“He has told you, O man, what is good, And what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice And to love goodness, And to walk humbly with your God”
This week’s Torah portion (Parshat Pinhas) is one of the two in which Serach, the daughter of Asher, the son of Jacob is mentioned (the other being way, way back in the Book of Genesis). She is an interesting character — one of two whom the midrash claims did not die, but physically entered into the world to come, and like the other such person, it is part of her role to identify redeemers. She first serves to identify Moses as the one who will redeem the Israelites from Egypt, and it is said that she will eventually serve to help identify the messiah. There is also a tradition that she is identified in the time of King David with the wise-woman of Tekoa.
It is common for groups who are discriminated against or have little power in a society to turn on one another rather than joining forces against the powerful group keeping them down. As far back as the book of Genesis in the Torah, we see Rachel and Leah, two of the matriarchs of the Jewish people, competing over their husband Jacob. The text tells us he loved Rachel and didn’t love Leah. Their father, Laban, tricked Jacob into marrying Leah when he really wanted to marry Rachel, and he married Rachel later, as well. The sisters, instead of being angry at their father, turn on each other as they try to provide sons and get Jacob’s affection.
It is like clockwork. You can expect someone to raise the following argument every single time anything new is being discussed in the context of traditional Jewish life: But what about Jewish values? Isn’t this [insert new thing] really just a manifestation of [insert external value]? We need to be true to our eternal, timeless and unchanging Jewish values!
The words “religious feminist” seem like an oxymoron. How can someone be both? The three main Western religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are misogynistic. If you have any doubt about this statement, delve in to the sacred texts on these religions and it will soon become clear.
My social media has been abuzz this past week with the commentary on a recent article published by Rabbi Mordechai Willig of Yeshiva University (YU). Rabbi Willig is one of the most prominent Roshei Yeshiva (Rabbinic Deans) of Yeshiva University and part of the small inner circle of significant influencers and decision makers at the institution. He holds the Rabbi Dr. Sol Roth Chair in Talmud and Contemporary Halakha and is looked to by countless students and alumni for religious guidance and direction.
Last week, a new study on abortion found that while the decision is hard for most women, no matter class, geography, or ethnicity 95% of women who have made the choice to abort do not regret it. The findings of this study go against the prevailing common narratives conveyed by the media and in politics but they were not so shocking to me.
“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Although we’re a bit beyond the portion, there’s been a lot of social media chatter about Dinah – possibly because of the December airing of a television version of the novel by Anita Diamant. I mostly ignored it until a friend asked me about Dinah’s age (without going too far into it, if you follow the timeline laid out in the Torah plainly, she must have been VERY young, possibly a child. She probably isn’t, though) – at that point, I somehow found myself drawn into thinking about this very disturbing story.