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According to the Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society's article on Judaism:

Owing to the primacy of ritual in traditional Judaism, instruction of children focused on the attainment of ritual literacy as its central goal. In the Talmudic era, boys attended elementary school or studied with a tutor from the age of five, six, or seven until the age of twelve or thirteen. A network of schools operated in the Land of Israel by the second century. School children learned to read the Torah and to write; at age twelve they studied Mishnah. No formal instruction in secular courses such as mathematics, Greek, or GYMNASTICS, was included in the Jewish school curriculum in this period. Initially, the houses of study excluded children from the lower strata of society, but by the third century education was made available to children of all classes. Girls were, by and large, excluded from the elementary schools, however, though some Talmudic sources suggest that fathers taught their daughters informally.

It's this final portion (emphasis supplied) that I'm most interested in learning about. What do the Talmudic sources say and under what conditions did girls learn the Torah? Would we expect certain types of learning to be more heavily emphasized than others?

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I removed talmud-gemara which usually refers to the text not the time period in which it was written. Does anyone disagree? – Double AA Feb 27 '13 at 20:06
@Double AA: You know better than I. However, I would like to read the "Talmudic sources" the article mentions, if possible. (I'm not at all sure which tag might apply.) – Jon Ericson Feb 27 '13 at 20:07
@SethJ Presumably, any description of education from that time will include Talmudic or Midrashic references. – Double AA Feb 27 '13 at 20:16
@Seth J: Oh. My primary interest is in the historical angle by all means. I'll take any old sources that apply. ;-) – Jon Ericson Feb 27 '13 at 20:20
This book ("Jewish Life in the Time of the Talmud") may be of interest. – b a Feb 28 '13 at 1:43

One source that comes to mind is the Yerushalmi in Sotah 3:4 (folio 15b in most versions):

אמר בן עזאי חייב אדם ללמד את בתו תורה שאם תשתה תדע שהזכות תולה לה

ר' אליעזר אומר המלמד את בתו תורה מלמדה תפלות

Ben Azai said that one must teach one's daughter Torah [ שבעל פה ] so that if she drinks [Sotah waters - and doesn't die immediately even though she is guilty] - she will know that her merits are suspending [her punishment - and not that the waters don't work].

This opposed to his peers who argue that every 7 years everybody has to appear for הַקְהֵל in order for האנשים באין ללמוד והנשים לשמוע - men come to learn [the reason behind the Mitzvot] and women come to hear [what is forbidden and what is allowed - and not to "learn"], as per R' Eliezer quoted above - as per Chagiga 3a in the Bavli; IIRC Tosafot discusses something there.

See also Chagiga 1:1 in the Yerushalmi.

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Thanks for the answer. I needed to look some things up, such as Sotah and I see there's a Hebrew/English parallel of the Torah text (Deuteronomy 31. I gather that daughters were taught the law, but only the Peshat meaning so that they would be able to practice it. Is that correct? – Jon Ericson Mar 5 '13 at 18:32
@JonEricson: correct. The daughters were taught all "pratical" issues. You may want to use dafyomi.co.il/section.php?gid=13&sid=6 to help with understanding the Talmud (Chagiga in this case) in English. – Danny Schoemann Mar 6 '13 at 7:02

The Poskim say that woman have an obligation to say Birkat HaTorah since they must fulfil the mitzvot they are obligated in. Therefore it makes sense that fathers taught their daughters all the laws pertaining to those mitzvot.

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That certainly makes logical sense. Do you happen to have any sources that show how far back this ruling goes? Further, which portions of the law would they have been taught? Would they have been exposed to the Writings of the Tanakh, which might be useful in ways not strictly tied to fulfilling the mitzvot? – Jon Ericson Mar 5 '13 at 18:42

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