The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

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Tamar Meir

Tamar Meir is a doctoral candidate in Hebrew literature at Bar-Ilan University, where she previously obtained qualifications in Talmud and Jewish Philosophy. She specializes in the period of Hazal (The Sages of the Oral Law), focusing on Midreshei Aggadah. She also teaches Midrash and Aggadah at a number of women’s institutes for Torah studies.

Articles by this author

Ruth: Midrash and Aggadah

Midrash views Ruth very positively, describing her as beautiful, modest, and virtuous. The Rabbis also link Ruth with other revered women, such as Sarah and Rebekah, furthering her portrayal as an exemplary biblical woman. Despite her mother-in-law’s suspicion about the circumstances of her conversion, the midrash clarifies that Ruth converted based solely on her beliefs.

Naomi: Midrash and Aggadah

Midrash portrays Naomi favorably, referring to her as righteous and significant. The Rabbis emphasize her dedication to her faith and her commitment to supporting her gentile daughter-in-law, Ruth. She guides Ruth through her conversion, encourages Ruth to maintain her devotion, and raises the child to whom Ruth gives birth.

Miriam: Midrash and Aggadah

Miriam is described in the midrash as part of a family triumvirate of leaders, and the Rabbis assert that she contributed greatly to the redemption of Israel from Egypt. Miriam acted as a leader during the wanderings in the wilderness; by her merit the Israelites were accompanied on their journeys by the well that bears her name: “Miriam’s Well.”

Esther: Midrash and Aggadah

Queen Esther, the central character in the Biblical book named after her, is extensively and sympathetically portrayed in the Rabbinic sources. In their commentary on the Book of Esther, the Rabbis expand upon and add details to the Biblical narrative, relating to her lineage and history and to her relations with the other characters: Ahasuerus, Mordecai, and Haman.

Orpah: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbinic expansion of the story of Oprah paints her in a generally unfavorable light. This dislike is based on Orpah’s comparison to Ruth, in which Orpah is portrayed as the negative version of her sister-in-law. Orpah’s naming reflects the description that she is promiscuous and brazen.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Tamar Meir." (Viewed on December 1, 2023) <>.


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