This paper claims to explain the aphorism that forms the title, which occurs in the Babylonian Talmud but has caused considerable difficulties for traditional commentators. After reviewing the difficulties involved in the saying, the author cites a parallel aphorism, once common among Palestinian Arabs. The methodological problems involved in explaining a talmudic aphorism on the basis of an Arabic proverb are considerable, but a systematic effort is made to reduce the gap between the two different worlds.
The basic thesis of the paper is that the distance between the popular Arabic proverb and the Babylonian Talmud is smaller than might be thought at first sight, for several reasons:
These accumulated arguments reinforce the thesis that the meaning of the talmudic aphorism should indeed be sought from the parallel Palestinian-Arab proverb. In sum, the weapons of a woman are: tears, cries, silence and smile.
last updated: January 6, 1997