The TorahThe Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general. speaks of four Daughters: one possessing wisdom of the heart, one rebellious, one simple and pure, and one who cannot ask questions.
The daughter possessing wisdom of the heart, what does she say? “Father, your decree is harsher than Pharoah’s. The decree of the wicked Pharoah may or may not have been fulfilled, but you who are righteous, your decree surely is realized.” The father heeded his daughter (MiriamMiriam is the sister of Moses and Aaron. As Moses' and Aaron's sister she, according to midrash, prophesies Moses' role and helps secure it by watching over the young baby, seeing to it that Pharaoh's daughter takes him and that the baby is returned to his mother for nursing. During the Israelites' trek through the desert, a magical well given on her behalf travels with the Israelites, providing water, healing, and sustenance.). So we too follow in her steps with drums and dancing, spreading her prophecy amongst the nations.
The rebellious daughter, what does she say? “Recognize” the ways of enslavement and the tyranny of man’s rule over man. Although she rebels against authority it is said: She was more righteous than he, and we enjoy no freedom until we have left our unjust ways.
The simple and pure daughter, what does she say? “Wherever you go, so shall I go, and where you rest your head so there will I rest mine. Your people are mine, and your God my God” (RuthAn important female biblical character with her own book. The Book of Ruth, read on Shavuot, tells the story of Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and their return to Israel. Ruth’s story is often read as the first story of conversion. Ruth is the grandmother of King David., 1:16). We shall indeed fortify her in her loyalty to those she loved, and it was said to her: “May God make the woman who is coming into your house like RachelLavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem. and LeahThe third of the Jewish matriarchs, Lead is the eldest of Lavan's daughters and one of the wives of Jacob. She is the daughter whom Lavan tricks Jacob into marrying instead of his younger daughter Rachel, whom Jacob has requested to marry. Leah is mother to six of the the twelve tribes and to one daughter, Dinah., both of whom built up the House of IsraelLit. ''the one who struggles with God.'' Israel means many things. It is first used with reference to Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel (Genesis 32:29), the one who struggles with God. Jacob's children, the Jewish people, become B'nai Israel, the children of Israel. The name also refers to the land of Israel and the State of Israel..”
And the daughter who cannot ask – only her silent weeping is heard, as it is written, “and she wept for her father and mother.” We will be her mouthpiece and she will be for us a judge. We will return her to her mother’s house and to her who conceived her, and we will proclaim “liberty in the land for all its inhabitants.”
Each of the Four Daughters expresses a unique path from bondage to freedom in a national and human sense. They learn from examining their parents’ lives and from the struggle of their nation, while their parents themselves are exposed to new spiritual layers as a result of their daughter’s education.
Wise of Heart: According to the MidrashA rabbinic method of interpreting text, often through the telling of stories., young Miriam persuaded her father Amram and the other enslaved men of Israel not to separate from their wives despite Pharoah’s decree to destroy all male newborns. When her mother Yocheved gave birth to a boy, the two worked together to save the new son/brother. Miriam recognized the historical significance of this nascent struggle, as she did at the splitting of the Red Sea, and thus led her people to redemption (TalmudThe rabbinic compendium of lore and legend composed between 200 and 500 CE. Study of the Talmud is the focus of rabbinic scholarship. The Talmud has two versions, the main Babylonian version (Bavli) and the smaller Jerusalem version (Yerushalmi). It is written in Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic. Bavli, Sotah 12).
Rebellious: Tamar’s complex relationship with her father-in-law, Judah, son of JacobLit. heel Jacob is the third patriarch, son of Isaac and Rebecca, and father to the twelve tribes of Israel. More than any of the other patriarchs, Jacob wrestles with God and evolves from a deceitful, deal-making young man to a mature, faithful partner to God. His Hebrew name is Yaakov. our forefather, expresses a rebellion whose result was critical to the continuation of the tribe of Judah and the Jewish people. With her deeds, Tamar barricaded herself against her loss of freedom as an imprisoned widow. She eventually achieves the yibum (levirate marriage) to which she is entitled, and becomes the “founding mother” of the Davidic dynasty, symbol of messianic redemption (Tamar, Genesis 38:26).
Simple and Pure: Ruth the Moabitess remained true to her mother-in-law Naomi, and her ingenuous loyalty is absolute. This wonderful emotional closeness that Ruth so adamantly demonstrates rescues both of them from poverty and internal bondage (Ruth 4:11).
The One Who Cannot Ask: This last of the four daughters lacks sufficient freedom to taste even slightly the redemption and thus remains weeping in utter slavery. Although the ‘beautiful captive’ from war is allowed to grieve for her parents before she is taken (Deuteronomy 21:13), she is a reminder of the reality of silenced bondage, which continues to exist in our midst in various ways. The silent weeping that erupts from this dark reality is a call to action for the cause of freedom and liberty of every man and woman (Leviticus 25:10), born in the image of God, in order to live securely in their homes, among their people and loving family (Song of Songs 3:4).
Originally written for the pluralistic haggada Halaila Hazeh, edited by Mishael Zion.