It is well known that women are excluded from many aspects of Jewish public life, and many presume that this is due to their subservience to men in biblical and Talmudic culture.
While there might be some truth to this, perhaps even rooted in the biblical verse והוא ימשול בך , it is far from a foregone conclusion, as can be seen by the case of the “important woman”- who wears an “עיר של זהב ” – a Jerusalem of Gold ornament
Although this is one of the ornaments that the Mishna prohibits wearing in a public domain, in case she takes it off to show to her friend , the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer is recorded which permits it, given that the kind of woman who wears such an implement is an “important woman” who does not show an ornament to her friend ( probably because she does not see the need to boast of her jewelry in such a way)
The example given on the daf was the wife of Rabbi Akiva , and earlier on ( Shabbos 54b) , we also saw a reference to Yalta, the wife of Rav Nachman, regarding special treatment during child-birth .
One also cannot help recalling the almost comical exchange between Rav Nachman, Ullah, and his wife, Yalta, at the end of שלושה שאכלו ( brachos chapter 7) , where Ullah refused to give her the cup to drink from, and she smashes 400 barrels of wine in her anger . When he attempts to pacify her, she shoots him down halachically.
An “Isha Chashuva” is also required to lean during the seder, unlike a regular woman who is not.
There is much to discuss re the definition of an “important woman”, and opinions range from one who is wealthy, to one of is not subservient to her husband ( for whatever reason) , but it is fascinating to note that over the past few hundred years, poskim have noted that “our women are ALL important “, possibly an incredible acknowledgement that cultural norms have changed and that in our time and society, woman are no longer consider subservient to their husbands .
It is up to qualified poskim to rule on the extent to which this change impacts on halacha, but it is certainly a very significant concept with strong grounding even in far less “modern” periods than ours.
These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha.