Sunday, 15 September 2013

Pesachim 87 a, b

As tonight we ended Yom Kippur to begin 5774 in earnest, I will not be sharing detailed thoughts about daf 87.  But I could not leave it without any comment.

The commentary begins with a mishna that describes a woman who is newly married.  In that first year of marriage, she is permitted to eat the Paschal lamb with her father's group, even if her husband also registered her in his family's group.  Some of the reasoning for this is comfort - she will still be calling her husband 'Master', apparently, rather than 'Husband', in that first year.  Also, she is assumed to visit her father's home often in that first year.  If she eagerly runs to his home ta participate in the offering rite, then she is permitted to leave.  After that first year of marriage, she may decide where she wants to be for this ritual.  However, she has to tell her husband and her father in advance of the slaughter so that she is registered with the proper group.

After some related commentary comparing women to part of the holy alter, to a wall with two towers (breasts), and to the community of Eilam.  The rabbis go so far as to say that virgins "bind and seal their openings for their husbands" in interpreting Psalms 144:12, "...whose daughters are corner pillars..."

Hosea is used to demonstrate G-d's love for his people.  The story is told that Hosea is told by G-d to marry a prostitute, Gomer, whose name is used by the rabbis to belittle and degrade her.  After they have three children, G-d tells Hosea to leave Gomer.  Of course, he cannot.  And G-d cannot leave his children Israel, either.

I can reframe and pretend that the text is not telling me about a lack of respect of women.  However, on days like today, it is impossible to ignore the vast gulf between men women's realities.  And womens' realities are tremendously more vulnerable, more frightening, and less powerful.  

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