Thursday, 14 January 2016

"And G-d created Woman...."


This post appears in the WIZO Lapid magazine “Women taking the lead”. The magazine is not available online.

The story of creation recounted in the Torah is miraculous. Eve, the woman, “Mother of all living thing” is the final handiwork of that miracle and probably the greatest of them all. To be the giver of the gift of Life is the greatest blessing, the ultimate bliss.

The Tanach speaks highly of the strength and the virtues of women. Throughout it are strewn many stories and tales of their wisdom, their deep intuition, sensitivity and divine inspiration.

One of the most unsung heroines of the Torah is Miriam. How many of us remember her as the one who saved her brother, Moses, the greatest leader the Jewish people have ever had? Was it not for Miriam’s unwavering and never faltering perseverance, endurance and hope which ensured that he who would bring redemption to her people lived to fulfill his destiny? 

Was it not the courageous and brave Miriam who, after Moses and the children of Israel sang their song, acted as a cheerleader to infuse valor, liveliness and deeper faith in G-d among the children of Israel? The Torah tells us that "Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the tambourine in her hand; and all the women followed her with tambourines and dances. And Miriam called to them: 'Sing to G-d, for He is most exalted; horse and rider He cast in the sea...'” A true muse!

Deborah, the first judge who “held court under the palm,” was another Biblical heroine who has inspired many Jewish women over the ages. Deborah was also a prophetess and a warrior. During her time, the Israelites were oppressed by the people of Canaan. She declared a revolt against them and as she correctly predicted, the Israelites won.

The victory over the Canaanites would not have been won if not for the courage of another brave woman by the name of Yael, a shrewd warrior who used not only her female charms, but also her wisdom and strategic skills to bring a final smashing victory to the army of the Israelites. As the Canaanite soldiers fell by the sword, Sisera, their commander fled into Yael’s tent. She welcomed him, and resumed to play the perfect hostess until he fell asleep. She then drove a tent peg through his temple and he died.

It is Esther’s, another celebrated heroine of the Jewish people, astute and brave diplomacy coupled with her wisdom of the heart that we acclaim each year during Purim. With the help of her uncle Mordechai, Esther won King Achashverosh’s heart. It is reasonable to assume that it was probably more the result of a calculated strategic move aimed at ensuring the safety of her Jewish people than it was her love for a King that was not known for his wisdom. 

Her intuition guided Esther in what was a very perilous and unfamiliar political terrain. Even though she knew that approaching the king without being summoned carried the penalty of death, she did eventually approach him. Through an ingenious plan, after piqueing the king’s curiosity and soothing Haman’s ego and gaining the trust of both, she was able to call out Haman’s conspiracy and get the king to side with her.

The Biblical female role models have been an inspiration to many modern day Jewish leaders, both men and women and to the tradition that has produced many front runners in many fields. The miracle of Jewish survival owes much to these women and their legacy.


  1. BatZi, I love your Jewish History lessons - I find that as much as I know - I only know a very small part - Thank you so much for this.
    Shabbat Shalom <3

  2. I am still learning it myself, Lynne :-) Always sharing <3 Thank you, dear. Shavua tov from blessed Eretz Yisrael <3