[Reverend Dr Andrew Macintosh and Professor Mordechai Friedman]

Professor Mordechai Friedman (right)

Professor Stefan Reif introduced the third speaker, Professor Mordechai Friedman, of Tel Aviv University, who spoke on three major aspects of medieval Jewish marriage and the family.

He began with a re-examination of the question of marriages of child brides, on the basis of published and unedited fragments. The evidence confirmed that these were quite irregular as far as legal minors were concerned and almost exclusively restricted to orphan girls, though the bride was often a young teenager.

One case of homicide within the family, the murder of a wife and mother-in-law, is documented. Its description as ``the infamous murder case'' suggests that such extreme family violence was indeed a rarity.

Jewish marriage contracts of both the Palestinian and Karaite traditions include ``mutual obligations,'' whereby the groom's undertaking to honour and serve his wife is balanced by her undertaking to honour and serve him. A fifth-century Egyptian ketubbah proves that the Karaites adapted this clause from the earlier Palestinian one.

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Edited by Stefan C. Reif
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University of Cambridge; last updated November 1999