Posts Tagged 'Merle Feld'

We All Stood Together: Rivka and Revelation

This weekend the Bronfman Youth Fellowship in Israel is celebrating its 30th year. It is crazy to think that I did this program 27 years ago this summer. One of my memories from that summer was when Merle Feld a poet taught some of her poetry to the group. On of the poem’s “We All Stood Together” I still remember vividly. There in Jerusalem at the age of 15 we read:

My brother and I were at Sinai
He kept a journal
of what he saw
of what he heard
of what it all meant to him
I wish I had such a record
of what happened to me
It seems like every time I want to write
I can’t
I’m always holding a baby
one of my own
or one of my friend
always holding a baby
so my hands are never free
to write things down
And then
As time passes
the particulars
the hard data
the who what when where why
slip away from me
and all I’m left with is
the feeling
But feelings are just sounds
The vowel barking of a mute
my brother is so sure of what he heard
after all he’s got a record of it
consonant after consonant after consonant
If we remembered it together
we could recreate holy time
sparks flying

I was thinking about this poem specifically this Shabbat as we read Chaye Sarah, this week’s Torah portion. There we find Rivka giving water to Eliezer’s camels. There we read:

And the man was astonished at her, standing silent, [waiting] to know whether the Lord had caused his way to prosper or not. Now it came about, when the camels had finished drinking, [that] the man took a golden nose ring, weighing half [a shekel], and two bracelets for her hands, weighing ten gold [shekels]. ( Genesis 24:21-22)

Why did he give her braclets? And why two of them? And why specify ten units of gold? On these points Rashi said:

and two braceletsAn allusion to the two Tablets paired together. — [Gen. Rabbah (60:6), Targum Jonathan]

weighing ten goldAn allusion to the Ten Commandments [inscribed] on them. — [Gen. Rabbah 60:6]

This moment at the well was a moment when Rivka herself modeled for us the overlooked role of women at Sinai. This moment happened through acts of righteousness, but sadly the female contribution to revelation has been hidden in broad daylight. This images of Rivka and  Merle Feld  fill me with gratitude for the gifts of female voices to the world of Torah.

 

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