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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.

Rachel: Bible

The younger daughter of Laban and wife of Jacob, Rachel is the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, who become two of the twelve tribes of Israel (Gen 35:24; 46:15–18). Rachel, who died young, becomes an image of tragic womanhood. After the biblical period, “Mother Rachel” continued to be celebrated as a powerful intercessor for the people of Israel.

Naomi: Bible

Naomi is featured prominently in the Hebrew Bible and is portrayed as a woman who both challenges and conforms to patriarchal expectations. Analyses of Naomi from a modern feminist lens include varied interpretations of her actions, but she nevertheless dominates the stories in the Book of Ruth and effectively controls the situations of which she is a part.

Morocco: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

The Moroccan Jewish community was the largest Jewish community in North Africa during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The status of Moroccan Jewish women was affected by a variety of factors, including a patriarchal order and social changes brought about by economic development, urbanization, and contact with European countries.

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.


The mikveh is a ritual bath prescribed by ancient Jewish law for the rite of purification. It had particular significance for Jewish women, who were required to immerse themselves in the mikveh following their menstrual periods or after childbirth in order to become ritually pure and permitted to resume sexual activity. The practice has been jettisoned by many Jews but continues to be observed today, not only in Orthodox communities but also by feminists, queer Jews, and others who have reinterpreted the ritual.

Marriage in Halakhic Judaism

The stages of a Jewish marriage have various halakhic and legal implications. The beginning stage is shiddukhin, in which the man and women promise to marry. Then, kiddushin and nissu’in create the legal bond of marriage.


Maimonides, referred to by the acronym Rambam, was a medieval Sephardic Jewish sage who studied medicine and practiced as a physician throughout his lifetime. His legal and philosophical writings made him one of the greatest and most widely read medieval Jewish philosophers.

Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael: Midrash and Aggadah

Midrash and Aggadah present both a positive and a negative take on the marriage of Esau, son of Isaac and Rebekah, to Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael.

Leah: Midrash and Aggadah

Leah is the sister of Rachel and the wife of Jacob. God blesses Leah with children; she has six sons and one daughter, and two of her sons become ancestors of two of the twelve tribes. She may not have been Jacob’s preferred bride, but she is interpreted as extremely selfless and generous.

Leah: Bible

Leah is the sister of Rachel, and many of the stories about her center around her turbulent relationship with her sister, as they are both Jacob’s wives. Jacob clearly prefers Rachel, and the sisters repeatedly compete with each other for Jacob’s affection. Leah and Rachel are remembered as the ancestresses “who built up the house of Israel” (Ruth 4:11).

Jochebed: Midrash and Aggadah

The midrash portrays Jochebed as a wise woman who was righteous and God-fearing. By merit of her good deeds, she gave birth to the three leaders of the Exodus generation: Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

Keturah: Bible

The marriage of Abraham to Keturah represents a secondary union, one that separates the procreation of offspring from the inheritance of immovable property (land), which in this case goes only to Abraham’s primary heir, Isaac—not to Keturah’s six children.

Keturah: Midrash and Aggadah

Keturah was one of Abraham’s wives. The Rabbis describe her as a woman of virtue, for which she was worthy of being joined to Abraham.

Holocaust Survivors: Rescue and Resettlement in the United States

Immediately after the Holocaust, the American Jewish community assisted in the postwar rehabilitation and resettlement of survivors who arrived in the United States. Families sponsored European relatives and communal agencies organized to help survivors’ adjustment. While the contemporary media described a warm welcome by American communities and survivors’ rapid acclimation, this triumphant narrative belied the fraught reality of survivors’ early years in the United States.

Hannah: Midrash and Aggadah

Hannah is depicted by the Rabbis as a righteous woman who was devout in her observance of the commandments and tested by God through her infertility. Her story is the basis for much of the rabbinic conception and rules of prayer.

Hannah: Bible

Hannah, the second and barren yet preferred wife of Elkanah, promises to return her child to YHWH if he grants her a son. Her prayers are answered, and she follows through on her pledge to YHWH. Hannah’s narrative emphasizes the importance of fertility and childbirth in Israeli artistic narratives and presents a portrayal of an independent and resourceful woman.

Hagar: Bible

Hagar is Sarah’s Egyptian slave woman, whom Sarah gives to Abraham as secondary wife and who would bear a child for him. After Hagar becomes pregnant, Sarah treats her harshly. Eventually Hagar flees from her mistress into the wilderness, where God’s messenger speaks to her. Hagar has long represented the plight of the foreigner, the slave, and the sexually abused woman.

Hagar: Midrash and Aggadah

Hagar is the subject of much interpretation by the rabbis, who portray her as a spiritual and even righteous woman. The rabbis often depict her relationship with Sarah as harmful and fractious, though some traditions identify her with Keturah, taken as a wife by Abraham in Gen. 25:1; in this interpretation, after their divorce she remarried Abraham after Sarah’s death.

Eve: Midrash and Aggadah

Eve’s character is posited to be that of the original and quintessential woman. The Midrash interprets her traits as representative of the negative aspects of femininity. Eve’s punishment for her sin is also tied to the traditional ideas of the fundamentals of womanhood – childbirth, pregnancy, and male spousal domination.

Dinah: Bible

The story of Dinah, the only daughter of the patriarch Jacob, recounts an episode in which she goes out to see the “daughters of the land” but is raped, seduced, and/or abducted by Shechem, a Hivite prince, who subsequently falls in love with and wishes to marry her. The story ends in the slaughter of Shechem and his townsmen and may be read as a condemnation of intermarriage.

Dinah: Midrash and Aggadah

Dinah was the only daughter of Jacob and Leah, and the Rabbis present her as possessing many positive qualities, as was fitting for the daughter of the progenitors of the Israelite nation. The rabbis also offer many different explanations for the rape of Dinah, trying to understand the troubling story.

Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab: Midrash and Aggadah

Elisheba is mentioned only a single time in the Torah she-bi-khetav: Lit. "the written Torah." The Bible; the Pentateuch; Tanakh (the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographia)Torah (Ex. 6:23), as the daughter of Amminadab, the sister of Nahshon and the wife of Aaron the High Priest. The Rabbis speak at large concerning her. They note her importance, since her life was bound up with the most distinguished families in Israel: her husband was appointed High Priest, her children were deputy high priests, her brother was nasi (chieftain) of the tribe of Judah and her brother-in-law Moses led the Israelites. The A type of non-halakhic literary activitiy of the Rabbis for interpreting non-legal material according to special principles of interpretation (hermeneutical rules).midrash accordingly applies to Elisheba the verse “And may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah” (Ruth 4:12), which was meant to signify that Elisheba, too, was descended from the royal line since she was from the tribe of Judah (Ruth Zuta 4:12). Commenting on Jacob’s blessing to Judah, “You, O Judah, your brothers shall praise” (Gen. 49:8), the Rabbis list Elisheba daughter of Amminadab among the important people and officials that were born to this tribe and call her “the mother of the priesthood” (Gen. Rabbah 97:8).

Esther: Bible

Esther, the main character in the book named after her, is a young Jewish woman who becomes queen of the Persian empire and risks her life by interceding for the Jewish people to save them from a pogrom. Set in the Persian diaspora, the Book of Esther depicts the struggle for Jews to survive in the face of hostility in a foreign land.


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