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Midrash and Aggadah

Concubine of a Levite: Midrash and Aggadah

The story of the concubine at Gibeah is one of the most shocking narratives in the Bible. The [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:426]Tosefta[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] attests that these verses are read in public, along with their Aramaic Targum, that is, they are interpreted during the public reading of the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] (Tosefta [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:354]Megillah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] 3:33). The [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:416]Talmud[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] explains that although a matter that publicly tarnishes the honor of the tribe of Benjamin should not properly be aired, the tribe’s reputation is not a consideration in this case (BT Megillah 25b). The Tosefta and the Talmud apparently find educational value in this narrative, and feel that something important is to be learned even from such a troubling occurrence.

Bilhah: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis count Bilhah among the six Matriarchs (Cant. Rabbah 6:4:2). She was the handmaiden of Rachel, to whom she had been given by Rachel’s father Laban when she married Jacob.

Beruryah

Beruryah is the only woman mentioned in rabbinic literature who could be conceived of as a [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] scholar.

Rayna Batya Berlin

Born into a family of distinguished lineage, whose members were the intellectual and spiritual leaders of Lithuanian Jewry, Rayna Batya Berlin, like the men in her family, viewed [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:424]Torah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] study as the loftiest means of worship of God.

Bathsheba: Midrash and Aggadah

Bathsheba is portrayed by the midrash as a modest woman who carefully observed the laws of family purity, but who found herself, without any conscious action on her part, in an adulterous affair with the king.

Athaliah: Midrash and Aggadah

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

Asenath: Midrash and Aggadah

Asenath is mentioned in the Torah as “the daughter of Poti-phera” (Gen. 41:45), who was married to Joseph in Egypt. The Rabbis found it difficult to accept that Joseph, who withstood the wiles of Potiphar’s wife and proclaimed his loyalty to the Lord in the palace of Pharaoh, would marry a non-Israelite woman. The question of Asenath’s origins has significant consequences for the standing within the Israelite tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, the two sons born to Asenath and Joseph.

Grace Aguilar

When she died in 1847 at the age of thirty-one, Grace Aguilar enjoyed a reputation as a poet, historical romance writer, domestic novelist, Jewish emancipator, religious reformer, educator, social historian, theologian, and liturgist.

Adah 1: Midrash and Aggadah

According to the aggadic tradition, Lamech took two wives, one for sexual pleasure and the other for procreation. One wife would be in his company adorned like a harlot, and he plied her with a drug that induced barrenness, so that she would not give birth; the other sat alone, like a widow. Lamech’s behavior graphically attests to the process of spiritual decline from one generation to the next and the corruption of the Flood generation.

Achsah: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis describe Achsah as being a beauty, finding an allusion to this in her name: “Whoever sees her is angry [koes] with his wife,” who is not as ravishing as she is (BT Temurah 16a).

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Midrash and Aggadah." (Viewed on February 13, 2016) <http://jwa.org/topics/midrash-and-aggadah>.

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