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Five Books Of Miriam: A Woman's Commentary on the Torah
Weaving together Jewish lore, the voices of Jewish foremothers, Yiddish fable, midrash and stories of her own imagining, Ellen Frankel has created in this book a breathtakingly vivid exploration into what the Torah means to women. Here are Miriam, Esther, Dinah, Lilith and many other women of the Torah in dialogue with Jewish daughters, mothers and grandmothers, past and p ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published December 29th 1997 by HarperOne
(first published 1996)
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For thousands of years, the Torah—The Five Books of Moses—has been at the center of Jewish life. It contains our history, our culture, and has been scrutinously studied by learned men since its creation. Hard to believe, but it’s only recently that women have been involved in the study and discussion of Torah. In her stunning book, The Five Books of Miriam, Ellen Frankel finally gives the women of the Torah their due…as they discuss the Five Books of Moses from the women’s perspective in a round ...more
Jul 27, 2010 Korri rated it really liked it
This is a thought-provoking blend of scholarship, folktales, midrash, and opinions in the voices of the women whose stories are told in the Torah. At first I thought the dramatis personae with Lilith, Eve, Rebecca, Sarah et al was gimmicky but I soon realized that it gave a richness to the text. By giving multiple voices with divergent views and humorous remarks, Frankel was making a way for the descendents of these matriarchs to make the Torah their own. Although I didn't agree with all of Fran ...more
Excellent, unique commentary on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Amusing at times, profound at times. A bit weird at times--I don't always agree with the author. But it mingles Rabbinic tradition with current scholarship and puts them in dialogue with popular interpretations and questions.
Jul 27, 2007 Allison Madwatkins rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who wants a differnt view of the bible
It's a very interesting read. It goes through the 5 books using different female figures to comment on the stories. Each section starts with what the traditional (orthodox?) belief is, and then the modern feminist view is, and then there is debates from different female figures. ...more
This was much more engaging than I expected it to be. I was given this as a gift by someone looking for something, I suppose, to give a feminist Jew. I don't know why, but it didn't strike my fancy at first, and I put off reading it. Then, recently, I found myself without reading material and started thumbing through it and then drawn in to it. If one is at all familiar with Talmud and its traditional structure with arguments, different voices, and give and take -- that's what this reminds me of ...more
This book reminds me round-the-kitchen-table discussions among grandmothers, great aunts, mother and aunties, and sisters and cousins. Everyone has a point of view, no two exactly alike, all different in some way from the view of the men -- who are outside, drinking over the raised hood of a car. This is like the hidden heart of the Torah or Old Testament. Yes, there were women even way back then!
I believe this book was quite important when it was originally published in 1996. Since then, so much Jewish feminist scholarship has reached the general public that the book doesn't quite have the same punch. The author cleverly offers multiple voices, but her choice to scatter her insights portion by portion leaves them fragmented and suggestive. ...more
Enlightening. I like the device of using "characters" to answer questions about the first five books of the bible. The answers always correspond to the voice being used: rabbi, mother, teacher, preacher, etc. There is very little narrative. It's all about the answers from a woman's point of view. ...more
Bought this book after my month of Jewish study at BCI and absolutely loved it. Franker summarizes the parshat under "the Torah teaches," and then brings in various perspectives "the rabbis" (aka the old guard), "our daughters," "the sages of our own time," the voices of female biblical women and so many more. I think Frankel did an excellent job of keeping the voices of these biblical women closely related to their texts. I really need to read this book again; I'd particularly love to do so in ...more