Around the turn of the century, Yentl is the daughter of a Rabbi who allows her to study the Talmude (Hebrew scripture) in secret because it is unheard of for women to do so in her Eastern European country. When he dies, she runs away to avoid being married off and living a dull existance without her studies. She dresses as a man and in another town she meets and falls in love with Avigdor. He is in love with and engaged to another women who is the perfect Jewish wife but her family ends the engagment when they find out Avigdors brother committed suicide which is considered a sin for the whole family. To keep Avigdor from leaving town and disapearing from her life, Yentl marries the woman herself (still pretending to be a man) and tries to get her new wife interested in education, but the other woman just wants to be an ordinary housewife. Avigdor is now able to keep seeing his old fiance by visiting his friends home.