The daughter in search of a usable past. Ma hi omeret? What does she say?
“Why didn’t 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. count women among the ‘600,000 men on foot, aside from children,’ who came out of Egypt? And why did MosesThe quintessential Jewish leader who spoke face to face with God, unlike any other prophet, and who freed the people from Egypt, led them through the desert for forty years, and received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. His Hebrew name is Moshe. say at SinaiAccording to the Torah, God, in the presence of the Jewish people, gave Moses the Torah on Mount Sinai (Har Sinai)., ‘Go not near a woman,’ addressing only men, as if preparation for Revelation was not meant for us, as well?”
Because she already understands that Jewish memory is essential to our identity, teach her that history is made by those who tell the tale. If Torah did not name and number women, it is up to her to fill the empty spaces of our holy texts.
And the daughter who wants to erase her difference. Ma hi omeret? What does she say?
“Why must you keep pushing your women’s questions into every text? And why are these women’s issues so important to you?”
“To you,” and “not to me.” Since she so easily forgets the struggles of her mothers and sisters, you must tell her the story of your own journey to the sederLit. Order. The festive meal conducted on Passover night, in a specific order with specific rituals to symbolize aspects of the Exodus from Egypt. It is conducted following the haggadah, a book for this purpose. The mystics of Sefat also created a seder for Tu B'shvat, the new year of the trees. table and invite her to join you in thanking God for the blessing of being a Jewish woman.
And the daughter who does not know that she has a place at the table. Ma hi omeret? What does she say?
“What is this?”
Because she doesn’t realize that her question is, in itself, a part of the seder tradition, teach her that the haggadahLit. "Telling.” The haggadah is the book used at the seder table on Passover to tell the story of the Exodus, the central commandment of the holiday. It is rich in song, prayer, and legend. There are many different version of the Haggadah produced throughout Jewish history. is an extended conversation about liberation, and tell her that her insights and questions are also text.
And the daughter who asks no questions?
You must say to her, “Your questions, when they come, will liberate you from Egypt. This is how it is and has always been with your mothers and grandmothers. From the moment Yocheved, 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., and the midwives questioned Pharaoh’s edict until today, every question we ask helps us leave Egypt farther behind.”
The Journey Continues: The Ma’yan Haggadah can be purchased for $12 + $4 s/h by emailing Ma’yan, email@example.com.
Excerpted from The Journey Continues: The Ma’yan Haggadah (Ma’yan, 2000).