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  • Torah and Jewish Thought
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Was Yael a Jew or a non-Jew?

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Various Rabbis

16 Tammuz 5763
Question
I’ve been debating with others whether Yael (of the book of Judges) was Jewish or not. On the one hand, her husband is described as a Kayni and on friendly terms with the king who was oppressing the Jews, so how could she have been Jewish? On the other, she is described as being so righteous, more than Sara, Rivkah, etc., and epitomizing an aveirah done l’shma (seducing Sisera for the sake of killing him and saving the Jews), so how could she not be Jewish! Is there a definitive statement on this?
Answer
Rashi writes that Yael was a Judge (obviously Jewish) - this is not the Pshat. Other commentators write that she was from the Keini - a gentile. Rabbi Shimon Klein
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