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JUDITH (c. 200 C.E.), the wife of R. Ḥiyya. She was the mother of twin daughters, Pazi and Tavi, and twin sons, Judah and Hezekiah. Having suffered unusually in childbirth, she disguised herself and asked her husband whether a woman was commanded by the Torah to propagate the race. On being told that she was not, she drank a sterilizing potion – a form of birth control permitted to women (Shab. 111a). Ḥiyya, however, was greatly displeased (Yev. 65b). According to another account, she claimed unsuccessfully that her father had betrothed her to another man when she was still a child, so that she was forbidden to cohabit with Ḥiyya (Kid. 12b). Judith constantly tormented her husband – so much so that he once told his nephew Rav, "May God deliver you from that which is worse than death," i.e., a bad wife (cf. Eccles. 7:26). He nevertheless used to buy her many gifts, explaining to his surprised nephew, "It is sufficient for us that they bring up our children and save us from sin" (Yev. 63a).


Hyman, Toledot, 430, 616.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.