Thursday, February 02, 2012

Parshat B'shalach/Beshalach (whatever), 5772/2012

You can read the basics here.

Regarding the haftarah (Judges 4:4-5:31), Rachel Friedman pointed out (see Limmud 2012 Sunday sessions notes here), that Devorah starts the song, she doesn't just show up at the end, as Miriam does. And the verb, va-tashar, makes it pretty clear that she was singing, not speaking. (See Judges 5:1.) Methinks the Kol Isha prohibition forbidding men to listen to a woman singing (a rule with various interpretations and observed to various degrees within the Orthodox community) was a much later innovation. I'd love to say that verse 12, "Awake, awake, Deborah, awake, awake, utter a song" supported my thesis, but the verb is "dabri," from the infinitive l'daber, to speak, so it's more difficult to prove that Devorah was being asked to sing.

Some oldies but goodies:
  • "V’rachamav al kol maasav,” including Amalekim? (Sunday, March 04, 2007) Highlight: "Apologetics, courtesy of Conservadox. I thought this was a pretty decent explanation, until it occurred to me that the attack* being avenged** had taken place literally centuries before. For that matter, was all the slaughter mentioned in Megillat Ester really necessary?"
  • Bewildered by B'Shalach (Monday, January 25, 2010) Highlight: "DB wants to know how thousands of people could have sung the same previously-unknown song spontaneously and simultaneously. I've been wondering how on earth Shirat HaYam could include a reference to a sanctuary that hadn't even been mentioned yet, much less built."
  • Some interesting points from Parshat B'Shalach (Saturday, January 30, 2010) Highlight: "Parshat B'Shalach seems to me to be the first place in the Torah (Pentateuch) in which B'nei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) are given instructions concerning how to observe Shabbat (Sabbath). (See Exodus, chapter 16, verse 4-30.)My husband had a few thoughts on the subject. He said that our ancestors were taken out of Mitzrayim (Egypt) for a reason, and that part of that reason was to observe Shabbat, which was a revolutionary idea in that era. "What other civilization had a day off from work?"
  • Parshat Beshalach (Tuesday, January 11, 2011) Highlight: "Note the grammatical construction of the Hebrew: "lahem"
    Last I heard, that would be the masculine form of the third person plural. In other words, Miriam sang to the entire camp, not just to the women. So much for Kol Isha.*"
Monday, February 6, 2012 update:
Where the heck did the newly-freed slaves get weapons with which to fight the Amalekim/Amalekites at the end of this parsha? There's no mention of the slaves despoiling their soon-to-be-former masters of weapons.


Blogger AztecQueen2000 said...

Read the midrashim on Miriam's song if you want a good laugh. I especially love the part about how they stood off to the side so their voices wouldn't be heard, and Miriam played her tambourine to drown out their singing. (Bear in mind that there were 600,000 men present. Assuming that there was a roughly equal gender ratio, that means that ONE tambourine drowned out a half-million voices in an open desert. That must have been some tambourine. I would love to know who played percussion on that one.)

Thu Feb 02, 01:08:00 PM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Good question. :)

I've said it before and I'll say it again--the rabbis really created more problems than they solved when they said that there's no "early/earlier" or "late/later" (chronological order) in the Torah (ein mukdam u-m'uchar baTorah?). Why should we care that Avraham Avinu/Abraham Our Father served milk and meat to the "visitors"/angels (whatever) in the same meal, given the fact that the Torah and the laws of kashrut hadn't been given yet? The midrashim regarding Miriam reflect the same problem--why should we care that Miriam and the women sang in the presence of the men, given the fact that the rabbis who codified the prohibition against Kol Isha didn't exist yet?

Thu Feb 02, 01:35:00 PM 2012  

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