The role of the wife of Rabbi Nahman in the Babylonian Talmud.

Reprinted from Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia with permission of the author and the Jewish Women’s Archive.

Yalta is mentioned several times in the Babylonian Talmud but nowhere else in rabbinic literature. She is identified as the wife of Rabbi Nahman, an oft-cited sage who flourished circa 250 C.E. It is possible that her father was an exilarch (Hullin 124a). The scant information we have about her suggests that she had a strong personality. It is reported that she broke four hundred jugs of wine when slighted by a guest whose barbs were directed not only at her but at womankind in general (Berakhot 51b).

When her husband was treated with disrespect by a younger colleague, she told her husband how to protect himself (Kiddushin 70b). Dissatisfied with an answer given her by one rabbi, she sought out another (Niddah 20b). Once, when she told her husband that she wanted to taste the equivalent of meat cooked in milk, he had udders prepared for her, a foodstuff prohibited by many of his colleagues (Hullin 109b). Her husband allowed her to be carried in a litter on the Sabbath (Betzah 25b), again an act prohibited by many colleagues. She seems to have known the art of healing (Gittin 67b). When read together, these sources suggest that Yalta was relatively free-spirited in word and action.

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