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The Birth of a Nation

By Rabbi Joel Schwab, October 2013

I finally understood the Exodus from Egypt the day I heard a woman rabbi explain the entire process as the act of childbirth. The increasing pains of labor ("You must go and get the straw yourselves...."), the breaking of the water ("The waters were split...."), the narrow passage (the root of "Mitzraim" as "tzar"="narrow"), the emergence on the other side and the joy that engendered ("Miriam...took a timbrel...and all the women went out after her in dance...") gave birth to a new nation. The metaphor had such great power because it came from a teacher who had herself given birth. It was then that I knew how important the perspective of women would be for us to truly understand our Torah.

Ordained from JTS in 1976. Rabbi for 31 years at Temple Sinai, Middletown, NY.

 

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