masculinity as the universal . contrary to its current reputation.as opposed to the phallus which is a Platonic idea of the body is feminine. to think a masculine that is not phallic." and further that "this double-bind combination of necessity and impossibility produces the endless repetition of failed efforts to clearly distinguish phallus and penis" (Gallop. less cruel. Daughter's 96-97]!). within the cultural system itself. who is the possessor of the phallus. that the gladiatorial combat of Torah-study is somehow finer. At one moment the text is arguing.(54) The issue is not whether we differentiate between phallus and penis but whether we posit a phallus at all. not to proper. It may escape gravity. any psychoanalysis that bases itself on the phallus and castration will always be an instrument in the service of the dominant fiction. a penis that is separated from the transcendent phallus (131) . however. This talmudic Jewish text breaks the identification between penis and phallus by traumatizing the phallus via a symbolic or partial "castration" without giving up . Resh Lakish bitterly complains to Rabbi Yohanan: "What have you profited me. in her totally honest and disarming way. Jewish culture. however. if it is to be material and critical. learned. but this substitute. such as that of celibate saints. or rather. It is the very transcendent immateriality of the phallus. on this reading. suggesting that nothing is really different after all. "Phallus/penis" 127). and at the other. is in its nonrecognition that any resistance to power and masculinist constructions of the phallus must be accompanied by a revolution in the power-relations between men and women as well. Such an equation.assertion of male privilege. a far- .(56) Insofar as the body itself . that entity that belongs to Gentiles. less violent. but then. There they called me Rabbi and here they call me Rabbi!" You offered me a masculinity that would be resistant to that of the dominant culture. It is he. In this sense my position here is almost the exact opposite of that of Jane Gallop. perhaps our vocal combat is not so different from theirs after all. mutatis mutandis.and by doing so significantly enables both male and imperial projects of domination. is one of the factors that makes it difficult (not impossible in my view) to refigure masculinity in our culture and in this time. rabbinic Jews.as marginal European masculinities. The renunciation of the weapon turns out to be merely the substitute of the vocal weapon for the physical one. who argues that the inability to keep phallus and penis separate is a "symptom of the impossibility. with a hermeneutics of sharp suspicion. admits as much and why (132). The continuation of the story thus directly contests the idealized and utopian picture of masculine subjectivity that the beginning constructs.(57) They kill with the spear. at this moment in our history. a renunciation. At one moment the text is insisting that Jewish masculinity is different. is always necessarily and paradoxically implied by the very separation/idealization of the phallus that European culture . then. Rabbi Yohanan.(55) Nancy K.including Lacan promotes. The fatal flaw. and its necessary inseparability from the penis for deep historical and linguistic reasons (Words just don't mean what I want them to mean when I say them. but we kill with the voice. one that would not depend for its adequation on the violence of male rivalry and cruelty to women. do . as Gallop herself had written earlier [Gallop. for rabbinic culture. and thus its separation from the penis." and worries that "glossing 'woman' as an archaic signifier glosses over the referential suffering of women" (114). that leaves the phallus intact and powerful. of course. as it were.as that which I left behind me. Miller seems to me very much on point here when she doubts that "nondiscursive practices will respond correctly to the correct theory of discursive practice. feminization is not equivalent to castration precisely because masculinity was not defined by possession of the phallus.claims Resh Lakish . may have something rich and utopian to offer our feminist projects of the reconstruction of male subjectivity. It is the reinscription of male dominance within the text itself that causes the crisis that leads to its catastrophic and tragic end. it will not escape the penis (Bernheimer). I maintain that the phallus itself. according to our legend. it is this return to the body that inscribes the Jewish male as female. Gallop ends her brilliant meditation still longing for a phallus that could be separated from the penis. more sublimated.as the Logos . a masculine that can couple with a feminine.
for many of them were men of power and status in their pre-Christian lives. Ambrose was a provincial governor before his conversion. and desire of women that rabbinic homosociality could promote as well. led eventually to its breakdown.(59) Although the text tries to recover a utopian vision of rabbinic combat in Rabbi Yohanan's rejection of the irenic Rabbi El'azar for the pugnacious Resh Lakish. that very talk may be as evil . Rather than seeing these feminized responses as evidence of a pathology. as it was for his compatriot. while it had many attributes of power. This is entirely clear with respect to the early Christians discussed by Burrus ("Male"). one belonging to a culture they had rejected. we do not use weapons. and disowning the phallus. that presents this possibility to the Rabbis. And Jewish men did not have it. but. this obtained only . but just as Resh Lakish cannot be brought back from the dead. seems to be in its premise that such a renunciation does not imply an exit from male sexuality entirely. but at the same time. Prudentius. for him. in the heartfelt representation of the pain of the wife-sister and the extreme arrogance of her brother. and sublimation from the body. no accident that the incident that precipitates this epiphany is a controversy having to do with weapons. as does Kaja Silverman in her Male Subjectivity at the Margins. thus accepting the terms of the dominant fiction as reality. the critique of the danger and violence of such verbal competitiveness is not erased. both Rabbis and early Christians developed positively marked images of feminized men.(58) Her subjecthood is represented through the powerful demand of her brother that he see her. in a culture in which being a man was predicated on possessing the phallus. it could be argued.(60) We can regret them. a violent and destructive ideological construct.(62) The peculiar promise of the Jewish text. Their status in the church. thus. it seems to be saying.(61) Dis/Owning the Phallus Rather than seeing the breakdown of the phallic imaginary as a product of trauma. of being colonized. of human completion. becoming Christian was truly a renunciation of the phallus. As John Hoberman has put it: "By the time Weininger absorbed it. With its remarkable self-consciousness. If anything. renouncing. ideally different from general European male ideals. this text serves as a point of origin for both a Jewish antiphallus and for an intra-Jewish critique of the real achievement of such a utopian moment in masculinity.(63) I claim that there is something correct . and many others at the time. so also destructiveness can never be entirely expunged from rabbinic male rivalry.in the persistent European (Roman and later Christian) representation of Jewish men as a sort of women.although seriously misvalued . this intuitive sense of the Jew's deficient masculinity had been germinating for centuries. On the one hand. it suggests. had to be configured differently from their former status. It is clear that the "phallus" was renounced and resisted by them as a particular cultural product. Rabbinic male subjectivity is. so it is hard to argue that it was trauma that dislodged the dominant fiction for them. thus marking the site of a cultural crisis for the Roman Empire that. these texts present a culture of men who are resisting. I would suggest that in their political and cultural opposition to the tyranny of the Roman Empire. and his refusal to do so (eliminated from the printed editions) speaks volumes of his callousness in rivalrous rage and wounded male pride. there is a powerful and salient critique of the indifference to the subjectivity. represented as arrogating to himself the place of God via his quotations from Jeremiah. In addition to this. It is. of course. we talk about them. as Sheila Briggs points out with reference to the latest forms of this representation. in contrast. In the antisemitic imaginary of Europe (and perhaps Africa and Asia as well) Jews have been represented traditionally as female.(64) in short. Instead of reading this alternative mode of constructing maleness as anomalous. a possibility not of a temporary disruption but of demystifying "the phallus" for what it is. pain. as long as its homosocial and thus willy-nilly masculinist base is maintained.as their gladiatorial combat. then. It was the condition of not being imperial. the symbolic marker of coherence. dating from the Middle Ages" (143).and even as deadly . one in which the absence of the phallus is a positive product of cultural history and not a signifier of disease. power. so. One of the weapons mentioned in the Mishna about which the fictional discussion between the Rabbis is constructed is that very lance that Resh Lakish had renounced. I offer an antithetical reading of Jewish history. it was their resistance to the dominant fiction that brought trauma upon them and not the opposite.going critique of the implicit violence of the institutionalized male competitiveness in Torah-study.
" This usage further distinguishes the cultural processes that I am describing from those referred to when one speaks of the "feminization of the synagogue. Like "phallus. I am rather marking these performances as "femme" within the context of a particular culture's performatives. One is directed at a critique of traditional Jewish culture and gender practice. accordingly. which will explain the double-movement of my work. compare Ed Cohen's "'fem'-men-ists" (Cohen 174). Geller. The point is not to reify and celebrate the "feminine" but to dislodge the term. Notes 1 Seen in this light. knights. at the same time that it inescapably declares their connection with these groups. a point that I shall be making in Judaism as a Gender. 4 This project could not have even been begun without the prior work of Eilberg-Schwartz. 2 In other words.without making claims as to how often realized this ideal was . cf. the origins of (Western) Zionism with its (in)famous ideology of "Muscle Jews" are not so much in the "anomalies" of the Jewish condition as simply part and parcel of the same late Victorian process that produced "Muscular Christianity" (Hall) as well." by which is meant the fact that in certain "assimilating" communities only women typically attended the synagogues (at the same time that Protestant churches were being feminized in the same sense). women. discussed more . in only a slightly different register. and Gilman. hairy men. men. at once critical and recuperative of traditional Judaism. There is." Some feminists would assert that without the former the latter is an ethical impossibility.is sure to collapse into an effeminized relationship between men" (152). This phenomenon. the "ambivalent cultural space" that Garber speaks of (Vested 229) is constituted. 5 I write this way to indicate clearly that I am not ascribing some form of actual or essential femininity to certain behaviors or practices. at least in part. see Conell 12-15. As Hoberman has written. I had. I desire also to find a model for a gentle. and particularly as they intersect with other cultural formations. and very early on. for "he" may help us precisely in our attempts to construct an alternative masculine subjectivity. may be useful today. within Jewish culture out of a fraught attraction/resistance to the dominant cultural models of gender and its relation to the public/private opposition. That which a past dominant culture (as well as those Jews who internalized its values) considered shameful the feminized Jewish male. one that will not have to rediscover such cultural archetypes as Iron Johns. Vice Versa 211-14. namely that for the Rabbis this feminization was not coeval with asceticism. as to a Jungian anima. In fine. Garber." the "feminine" and. and warriors within. a positive possibility to "feminization" as well. For the toxic effects of that ideology. One argues for the potential and necessity for radical change within traditional Judaism. For the coinage itself.Mannerbund . the difference equally as striking. is not to deny as antisemitic fantasy but to reclaim the feminized Jewish male. The vector of my theoretical-political work. and Jews. to argue for his reality as a Jewish ideal going back to the Babylonian Talmud. 3 The similarities with the Rabbis are obvious. and I would tend to agree.with respect to "the negative sense of the feminine" (256). fleshy penis that he would not have to grow it into "The Phallus. "For Weininger the Jewish family is a contemptible environment precisely because it is where 'male camaraderie' ." a sort of velvet John.a male who could be so comfortable with his little. while the other mobilizes aspects of that practice in order to demystify dominant ideologies of gender within the larger cultural and social context. two forms of critical work need to be engaged at the same time. the book for which this essay will provide a chapter. "Jew" are fatally equivocal terms in western discourse. however. while the other argues that precisely that traditional culture has something to offer in the effort to produce radical change within the culture of "the West. for a long time considered "femmenized" but worried that it would be read as a pun on "men" and not on "femme. which insists on their disconnection from real human beings of particular groups. in fact. nurturing masculinity in the traditional Jewish male ideal .
in the spirit of Paul Gilroy. circumcision may have the opposite sense. Eilberg-Schwartz seems. is not what I am talking about here (Hyman 24-25). the reading of which was a major stimulus in the generation of this article. 17 This is not an essential. see Martin 43. of removing that which is "female." I do not know what meanings circumcision had in biblical culture. see Caldwell. we are "likely to conclude [falsely] that subordinate groups endorse the terms of their subordination and are willing. which does not. see Katz. 16 This interpretation occurs so frequently that it can be regarded as almost a topos. Germans. 10 Although. 12 Cic. see also Hyams. interestingly enough. Indeed. but am arguing from hints within the cultural context of late antique rabbinic culture that there it was understood as a feminizing. Rabbinowitz 15.44-45. 18 Eilberg-Schwartz's God's Phallus is a detailed and thorough account of these issues and texts and should be consulted. This is analogous to the colonialist discourses about Indian and Moslem men that shore up various racist projects. those along the northern frontiers (Britons. even enthusiastic. 11 For talmudic learning as a marker of class in East European Jewish culture and as a functional equivalent to wealth. 19 Cf. as Shaw has pointed out to me. in some cultures. 6 Some of this formulation is drawn from Brent Shaw. 9 Rashi is a running commentary always printed with the text. 15 I am assuming that these namings and honorings belong to a relatively safe space of private discourse (discourse offstage) on the part of the slaves. 2. Gauls. I add. See especially Sharpe. Interestingly enough.recently and cogently by Paula Hyman. on whether one is seeking a restoration of masculinity or its transcendence. they might be only the sort of public feigned performance from the analysis of which. 7 Similarities to wise Jewish courtier tales from the Book of Esther onward are not accidental. while. will be able to detect the ways that I have dissented from Silverman as well as the ways that I have adopted her analysis. Geller points to an antisemitic (Nazi!) tradition of attacking Jews for misogyny and mistreatment of women ("Mice"). from the body. partners in that subordination" (Scott 4). For excellent discussion. Phil. Otherwise. 14 For a counter-example. to tend to regard these feminizations as problematic for men. automatic meaning for circumcision. imply transcendence of the body but indeed its very opposite. 13 This argument is related to that of Silverman. however. Gilroy writes: "It seems important to reckon with the limitations of a perspective which seeks to restore masculinity rather than work carefully towards something like its transcendence" (194). it is enough to allude to the suggestive evidence that Shaw himself inter alia has gathered. I think. not as a masculinizing modification of the body. Goths. Readers here." the invaginating foreskin. 109. Male. I see them as portending. Jewish Theological Seminary. Gravdal's description of the Renart texts in medieval French: "The character of Hersent and the . and of the larger work that I am producing. who rightly suggests that "the argument of the correlation needs more nuance and development. the possibilities for a transcendence of masculinity. One's evaluation of circumcision will depend in part." For my purposes here. however inchoately. as for example. 8 Following ms. the Romans themselves were likely to portray their so-called "barbarian" enemies on other frontiers of the empire differently. thus conforming to the famous Bettelheimian paradigm (Symbolic). thus rendering it wholly "male. Scott remarks. Huns) as "stereotypically more ferocious and 'hyper-masculine' (as you put it) than the Romans" (Shaw).
It is easy to see how the tensions and partial selfcontradictions of our talmudic text fit into such a cultural matrix. 1. passim]. "After all. 23 Emphasis added. the gladiator who fights with a trident and a net and defeats his opponent by throwing the net over his head and immobilizing him.32). which is ridiculous since fish obviously dwell together. Where Henart provides. where it is related that Resh Lakish sold himself as a gladiator [luda'a from ludus (games)]. what constitutes the completion of production for these various weapons. were interested parties in the struggle. the laws of forbidden mixtures apply. since the hook was fish. to wit that Rabbi Yohanan was not mentioned owing to his lack of a beard. the fishing metaphor is appropriate. 20 Raw materials are not subject to ritual impurity. Thus." Rav Kahana answers with the reductio ad absurdum that then it would follow that the laws of forbidden mixtures apply to fish as well. 24 In the Roman culture of the second Sophistic as well. but finished implements or vessels are. see Babylonian Talmud Gittin 47a. The derivation of this metaphor is via the verse: "Thou shalt give splendor to the face of an elder" (Lev. . I will treat at length the complex issues of specularity and stereotyping that are invoked via the construction of the ideal rabbinic male over against the "Goy. and as such might appeal to women and boys" (74).from depilation to ingratiating inflections of the voice . Gleason is careful to point out the corresponding ambiguities built into Roman culture as well. the beard was an important positive signifier: "Philosophers. for consideration of this issue with respect to differing historical periods of Greek culture. Esau.story of her rape by the hero open a space for a cynical parody that strips courtly discourse of its idealizing pretensions and scathingly mocks the feminizing ethos of romance" (Ravishing 74-75). to depilate one's beard and body while coifing one's head was to announce a preference for unnatural acts. Suffice it say that within the two texts that I am considering in this article. See Dover 68-81. then. On the other hand. however.3)" (68).1).and other-construction. we are reminded of the complexity and multiple ironies of the stereotyping texts of selffashioning. See also Edwards 69. these mannerisms ." the Roman. Rabbi Yosi the son of Rabbi Bun remarks: "Here Rav Kahana spread his net over Resh Lakish and caught him!" This quip is doubly significant. An adroit literary use of this tradition can be found in the Palestinian Talmud Kil'aim 27a. cynical demystifications of a prevailing ideology. 19. is not as arbitrary as might first appear. 84 for the same point. Gleason points out: "In Clement's view. We see from here that the resolution offered by the Talmud. suggesting that he read him as the appropriate object of a pederastic desire. [Paidogogos] 19. as well as sophists. understood as an injunction to give splendor to one's own face by growing a beard. The French text is openly parodic of its culture. For Roman culture: "Still. 25 There is a manuscript tradition that leaves out the statement that Resh Lakish interpreted the object of his desire as a female. Gleason 74 n. First of all. The question that this text asks is. 22 For Resh Lakish as a gladiator. Once more.were refinements aimed at translating the ideal of beardless ephebic beauty into adult life. Resh Lakish has delivered himself of the pronouncement that: "Everywhere that it says 'according to its kind' [Gen. Hairiness in general is the mark of a manly nature (19. the more attractive he is" (Richlin 37). two positive figures are Roman and one (at least initially) negative figure is Jewish to indicate the involutions of these projects of self. the general rule appears to be that the more the boy seems like an adult without development of body hair. 21 In another part of Judaism as a Gender. Clement feels entitled to take this reading of the effeminate's body language because the beard is agreed to be the distinctive mark of a man (to andros to sunthema). the talmudic text a more complicated representative of the official culture that it also interrogates. It serves as a symbol of Adam's superior nature (sumbolon tes kreittonos phuseos. and some of them used the beards that were a traditional component of the philosophical costume to claim high ground" (Gleason 73). I suggest that the talmudic text both avows and suspects its own cultural formation at one and the same time. but I think that I am not over-reading if I see here as well a reference to the retiarus.25-26.
see Boyarin. treats his good looks. for the text. to the best of my knowledge." 28 Koestenbaum describes "male collaborative writing as an intercourse carried out through the exchange of women or of texts that take on 'feminine' properties" (3). Dover 172: "the attributes which made a young male attractive to erastai were assumed to make him no less attractive to women. 31 In her very subtle analysis. as opposed to a legal marriage to a man of her father's choosing against her will (Gravdal 8). analogous to the text that Gravdal cites from Old French. Gravdal shows that medieval laws against "rape" may have sometimes functioned precisely to efface female subjectivity. Note. demonstrating that there is no contradiction between describing intellectual life as agon in terms drawn from the arena and simultaneous valorization of physical combat (Gleason 125). as opposed to canon law. Epistemology 141-43." the structure is that David is married to his pal's sister .right to say no . Epistemology 110 on all-male social spaces and their cultural meanings. Talmudic culture is generally much less sensitive. nevertheless. ends up by offering both . The Talmud recognizes: and abhors all rape as violence. insofar as they were directed toward securing the woman's body for her father's purposes. within which it is asserted that "A maiden ravished has great joy. long hair ('full of desire') and fair skin as particularly captivating to women. no matter what she says" (5). since consent was given at the time of marriage" (Gravdal 9). Pentheus. 34 The congenital eunuch rhetor of the second century. 30 Thus. Rabbi. of course. Favorinus is described by Philostratus as "born double-sexed. in Gleason 6). Roman law also required mutual consent for a valid marriage to be contracted. thus anticipating the two alternatives proposed for their friendship by Resh Lakish and Rabbi Yohanan respectively. an elopement of a daughter with a lover for purposes of consensual marriage was legally raptus. Rabbi Yohanan. "as we have it. Although Halperin analyzes the composite story as two narratives and reads the David and Jonathan friendship sequence as a later substitution for the David and Michael conjugal sequence.just like Resh Lakish. arguing for the historico-cultural archaism of the hero and pal pattern (87). e.less explosive than but ultimately just as violent as rape. including rape of wives. institutionalize a comparable legalized erasure of female erotic agency . 29 For tension between the female Torah and a human wife as lover as a perennial problematic of rabbinic culture. moreover. that David's first wife was also Jonathan's sister. In other words. however inflected through later sexual paradigms.26 See Sedgwick. 27 Cf. the author of the Mishna (and friend of the Roman Emperor whom we have met above). Carnal Israel 154-66. sneering at Dionysos in Eur. Halperin is. both male and female. On the other hand. there were ways that the model was still alive into the Hellenistic period.. however. 33 Within Roman culture itself such metaphors were also used. some rabbinic texts not examined here represent women taking a highly active role in determining whom they will (or will not) marry including a refusal to marry the very Patriarch of the Jews of Palestine himself.g. 35 See Halperin 35 n. 32 Patroclus's concubine is a gift from Achilles (Halperin 77). to the subtler (and therefore arguably more insidious) ways that its own assumptions about women. This principle was later abrogated in European law (Gravdal 7). Bacchae 453-59. which "disallowed the punishment of forced coitus in marriage.a pattern also not unknown within European homosocial formations. that they always prefer to be married (to almost anyone) than alone (Yevamot 18b and parallels). as his appearance made plain: his face remained beardless even into old age" (qtd. of course. see also Bynum. not entirely different from the incoherence involved in the figure of Jesus for Christians so beautifully evoked by Sedgwick. we find nowhere in rabbinic literature a notion that women like to be raped. Silverman 102- . This represents a moment of incoherence in the formation of masculinity within the rabbinic culture.
" 44 Am. 42 Cat. We are dealing with symbolic.7. this very prowess is turned to the study of Torah and the defense of Torah. 39 Interestingly enough. 43. a conclusion that would support the general thesis of this paper strongly. such comparisons in talmudic literature. 43 See also Edwards 73 on penetration as "stabbing. Mart.78. 3. Further research is required. for which (as well as for these references and much else) I am grateful to Yariv Ben-Aharon and to his colleagues in the Beth-Hamidrash at Oranim.4. as in the story in the Palestinian Talmud. to substantiate this suggestive point. For the gendered significance of the changing of clothes. it is the man who is attracted to women who is figured as effeminate. see Edwards 82-83. fictional representations here. Use. .7. She points to counterexamples as well. a man who sought to please women sexually (rather than be pleased himself) was also called a cinaedus." Moreover. in the same category as a man who wished to be penetrated by other men (65). it might have had an apologetic intent. Indeed. 41 This represents a possibly consistent and significant difference between the Palestinian and Babylonian Rabbis. 11. if any. himself to end up a culture-hero. the "dean" of talmudic witnesses. or Palestinian Talmud Sanhedrin 19a. the Jewish representative of Roman authority who sends bailiffs to capture him. however. although Edwards remarks that frequently in Roman literature. See also Palestinian Talmud Terumot 46a.e.3. 37 Compare the dreams in which Gilgamesh imagines Enkidu as a woman before actually meeting him. 20. It would seem from these texts alone that there was a significant difference between the "totally" diasporized Babylonian rabbinic community and the only partially diasporized Palestinian community around the issue of masculinity and power.3. 45 It should be pointed out. If my observation is borne out. that Edwards's description is somewhat less categorical than Richlin's.6 (Richlin 26). even one as beautiful and effeminate as Rabbi Yohanan. if the remark in the ms. however. where he defies the authority of the Patriarch. according to Gleason. where Resh Lakish strikes a "Samaritan" who blasphemes. so I allow myself this speculation as to the reference of the clothes that Resh Lakish cannot reclaim.06. In a sense. see Edwards 64 and the passage from Cicero quoted above. as discussed by Halperin 81. 36 The famous Hamburg 19 ms. however. Resh Lakish does not give up his physical strength by becoming a student of Torah. Cf. 9. 11. 55. Pr. On the other hand. where the adulterer was considered "effeminate. i. for in Palestinian sources. Foucault. as in patriarchal societies in general..is reproduced here in the extravagant description of Rabbi Yohanan's supreme beauty followed by its qualification in that he is not listed in the lists of the most beautiful men because he has no beard! In important segments of our own cultural tradition. 40 Of course. I realize that this is a very risky claim to make as well as an argument from silence.paralleled. a pathic. Diehl 1103. that Resh Lakish thought Rabbi Yohanan a woman is a secondary gloss.69-71. perhaps. Men whom other men wish to humiliate in the Talmud are more likely to be accused of crudity than effeminacy. Tractate Sanhedrin 25b. "really" vaulted a river to get at a man. 67.21. paralleling the lance that no longer works.. the ambiguity within the European tradition as to whether male beauty is more or less like female beauty . I can think of very few.1. it may have some significance. where Resh Lakish is presented as physically defending the rabbinic community against Roman tyranny. "it is not uncommon for men to compare to women other men they wish to humiliate" (65). no Jew or brigand would have been actually wearing this garment. It is "passivity" per se that is feminized according to this view.2. 38 For "effeminate" beauty as appealing to women in Rome. 31. rendering it impossible to imagine that Resh Lakish. 25.1. by the problematic of whether same-sex desire is more masculine or feminizing .
so the dominant fiction requires taking penis for phallus. of course. 53 The Entmannung of Daniel Schreber is instructive here. public statements of all sorts depicted women as dangerous and aggressive. not all results of universal marriage were positive from a feminist perspective. and their reward is the promise of progeny. 48 See Gleason for an illuminating exposition of the ways that rhetorical excellence and competition "made men" in the Roman Second Sophistic. 47 My completion of the phrase is based on its topical usage throughout talmudic literature. the Desert Fathers used the metaphor of athletic competition to describe their vying with each other in ascetic prowess. so could thymos as well. 51 For the Romans themselves. pastoral letters. i. The relationship between performers was definitely a zero-sum game" (xxiii). 55 "The structural linguistics that still underlies much post-structural analysis . For more on this issue see Carnal Israel 227-46. 57 Gleason has recently described Roman society as one "where an intensely competitive ethos made it difficult to grant another man success." I explore an affiliated text in which renunciation of the phallus is signified by extreme masochistic behavior on the part of Rabbis. 54 Cf. it was the toga virilis that signified masculinity and not a weapon. Such conditions generally did not occur in Jewish society. especially 227. but see also Edwards 77. see Garber 224-33. see Rousselle. Just as eros could be turned to good effect rather than being suppressed. Without the penis as signifier. And it will always reproduce precisely this problem. however.46 It should. an analogous point in Modleski 95. for Freud. In a fascinating recent article. of course.is simply allegory all over again. 56 See my "Jewish Masochism" for discussion. as Halperin reminds me. For Schreber himself this feminization apparently did not imply castration. Clerical misogyny reached a crescendo between the mid-eleventh and the mid-twelfth centuries. Plutarch's Advice to Bride and Groom with its much more tender understandings of heterosex certainly belongs in this category. Gleason 122-30. For the Greeks. see Halperin 37. Of course. We are so accustomed to thinking of the medieval clergy as violently abusive toward women that we have missed a chronological subtlety.signifier/signified . the products of a power struggle between married men and celibates. it did. The struggle to separate men from women caused reformers to rave against married priests and. as allegorical metaphysics. by implication. The same fiction. requires we distinguish between them. and if I were writing about the Romans it would be important to pay attention to them. Sister Verna Harrison informs me that at about the same time. McNamara has analyzed broad shifts in the structuring of gender in European Christian culture of the twelfth century as. She writes: "Separation [of the clergy in the twelfth century] from women reinforced the dislike and fear fostered by monastic polemic. Edwards 86. or there would be nothing recognizable as meaning apart from signifiers" (Luxon). according to them. In general. See above n. 50 In "Jewish. for men and women. Sermons. in the very period within which our legend is set! 49 For a fascinating discussion of the relation of virility to voice. 52 For Torah-study as cross-dressing. in part. ..e. thus producing a parallel structure of giving up the phallus and retaining the penis. poisonous and polluting" (8). certain forms of misogyny are virtually impossible for a society that completely disallows celibacy as a valorized life-choice. we'd never know a phallus. 55. the whole sexual act. It is that very possibility that is being advanced and contested in our talmudic text at one and the same time. not be forgotten that there were strong currents of opposition within GrecoRoman culture to the equations of male sexuality with violence. it is clear that if McNamara's persuasive argument is right. and she is speaking of rhetorical competitions in the Antonine age.
1954. Leo. "Penile References in Phallic Theory. Engendering Men: The Question of Male Feminist Criticism. see Dinshaw." GLQ 2. 64 "Real men . once again." For the continuity between medieval and classical ideas about maleness. Fantasy.1 (1994): 336. Princeton: Princeton UP. 59 When I have presented this text orally on several occasions listeners have proposed that there ought to be a symbolic connection between Resh Lakish's statement that the weapon is completed by being plunged into water and his own history as revealed in the story. The Sorrows of the Ancient Romans: The Gladiator and the Monster. representative Arthurian heroes .don't have bodies" (Kinney 49). 41.2 (1992): 474-506." differences 4. Berkeley: U of California P.but not entirely irreconcilable . Joseph A. see Culmen 28-29. At any rate. Castration. Works Cited Barton. Carnal 146-50. Bersani.that is. the important theoretical question of the stereotype.58 For a similar critique of rabbinic callousness to women from within the Talmud. Bettelheim. eds. see Bullough 31. I think a good case can be made that the Rabbis represented Roman maleness as aggressively phallic.1 (1992): 116-32." has become a cipher for such a congery of significations that it needs serious semantic reanalysis if it is to do any historical work for us at all. -----. 60 For a very interesting discussion of the specific ideological function of the figure of Rabbi Eleazar here. 61 The Palestinian Talmud. On the other hand. but I have not ever been able to work out such an analogy in a way that makes sense to me. and the general paradigm for describing female "lack" is not penetrability but has to do with her contribution to procreation. but other classicists demur. Frame Zeitlin has remarked to me that the usual opposition to penis is uterus and not vagina.: Free. Rabbi Yohanan himself describes himself in the temporary absence of Resh Lakish as "one hand clapping. Boone. -----. Carnal Israel: Reading Sex in Talmudic Culture. and Rabbis in Pain. and Power. . "'This We Know to Be the Carnal Israel': Circumcision and the Erotic Life of God and Israel. which raises. Ill. Bruno. 1993. Richlin has gathered an impressive collection of representations of male sexuality via the assaulting penis. Daniel. Symbolic Wounds: Puberty Rites and the Envious Male.. New York: Routledge. a representation that can legitimately be called phallic. The term. presents a much more sanguine view of rabbinic "combat. at least heuristically. "Jewish Masochism: Couvade. "phallus. I think that this remains a worthwhile project. in the text referred to above. and Michael Cadden." There. n. Charles. 63 I emphasize "ideally" to make clear that I am not claiming that Jewish men necessarily behaved differently from other men but that there were different cultural ideals at work." Critical Inquiry 18." 62 It remains an open question to what extent "the phallus" is indeed an adequate term for describing Roman male sexuality and masculinity altogether. Boyarin. 1993. Bernheimer.reading of the same text.1-2 (1985): 11-33." American Imago 51. see Boyarin. For quite a different . Richlin would suggest that it is. Freud. "Foucault. which may even sometimes have had a referent in "reality. 1990. Glencoe. Carlin A.
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Frederick M. Parts of this essay have been benefited by important critiques from Chava Boyarin. David M. Berkeley: U of California P. New York: Routledge. ed. Scott. February 1995. Lees 3-30. Erich Gruen. New Haven: Yale UP. Lane. New Haven: Yale UP. "The Genital Envy Complex: A Case of a Man with a Fantasied Vulva. Greenblatt. Ann Middleton. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Liebert. "The Text's Heroine: A Feminist Critic and Her Fictions. "The Herrenfrage: the Restructuring of the Gender System. The Garden of Priapus: Sexuality & Aggression in Roman Humor. 1994. Silverman. Letter to the author. Lane. . 1985." Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times. 131-51. Modleski. Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism. 1992. Epistemology of the Closet. Veyne. Ed." Medieval Masculinities. McNamara. 1992. Since discovering how closely related our two current projects are . Caroline Walker Bynum. Kaja. is thus dedicated to her. 1991. 1993.Kristeva. Feminism Without Women: Culture and Criticism in a "Postfeminist" Age." Conflicts in Feminism. Slavery as Salvation: The Metaphor of Slavery in Pauline Christianity. Natalie Kampen. Oxford: Blackwell. Martin. Molly Levine. Levin. Ed. Ed. Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire. Menahem Kahana. Sister Verna Harrison. 1990. 1985.almost like fraternal twins . Oxford: Oxford UP. Letter to the author. Jo Ann. Lees. Medieval Masculinities. "Homosexuality in Ancient Rome. 1990. Dialogue and the Novel. 1982. Letter to the author." History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 5 (1983): 129-57." The Psychology of Men: New Psychoanalytic Perspectives. I wish to thank Virginia Burrus for being a true colleague. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. March 1994. -----. Luxon. Ed. Clare A. Molly M. Marianne Hirsch and Evelyn Fox Keller. Allegories of Empire: The Figure of Woman in the Colonial Text. Nancy K. Eve Kosofsky.we have been exchanging drafts. New York: Columbia UP. 112-20. James C." The Kristeva Reader. Male Subjectivity at the Margins. Philippe Aries and Andre Bejin. Sedgwick. New York: Oxford UP. Dale B. Brent D. so enriched by our friendship. Sharpe. Thomas J. Jenny. Gerald I. Halperin. New York: Vintage. Toril Moi. 1986. 26-35. Rousselle. Frederick M. 1990. Miller.. June 1995. Paul. 1986. Tania. Stephen. New York: Routledge. New York: Routledge. 1050-1150. Marina. Warner. 1990. Amy. Richlin. Aline. Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. "Word. Medieval Cultures 7. "Parole et inspiration: le travail de la voix dans le monde romain. Julia. 34-61. and Robert S. Shaw. New York: Basic. This paper. Fogel.
Princeton. "Homotopia: the feminized Jewish man and the lives of women in late antiquity. Source Citation Boyarin. Literature Resource Center. This article will form a chapter of his present project.galegroup. critical friend.1&u=ucberkeley&it=r&p=LitRC&sw=w Gale Document Number: GALE|A18018442 . Whatever such remain were put in or stubbornly left in after their readings. forthcoming).do? &id=GALE%7CA18018442&v=2. Judaism as a Gender: An Autobiography of the Jewish Man (U of California P. 2010. This paper has been delivered as a lecture at Columbia University in the Fall 1994 and at the GTU. Amy Richlin. and Brent Shaw. Miriam Peskowitz. I have been spared embarrassing errors of fact and judgment by all of these readers. Document URL http://go. Daniel.com/ps/i. As always. Web." differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 7. DANIEL BOYARIN is the Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture and a member of the Departments of Near Eastern and Women's Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.2 (1995): 41+.Patricia Cox Miller. Froma Zeitlin is an indispensable. and Johns Hopkins Universities in the Spring of 1995. Susan Shapiro. 19 Aug. His most recent books are Carnal Israel: Reading Sex in Talmudic Culture and A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity (both U of California P).
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