Despite the many assertions, made since the Second World War, that never again could we see war on European soil, the past several months have proved otherwise. Ukrainian refugees have arrived all over Europe, mostly women and children, or elderly male relatives. They arrive with only the clothes on their backs, exhausted, traumatised, stressed over the possible fate of those they have had to leave behind.
As a neutral country, Ireland does not offer military assistance. However, thirty thousand refugees have been welcomed, in houses, sports clubs, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and when they first arrive, until more suitable accommodation can be found, they are offered campsites.
Where do we begin to address, let alone heal, such brokenness? What kind of language would we speak from our common humanity? English, Irish or Ukrainian? Or maybe we have other languages: the language of symbols, songs, poems and stories?
The parshah for this upcoming Shabbat is Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36). It details the investiture of Aaron and his sons into the priesthood and lays out the basics of various offerings (mostly, although not exclusively, animal sacrifices) and the rules regarding the eating of them. As I’ve mentioned before on this site, I would like to complete at least one commentary on each parshah of the Torah. Yet, there are only so many times that one can question the establishment of the temple, condemn animal sacrifice, and denounce the absence of women. Yet, as we approach another Torah portion this week, Tzav , this is more or less what we have. So, what do we do?
Tzav starts, as parshot from the book of Leviticus often do, with descriptions of various laws. Here, the laws focus on various offerings including the grain, sin, peace, thanksgiving, and burnt. Only the male members of Aaron’s family can eat the offerings. Consumption of the offering increases the holiness of the consumer as long as the eating of the animals falls into the guidelines outlined within the text.
The parshah ends with an explanation of how to consecrate Aaron and his sons. The process lasts a total of seven days. It includes residing at the entrance to the tent for the duration, offering various animals as sacrifices, eating copious amounts of said animals, the donning of specific ritual clothing, and multiple anointings of the men and the altar (often with blood).
I imagine many of you share my feelings of anger, grief and dread about this invasion of Ukraine. It is hard to know what to do and terrible to feel so powerless. I would like to offer a practice which I am finding very helpful: to meditate on Ukrainian Goddess embroideries as a prayer for peace.
Goddess figures are ubiquitous in Ukrainian folk art, in woven and embroidered clothing, ritual textiles, pottery, painting, and pysanky, ceremonially decorated Easter eggs (which I will explore in a future post). Goddess embroideries are also found throughout the entire Slavic world, Eastern Europe, the Near East and North Africa, and even farther afield, as Mary Kelly and Sheila Paine have diligently shown.
From the very moment after the dust settled from the 2016 elections, notions of impeachment started to break. Now three years into the Trump Presidency, impeachment proceedings have been launched. To start, Impeachment is a Constitutionally supported right. It is an element of the “Checks and Balances” system to ensure that no one branch of the government holds too much power. Instigating impeachment processes is not treason, nor is it unpatriotic – it is a testament to the democratic procedures established by the founding fathers and maintained for the last 230 years.
I believe that as feminists what we are striving towards is not just equality between women and men, although this aspect is crucial. Feminism has contributed to developing of such disciplines and practices as deconstruction, environmentalism, LGBT rights, and animal rights.
Rita M. Gross in her book Buddhism After Patriarchy presents portraits of prominent women from Buddhist history. Some stories are extraordinary for the brutal details they contain. For example, Yeshe Tsogyel was raped, kidnapped and beaten by her suitors to the point that her back was a bloody pulp. She subsequently escaped to meditate in a cave.
In a patriarchal society, religious fervour is not recommended for women. Submission and obedience – yes. The life of an ascetic, a wanderer or a hermit – no. A son is relatively free to pursue religious activities (especially if he is one of the younger children and the issue of inheritance is sorted out). However, all daughters are better off tucked into a marriage. Supporting your husband and sons on their spiritual path – yes. Independent striving away from family life – no. Continue reading “Women are like countries: both need to fight hard for independence by Oxana Poberejnaia”