• What women’s rights and attitudes towards women are mentioned in the sources?
  • How do modern sources and interpretations help us frame our perspective on this topic?
  • What role did women play in our Exodus story? What can that teach us about women and leadership and honor?


(טז) אֶֽל־הָאִשָּׁ֣ה אָמַ֗ר הַרְבָּ֤ה אַרְבֶּה֙ עִצְּבוֹנֵ֣ךְ וְהֵֽרֹנֵ֔ךְ בְּעֶ֖צֶב תֵּֽלְדִ֣י בָנִ֑ים וְאֶל־אִישֵׁךְ֙ תְּשׁ֣וּקָתֵ֔ךְ וְה֖וּא יִמְשָׁל־בָּֽךְ׃ (ס)
(16) And to the woman He said, “I will make most severe Your pangs in childbearing; In pain shall you bear children. Yet your urge shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”


  • What are Eve's two punishments after the sin in the Garden of Eden?
  • How do you think this might have historically impacted the role of women in society?
  • What aspects of this are still true in our society today? What aspects have changed?
  • Do you think this should define the role of women in contemporary society?

(י) אֵֽשֶׁת־חַ֭יִל מִ֣י יִמְצָ֑א וְרָחֹ֖ק מִפְּנִינִ֣ים מִכְרָֽהּ... (יג) דָּ֭רְשָׁה צֶ֣מֶר וּפִשְׁתִּ֑ים וַ֝תַּ֗עַשׂ בְּחֵ֣פֶץ כַּפֶּֽיהָ׃ (יד) הָ֭יְתָה כָּאֳנִיּ֣וֹת סוֹחֵ֑ר מִ֝מֶּרְחָ֗ק תָּבִ֥יא לַחְמָֽהּ׃ (טו) וַתָּ֤קָם ׀ בְּע֬וֹד לַ֗יְלָה וַתִּתֵּ֣ן טֶ֣רֶף לְבֵיתָ֑הּ וְ֝חֹ֗ק לְנַעֲרֹתֶֽיהָ׃ (טז) זָמְמָ֣ה שָׂ֭דֶה וַתִּקָּחֵ֑הוּ מִפְּרִ֥י כַ֝פֶּ֗יהָ נטע [נָ֣טְעָה] כָּֽרֶם׃ (יז) חָֽגְרָ֣ה בְע֣וֹז מָתְנֶ֑יהָ וַ֝תְּאַמֵּ֗ץ זְרֹעוֹתֶֽיהָ׃ (יח) טָ֭עֲמָה כִּי־ט֣וֹב סַחְרָ֑הּ לֹֽא־יִכְבֶּ֖ה בליל [בַלַּ֣יְלָה] נֵרָֽהּ... (כד) סָדִ֣ין עָ֭שְׂתָה וַתִּמְכֹּ֑ר וַ֝חֲג֗וֹר נָתְנָ֥ה לַֽכְּנַעֲנִֽי... (כו) פִּ֭יהָ פָּתְחָ֣ה בְחָכְמָ֑ה וְתֽוֹרַת־חֶ֝֗סֶד עַל־לְשׁוֹנָֽהּ׃ (כז) צ֭וֹפִיָּה הֲלִיכ֣וֹת בֵּיתָ֑הּ וְלֶ֥חֶם עַ֝צְל֗וּת לֹ֣א תֹאכֵֽל... (ל) שֶׁ֣קֶר הַ֭חֵן וְהֶ֣בֶל הַיֹּ֑פִי אִשָּׁ֥ה יִרְאַת־ה' הִ֣יא תִתְהַלָּֽל׃ (לא) תְּנוּ־לָ֭הּ מִפְּרִ֣י יָדֶ֑יהָ וִֽיהַלְל֖וּהָ בַשְּׁעָרִ֣ים מַעֲשֶֽׂיהָ׃

(10) What a rare find is a capable wife! Her worth is far beyond that of rubies...(13) She looks for wool and flax, And sets her hand to them with a will. (14) She is like a merchant fleet, Bringing her food from afar. (15) She rises while it is still night, And supplies provisions for her household, The daily fare of her maids. (16) She sets her mind on an estate and acquires it; She plants a vineyard by her own labors. (17) She girds herself with strength, And performs her tasks with vigor. (18) She sees that her business thrives; Her lamp never goes out at night... (24) She makes cloth and sells it, And offers a girdle to the merchant... (26) Her mouth is full of wisdom, Her tongue with kindly teaching. (27) She oversees the activities of her household And never eats the bread of idleness... (30) Grace is deceptive, Beauty is illusory; It is for her fear of the LORD That a woman is to be praised. (31) Extol her for the fruit of her hand, And let her works praise her in the gates.


  • What type of relationship does this woman have with religion? With commerce and her community? With her husband/family?
  • Does this description of the 'woman of valor' surprise you to find in a biblical text?
  • What aspects of this description resonate with you? Are there aspects that do not fit our modern society?

The Society for Humanistic Judaism statement condemning gender discrimination - August 22, 2013

As Humanistic Jews, we understand that gender equality is not only a human rights issue, but also an issue of justice, safety, peace, security, and economic advancement in all nations around the world. Women all over the world should have the same rights and privileges as men, including legal protections, roles in decision-making, access to healthcare, equal pay, educational opportunities, and career choices.

דרש רב עוירא בשכר נשים צדקניות שהיו באותו הדור נגאלו ישראל ממצרים בשעה שהולכות לשאוב מים הקב"ה מזמן להם דגים קטנים בכדיהן ושואבות מחצה מים ומחצה דגים ובאות ושופתות שתי קדירות אחת של חמין ואחת של דגים
§ Rav Avira taught: In the merit of the righteous women that were in that generation, the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt. He tells of their righteous actions: At the time when these women would go to the river to draw water, the Holy One, Blessed be He, would materialize for them small fish that would enter into their pitchers, and they would therefore draw pitchers that were half filled with water and half filled with fish. And they would then come and place two pots on the fire, one pot of hot water for washing their husbands and one pot of fish with which to feed them.

מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה

עֹז וְזִמְרָה בְּיָדָהּ

(2x) מִרְיָם, תִּרְקֹד אִתָּנוּ

לְהַגְדִּיל זִמְרַת עוֹלָם.

מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה

עֹז וְזִמְרָה בְּיָדָהּ

(2x) מִרְיָם, תִּרְקֹד אִתָּנוּ

לְתַקֵּן אֵת הָעוֹלָם.

בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵינוּ

הִיא תְּבִיאֶנּוּ

(2x) אֶל מֵי הַיְשׁוּעָה

Miriam Ha-N'viah, by Rabbi Leila Gal Berner (sung to the tune of Eliyahu HaNavi)

Miriam the prophet,

strength and song in her hand,

(2x) Miriam, dance with us

in order to increase the song of the world.

Miriam the prophet,

strength and song in her hand

(2x) Miriam dance with us in order to repair the world.


she will bring us

(2x) to the waters of redemption


Lilith Magazine Mission Statement

Independent, Jewish & frankly feminist since 1976, Lilith magazine charts Jewish women’s lives with exuberance, rigor, affection, subversion and style. Lilith’s mission is to be the feminist change-agent in and for the Jewish community, amplifying Jewish women’s voices, creating a woman-positive Judaism, spurring gender consciousness in the Jewish world and empowering Jewish women and girls to envision and enact change in their own lives and their communities.

A Feminist View of the Lulav, Rabbi Elyse Goldstein


The four species of the lulav likened to the four species of women: the palm, or spine, as the strong feminists; the willow, or mouth, as the women who speak up for the Jewish community; the myrtle, as the women who watch and wait and rein back the over-eager impetuous ones; the etrog, or heart, as the women who feel deeply and cry out for justice. “In order for our feminist community to be kosher,” she said, “we need to include and embrace all four.”