This is the 5th in a series of work I have been doing to translate passages of the bible into poetry that strips out the patriarchal overlays. You can read the previous posts.
In this installment I am grouping together some passages that deal with vibrational energy and its role in creation. We humans often express sacred vibration as song or chant. When we get into the vibrational flow they are truly uplifting. In the translations below, I have kept two of the words in Hebrew because of their wonderful vibrational essences:
Continue reading “Biblical Poetry, 5th Installment”
This week’s Torah portion is Emor, or Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23. It details purity and the priesthood including whose funeral a priest can attend, who can marry a priest, bodily blemishes and temple services, and under what circumstances daughters of priests can still eat temple food. Emor also discusses the treatment of animals. A baby animal must be 7 days old before it can be sacrificed and cannot be killed the same day as its mother. In addition, the parshah describes the holiday calendar, including the counting of the Omer, how to harvest fields, and what type of oil should be used in the Temple’s Menorah. Finally, it outlines punishments for various crimes including blasphemy and murder.
To say that there is a lot there would be an understatement. In fact, a good question about this parshah is where does one begin? An obvious place would be the mention of the named woman, Shelomit bat Dibri of the tribe of Dan, almost at the end of the parshah. First, it is remarkable that a woman has been named and more so that her name has been remembered as significant. It begs the question of who was she? Why remember her name? Why mention her at all? The discussion about her son’s crimes could easily not have needed any mention of her name! So why is it there? Continue reading “Ruminations on Emor by Ivy Helman”
This parshah contains the account of Jacob’s marriages to Leah and Rachel, (who happen to be his cousins) as well as the birth of his 11 sons and one daughter. It describes the long amounts of time Jacob worked for Laban in order to marry Laban’s daughters, and recounts the trickery of Laban giving first Leah, the older daughter to Jacob, before allowing Jacob to marry who he wanted to, Rachel.
Like the relationship between Hagar and Sarah, there is animosity between Leah and Rachel over Jacob’s love as well as the ability to bear children. This animosity spreads to the maids of Leah and Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah respectively, as they are used by the sisters to conceive children on their behalf. One can see also this animosity in how Leah and Rachel name their sons. Yet, the parshah also contains two aspects that seem at odds with such a patriarchal perspective. First, there are five named women who play key roles in the goings-on. Second, Rachel is an active agent. Continue reading “Vayeitzei: Rachel and the Practice of Niddah by Ivy Helman”
Against my better judgment, this past weekend I went to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher who’s best known for Fight Club and The Social Network. I didn’t like the book; it unsettled me that a novel filled with sexual violence against women—a novel that seems to take pleasure in the violence, to offer it up for readers to consume—became such a sensation. But I’m a sucker for a trailer and a good soundtrack, and I was curious, so I bought a ticket.
The plot revolves around a missing girl and the serial killer believed to have murdered her who uses the Bible like a handbook. He takes passages from Leviticus—21:9 for example: The daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by playing the harlot, she profanes her father. She shall be burned with fire—and enacts them on women’s bodies. On Jewish women’s bodies.
Please click here to continue reading this article at Religion Dispatches.
Sarah Sentilles is a scholar of religion, an award-winning speaker, and the author of three books including A Church of Her Own: What Happens When a Woman Takes the Pulpit (Harcourt, 2008) and Breaking Up with God (HarperOne, 2011). She earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale and a master’s of divinity and a doctorate in theology from Harvard, where she was awarded the Billings Preaching Prize and was the managing editor of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. At the core of her scholarship, writing, and activism is a commitment to investigating the roles religious language, images, and practices play in oppression, violence, social transformation, and justice movements. She is currently at work on a novel and an edited volume that investigates the intersections of torture and Christianity.