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The Bold and the Beautiful: A Study of Women in Tanach

The Bold and the Beautiful: A Study of Women in Tanach
NEXT CLASS
The Bold and the Beautiful: A Study of Women in Tanach
Wednesday October 25, 2017
9:00PM
The class will begin in:
5 days, 14 hours, 57 minutes
Instructor: Mrs. Sarah Rudolph
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The Bold and the Beautiful: A Study of Women in Tanach


Wednesday 9:00PM
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Course Description

Did Sarah share her husband’s devotion to God, or was she just a secondary figure along for the ride? What motivated Esther to finally take charge and save the day in Shushan? What do traditional rabbinic scholars think of surprising heroines such as Rachav, Devorah, Yael, and others?

In this course we will engage in close study of the Bible’s accounts of these and other women, developing our own insights while examining the insights of a range of classical commentaries spanning the full history of Jewish Bible study and interpretation. Some of these women are famous; some less so. Some are heroic; some perhaps not so heroic. Some are beautiful; all are bold, often taking action in unexpected ways. Together, we will develop our appreciation of the depth and complexity of these women and their contributions.


About Mrs. Sarah Rudolph
Sarah Rudolph is a Jewish educator and freelance writer. She has been sharing her passion for Jewish texts of all kinds for over 15 years, with students of all ages. Sarah's essays have been published in a variety of internet and print media, including Times of Israel, Kveller, Jewish Action, and more. Sarah lives in Cleveland with her husband and four children, but is privileged to learn with students all over the world.


Class Resources & Information

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PREVIOUS CLASSESCLASS DESCRIPTIONHANDOUTSARCHIVES
June 7, 2017 9:00PM - 10:00PM
Rachav the Zonah

In our first session, we will examine the story of Rachav, the "bold and beautiful" woman in Jericho who saved the lives of two Jewish spies and was saved in return, along with her family, when the Jews captured her city. What sort of woman was Rachav, and what motivated her good deed? Are there broader lessons to derive from the story of this unlikely heroine? 

 
pdfRachav - handout.pdf
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June 14, 2017 9:00PM - 10:00PM
The Bold and the Beautiful: A Study of Women in Tanach

In our second session, we will move from the relatively obscure Rachav to the much more well-known Sarah, the first of the Matriarchs. We will examine the text at the beginning of her story, utilizing midrashic traditions and selected commentaries to add insight between the lines and discover clues to Sarah's personality and relationships - her relationship to G-d, her relationship to her husband, and permeating it all, her relationship to the mission G-d entrusted to her husband. 

 
pdfSarah - handout 1.pdf
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June 21, 2017 9:00PM - 10:00PM
The Bold and the Beautiful: A Study of Women in Tanach

In this session we will continue our discussion of Sarah, with a focus on her husband's marriage to Hagar, her maidservant, and the aftermath of that marriage. We will also take a careful look at the delivery of the news that Sarah herself will have a child. 

 
pdfSarah - handout 2.pdf
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June 28, 2017 9:00PM - 10:00PM
The Bold and the Beautiful: A Study of Women in Tanach

Having backtracked from Rachav (in the time of Joshua) to Sarah, we will now jump way ahead in time to Devorah, the prophetess and judge. What sort of person was she, and what sort of leader? What can her interactions with Barak tell us about their relationship and about her, and what does she herself have to say about her leadership? 

From Devorah, we will segue to talk about Yael, of tent-peg-wielding fame, next week. Our discussions of both of these women will consider not only their personal character traits and stories, but how they may relate to a broader conception of "women in tents" as introduced through our study of Sarah. 

 
pdfDevorah - handout.pdf
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July 5, 2017 9:00PM - 10:00PM
The Bold and the Beautiful: A Study of Women in Tanach

After examining Devorah's unique personality and qualifications that led to her becoming a respected religious leader, it still remains for us to consider the details of how she describes herself in that role. We will then move on to the story within the story: the account of how a woman named Yael saved the day by driving a tent peg through the skull of the enemy general. What led Yael to take this step? What does her approach tell us about her, and what might others' portrayals of her suggest about women in general? 

 
pdfYael - handout.pdf
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July 12, 2017 9:00PM - 10:00PM
The Bold and the Beautiful: A Study of Women in Tanach

Having analyzed the details of Yael's story last week, we will complete our discussion of her character by considering how her behavior relates to the "women in tents" motif. We will then move on to look at Esther, who acted (or didn't) in a much larger "tent": the palace of King Achashverosh. What can we uncover about Esther's personality, at various points in the story? How, when, and why did she change?

 
pdfEsther - handout.pdf
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July 19, 2017 9:00PM - 10:00PM
The Bold and the Beautiful: A Study of Women in Tanach

We began our study of Esther last week by talking about Vashti, noting two major qualities of hers that stand out in Rabbinic portrayals of her character: (1) antagonism to Jewish observance, and (2) promiscuity. In contrast, Esther is viewed as (1) devoted to observance, even as she hid her Jewish identity, and (2) modesty.

However, our study of the verses - and even careful attention to the Rabbinic interpretations - led to the conclusion the text itself tells us little about her character and even midrashic descriptions tend to the vague; mostly, we hear about her in terms of others, as she "does whatever Mordechai says" and passively accepts whatever is given to her at the harem.

It remains for us to examine the Rabbinic basis for describing Esther as modest, and to see how this passive modesty evolves as the story continues. By the end, we will meet a new Esther, who is anything but passive!

Time-permitting, we may have a word to say about Batsheva as well, by request, before moving on to Ruth in our final session together. 

 
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July 26, 2017 9:00PM - 10:00PM
The Bold and the Beautiful: A Study of Women in Tanach

Last week, we saw how Esther flips 180 degrees: where she once showed a childlike obedience to Mordechai, she suddenly grows up and into her role as a bold (and maybe beautiful) woman. Esther takes charge of the crisis, including giving instructions to Mordechai, and succeeds in defeating Haman.

This week, we will complete our study of Esther with one fnal source that emphasizes just how far she has come, and then move on to Ruth.

Through a careful study of the text of Megillat Rut, we will consider whether she deserves her reputation as a strong, dedicated convert - or whether, perhaps, she actually deserves a vastly different (but no less positive) reputation. 

 
pdfRut - handout.pdf
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NEXT CLASSCLASS DESCRIPTIONHANDOUTSARCHIVES
October 25, 2017 9:00PM - 10:00PM
The Bold and the Beautiful: A Study of Women in Tanach
 
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UPCOMING CLASSESCLASS DESCRIPTIONHANDOUTSARCHIVES
November 1, 2017 8:00PM - 9:00PM
The Bold and the Beautiful: A Study of Women in Tanach
 
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November 8, 2017 9:00PM - 10:00PM
The Bold and the Beautiful: A Study of Women in Tanach
 
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November 15, 2017 9:00PM - 10:00PM
The Bold and the Beautiful: A Study of Women in Tanach
 
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