On the Connection between Women, Men and Water in Rabbinic Literature
Dr. Gila Vachman
Since the dawn of human history, different cultures have drawn a connection between femininity and nature, fertility, earth, water and rain. Notable examples are Tiamit (Chaos) of Mesopotamian mythology, the god of salt water and the female foundation in the Babylonian story of creation, or Thetis, the water goddess in Greek mythology.
Many expressions and images that stemmed from this cultural affiliation are embedded in both modern-day English and Hebrew (mother-earth, virgin ground, mother-nature, and others). What is the nature and what are the significances, both in ancient times and today, of this connection? Do these images contribute toward proper relations between the sexes or damage them? How do images of femininity assist us in understanding our Jewish ancestors' perceptions regarding women, and are they relevant today in Israel or the Diaspora?
The course will deal with a selection of stories and maxims from the Talmud and Midrash that deal with the existence or lack of rain, with the cycle of water in nature, and with the Israeli climate, while making use of feminine and masculine images. We will engage in a discussion of the relationships between God and God's people, between men and women, and between Jews from different geographic locations.
This is a great course for people who are new to Talmud study.