How did simple Jews of previous generations know what the rabbis expected of them? Some things they could learn from their parents. But what of the details? And what about topics that parents felt uncomfortable discussing with their children?
In the 16th century, Rabbi Benjamin Slonik wrote a book explaining the three “women’s commandments” — lighting the Sabbath candles, separating challah from dough before baking, and the laws of menstrual purity. He wrote his book in Yiddish, because few women of the time knew how to read Hebrew. Edward Fram has translated that book, ‘The Order of Women’s Commandments,’ into English. His introduction investigates women’s education and ritual proficiency, Yiddish publishing and the early history of Polish Jewry, lighting up every aspect of this work with meaning. Appendices, bibliography, index.