Of Four Daughters - A Feminist Midrash

We discuss the four sons when sitting around the seder table. Dr. Einat Ramon is presenting a feminist version discussing the four daughters. 

by Einat Ramon

The Torah speaks of four daughters:

One possessing wisdom of the heart, one rebellious, one naïve and one who cannot ask questions.

Miriam, the daughter possessing wisdom of the heart

What does she say?

“Father, your decree is harsher than Pharaoh’s [...] The decree of the wicked Pharaoh may or may not be fulfilled, but your decree will certainly be fulfilled.” Miriam’s father heeded his daughter. So we will follow in her footsteps with drums and dancing, spreading her prophecy among the nations.

Tamar the rebellious daughter

What does she say?

“Father-in-law,” said Tamar, “‘recognize’ the tyranny of man’s rule over women and the hypocrisy of double standards. She rebelled against authority and Judah admitted: “She is more righteous than I.” So we can enjoy no freedom until we have challenged unjust ways (Gen. 38:25).

Ruth the simple and pure daughter

What does she say?

“Wherever you go I shall go, and wherever you rest your head, there I will rest mine. Your people are mine and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). So we must demonstrate simple and ingenuous loyalty. We too shall be strengthen by her devotion to those her soul clung to, and say to her: “May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel” (Ruth 4:11).

The beautiful captive, the daughter who cannot ask

Who will speak for her?

Only her silent weeping is heard, as it says, “She wept for her father and mother” (Deuteronomy 21:13). So we will be her mouthpiece and she will be our judge. We will return her to her mother’s house and “proclaim liberty in the land for all its [enslaved] inhabitants” (Leviticus 25:10). 

 

A Night To Remember: The Haggadah of Contemporary Voices by Mishael Zion and Noam Zion, Jerusalem, 2004.

The Midrash comes from the book Dirshuni – Israeli Women Writing Midrash, edited by Nechama Weingarten-Mintz and Tamar Biala, Yediot Sefarim, 2009 

 


 

Footnotes:

Father, your decree is harsher – Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 12a: He heeded his daughter. A sage taught: Amram was the greatest man of his generation; when he saw that the wicked Pharaoh had decreed ‘Every son that is born shall you cast into the river,’ he said: In vain do we labor. He arose and divorced his wife. All [the Israelites] thereupon arose and divorced their wives. His daughter said to him, ‘Father, your decree is more severe than Pharaoh's; because Pharaoh decreed only against the males whereas you have decreed against the males and females. She is more righteous than I– According to Genesis 36:26.