Women without a Name, Women without a Voice
The opening stories of Genesis and Exodus include famous Biblical women. We learn the names of Eve, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. We meet Miriam and witness her pivotal role in our saga to freedom. However, this week the Torah makes a dramatic turn. We meet women without names, women who are defined by the journey of life, not by the journey they wish to tell. Exodus 21:22 introduces us to the woman that suffers a miscarriage. “When men fight, and one of them pushes a pregnant woman and a miscarriage results, but no other damage ensues, the one responsible shall be fined according as the woman’s husband may exact from him, the payment to be based on reckoning.” Rashi explains that the scene involves two men that inadvertently strike a woman during their brawl and monetary compensation is given as a penalty. The commentators introduce the category of “the woman that miscarries” but it is clear that woman’s voice is strikingly missing from the text. Who is this woman? What is her story? How long was she waiting to carry the child? Was this her first miscarriage? Second? Third? We may never know the answers but has anyone stopped to ask the questions? The Torah gifts us with a rich opportunity. Our communities are replete with women whose stories remain hidden and quiet. Many of whom don’t share because many of us haven’t thought to ask. Perhaps this woman’s inability to speak should grant us urgency to provide comfort and a holding hand to those women in our community looking to be held. Where is the provided space for this woman to share her pain? “Out of my straits, I called out to you….” Let us look and hear those that are crying out; we must give voice to their pain and remind them, we hear you. You are not alone.