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Midrash and Aggadah

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.

She Who Dwells Within by Lynn Gottlieb

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She Who Dwells Within by Lynn Gottlieb, a book on gender and Judaism.
She Who Dwells Within by Lynn Gottlieb, a book on gender and Judaism.

Related content:

Anita Diamant, 2010

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Author Anita Diamant at a book signing at Nightingale House, London, March 2010.

Photo by Brian Minkoff, London Pixels.

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Creative Commons (attribution non-commercial share alike)

Author Anita Diamant at a book signing at Nightingale House, London, March 2010.

Photo by Brian Minkoff, London Pixels.

Related content:

The Journey Continues: The MA'YAN Passover Haggadah, 2000

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Pictured here is a page from The Journey Continues: The MA'YAN Passover Haggadah. (New York: MA'YAN, the Jewish Women's Project, 2000), a manual for the seder which gives voice both to the women who experienced the Passover events of the past and those celebrating the holiday in the present.

Institution: MA'YAN, Library of Congress

Pictured here is a page from The Journey Continues: The MA'YAN Passover Haggadah. (New York: MA'YAN, the Jewish Women's Project, 2000), a manual for the seder which gives voice both to the women who experienced the Passover events of the past and those celebrating the holiday in the present.

Institution: MA'YAN, Library of Congress

Related content:

Judith Plaskow, 2004

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The first Jewish feminist to identify herself as a theologian, Judith Plaskow has created a distinctively Jewish theology that is at once academically rigorous, politically leftist and firmly woman-centered. The best known Jewish feminist theologian in both Jewish and non-Jewish circles, she appears here in 2004.

Photographer: Martha Ackelsberg
Institution: Judith Plaskow

The first Jewish feminist to identify herself as a theologian, Judith Plaskow has created a distinctively Jewish theology that is at once academically rigorous, politically leftist and firmly woman-centered. The best known Jewish feminist theologian in both Jewish and non-Jewish circles, she appears here in 2004.

Photographer: Martha Ackelsberg
Institution: Judith Plaskow

Related content:

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.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Midrash and Aggadah." (Viewed on February 10, 2016) <http://jwa.org/topics/midrash-and-aggadah>.

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