The Tseno Ureno (צאנה וראינה), sometimes called the Women's Bible, was a 1616 Yiddish-language prose work whose structure parallels the weekly portions of the Pentateuch and Haftorahs used in Jewish worship services. Written by Rabbi Jacob ben Isaac Ashkenazi (1550–1625) of Janowa (near Lublin, Poland), it mixes Biblical passages with teachings from Judaism's Oral Law such as the Talmud's Aggada and Midrash, which are sometimes called "parables, allegories, short stories, anecdotes, legends, and admonitions" by secular writers.
The name derives from a verse of the Song of Songs that begins Tseno ureno b'nos Tsion (in modern Israeli Hebrew pronunciation: "Tze'na ure'ena, bnot Tziyon", i.e., "Go forth and see, O ye daughters of Zion" (3:11), clearly indicating that the book was intended for women, who would have been less versed than men in Hebrew, the Jewish liturgical language. The title page of the Basel edition of 1622 acknowledged the book's sources as including the earlier popularizer Rashi (1040–1105) and the 13th century exegeses of Bahya ben Asher, as well as Talmudic sources.
Sol Liptzin describes the Tseno Ureno as "a fascinating, didactic book which could win the approbation of the strict moral leaders of Eastern European Jewry, and at the same time accompany women as their favorite literary and devotional text from girlhood to old age. For generations there was hardly a Yiddish home that did not possess a copy."
Because of its orientation toward women readers, the book is particularly focused on the biblical matriarchs, the various courtships mentioned in scripture, and the rescue of Moses by the Pharaoh's daughter. Although there are vivid depictions of Paradise and Hell, there is an emphasis that righteousness is to be found in serving God willingly and wholeheartedly, rather than out of hope of reward or fear of punishment. Charity and almsgiving are also emphasized.
- Liptzin, Sol, A History of Yiddish Literature, Jonathan David Publishers, Middle Village, NY, 1972, ISBN 0-8246-0124-6.
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