Sunday, February 01, 2004

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Internet to see if I could find talmudic references to the tumtum and the androgynos (people with indeterminate sexual organs and hermaphrodites). When I put "Talmud" and "tumtum" into Google I came up with a number of web sites. Some of these web sites provide a cautionary tale for anyone using the web for research.

A very interesting and learned essay by Rabbi Alfred Cohen of Congregation Ohaiv Yisrael of Monsey, NY, was published in the Journal of Halacha & Contemporary Society 38 (Fall 1999).

An interesting site called "Born Eunuchs" has an extensive list of sources on eunuchs, including a selection from BT Yebamoth ch. 8 that mentions the tumtum. The translation is taken from the Soncino English translation of the Talmud.

Another site mentioned the tumtum as part of an extensive discussion of circumcision on

There was also a brief discussion of the talmudic passages on the tumtum on a site for transgender people of different religions, Forge Forward.

Another was an essay on intersexuality written by a Sally Gross on a site called Free Essays. The intent of this site seems to be to provide resources for students who wish to plagiarize papers or to buy term papers from them. Interestingly enough, this same essay is present on another free term paper site, Hot Papers.

And in turn, this essay seems to have formed part of a longer essay written by Sally Gross, with the same title, on another web site. This web site is called Blackfriars Publications, which calls itself the "House Imprint of the English Dominicans." My guess is that Sally Gross has no idea that part of her essay appears on the term papers sites.

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