Parashat Mishpatim

Midrash Rabbah - Exodus XXX:5

"When Israel disregards the Commandments, it is as if they curse their parents, for G-d is our father, as it says, “But now, O Lord, You are our father” (ib. LXIV, 7), and the Torah is our mother, for it says, “And forsake not the teaching of your mother” (Prov. I, 8).  She reared us at Sinai, as it says, “I have taught you in the way of wisdom” (ib. IV, 11)
          In this Midrash, we see the Torah being compared to G-d’s daughter who he gives to b’nai Yisrael as a wife (so that b’nai Yisrael is now married to the Torah).  Later, in the same midrash, we see the idea of the Torah being a mother to b’nai Yisrael.  So which is it???!!!!  We see the idea of b’nai Yisrael being married to the Torah quite frequently in the midrash, but the idea of Torah as mother is much less common.  As a matter of fact, it turns the entire metaphor on its head.  In one triangle, the Torah is G-d’s daughter—in the 2nd, the Torah is G-d’s wife.  And the idea of the Torah providing nurture is actually anthropomorphism.  The Torah actually formed us, gave birth to us, and nurtures us, together with G-d.  As G-d’s partner.  Granted, there is a clear hierarchy of male over female in this midrash with segregated gender roles.  Only a few lines earlier we learned that since the Torah is G-d’s precious daughter she should be kept inside an ark- not allowed to venture out without being covered up.  The theme of modesty in women is well documented in Jewish literature and in ancient times included prejudice against women “going out,” into the world like men do.
            Given this traditional view of women in rabbinic literature, it is refreshing to see the treatment of a female entity (here the Torah) being a partner in the creation of humankind with G-d, together, as an almost equal.  What does it mean for us to be born of Torah?  It means that our very genetic make-up, the very blueprint of our soul—is the Torah.  We have learned elsewhere that G-d looked into the Torah and used the Torah as a blueprint for all of creation—that the Torah existed prior to the creation of the world.  Here we see the idea of Torah as the blueprint for each individual soul.  Better yet- that blueprint is both male and female for each one of us- each one of us being born of a fusion of Father G-d and Mother Torah (wisdom).


  1. Fascinating post! Congratulations on the new blog and thanks for bringing this midrash to the attention of the virtual olam.


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