Biblical Women

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Why Did Penina Torment Chana?
G‑d does not want me to be a Penina to myself—to motivate myself from a place of pain and lack.
15 Queen Esther Facts
As told in the Book of Esther (the Purim story), Esther was a Jewish orphan who became queen of Persia, a position that allowed her to save her people from death.
Abigail, King David and the Secret of the Black Halo
The black holes that G‑d sends our way are not always easy to avoid.
Women of the Bible Quiz
Take a minute to see how well you know the great women who shaped the destiny of our people.
Who Is Adina?
All we know about her is her name. And that’s all we need to know.
Who Was Esther?
Heroine of the Purim Story
Celebrated on Purim, Esther was a Jewish maiden who was forced to become queen of Persia. She used her influence to save the Jewish people.
The 7 Prophetesses of Judaism
Our forebears were prophets. Later, prophets and prophetesses guided us, chided us and comforted us.
The Strength of Rachel
Not only did Rachel keep silent during the wedding of her sister, but even during all those years when she was barren and Leah bore child after child, Rachel never said a word to her.
Women of the Inner Bible
Eve, Sarah, Rachel, Miriam, Batsheva . . . From the outside, the women of the Bible appear to play only a supportive role in a drama dominated by men; from the inside emerges a very different story . . .
The Jewish Mother: Wisdom of the Heart
Where did these Jewish mothers find the courage? I don't know because I'm not one of them, but ask your mother and I'm sure she'll gladly tell you. When a need arises, the Jewish mother simply responds.
A Mother in Israel
Modern Day Lessons From Biblical Women
Jew, wife, woman, homemaker, daughter, breadwinner, professional, human being, and holy soul; she wishes to find a balance between all of these parts of herself.
Chavah: Mother of All Life
The first woman, Chava, is called the "mother of all life" for she is the source of joy, experience and creation.
The Three Faces of Sarah
Yiscah, Sarai and Sarah
She fled into the desert with her husband, Abraham, to live a comparatively monastic existence as a nomadic tent-dweller and preacher of the One G‑d. Why would a cosmopolitan girl like Sarah do a crazy thing like that?
Rebecca and the Camel Test
A Lesson in Giving
Surrounded by a group of able-bodied men, Eliezer did not appear as a helpless, weary chap begging for a drink. And Rebecca was a young woman of nobility, not a poor servant girl accustomed to lugging water from wells . . .
How Rebecca Learned to Fly
Some of us thrive as a result of a challenging environment—our struggles refine our characters and make us even greater people. And sometimes, no matter what we do, we cannot seem to rise above the circumstances of our birth . . .
Jewish Mother's Day
Rachel & the 11th of Cheshvan
The 11th of Cheshvan, the day of passing of our matriarch Rachel, is truly the Jewish Mother's Day...
Rachel: The Epitome of Motherhood
“This was not during the rainy season, when I could claim that it was because of the mud that I did not bring her to Hebron. The roads were dry and good. Still, I buried her alongside the road to Ephrath . . .”
A Jewish Mother
Suddenly, amidst all the noise, a wail pierced through the heavens. Mama Rachel, hearing her children’s cries, began weeping bitterly for her children. She was inconsolable. Her children were in pain!
A Mother's Tears
Rachel weeps for her children
We all hope and pray for a biological mother (in addition to Rachel) who will protect and nurture us. Everyone deserves as much. But even when blessed with a healthy mother, we must always remember that all of us live in a form of “spiritual exile,” in need of our mother Rachel. And even when we are deprived of a nurturing mother, we are never deprived of Rachel, who always stands vigil, adoring us unconditionally, then and now—to this very day . . .
Rachel's Amazing Secret
After all others failed, Rachel successfully persuaded G-d to eventually bring her children back from their exiled lands. What merit did she have which swayed G-d?
Outgoing Woman
“Like mother, like daughter,” comment our sages, comparing Dinah’s “going out to see the daughters of the land” with Leah’s own “outings.”
The Untold Story of the Hebrew Midwives and the Exodus
They had conceived, become swollen and pregnant, but were stuck and waiting to deliver. The womb that had been Egypt was now a place of confinement. It was the midwives who corrected this disconnection and brought the redemption into the world...
Pioneers of Faith
Childbirth, perhaps more than any other life event, is an experience that demands a strong dose of faith and surrender. No matter how well planned or organized we may be, the inevitable moment will arise...
The Story of Batyah (Bithiah)
A Transformed Identity
Determining right from wrong is something with which we are constantly challenged throughout our lives. Yet nothing is harder to face and acknowledge than when the “wrong” is happening in our own homes . . .
Comfort Zone
Lessons from Miriam
There must be people out there who, like me, are simply tired of having their insides all tied up in knots at the thought of yet another challenge...
Growing Up With My Daughter: Becoming a Bat Mitzvah
Being that I struggle with grownuphood in general, you can imagine my apoplexy at the fact that our oldest daughter, Nava, is becoming Bat Mitzvah this week. Yup, according to Jewish law, my baby is about to become a woman. Which, I guess, means I better start seeing myself as one, if I need to see her as one . . .
Miriam’s Drum
Turning pain into power
From the fact that the women used musical instruments and danced in accompaniment to their song, we understand that their song sprang from a well of deeper joy, and was of a higher caliber, than that of the men. And it wasn’t by chance that they had their instruments with them . . .
Miriam: Tambourines of Rebellion
You feel the pain and bitterness, even more deeply than the others, yet you carry in your heart an inextinguishable flame of faith, hope and optimism. You are Miriam, the quintessential Jewish woman.
The Quill of the Soul
The Power of Music
Even now, years later, the tune of that melody is still in my head. I access it when I need to unwind. I connect to it like the words of a lover's poem. Yet it went beyond what words could express. It was as if the rhythm of my soul could be found in between the notes...
Feminism in Egypt
Their lives were miserable, they were slaves, and all they could think about was their superficial appearance?
The Story of Yehudit
The Woman Who Saved the Day
The sun had already begun to set when Yehudit wound her way toward the enemy’s camp. “I have an important message for your commander,” she said to the sentry. “Take me to him at once!”
Chana and Penina
A Lesson In Sensitivity
We read the story of Chana and Penina on Rosh Hashanah, when we pray for a good, sweet year. We pray for abundant blessings. Yet I believe there is a lesson in their story, cautioning us that with blessings come responsibility...
The Son She Gave Away
The story of Hannah, the Haftorah of Rosh Hashanah, is a tale richly woven of many strands. It is a story of devotion and of love, of service and of sacrifice.
Hannah: The Woman Who Corrected the High Priest
An in-depth look at Chanah
Chanah the prophetess revealed many of the basic laws of prayer and the inner dimension of prayer. She also taught us how to relate to our Creator from an entirely feminine perspective. To view G‑d not only as our king and sovereign, but also as a parent . . .
Chana's Prayer
Could we be pregnant with our barrenness? What brings us to gestate barrenness? Does barrenness give birth to something, does it abort? What part of us is it really, and how do we nurture it and why?
Women in the Synagogue
An Answer to the Controversy
The issue is even more baffling than you think. Most of the guidelines for prayer, we learned from a lady named Chana who lived about 3000 years ago. Yet all the dominant roles in communal prayer are given to men!
The story of Ruth unfolds against the background of the barley harvest in ancient Judea...
Esther: Hidden Beauty
The modern day concept is “if you got it, flaunt it.” Show the world what you have to offer, be out there, be public, the more the better. It just isn’t so exciting to be the heroine behind the scenes . . .
Queen Esther and the Kabbalah of Time
Wasted time counts for far more than the present moment, or even our own lifetime. This was Rabbi Akiva's message. A minute could mean a street. Think of Fifth Avenue and the loss becomes tangible...
She Is Esther, or Is She?
Esther’s evolution seems to be one of a different nature. Her second name does not, on the surface, bring her closer to G‑d or to her people. It puts her into hiding . . .
The Tail of Vashti
When I was sixteen, I went to Israel for two months and gained about twenty pounds. I had been thin, even skinny, my whole life and never gave my weight a second thought...
Nitzevet, Mother of David
The bold voice of silence
He was Israel’s mightiest warrior, revered by friend and foe; yet for the first 28 years of his life he was a lowly outcast . . . The secret story behind the mysterious circumstances of King David’s birth.
Paradigms of Feminine Heroes
Through Sara, Rebecca and Miriam we learn of feminine courage, perception and the indomitable faith needed to meet the many challenges of today's modern woman
Connecting With The Queen Esther Within
I am sitting cross-legged on a make shift throw at my childhood synagogue's Purim carnival. It must have been then that I decided I wanted to be Queen Esther when I grew up. I took the matter seriously, perfecting the costume over the years...
There's No
The Jewish view of royalty
It’s not that I support this sneaker-clad, pink-sweatshirt-sporting, exuberant young girl in a despotic vision of absolute control. And it’s not only that I am thinking: Yes, reach for the stars, dream big. It’s just that her claim is simply true . . .
Make Them or Break Them
A Woman's Decision
On's wife did what any devoted better-half would do—she reassured him that she would take care of the situation. She then neutralized her husband (thank G‑d for the bottle!) as zero-hour approached...
Mystical Meheitavel and Spontaneous Order
The power of the woman
Chassidut teaches us that inherent within the chaos is a grain of rectification from which spontaneous order can sprout. In a most wondrous, counterintuitive way, that grain of order is concealed within time itself. This was Meheitavel’s secret, and the secret of every woman: the ability to infuse order into a world of total chaos . . .
Miriam bat Bilgah
A sinner’s unbreakable connection to her people
We are looking back at our history through the story of a young woman who obviously went through unspeakable horrors. In desperation, she gave up, she felt she couldn’t fight; she was angry and then rebellious...
Women of the Bible
Video | 44:28
Women of the Bible
Three paradigms of Jewish femininity
What lessons for our own lives can we learn from studying the lives of biblical women? Learn about three great women from our past: Sarah, Rebecca and Nitzevet.
Why Aren’t the Matriarchs Mentioned in Our Prayers?
Do women not count? Are they supposed to just be quietly left in the background?
17 Facts About Hannah (Chanah)
Discover how G-d answered Hannah's prayers, gifting her with the prophet Samuel.