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The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Tamar Kadari

Tamar Kadari received a B.A. in Hebrew Literature and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Midrash at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She teaches Midrash at Bar Ilan University and at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. During her period as a doctoral candidate she was a fellow at the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her academic research focuses on Song of Songs Rabbah and its early interpretations.

Articles by this author

Vashti: Midrash and Aggadah

Vashti, the wife of Ahasuerus, was banished when her husband summoned her to appear before the men at their revelry. The Babylonian Rabbis tend to cast Vashti in an extremely negative light, as wicked, a Jew-hater, and wanton. In contrast, their counterparts in Erez Israel portrayed her in a positive manner.

Tamar: Midrash and Aggadah

The Tamar narrative in the Bible casts the characters in a human, and not very complimentary, light. The later Rabbis sharply criticize Judah and his sons, but they describe Tamar positively, despite the fact that she is a convert. Her actions during her relationship with Judah demonstrate her purity, and her behavior shows the proper way in which all future women should perform.

Shiphrah: Midrash and Aggadah

Shiphrah was one of the two Hebrew midwives who delivered the children of the Israelites during the Egyptian servitude. She is mentioned only once in the Bible, but the Rabbis identify the midwives with various Biblical heroines, thereby transforming them from secondary characters to central, fully developed figures whose annals spread over additional chapters of the Torah.

Sarah: Midrash and Aggadah

The midrash present Sarah as a righteous woman whose actions are worthy of emulation; she converted Gentiles and drew them into the bosom of Judaism. Sarah is described as preeminent in the household. Abraham was ennobled through her and subordinated himself to her; God commanded him to heed his wife, because of her prophetic power.

Rebekah: Midrash and Aggadah

Rebekah, one of the four Matriarchs, is characterized by the Rabbis as a prophet and a righteous woman. The midrash transforms Rebekah from an individual character with a personal story into a symbol of the realization of God’s promise to Abraham.

Puah: Midrash and Aggadah

Puah was one of the two Hebrew midwives who delivered the children of the Israelites during the Egyptian servitude. The Rabbis link the midwives with various Biblical heroines, thereby transforming them into central figures. Different midrashic traditions identify the various ways Puah was rewarded for her bravery, and several mention her familial connections to many important biblical figures.

Queen of Sheba: Midrash and Aggadah

The midrash tells the story of how the Queen of Sheba traveled to meet King Solomon and witness his wisdom, posing several scenarios and riddles to test him. After being impressed by his answers, she commits herself to God and converts.

Rachel: Midrash and Aggadah

Rachel is depicted in the Torah as Jacob’s beautiful and beloved wife. The midrash portrays Rachel as a prophetess, and her statements and the names she gave her sons contain allusions to the future. Rachel’s merit continued to aid Israel even many years after her demise.

Peninnah: Midrash and Aggadah

The narrative of Peninnah centers around her interactions with Hannah, as both women were married to Elkanah. Different midrashic traditions tell stories of how Peninnah treated Hannah, most portraying Peninnah as the antagonist. Peninnah is shown irritating Hannah, although some midrashim argue that Peninnah’s actions were a result of her feeling like the least favorite wife.

Michal, daughter of Saul: Midrash and Aggadah

The Midrash and Aggadah provide insight into the marriage of Michal, daughter of Saul, to David, to whom she was loyal over her father, Saul. Michal was later punished for publicly disrespecting David.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Tamar Kadari." (Viewed on March 31, 2023) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/author/kadari-tamar>.


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