Tzav 5772 – Gilayon #744


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Parshat Tzav

Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness,

leaning upon her beloved? Under the apple tree I awakened thee.

(Song of Songs 8,5)

 

R. Awira expounded:

As the reward for the righteous women who lived in that generation were the

Israelites delivered from Egypt.

When they went to draw water, the Holy One, blessed be He, arranged that small

fishes should enter their pitchers, which they drew up half full of water and

half full of fishes. They then set two pots on the fire, one for hot water and

the other for the fish, which they carried to their husbands in the field, and

washed, anointed, fed, gave them to drink and had intercourse with them among

the sheepfolds, as it is said: When ye lie among the sheepfolds etc. As the

reward for 'When ye lie among the sheepfolds', the Israelites merited the

spoliation of the Egyptians, as it is said: As the wings of a dove covered with

silver, and her pinions with yellow gold. After the women had conceived they returned

to their homes; and when the time of childbirth arrived, they went and were

delivered in the field beneath the apple-tree, as it is said: Under the

apple-tree I caused thee to come forth [from thy mother's womb] etc.

The Holy One, blessed be He, sent down someone from the high heavens who washed

and straightened the limbs [of the babes] in the same manner that a midwife

straightens the limbs of a child; as it is said: And as for thy nativity, in

the day you were born your navel was not cut, neither were you washed in water

to cleanse you. He also provided for them two cakes, one of oil and one of

honey, as it is said: And He made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil

etc.

(Bavli Sotah

11b)

 

And there went a man of the house of Levi Where did he go? R. Judah b. Zebina said that he went in the counsel of his daughter. A Tanna taught: Amram was the

greatest man of his generation; when he saw that the wicked Pharaoh had decreed

'Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river', he said: In vain do we

labor. He arose and divorced his wife. All [the Israelites] thereupon arose and

divorced their wives. His daughter said to him, 'Father, thy decree is more

severe than Pharaoh's; because Pharaoh decreed only against the males whereas you

have decreed against the males and females. Pharaoh only decreed concerning

this world whereas you have decreed concerning this world and the World to Come. In

the case of the wicked Pharaoh there is a doubt whether his decree will be fulfilled

or not, whereas in your case, though thou art righteous, it is certain that you

decree will be fulfilled, as it is said: Thou shall also decree a thing, and it

shall be established unto thee. He arose and took his wife back; and they all

took back their wives. (Bavli Sota 12a)

 

"Passover Eves of Chava

Shapiro"

On the Splendor of Women and Their Inclusion-the Seder

Eve as an Example

Yael Levine

 

The educated writer, of feminist inclinations,

Chava Shapiro (1878-1943) was born in the town of Slavita, Volnia Province, Poland,

and was a fourth generation descendant of the Rebbe

Pinchas Shapiro of Koritz (1726-1790). At the turn of

the 20th century, she moved to Warsaw,

where she established connections with Hebrew writers and there began to

acquire an education. In 1906 she began her studies towards a doctorate in

philosophy at the University of Bern, Switzerland, completing

her studies in 1910. During the course of WW1 she wandered from place to place.

She is reported to have been killed in 1943 in the Terezin concentration

camp. A few years ago comprehensive selections of her writings were published

in a collection entitled 'Selected Works of Hava

Shapiro' with Carol B. Balin Resling

Press, her works having been forgotten during those tumultuous years.

In her youth, Chava

Shapiro acquired knowledge in Torah, far exceeding that which was 'normal' for

a young lady of her age. With the support and encouragement of her mother, she

also began to read Haskalah literature. An evaluation

of her work may be found in the collection  "'B'Hichnasi

atah "1, authored by Simcha Bloch in 1952, commemorating the tenth anniversary

of her death, based upon meetings with her in Prague. Bloch cites that she was referred to

as an 'iIlui' (genius) due to her amazing proficiency

in Tanach and Talmud. In a letter from 1956, her

brother Menachem

relates that as a young girl she studied Torah together with her older brother,

Pinchas and her younger brother Moshe, when they were taught by a private 'rebbi', who was considered an outstanding 'lamdan' (scholar); he also taught the boys Talmud.

In a few of her letters, Chava

protests the exclusion of females from the observance of certain rituals that

were customarily reserved for males. (I have devoted a comprehensive essay on

this subject that was published shortly after the publication of B'Hikonsi Atah "). I will

now focus on her personal experiences on the 'seder' eve

as revealed to us in her auto-biographical work, 'Seder Evenings', together with

similar experiences available to us from other 'learned' women.

Shapiro writes:

The

evening has arrived – Pesach eve.

I

know 'The Four Questions' by heart, but no one pays any attention to me; only

my brother matters. I am very annoyed. I can do a 'better' job of asking than

he. Me they relegate to the women's table. Only mother notices my distress and

gives me a caress with her beautiful eyes.

The unfortunate experiences suffered by Chava on Seder nights have no basis or support in halachah nor in sources. Her exact

age is not mentioned but at the very least she could have chanted the questions

without a tune. This essay appeared in the periodical 'Haolam'

in 1925, yet the negative impact of her childhood experiences at the 'sedarim' made a profound impression upon her in her later

years. Among other factors, it may have contributed to her later indifference

to the observance of 'mitzvot'. Simply put, Shapiro's

protest at the seder was

silent and suppressed. During that period of childhood, she was not courageous

enough to reveal to a male her inner feelings and for many years her pain was

contained within her, and at that period of her life she did not possess the

ability to even become aware of her legitimate right to give voice to her

feelings.

As aforementioned, excluding Chava from participating in the Passover seder lacks a basis in Jewish

sources. Nevertheless, from a realistic perspective, caution must be exercised

in drawing conclusions from this particular incident and embracing a generality

about the exclusion of females in Judaism.

In contrast to my description of Chava Shapiro, I would like to introduce two learned

personalities who engaged in Torah study with scholars who frequented their

parents' homes.

One such fascinating woman was Bailah Falk, the wife of R. Yehoshua

Falk Katz (1555-1614), author of the commentary 'Perisha

v'Drishah' on the Tur Shulchan Aruch. In his

introduction to his father's commentary to Tur Yoreh Deah, R. Yosef Falk extols the virtues and knowledge of the Torah of

his mother.

Writing about the measure of her erudition, he

says:

All

her days she would rise before daylight and prayed with great 'kavanah' before the Holy One Blessed Be He… and did not

occupy herself with the mundane but studied the parsha

of the week with Rashi and the other commentaries, as

anyone of my father's student witnessed. When they would part from the table

with words of Torah, she would gird her loins like a male and actively

participate in the ensuing discussion. At times she would contribute an

original comment, sweeter than honey and rolling off her lips, especially when

it concerned laws applying to women and she was especially knowledgeable about

the Laws of Niddah, almost as much as one of the decisors. "2

Her son mentions that she had two halachic insights regarding the lighting of candles on

holidays, about which there are discussion in the later halachic

literature, although there is room to question the novelty of these insights.

After the passing of her husband she

immigrated to Israel.

She visited all the graves of the righteous in every town and finally settled

in Jerusalem, "where

her good name was heard and spread." She lived in Jerusalem for eighteen years, until her death

at age fifty-eight. Great homage was extended to her when she died, and she was

buried with great honor near the grave of the prophet Zechariah.

If so, the words of Rabbi Joseph Falk suggest

that Bailah attained a high level of Torah study,

and in the context of knowledge of the Laws of Niddah

she was equal to the levels of

scholars. Interesting for our purposes was the fact that she was engaged in

discussion with the Torah scholars who frequented her husband's table.

Another woman who merits our interest is Delicia Krausz (1851-1934), daughter

of Rabbi David Ben-Simon (1822-1879), known by his nickname "Tzuf D'Vash."3 This scholar was born in Rabat,

Morocco, and immigrated to Israel

leading a group of rabbis in 1854 or in 1855. He settled in Jerusalem, and became head of the rabbinical

committee of the North African Jews of the city. In 1875, Delicia

married Rabbi Joseph Krausz, Secretary of the Hungarian

kollel in Jerusalem.

She was 3 when she moved to Jerusalem

with her family.

Pinchas Grayevski wrote

the following description of her in the first issue of 'Daughters of Zion and Jerusalem"

(1929):

She

inherited from her father all his noble virtues and character, moreover, in her

youth she acquired Torah and secular knowledge, was well-versed in Talmud and

the commentators and would always engage the scholars who frequented her home

in discussions of Talmudic texts and the weekly parsha.

According to Grayevski,

he acquired this information about her from the writer Abraham Almaliach.

In reference to the two scholarly women, the

following points should be emphasized: From the sources written about them, these

women were self-motivated in acquiring advanced knowledge of Torah compared to

their contemporaries and displayed courage and fortitude to engage in

discussions with the scholars who frequented their homes. On the other hand, it

is essential to remember that no one prevented or

impeded them from conducting a dialogue with males in Torah matters nor to

express Torah thoughts or new ideas in the company of learned men and Torah

scholars.

In an essay entitled  "The Wisdom of Women " written

in the celebration of the fiftieth birthday of Shoshana

Parshitz (November 1942) S.Y. Agnon took comfort in

the fact that halachic works authored by women were

preserved. Nevertheless, he did advance the notion that the onus rests upon

women that no woman has yet produced a complete halachic

work. (4) Chava Shapiro, in a comprehensive essay published

in the journal Hatekufa in 1930 entitled 'The

Image of the Female in our Literature,' placed some of the culpability on the

women themselves for the absence of the female presence in our literature.

Providing a 'voice' for women is connected

somewhat with society providing the appropriate education and training, nevertheless,

at the same time women are obliged to raise their voices, particularly in the

study of Torah, this privilege having been granted and preserved for them, and

this is permitted to them without having to seek an approbation from anyone.

Some people customarily read 'The Song of

Songs' at the conclusion of the seder.

(Others have the custom to read it on Shabbat Chol HaMoed) For our purposes, it seems to me only proper and

appropriate to implement our goal and recite the verse towards the end of  "Song of

Songs " (8,13) 'Thou that dwellest

in the gardens, the companions hearken for thy voice: cause me to hear it.'

1. See  "Must You (a female) Sanctify the

New Moon? " by Y. Levin, Hatzofeh, edition of

November 14, 2008, Section: ' Soferim U Seforim' Pages 60,62-63. My intention is to expand in the

future on this.

2. Concerning this personality in greater detail, see my  "Learned

Women in Jerusalem

", 'Mabuah " 26, (5754) Pages 100-101, 117-118;

 "Let us Sing a Song of Praise to

Women Who Study Torah ", Y. Levin;  "A

Song About Learned Women with Sources ", Mabuah

20 (5769), pages 78-92. I intend to devote a special study to the novellae of Bailah Falk.

3. See P. Grayevski, Daughters

of Zion and Jerusalem (5760) pages 38-39; R. Kerek,

 "Seven Pioneers of Western African

Jews in the New Jerusalem " '-Machaneh Israel ';

R. Tzuf Dvash– 'Tearful

Pioneers-Studies in the Lives of North African Jews' edited by S. Shitrit , Tel Aviv 199, Pages 66-83; M. Ben Yaakov- 'The Aliya and Settlement of North African Jews in Eretz Yisrael During the 19th

century', (submitted for a doctorate from the Hebrew University-5761)

4. S.Y.Agnon  "The Wisdom of

Women ", 'From Myself to Myself', Jerusalem-Tel Aviv 5735, pages 294-298.

Also see Y. Levin-'Orthodox Women as Authors of Prayers for the Community of

Israel', 'To be a Jewish Woman' collection 2, editor

M. Shiloh 5763, pages 413-432

Dr. Yael Levin, edited the recently published collection

of prayers, titled  "Grant

Peace " Prayers for Universal Peace, part of  "An Anthology of Prayers ",

published by Magid (Koren)

in Jerusalem.

 

 

'A

continuous fire shall burn upon the altar; it shall not go

out'

 "Even though fire shall descend from

Heaven, it is a mitzvah to bring it from a layman "

(Yoma

21,b)

 

The fire of the

altar symbolizes the Torah; for the Torah is 'Aishdat',

it illuminates and warms, it purifies and

revives our soul. Also termed 'Ariel' and 'a consuming fire'; like the heroism

of a lion and with power of fire, it will absorb us and all that we possess, 'an

offering by fire' ; as if to say, that we will preserve the 'holy' support it in

our land. That is why we add the fire from the layman to the fire that descends

from Heaven. So that the fire burning on the altar is both from God and from

the nation; God and Israel

present the Torah as fire. The heavenly fire demands in God's name the power of

fire for the Torah and the priests, acting in their role as representatives of

the people contribute the fire of the layman, thus proclaiming the awareness of

the nation of this demand. The constant maintaining of the fire is accomplished

by the placing of two logs, morning and evening,; to instruct us that it is not

sufficient to only once a day to acknowledge that the Torah rules through the

power of fire; but there is a vital need to be constantly aware of this notion

and to renew it through the spirit of Israel.

(R.S.R.Hirsch

Lev.i,7)

 

Only

the Priesthood and the Monarchy are subject to Inheritance; To

Acquire Torah One Must Labor

Only the Priesthood, and the Monarchy are inherited; in order to

acquire Torah one must strive. R: Rabbi

Shimon said, "There are three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of kehunah (priesthood), and the crown of malchus (kingship). But the crown of a good

name is greater than them all." Can one acquire the crown of priesthood? Were

one to off all the silver and gold in the world, one cannot receive the crown

of priesthood, for it is written: (Number

25)  "Wherefore say: Behold, I give unto him My

covenant of peace; and it shall be unto him, and to his seed after him, the

covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was jealous for his God, and

made atonement for the children of Israel. " The crown

of kingship? Were he to offer all the gold and silver in the world, it

would not be granted to him for it is written:  "and David My servant shall be their

prince for ever ". (Ezekiel 37). It is different as regards the attainment of

the crown of Torah; if one labors to acquire Torah, he is allowed to claim the

crown of Torah, as it is written:  "Ho,

every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, (Torah)"

(Isaiah 55)

(Avot D Rabbi Natan Chapt.41, mishna

1)

 

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the

prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day"

(Malachi 3,23-24 From the Haftara of Shabbat HaGadol)

 

Mishna VII.: R. Jehoshua

said: I have it by tradition from R. Johanan b. Zakkai, who heard it in direct line from his teacher, to be

a Halakha from Sinai to Moses that Elijah is not

coming in the future to declare certain families clean or unclean, to separate

or to reconcile them, but to remove those who were reconciled by force, and to

bring together those who were segregated by force. A family of the name Bethz'repha was across the Jordan, excluded by a certain Ben

Zion with the use of force; another family (of impure blood) was in the same

manner accepted by the same Ben Zion. It is to declare cases of this kind clean

or unclean, to remove or to accept that Elijah is coming. R. Jehudah says: Only to accept, but not to remove. R. Simeon

says: His mission is only to settle certain disputes. The sages, however, say: His

advent will have for its purpose not the removing or accepting of the mentioned

cases but the establishing of peace in the world, for it is written (Malachi, iii. 23, 24): "Behold, I send unto you the prophet Elijah… and he shall turn

back the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to

their fathers.

(Eduyot 3,7)

 

One may ask: what is the difference between

the opinion of the Sages and that of the first Tana , whose opinion

overlaps the opinion of the Sages who also say; you bring peace to the world?

Prof. Chanoch Albeck cites the mishna from Eduyot and explains the statement of the Sages with the

addition of a single word  "to bring peace to the entire

world ". In contrast to the Tannaim who

preceded the Sages, and explained Elijah's mission to resolve conflicts between

parents and children and to settle disputes among the scholars, the Sages give

Elijah a more universal mission (ha'olam) by bringing

peace not only to the nation of Israel but to all mankind.

(Talks on Jewish Holidays and Festivals " Y. Leibowitz PP. 64-65)

 

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