Miriam Shapira-Luria

Miriam Shapira-Luria
Born Konstanz
Other names Rabbanit Miriam
Known for Woman Talmudic scholar
Religion Orthodox Judaism
Spouse(s) Yochanan Luria
Parent(s) Solomon Shapira

Miriam Shapira-Luria, also known as Rabbanit Miriam, was a Talmudic scholar of the Late Middle Ages. According to academic Lawrence H. Fuchs, she was one of the "most noted" women Talmud scholars.[1]


Miriam Shapira-Luria was born sometime in the late 14th early 15th centuries[2][3][4][5][6][7] in Konstanz, on the southern German border.[5] Her father was Rabbi Solomon Shapira, a descendant of Rashi, the renowned 11th century commentator.[3][4][6] Shapira-Luria's brother was the noted rabbi, Peretz of Konstanz.[6] Her husband, Yochanan Luria[3] was a rabbi who was known to interpret the Talmud liberally.[1]

Talmud teacher

Shapira-Luria, also known as Rabbanit Miriam,[2] taught in Padua, Italy.[8] She conducted a yeshiva (a higher institution for the study of central Jewish texts) and gave public lectures on Jewish codes of law.[4][5] She was thoroughly conversant in rabbinical writings,[6] and Nahida Ruth Lazarus writes that her "Talmudic disputations with other distinguished scholars of her time created a great sensation."[9] Female community teachers were rare in Jewish tradition but "not unheard of", according to Norma Baumel Joseph, who lists as other examples Huldah, Bruriah, Asenath Barzani, and Nechama Leibowitz.[10]

Shapira-Luria was also known for her beauty, and she taught Talmud to elite young men from behind a curtain so that they would not get distracted by her appearance.[2][5]

Despite her standing as a scholar, Shapira-Luria was never given an aliyah (called up to a Torah reading) or included in a minyan (the quorum of ten male Jewish adults required for certain religious obligations).[1]


Shapira-Luria was the ancestress of the Luria rabbinical family,[6] notably the grandmother of Solomon Luria (Maharshal), the renowned posek (Jewish law decisor).[3]


  1. 1 2 3 Fuchs, Lawrence H. (2000). Beyond Patriarchy: Jewish Fathers and Families. University Press of New England. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-87451-941-9.
  2. 1 2 3 Eisenberg, Joyce; Scolnic, Ellen (2001). The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words. Jewish Publication Society. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-8276-0723-1.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Brayer, Menachem Mendl (1986). The Jewish Woman in Rabbinic literature, Volume 1. Ktav Publishing House. pp. 104, 113. ISBN 978-0-88125-072-5.
  4. 1 2 3 Rubin-Schwartz, Shuly (2006). The Rabbi's Wife: The Rebbetzin in American Jewish Life. New York University Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-8147-4016-3.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Karpeles, Gustav (1895). Jewish Literature, and Other Essays. Jewish Publication Society. p. 117.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Papers Read Before the Jews College Literary Society During the Session 1886-7. The Jewish Chronicle. 1887. p. 86.
  7. Henry, Sondra; Taitz, Emily (1978). Written out of History: A Hidden Legacy of Jewish Women Revealed Through Their Writings and Letters. Bloch Publishing Company. p. 87.
  8. Taitz, Emily; Henry, Sondra (1996). Remarkable Jewish Women: Rebels, Rabbis, and Other Women from Biblical Times to the Present. Jewish Publication Society. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-8276-0573-2.
  9. Remy, Nahida (1916). The Jewish Woman. Bloch Publishing Company.
  10. Baumel Joseph, Norma. "The Feminist Challenge to Judaism: Critique and Transformation", in Joy, Morny; Neumaier-Dargyay, Eva K.; Gerhart, Mary (1995). Gender, Genre and Religion: Feminist Reflections. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. p. 63.
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