Opening and the Ark

What does it mean to open the Ark? In my experience the Torah service exhibits more diversity than any other part of a Jewish service. Reading length varies across denominations. General approach ranges from informal circles embracing Torah to formal, long-standing choreography. And the Torah service is one spot where women’s absence on the bima, […]

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Metzora: Something to Notice

Elaine Goodfriend, who edited the commentary to accompany the portion Metzora in The Torah: A Women’s Commentary,* notes a number of reasons that menstruation was probably less common for ancient women compared with contemporaries: sparser diet and later onset of menstruation; earlier marriage and more pregnancies; breast-feeding for 3 years (based on biblical stories). I […]

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Tazria: Great Source(s)

We can also consider a connection between menstruation and covenant. The prophet Zechariah speaks to “daughter Jerusalem” and “daughter Zion” about “your covenant of blood” as that which releases prisoners from the dry pit (9:9-11).* It does not say “the covenant of blood,” as most translations render it, but rather emphasizes that blood is the […]

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One Woman’s Conclusion (Ex. 24)

One Woman’s Conclusion (a Haftorah) for Exodus 24:1-11 I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how glad I often was that I was not destined to fully join my husband’s prophetic family. I, for one, was perfectly content as one of the ones who stayed far off [1]. I already knew I couldn’t — and wouldn’t care […]

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Drawing Back: Zipporah’s View

Drawing Back A Midrash on Exodus 4:24-26 [18] Moses and I have long agreed that our journey left us in very different places. Only recently, though, have I come to wonder if we even shared a starting point… In the beginning, I remember, both boys [1] were almost trampled to death when the elder tried […]

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Shemot: Great Source(s)

The entire episode of the midwives [Exodus/Shemot 1:15-21] is likewise presented poetically, in a manner beloved of ordinary folk. Conversations of this nature between the great king, who was revered by the Egyptians as a deity, and the Hebrew midwives (Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, etc.) would not be conducted […]

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Vayeitzei: Something to Notice

In this portion, Bilhah, maid to Rachel, bears Dan and Naphtali, while Zilpah, maid to Leah, bears Gad and Asher. As when Sarah arranged for Abraham to father a child with her maid Hagar (Genesis/Breishit 16:2), the product of such a union was considered a child of the master-woman/wife rather than of the maid who […]

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Vayeitzei: Great Source(s)

And Rachel saw that she had borne no children to Jacob, and Rachel was jealous of her sister, and she said to Jacob, “Give me sons, for if you don’t, I’m a dead woman!” and Jacob was incensed with Rachel, and he said, “Am I instead of God, Who has denied you fruit of the […]

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