Thursday, February 21, 2008

CSM's Jane Lampman on The Torah: A Women's Commentary

Today's CSM has an excellent review article written by Jane Lampman on The Torah: A Women's Commentary:

The editor of the commentary, Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, professor of Bible at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, recalls how some responded to the December release.

"An 80-year-old woman, embracing her copy, said, 'I've been waiting for this all my life.' And a young woman told me, 'For the first time, I am included in the conversation,'" Dr. Eskenazi says.

One of the stories that highlight the import of biblical women begins in Numbers 27. Five sisters challenge an inheritance practice that would deprive them of their father's land. They speak to Moses and the entire leadership.

"Moses speaks to God and God responds that these five daughters speak rightly," Eskenazi says. "This is an extraordinary moment. It is the only time in the Pentateuch that a law is initiated by people, rather than God, and it becomes a 'law from Sinai,' binding for all future generations."

For the women of Reform Judaism, this is just what they have done – insist on their share – not of land, but in inheriting the Torah and participating in the ongoing Jewish conversation.


Tobias Haller said...

I have always loved that passage concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, and the apparently "unforeseen" possibility that a man might only have daughters. I have always tried to picture the look on Moses' face and what he might have said to excuse himself because he had to get back to the Tent to get an update. And such a wonderful affirmation of the women who bring the challenge -- to celebrate their courage. What a pity it is omitted in the Daily Office Lectionary... Hmmm.

Jane said...

Thanks so much for this post. In 2004 the women of Paraguay chose the text from Numbers 27 as the key text for the celebration of the World Day of Prayer - Filled with faith women shape the future was the theme I think. I remember we had a fascinating time on this text at our feminist theology group with Helene Yinda from the Francophone section of the group of concerned African women theologians. The text really spoke to the situation today of many of our African sisters. Shame it's not in the lectionary but then so much isn't!
thanks for all your posts

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