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Midrash and Aggadah

Sandy Sasso

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso was the first woman rabbi ordained by the Reconstructionist movement, which was one of many firsts in her career.

Lynn Gottlieb

One of the first ten women rabbis, Lynn Gottlieb became a voice for peace between Jews and Muslims.

Lilith Evolved: Writing Midrash

In this Go and Learn, guide, we explore the notion of midrash and highlight "The Coming of Lilith" by theologian Judith Plaskow as an example of how contemporary Jewish feminists have created their own midrashim—retellings of biblical stories—in order to incorporate women's viewpoints into the traditional texts of Judaism. In writing their own versions of these texts, Plaskow and her peers have made Judaism more inclusive of the voices and perspectives of all people who engage in its teachings.

Wrestling with God and Jewish Tradition

The biblical figure of Jacob is also called Israel, the one who wrestled with God (Genesis 35:10). As the "Children of Israel," the Jewish community has carried on this legacy of wrestling with God and tradition in our attempts to create meaning in our lives. This Go & Learn guide uses the artwork of the Jewish feminist artist Helène Aylon to explore how we—as individuals and as a community—grapple with ideas about God and Jewish tradition.

The confrontational face of Miriam

When we are first introduced to Miriam in the Bible, the times are bleak. The Egyptian Pharaoh has decreed that all baby boys born to the Hebrew slaves be immediately put to death.

Vashti: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis state that Vashti was one of the four women who were enthroned, two of whom ruled over Israel (Jezebel and Athaliah) and two over other peoples (the heathen Semiramis and Vashti) (Esther Rabbah 3:2).

Tamar: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis spare no criticism of Judah and his sons, pointing out the sins that were responsible for their bitter fate, but they display a different attitude toward Tamar. Although her behavior could be interpreted as an act of sexual licentiousness and wantonness, the midrashim defend Tamar and praise her.

Spirituality in the United States

Spirituality can be defined as life lived in the presence of God. It embraces not only traditional and formal modes of religious expression, but also more informal individual and communal efforts to remain mindful of the sacred in all aspects of experience.

Shiphrah: Midrash and Aggadah

Shiphrah (more commonly spelled "Shifra") was one of the two Hebrew midwives (Shiphrah and Puah) who delivered the children of the Israelites during the Egyptian servitude. The Torah chronicles (Ex. 1:15–21) that they disobeyed Pharaoh’s command and did not kill the Israelite male newborns.

Sex

The rabbinic discourse of sex has been at one and the same time both empowering and sharply disabling for women. In constraining all women to be wives and mothers, the possibilities for women’s lives have been severely constrained and to a great extent women’s roles have been denigrated as well.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Midrash and Aggadah." (Viewed on November 28, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/midrash-and-aggadah>.

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