Article published in:Reinardus: Yearbook of the International Reynard Society
Edited by Richard Trachsler and Baudouin Van den Abeele
[Reinardus 32] 2020
► pp. 181–195
The dog and the adulteress
The meaning and context of a tale of adultery in a Jewish ethical work
This article discusses a well-known Hebrew folktale about an adulterous couple in which the man is turned into a wild dog in punishment for his sin and attacks his married mistress. This story is found in the popular ethical work Kav Ha-yashar (The Just Measure) which was first printed in 1705. Using this story, I will demonstrate how folktales are used as a means of instilling fear of horrific punishment for breaking the social convention of monogamous marriage, and as a way of expressing misogyny. At the same time, the story provides a platform for expressing deviant sexuality, which is, of course, a taboo in everyday life. The transformation into a dog is based upon well-known canine images in Jewish culture.
Published online: 14 April 2021