Torah Thoughts for Today
Monday, January 19, 2004
#13: Birth of a Nation: The Power of Female Intuition
Birth of a Nation: The Power of Female Intuition

(Commencing the Book of Exodus. Related to the weekly Torah portion of Shemot- Exodus, Chapter 1 – Chapter 6, verse 1. English text and commentary at
Dedicated to my parents.)

How does a woman know that her judgments about a man she admires or hates are “true” or “false”? She is endowed with what is commonly referred to as “female (feminine), intuition” in which her decision-making is rooted.

According to the stereotypes, men are more rational and action oriented, whereas women are more emotional and moved by feelings. This may or may not be completely valid, but one thing almost everyone agrees on is that women have an internal mechanism that goes way beyond reason and emotion, and it’s given the name “intuition”, and so it is known as “female, or feminine, intuition”, something so unique to females that often when a guy is sure of a hunch, he may be teased or accused of being in touch with his “feminine side” for his display of “female” intuition. The dark side of this however, is when mostly female “psychics” use their over-endowed talents to prey on peoples’ feelings of insecurity and use it for financial gain. This is a sad corruption of a precious, mostly female, gift.

In Genesis’ opening scenes we are presented with the greatest failure of female “insights” ever, when Eve “presumes” to know more about what God wants than what He SPECIFICALLY forbids. God had said do not EAT from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but Eve added, DO NOT TOUCH to His command, (see Genesis, Chapter 3). So when she touched it and nothing happened, she figured it was okay to eat, with deadly curses coming from that action. She had bad “legal advice” that we know, her lawyer was a snake! Was she a “psychic” to read God’s mind and come up with “helpful” advice? Who knows, but this is an area strewn with dangerous devastating spiritual mines that takes a special measure of “MAZEL” – FORTUNE to succeed! Consequences, consequences, consequences! But it subsequently becomes the job of other women to prove that female intuition can be used in positive ways. Sarah implores her husband Abraham to expel Ishmael and Hagar into the desert, Rebecca devises a plot of subterfuge to get Isaac’s blessings for Jacob and outwit Esau, Rachel, in defiance of her father and against the wishes of Jacob, allows her sister Leah to enter her own bridal chamber on her wedding night and switch places with her as Jacob’s wife, and Tamar sneaks out and surreptitiously seduces her father-in-law Judah to have his baby.

In this week’s Torah portion we see dazzling illustrations of the POWER OF FEMININE INTUITION and consequent LEADERSHIP focused on the descriptions and explanations of the actions by the four most important women in Moses’ life. His mother Yocheved, his sister Miriam, his stepmother known as the “Daughter of Pharaoh” and as a reward is renamed “Batya” - “Daughter of (the Jewish) God” as explained in the Oral teachings, and his wife Tzipporah. They all serve as shining examples of the awesome and marvelous consequences that resulted from their influence on and treatment of Moses, starting from before conception, childhood, maturing into manhood, and then becoming the paramount leader and lawgiver of the Children of Israel-The Jewish People.

All of this fits into a wider pattern which we will now see unfold throughout the rest of the Torah (“The Five Books of Moses”) whereby the “narrative” will move from Moses as an individual and then to the subject of the Nation of Israel – “Am Yisrael” as a whole, almost like a camera which swings its focus from the central primary “actors” and then displays scenes of the wider surrounding group, community, or nation. Thus what is true of the personal world, the “microcosm”, of Moses’ family history and life, is also reflected in the “macrocosm”, the nation he leads. Thus the future leader and his flock undergo parallel processes in their origins, growth, formation, and finally the sharing of a united destiny and mission as God’s chosen Leader and becoming a Torah Nation.

The Book of Exodus opens with a new regime taking power in ancient Egypt over 3,300 years ago and because the descendants of Jacob, his literal CHILDREN of Israel (Jacob was renamed Israel), began to experience tremendous growth in numbers, it made the “powers that be” very nervous that the Hebrews (the “Jews”) would “take over” and would even side with the country’s enemies. (See Pharaoh’s arguments in Exodus, Chapter 1). Quirkily the epitome of all Anti-Semitic canards till the present time: That the
Jews are incapable of being loyal to their “host” countries and that they will side with the “enemies of the kingdom/state” seeking its downfall.

Sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it?! But it is EXACTLY what Pharaoh and his “high-level” advisers feared most. The black lies of the 20th century’s “bible of hate” originally written by the Czarist secret police, “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”, also named as “World Conquest Through World Jewish Government” (see the Anti-Semitic pathetic site from “Bible believers” yet, at http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/przion1.htm) that millions of people take as “fact”, completely ignores the JEWISH contributions to civilization, starting with the BIBLE itself! Hitler’s notorious “Mein Kampf” (“My struggle”), which virulently voices views that Jews plotted the destruction of Germany, presaged the bitter Holocaust of 1939-1945 that saw the modern-day enslavement and genocide of more than six million Jews, despite all the contributions of German Jews to its national survival, sciences and culture over the more than 2,000 years that Jews lived in the lands that became known as “Germany”, called “Ashkenaz” in Hebrew (see Genesis, Chapter 10, verse 3), and the Jews as “Ashknazim”.

Similarly, the new Pharaoh of Exodus, forgets about the fact that it was one of the Hebrews, Joseph, who had saved their necks from extinction through starvation just as so many empires throughout history would suddenly submit to “selective national amnesia” and try to eliminate the Jews and in the process shoot themselves in their own “national foot”, unleashing war and genocide that would boomerang and destroy them too! With their Anti-Semitism: Pharaoh destroyed himself and Egypt; The Czar destroyed himself and old Russia; Hitler destroyed himself and his German Reich; Saddam destroyed himself and Iraq; and Arafat self-destructs and ruins his people rather than live in peace with the Jews. So much for the stupidity of Anti-Semitism!

So the Book of Exodus tells us how Pharaoh and his cohorts devise a nefarious plot to first enslave the Hebrews, and then seeing that this didn’t stop the rapid population growth of the afflicted slaves, they devised (no, not exiles, inquisitions, crusades, pogroms, gulags, gas-chambers, suicide-bombers, assimilation, or apostasy, which came later in history) but BABY-KILLING, infanticide, to be surreptitiously carried out by the Hebrew midwives on pain of death, and relying on astrological predictions that a Jewish redeemer was being born and that his “demise” would come about by water, they decreed that all boys, Jewish as well as Egyptian should be drowned in the Nile! Little realizing the genuine ambiguity of the astrologers’ predictions because indeed Moses would suffer his greatest setback when in anger he hit a rock when the children of Israel begged him for water (see Numbers, Chapter 20), and because of his public display of anger he was banned by God from entering the Land of Israel, his own “WATERloo” (a good historical pun, I think!) Ironically, the pride of Egypt’s army, its massed chariots, would be overthrown and drowned in the Red Sea, its own very real “WATERloo” when attacking the Children of Israel as they crossed over during the Exodus, so why couldn’t the astrologers have looked into that disaster-in waiting? So much for astrology’s powers, because it’s always being diluted and fuzzed by ambiguity and equivocation.

It is now, at the very beginning of the Book of Exodus, that the BIRTH/CREATION/RISE of both MOSES and THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL are placed before us as the “preamble” to everything else that follows.

The women in Moses’ life who fight for his right to exist and continue living are IN HARMONY with all the other women of the Children of Israel who defy their Egyptian taskmasters and their frightening laws (whether subtle or brutal) against childbirth, children’s rights to exist, and attempts at destroying family life by subjecting the men to SLAVERY and hoping that the women would thus become “unattached” from their men and removed from the institution of having babies, (does this eerily sound like “modern” contemporary industrial and corporate “culture” too? Maybe it’s time to exit “Corporate ‘Egyptian’ Slavery” even if the stakes are high?! All those “biological clocks” ticking and wasting away, are thundering in the distance!) Why want only the boys drowned? The Torah Oral teachings say that the Egyptians, who were steeped in sexual licentiousness, had plans for the surviving baby girls to place them in their “harems” as sex slaves. It seems this is all related to the “world’s oldest profession” which depends on “trafficking in women”, a modern day international crime that tragically still plagues humanity.

So then in the face of all the pressures against them, what motivated those Hebrew women to “stick with the program” of Creation and Genesis and follow God’s command to be “Fruitful and Multiply”?
Did God have to “come down from heaven” and tell each lady what her role in Moses’ and the Hebrews’ birth should or should not be?
Did God have to tell them how many babies they should have and where and how to have them?
Why do the women in the Torah stand out, albeit briefly, and why are the men, supposedly the “main players” in any action packed situation, COMPLETELY influenced and guided by nothing less than FEMALE “POWER” when the women appear on center stage, as illustrated by the women in Moses’ life?
What is the Torah trying to teach us for eternity, as tools for practical living, and about personal as well as public leadership?

The key to understanding these women, probably all women, is that they DO NOT NEED COMMANDS FROM GOD TO DO THINGS. Classical Judaism teaches that women are endowed with a NATURAL LINK TO, AND UNDERSTANDING OF, WHAT GOD WANTS THEM TO DO AND WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. That is most probably why in classical Judaism women are “exempt” from many of the positive commandments - “MITZVOT ASEH” that don’t infringe on other serious commandments, that men are obligated to observe.

Take this for a start, such as in “Judaism 101” from the Web: “Women are exempted from all positive commandments (the ‘thou shalts’ as opposed to the ‘thou shalt nots’) that are time-related (that is, commandments that must be performed at a specific time of the day or year), because the woman's duties as wife and mother are so important that they cannot be postponed to fulfill a commandment. After all, a woman cannot be expected to just drop a crying baby when the time comes to perform a commandment.”
“It is this exemption from certain commandments that has led to the greatest misunderstanding of the role of women in Judaism. First, many people make the mistake of thinking that this exemption is a prohibition. On the contrary, although women are not obligated to perform time-based positive commandments, they are generally permitted to observe such commandments if they choose.” [1]

It actually goes far, far deeper than all of this. It’s not just that women are doomed to be “harried housewives” serving their husbands, or “nannies” to their own children, that exempts them from observing positive commandments that men MUST observe. It is connected to something far deeper. The Jewish sages declare that WOMEN HAVE “EXTRA UNDERSTANDING” – “BINA YETEIRAH”. “BINAH” comes from the root “BIN” and from the word “havanah” which is the Hebrew word for “UNDERSTANDING”.

To understand someone or something that goes beyond superficial external “takes” on a situation requires INSIGHT, EMPATHY, and WISDOM which do not come easily or naturally to most people, yet women are somehow enabled to do just that, even much, much, more than that. Very profoundly the word “BINAH” is also directly connected to the Hebrew word for BUILD – “BONEH” since that word is used when God “BUILT”- “VAYIVEN”, Eve from Adam’s ribs (see Genesis, Chapter 2, verse 22). A BUILDING is a “BINYAN” and in Judaism, the institution of marriage is metaphorically referred to as a “BINYAN ADEI AD” – AN ETERNAL BUILDING (HOUSE/HOME/SANCTUARY).

Interestingly, in Hebrew a girl or daughter is a “BAT”. A HOUSE or HOME is known as a “BAYIT”. It is the female “BAT” (DAUGHTER) who is the primary BUILDER of the HOME – “BAYIT”. The People of Israel are also called the HOUSE of Israel – “BEIT”, “BETH” in English, ISRAEL. Thus each female “BAT” (DAUGHTER) is the ACTUAL BUILDER based on UNDERSTANDING (“BINAH”) that builds the total “BETH ISRAEL” – HOUSE OF ISRAEL. It is therefore very beautiful and logical that when Moses’ parents, Amram and Yocheved decide to MARRY the Torah says that it was: “A man of the HOUSE of (“MIBEIT”) Levi went to marry a DAUGHTER – “BAT” of Levi” (Exodus, Chapter 2, verse 1). In Jewish thought, the DYNASTIES of the Children of Israel are even called “BATIM”, also built on the root “BAT” – “DAUGHTER”.

Furthermore it is related to the root word for SON or CHILD which in Hebrew is a “BEN” and “BANIM” are sons. Daughters are called “BANOT” (FEMININE FORM) from the same root. Thus so to speak, with her “BINAH”- INTUITION she chooses her man and their path in life, and she is able to BUILD (as in “VAYIVEN” when God “BUILT” her), a home and nation, by giving birth to SONS – “BANIM” and DAUGHTERS - “BANOT” the building blocks of humanity and actualization of God’s plans to PEOPLE His planet.

This concept is analyzed and explored in different ways in Judaism. For example in “Insights to Nidah p.45 (Talmudic Tractate) THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE AGES OF MALE AND FEMALE PUBERTY (OPINIONS): The Gemara (Talmud) asks, why it is that a girl reaches Halachic (legal) maturity sooner than a boy? The Gemara (Talmud) explains that ‘Binah Yeteirah Nitnah l'Nashim (‘Extra Understanding is Given to Women). The TOSFOT ha'ROSH (a Talmudic commentator from the Middle Ages) explains this to mean that women are given ‘Binah’ (understanding) earlier than men -- i.e., their mental capacity develops at a younger age.” [2]

This is not a question of “superiority” or “inferiority” of women versus men or vice versa. There is debate between contemporary scholars who are wary of creating a “cult of womanhood”. That is not the point of the Torah or Judaism.

God created BOTH men and women, Adam and Eve, male and female in the Divine Image: “God said, ‘Let us make “ADAM” (it’s not specified if its “male” or “female”, just an “ADAM”, meaning “ONE FROM THE EARTH”, an “EARTHLING”) with our image and likeness…’ God thus created man with His image. In the image of God, he created him, MALE AND FEMALE He created THEM (at this point GENDER is introduced!). God blessed THEM. God said to THEM, “BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY (Be Fertile and Become Many). Fill the land and conquer it…’ God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was VERY GOOD. It was evening and it was morning, the sixth day.” (Genesis, Chapter 1, vs. 26 – 31). [3]

In Jewish mysticism God’s greatest UNITY is manifested when both “FEMININE” and “MASCULINE” Divine attributes (“midot”) are solidly combined. This is why Judaism stresses that the UNITY of husband and wife through marriage reflects the Divine unity of two dimensions that we here on Earth call “Female” and “Male” but its true absolute essence is a deeply hidden mystery rooted in and locked away in the vaults of God’s stores of Divine Wisdom. However, what we are doing is FOCUSING on a special trait that Judaism definitively states women have more than men, and that is “BINAH YETEIRAH” – “EXTRA UNDERSTANDING” which is in all probability the SOURCE for understanding the SOURCE, NATURE and FUNCTION of FEMALE INTUITION.

The Oxford dictionary defines “intuit” (from the Latin to “see”, “consider” or “look”) as meaning to “receive KNOWLEDGE by direct perception”; and “intuition” as “immediate apprehension” by the mind, or by sense, without reasoning. There is even “intuitionalism” which is a “doctrine that the perception of TRUTH is by intuition”; and “intuitionism” is a “doctrine that in perception external objects are KNOWN IMMEDIATELY by intuition”, going so far as to even claim that “intuitivism” is a “doctrine that ETHICAL PRINCIPLES are matters of intuition.” [4]

A word search on Google on the Internet of “intuition definition” at http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=intuition+definition+&btnG=Google+Search reveals the vast scope and application of INTUITION.

I came across a fascinating article on “INTUITIVE LEADERSHIP” by an established professor of business from the University of Texas, Brian K. Yeoman at http://www.uth.tmc.edu/ut_general/admin_fin/ss/FPD/publications/intlead.htm) which is worth summarizing:

He points out that: “Intuitive leadership is an amalgam of the three: character, competence, and intuition…Intuitive leadership takes knowledge, character, competence, and wisdom; and demands that we ask the question, ‘Is this the right thing to do?’ That should be our governing question whenever we are dealing with intuition. Remember, intuition is not luck, it's not whimsy. It has a very solid foundation because it's built first upon character and then upon towering competence…If we're going to try to draw out our intuitive self, we need to begin by finding it…”

“…More about men, women, and intuition: Most men think they have no intuition. Worse, they think there's something wrong with it. They treat it like some sort of witchcraft. But, in fact, it isn't that at all. Men have learned to subordinate intuition to rationality in an effort to maintain control…From the earliest encounters, which were largely predominated by the males' superior physical presence…Women had to figure out how to achieve their ends with different means. For millennia, they have very successfully learned to listen to their inner voices. Their inner voice allows them to read body language, for example.”

“Most of us guys say, ‘I never saw that. I never realized it was a problem.’ One of the reasons is that when our inner voice tries to talk to us, we interrupt, ‘Wait a second! Wrong thought, wrong thought!’ And so we ignore it…Another thing women are particularly good at is trusting their senses. Their ability to learn by touching and hearing is so well developed because they've had to adapt to an environment which has generally disregarded their opinions. So, they had to learn to read catch phrases, intonation, stress on a syllable, to figure out what was going on. They can read more in a single conversation with us about our sincerity, commitment, desire, and willingness, than we can believe. We usually don't even know what we've said. But they know what we mean! We sometimes create tremendous problems for ourselves by failing to recognize this...”

“…There are certain males who understand what intuition is and they use it. The film industry is a Mecca for those men. You can't make a good movie if you can't be in touch with your intuition. The director, Sidney Pollack says, ‘Intuitive leadership is free association. It's the ability to be in touch. It's where you get ideas. And it is the ability to trust the ideas once you have them, even though they may break some rules. And it's the competence to trust those ideas once you've identified them. Then, you cannot be afraid to fail’…My last example is something from the past. The Table of the Elements was an act of intuition by a Russian scientist, whose name was deMedvid, and who did his work in Paris. He guessed, in 1820, what all of the elements would be. He had no more idea than the man in the moon what they really were because many of them weren't discovered yet, but he guessed them by listening to his intuition.”

“Remember: It's not what happens to you, but what you make of what happens to you. That's intuitive leadership! What I ask you to do is listen to your intuition. Do the right thing.” [5]

With some reservations, overlooking the attribution of intuition to mere female “weaknesses” or from their position in society, it would be fair to say that the women who guided and aided Moses destiny evinced the capacities enumerated above. Their wise decisions and choices molded and ensured Moses as THE key future leader of his people. Moses, the one whose destiny was so much determined by the key women in his life would be the ONLY person to have the supreme honor and privilege of speaking with God “Mouth to Mouth” – “PEH EL PEH”, (as shown in Exodus, Chapter 33). Perhaps the fact that Moses was the product of such sublime enormously intuitive good women, givers and guiders of Torah life, that he was well prepared for supreme encounters with the ultimate source of life itself, God Himself.

From strictly Judaic sources comes the following, with some DEBATE as to the EXACT definitions of “BINAH YETEIRAH”, some claiming it as a higher “spiritual” level for women, and others maintaining it’s about something more PRACTICAL:
“… ‘Binah yeteirah nitnah lahen’ {Greater ‘understanding’ was given to them, (women)} vs. ‘da'atan qalos’ (“Lighter minds”). Better in some ways, worse in others. Seems obvious to me, what's the ‘she'eilah’ (question) -- why assume spiritual stance is unidimensional? (Micha Berger)”

Response: “Binah yeteirah (Intuition) is a cognitive not spiritual ability, ‘in Male and Female He created them’ (God in Genesis), Mishna, Nidah 5:6 (the Talmud) discusses the age of maturity:
Rebbe's (Judah the Prince, a prominent sage) view is that girls reach maturity at twelve and boys at 13. Rabbi Shimon ben Eliezar says that boys reach maturity at twelve and girls at 13. The Gemara (Talmud) explains Rebbe Shimon is saying that boys develop their practical intelligence through their exposure to the ‘marketplace’.
The explanation for Rebbe's view is that girls have ‘binah yeteirah’ which is ‘intuition’ that depending on different opinions, may mean ‘extra intuition’ or ‘earlier developing intuition” (Tractate Nidah p.45b, in the Talmud).”

“Maharal (Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague [1525-1609]) calls it a ‘seichel elyoni’ or loosely translated, ‘ethereal or non concrete intelligence’. The Maharal (in his work ‘Chidushei Agadot’, Nidah p.45b) says: ‘The explanation is that HaShem (GOD) gave to the woman an ‘ethereal intelligence’ since she is extra prepared for this. To the man He gave intelligence and ‘chochma’ (‘wisdom’) in extra amounts and this is an ‘abstract intelligence’. The Talmud in Bava Metzia (p.59a) says ‘If your wife is short, bend down and listen to her.’ It is established that this refers to matters of the house or according to another interpretation matters of the world. This is so because the woman's wisdom comes from ethereal intelligence, which is more relevant to her than it is to the man.”

“Therefore it says that in matters of heaven that one should not go after the counsel of his wife because wisdom required for such maters is not relevant to her, it being an abstract intelligence. It should be well understand what our Rabbis hint at when they say that HaShem (GOD) gave ‘binah yeteirah’ to the woman. This is drawn from the language ‘vayiven’ (‘He built’) a reference to the verse where HaShem builds (‘vayiven’) the woman from the side of man. She completes the building of the man and from this perspective wisdom is relevant to her. Nevertheless the attribute of the man is that he has abstract intelligence."

“The problem is that people sometimes misunderstand the meaning of ‘binah yeteirah’ and take it effectively to refer to some comprehensive link to truth. Such a practice might be reflective of the trend in the secular world towards religions from the Far East which operate with little literature and focus on meditation and internal wisdom...(Daniel Eidensohn).” [6]

So much for the debates. Let’s focus on the acts of some of the Torah heroines in this week’s portion:Firstly Moses’ mother Yocheved. Her name in Hebrew is a construct of two root words “CHAVOD” which means HONOR and “YO” two letters from God’s own Holy Name. She is a woman who is naturally endowed to give honor to God. She, like her husband were the descendants of LEVI, Jacob’s third son, they were all totally devoted to serving God exclusively. The Levites, consisting of the “KOHEN” and “LEVI” (yes, “Cohen and Levy”) sections, continue to be the Jewish “priestly cast” till today. Much like the Matriarch Sarah, the wife of Abraham, she well very old when Moses was born. The Torah commentators say that she was aware that the Egyptian midwives knew how to perform “partial birth abortions” by crushing the tender skulls of infants as they were trying to emerge from their mothers’ birth canals. Instead, she instituted a policy of faked “early deliveries” to befuddle the murderous cruel inspectors (“Gestapo and KGB”) of Egypt. For this she merited miracles and the biggest one was the way SHE KNEW, by INTUITION, GOD DID NOT HAVE TO TELL HER to have the courage to conceive and bring to full term Moses from her womb, or what to do with baby Moses by placing him into the care of God on the Nile in a little boat, putting her absolute trust in God’s ways.

Indeed, as “fate” – “Divine Providence”, would have it, Pharaoh’s own daughter - “BAT PAROH”, (note how the Torah refers to her as a “BAT”- DAUGHTER) coming down for a dip in the Nile, sees Moses (he had still NOT been named at that point! He was (born) circumcised as well so this was a clue to her that he was a Hebrew baby as the Hebrews practiced circumcision) and she ADOPTS him!

What motivated this woman to go against her own people and all-powerful father the Pharaoh himself? It was her own INTUITION, some voice inside of her was telling her to DEFY and DENY her own father’s decrees and “TAKE THE LAW (Moses would be the lawgiver) INTO HER OWN HANDS (which is what she did, she stretched out her hand)” and SAVED MOSES. In fact SHE names him “MOSHEH” - MOSES, meaning from the water I “DREW HIM” or “HE WHO DRAWS OUT”, he will be endowed with the powers of DRAWING or TAKING OUT PEOPLE FROM BONDAGE. [7]
Moses, “MOSHEH” in Hebrew is written with three letters: “M”, “SH”, “H”. (“mem”; “shin”; “heh”) If the letters are REVERSED they spell “HASHEM” – “THE NAME”, which means “THE NAME” OF GOD!

Did God tell her what to name him? NO! She relied on her OWN INTUITION - “BINAH YETEIRAH” giving him an “Egyptian” name that becomes one of the most “Jewish” in the Torah: MOSHEH!

Moses’ sister Miriam is known in Judaism as MIRIAM THE PROPHETESS – “MIRIAM HANEVIAH” for her NATURAL POWERS OF ACCURATELY PREDICTING AND PROPHESYING THE FUTURE! According to the Oral teachings Miriam was the one who predicted to her parents that Moses would be born, and she was the one who volunteered to keep watch over Moses as he floated down the river. Did God have to tell her to do this? No, she instinctively knew what do and that it was the one and only right thing to do. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch [1808-1888] says in his commentary (on Exodus, Chapter 2, verse 4): “And his sister placed herself afar to obtain knowledge of what would be done to him” that:
“The Word of God (the Torah) simply relates the bare fact for us to understand. What a Jochebed, a Miriam felt at such a moment, every FEELING person can FEEL for themselves. But as far as just affects the facts, the Torah paints for us the finest nuances. AT SUCH A MOMENT ONE’S ACTS ARE ONLY SEMI-CONSCIOUS. One does know what one is doing and one’s own will does function; but at the same time the tragic possibilities of the moment are so overwhelming, THAT ONE IS HALF FOLLOWING THE DIRECTIONS OF SOME HIGHER FORCING POWER. The sister knew that she went and stood waiting there, but she also suddenly stopped there as if placed there by some higher power, a mixture of CONSIDERED AND FORCED ACTION.”[8]

Rabbi Hirsch’s comments really touch the “delicate nerve” of the active pulsating INTUITION – “BINAH YETEIRAH” which for Miriam was always tinged with PROPHECY – “NEVUAH” revealing how much she “knew” what to do, without God having to reveal Himself and give commands.

And finally Tzipporah, daughter of the non-Hebrew Midianite priest Jethro, who according to the Oral Torah Teachings converted to the Torah as evidenced in the Torah portion in Exodus named for him (see Exodus, Chapter 18). One of the great questions in the Torah and in all of Judaism is how did Moses, the greater Lawgiver of the Torah come to marry a woman NOT from the Children of Israel at all? She is considered to be one of the greatest CONVERTS to the TORAH WAY OF LIFE (aka Judaism), and even someone on as a high a status as Miriam was later afflicted with “leprosy” for daring to discuss Moses’ relationship with his wife Tzipporah (according to the sages, that Moses became celibate after coming down from Mount Sinai) which was the subject of: “Miriam and Aaron began speaking against Moses because of the dark-skinned (“KUSHIT”) woman he had married. The woman that Moses had married was indeed dark-skinned.”(Numbers, Chapter 12, vs.1-2). [9] (The Torah never mentions “X-Rated” subjects directly, but refers to them indirectly. This is called the principle of “DIBRAH TORAH BELASHON NEKIYAH” – “THE TORAH SPEAKS IN CLEAN LANGUAGE”, an important key for understanding why the Torah speaks in “round about ways” when it comes to the subjects of sex and sexuality in its domains.)

Perhaps Tzipporah’s name is the main clue that the Torah gives to understand her. Her name means “FEMALE BIRD” in Hebrew: “ Why was she called Tzipporah? Tzipporah means a BIRD, and her name shows that SHE RAN TO MOSES AS QUICKLY AS A BIRD. Another interpretation is that she was called TZIPPORAH because she “GAVE FORTH LIGHT” – “TZAFRA”, just like the morning star.”[10] Thus her INSTINCTIVE and IMMEDIATE attraction to a man of Moses’ caliber came as naturally to her as flight comes to a bird, and as naturally strong bright light comes from a radiant shining star. No need for God to tell her who this man was and what she needed to do!

In perhaps one of the most enigmatic and dramatic episodes in the Torah, in this week’s Torah portion, on his way to confront Pharaoh, Moses is almost killed by God himself for not circumcising one of his newborn sons. There are various interpretations why Moses delayed doing it, but it was TZIPPORAH’S INSTINCTIVE AND INTUITIVE ACTION THAT SAVED MOSES:
“When they were in the place where they spent the night along the way, God confronted Moses and wanted to kill him. Tzipporah took a stone knife and cut of her son’s foreskin, throwing it down at Moses feet. ‘As far as I am concerned, you’re married to blood.., (some translate it as ‘you are my bloody groom’)’. God then spared Moses. ‘You were married to blood because of circumcision,’ she said.” (Exodus, Chapter 4, vs. 24 – 26). [11]
Whatever the deeper meaning is of this extremely puzzling episode, one thing is very clear, GOD DID NOT HAVE TO TELL TZIPPORAH WHAT TO DO!
She probably never even took “lessons” in circumcision before either. She does know from within the pulsating innermost recesses of her being, that she must circumcise her son in order to save her husband, even one as great as Moses, who was under threat of death for not fulfilling God’s will at that very instant in time. There can probably be no better dramatic example of “BINAH YETEIRAH”, that special feminine, female intuition at work in a POSITIVE way with life-savings consequences for Moses and us.

Have a great Shabbat and please let me know what you think!

[1] JUDAISM 101 at http://www.jewfaq.org/women.htm
[2] http://www.mail-archive.com/daf-discuss@shemayisrael.com/msg00199.html ,
Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld.
[3] The Living Torah, English translation, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, p. 7.
[4] The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English by Oxford University Press
[5] INTUITIVE LEADERSHIP By Brian K. Yeoman. http://www.uth.tmc.edu/ut_general/admin_fin/ss/FPD/publications/intlead.htm. This article appeared in the winter 1996 edition of NAEB Professional Purchaser. It is largely a transcription of a presentation given at the NAEB National Meeting held in April 19-22, 1995 Anaheim, California
[6] http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol10/v10n046.shtml#05 , presented by Daniel Eidensohn
[7] The Medrash Says, Shemot-Exodus, English translation, p. 20.
[8] The Pentateuch, Exodus, Chapter 2, verse 4, translated and explained (in German) by Rabbi S.R. Hirsch, rendered into English by Isaac Levy, p.15.
[9] The Living Torah, Ibid., p.721.
[10] The Tz’enah Ur’enah, Torah Lore and Midrashic Comment, translated by Miriam S. Zakon, Vol. 2, p.326.
[11] The Living Torah, Ibid., p.277.

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