Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Gathering thoughts for our shul's Tikkun Leil Shavuot

It occurred to me, when I was writing my recent Parshat B'midbar post, that the role of some of the women of the Tanach, as with some of the men, is also "in keeping with the biblical pattern of (almost) always avoiding giving leadership positions to person(s) who would have been the obvious choice(s), back in biblical times."

It's Sarah who insists that Yitzchak, Avraham's second son, be his heir, and Rivka/Rebecca who schemes to get Yitzchak/Isaac to bless Yaakov/Jacob instead of firstborn Esav/Esau.  I wouldn't think that having women determine the line of succession would have been particularly typical back then.

Miriam shows nerves of steel in approaching Par'oh's/Pharoah's daughter, and, for that matter, Par'oh's daughter takes quite a chance in harboring and raising a condemned child right under her father's nose.

Devorah is not only a judge, but also a general--she's the one who proposes the attack on the local enemies.  Not to mention that Yael, also female, is the one who ends the battle definitively by killing the fleeing enemy general.  (See here for more re Devorah.)

Last but not least are the women about whom we read on Shavuot in Megillat Rut.  Rut/Ruth takes the brave step of following her late husband's widowed mother home in order to ensure the older woman's survival, replacing the no-longer-living men who would normally have assumed that responsibility.  Naomi, in return, sets up something resembling a shotgun wedding to ensure Rut's long-term survival (since the job market for single female foreigners was pretty tight) once she realizes that the surviving relatives aren't going to do their job without, ahem, some serious encouragement--see a previous Tikkun prep of mine.

On a more pessimistic note, here's my The Book of Ruth: Disposable heroes??


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