Otzar HaMidrashim Alpha Beta of Ben Sira
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אוצר חמדרשים אלפא ביתא דבן סירא
אמרה היא איני שוכבת למטה, והוא אומר איני שוכב למטה אלא למעלה שאת ראויה למטה ואני למעלה, אמרה לו שנינו שוין לפי ששנינו מאדמה, ולא היו שומעין זה לזה, כיון שראתה לילית אמרה שם המפורש ופרחה באויר העולם
Lilith said, “I am not lying on the bottom!” And Adam said, “I am not lying on the bottom, but on the top, for it is appropriate for you to be below and me above!” She said to him, “We are equal since we were both created from the earth!” And they wouldn’t listen to each other. Since she saw [this], she spoke the holy name and flew away into the sky. [Translation by Rabbi Steve Greenberg]
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Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. Bottom and top are already demarcated positions that appear in the discourse to have intrinsic value. Can you suggest why this might be so?

2. The language of equality is used here in a fashion that sounds quite contemporary. What is Lilith's argument of equality? Does Adam have a counter-argument?

3. What other arguments from the text might she have given for equality? Why might our author not suggest them as well?

4. Depending on one's view, this story could be a cautionary tale against the bold women wanting equality or a subtle critique of the male demand for domination. How do you read it?

5. It appears that power and sexuality are not easily separated from one another. What does the text suggest are the consequences of gender equality for the bedroom? What do you think?

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Time Period: Rabbinic (Maccabees through the Talmud)