Chavarah- Jewish Community Learning

A blog of Jewish study and traditions. Notes from classes: Torah Study with Rabbi Marder, Toledot and Shabbaton as well as other details found of interest.

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Do What Sarah Says...

Torah Study Class
Genesis 21:12-14
God tells Abraham not to worry and to do as Sarah asks!
Now from Abraham's point of view. He was distressed because of the son.

God's intervention. Caught in the middle between Sarah and Hagar
Don't be distressed about the boy or servant woman.
God acts as therapist to Abraham. Don't be upset. What Sarah says: " listen in her voice". Idiom that means to obey. (based on use in other places in Bible)
Rashi - Abraham was inferior to Sarah in prophesy. She reflects the word of God here.
Kimkee. Says just that she is "right".

Samson Raphael Hirsh - harken to her voice. True obedience. Listen to the Voice of the other not just the words. Listen because she is your wife. Trust her judgement. Women have a better insight to the situation.

Books: Listen to Her Voice: Women of the Hebrew Bible by Miki Raver
Sisters At Sinai: New Tales Of Biblical Women by Jill Hammer

It is a commentary on how men should communicate with women.
More than words. Communication is a lot about tone and body language.

Women's commentary.

One of Rabbi Marder’s favorite Talmud teachings: ” If your wife is short bend down and hear her whisper.”

Dr Mirkin (Brandeis professor) Another view. Feminist understanding. Sarah needed Abraham to empathize with her.
Abraham just acted. After this instance we don't hear her voice again. Maybe she really meant for this to be an opening for a discussion rather than action.

Next. Through Isaac seed shall come to him. Only through Isaac will the covenant be continued. Ishmael is not the spiritual heir.
Was Sarah a fearful anxious and distressed mother or a prophetess and a strong minded pragmatic strategist?
SRH. Seed will rise from Abraham through Isaac. Not all but some. Don't worry if they don't follow your path. Some will.

Plaut essay. Human feelings and Devine purpose.
Conflict between Devine purpose and human feelings.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sarah's Demand

Torah Study 4-23 Genesis 21:1-14 discuss verse 11

Sarah demand that Hagar and her child are to be thrown out.
Asking to give up the inheritance and then give Hagar freedom.

First look from Sara's point of view
R Joseph Karo. Descendants of Sarah were expelled from Egypt because of this action. Consequences measure for measure punishment References the Exodus as a punishment!
Question. Why punish when God went along with this banishment.?
Ishmaels action is questionable. But he feels Sarah could have influenced Ishmael's behavior ... As he was a child of her home. Parents job is to shape the character of the child.

Question about Hagars status as a slave.
Two trends in relation to the way to look at the outsiders. Ruth and Ezra.

Naomi Rosenblat. Relates to Sarah's lingering feelings of resentment for Hagar.
Emotional repercussions. Sarah is a Complicated person and we can learn from this competing maternal reactions.
Sarah is fighting for the future. Instinct to fight for her child.
Relates to step families. Can't cast out the characters who cause grief.
Step mothers are typified as "evil". The step child is competition. How to reconcile?

Novel. Ayelet Waldman's novel, 'Love and Other Impossible Pursuits’

Read: Womens commentary pg 107. Judith Plaskow
Sees violent view. Relates that Sarah was treated as a pawn in the Avimelach episode. She is responding to lash out at Hagar and Ishmael.
Duplicate patterns of horizontal violence. Keep patterns of abuse of what done to her.

Balance between chesed and guvurah (spiritual and emotional) is demonstrated in the relationships between Sarah. Hagar. Isaac and Ishmael. And Abraham.

Bill Moyer series and asked women who they relate more to. Hagar or Sarah.

Should women all be rivals? Should Sarah and Hagar have combined forces instead?
Both were victims of their own insecurities.

Ch 11. The matter was evil in Abraham's eye. He was upset.

Midrash says his son has fallen into evil ways. Rashi. Abraham told that Ishmael became evil and is a type if justification. But Rashi prefers to read simply that he was upset at sending away his child.
Abraham didn't see the bad in Ishmael. Sarah could see it more clearly.
Nachmanadese. Abraham upset only about his son not about Hagar.

Next week what it feels like to throw out the ex wife without enough provisions

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Weaning Feast

Torah study 4-16
Genesis 21:1-10

Naomi Rosenblat : Book Wrestling with Angels.
Dream about the future. Dream fulfillment is really a starting point with new challenges.
Sarah is caught unprepared for the new challenges for their family.

Weaning feast: Rashi- Feast with wine. Great feast because the great men of the area were there including Avimelach.
Abraham made a mistake because he didn't invite the poor. Must also give joy to the poor.
Hafitz Hayim. Whatever is ok for your family is ok for anyone. Give 3% of what you spend on the party to the poor.
Rambam. Rejoicing of the belly. Share joy with others.

v9. When issaac is about 3 and Ishmael is 14. Sarah sees the son of Hagar. What did she see?
Playing. Laughing. Mocking. Taunting. Scoffing. Toying with him sexually. - The interpretations of the word leaves the translation unclear.
Same root word as Itzak. Laughing. But differently need to look at how the word is used in different places and look at the context.
What Sarah sees provokes her to her action.
Midrash about Ishmael is violent with Isaac about the inheritance.

Different interpretations. From influence of the older child. Either they were close or hostile but both dangerous.
This Son of this slave will not suitable for the inheritance.

v10. Expels Hagar. Cast out.
Some scholars blame Sarah.
Sarah speaks to Abraham directly.. She orders him to cast out Hagar and her son no acknowledgement of any connection to Abraham.

Contemporary commentaries:
Nachum Sarna legal position of Ishmael. Abrahams son. Then change when Isaac born?
Laws of Hamarabi. Make inheritance rights based on laws on slaves. Giving Hagar freedom will cut the ties of inheritance.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Isaac Is Born

Torah study 4-9 Rabbi Marder
Genesis 21:7-9 Birth of Isaac

Name: Isaac - Laughter

V7 structure. N Sarna. Isaac name occurs 6 times and the root of his name 3 times.
Ishmaels name does not appear in this part. He is passing from the scene.

Different interpretations of “who would have said?”
Who can say? How unlikely is this? Or a rhetorical question...
Or amazement

Ishmael is 14 years old.
Sarah gives suckle to a child. Ref to end of grapes of wrath...
Legend about Sarahs milk of righteousness and strength.

V7 in poetic form could have been a song.

V8 child grew And was weaned
How old was he?
The feast. Feast with wine. Signifies survival.
Not part of Jewish law. The celebration is in Mizrachi communities. In Eastern Europe some communities they have someone else feed the baby their first meal.
Customs around Children being weaned: Modern ceremonies noted in Anita Diamante book New Jewish Baby Book as a celebration. Someone else feeds the baby. Give tzedakkah to some child related organization. First sip from a cup.
Also in the Jewish book my Jewish Learning . Called for an alliyah. Special blessing.
Jews take every opportunity to celebrate children becoming more independence and strength.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Isaac = Laughter

3/26 Torah Study with Rabbi Adam Rosenwaser

Sarah having child – Laughter!
Who is there. Sarah and God absent is Abraham.
Sarah previously was just listening in. Now she is directly the focus.
Some questions if the son is actually Abrahams son.
Recurring theme of barren women then having children.
Alter. V6 laughter suited to the complexity of the situation.
God is not speaking to Sarah.
You don't see the dialogue between Sarah and Abraham.

The whole episode of birth:
Three words in Hebrew she is pregnant and gives birth.
(another factor that it is written by men)

Next Sarah speaks. Poem. Her internal soliloquy

4/2/11 Rabbi Sarah Wolfe Genesis 21:3-
Isaac’s name: From chapter 17 note that God gave him that name!
Why Isaac associated with laughter ?
Both Abraham and Sarah laugh
Verse 6 Sarah says that everyone will laugh. Is it with her or at her?
Not always positive. Undertone that it might be laughter of mockery.
When Sarah gave birth many others were "cured" as well.
So everyone was laughing because much good fortune came to many people.
Son to Abraham In his old age. Reference to a similar physical look as well.
Also there is the factor of anxiety about Isaacs future. This may be another type of laughter.
Proverb "people plan. God laughs."
Itzak is short for ItzakEl. God will laugh.
Difference between laugh to self vs laugh out loud. Birth of Isaac was out loud laughter.