Torah Study Date

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Verses Covered

Bereishit (Genesis) 24:50-61

Next Session

Saturday, July 10, 2021
Starting at Genesis 24:62

Last week we discussed Laban and Bethuel telling Abraham’s servant to take Rebecca to be wife to Abraham’s son since the idea of doing so came from YHVH. We discussed Laban being the bad actor in the rabbinic tradition and that the rabbis like foils (good guy vs. bad guy) that we may not always see in the text. We discussed the gifts Abraham’s servant brings out including natural items and the suitability of special fruits from a region as a gift.

We discussed women in Torah bouncing between being persons and chattel, and that in Torah the default person is a man. We discussed the fact that Rebecca is asked whether she will go and be the wife and that she says she will, that it is unusual that she, a woman, is asked, and why she wanted to go (to be wife of a wealthy man? to go on an adventure? to get away from Laban? etc.).

We discussed Rebecca’s queerness: she is called by a term that means ‘boy’, she is asked if she wants to go as if she has some autonomy, the blessing for her includes that her seed should possess the gates of their enemies (a blessing for a warrior). We discussed whether the gender queering could be explained away in some cases as scribal error and wondered why we would want to explain them away rather than expanding how we understand gender. We also discussed that Rebecca has a nurse that goes away with her.

Our artwork this week is from the Venice Haggadah of 1609, one of the oldest printed haggadot, Abraham’s family including his three wives (above) and the first page of the text of the haggadah (below). The three wives are Sarah (center), Hagar (left) and Keturah (right).

Abraham and his three wives (Venice Haggadah)
First page of haggadah text (Venice Haggadah)

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