Rivkah bat Meir Tiktiner

Sixteenth century educator, author, & scholar.

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The printer of her book was astonished at Rivkah's knowledge. In the preface to Meneket Rivkah he stated, "Who had heard of or seen such a novelty within our time that a woman had, on her own, become a learned person. And she read biblical verse and homiletical commentary. That is why I printed her book." The book was known to Christian scholars for several centuries after her death.

Rivkah bat Meir Tiktiner gave the following advice to mothers:

Sit in the house in order to hear how they [the boys] pray and say the blessings, and don't depend on the rabbi. Also, the lessons that the mother learns [together] with her son are much more successful than what he learns later, as it says in the verse: "Listen, my son, to the tradition of your father and do not blot out the teaching of your mother."

And they ask in the Gemarah, why is it written the teachings of your mother and the tradition of your father? Because the father is involved in his business and is not found in his house except occasionally, and if he sees his son does not behave appropriately he disciplines him and teaches him moral lessons, but it is the responsibility of the mother, who is always in the house, to supervise her children and she has it in her hands to do many good deeds.

When he begins to learn one should arrange that he learn with joy. One time he should be given sugar, one time nuts, or bread spread with honey so that he should learn happily. When he becomes more intelligent he is told, "Child, live, be pious, and learn. [Then] I will make you fine clothes." When he becomes even more clever he is told, "if you'll learn happily then you will become, God willing, an important young scholar and then they will give you a prominent scholar's daughter with a great deal of money [to marry]. And you will become the head of a yeshivah [rabbinical academy]." When he achieves his complete intelligence he is told, "Dear son, learn for the sake of God. Then you can have this world and the world to come?"

Now I will speak about the education of daughters. Our sages said "if a daughter comes first, it is a good sign for sons." [This is] because she will be able to help the mother in the education of the children who will come afterward. Thus, every woman should try to educate her daughter to good deeds and don't think "why does my daughter need to work, since I have enough money." But no man knows what the day will bring, as our eyes see. (Talmud Bava Batra 141a)

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Emily Taitz

Emily Taitz has a PhD in medieval Jewish history from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She taught women's history at Adelphi University and is presently co-editor of The New Light, a literary magazine.