Shemini April 20, 2017

This past Monday, the seventh day of Pesach, we read the story of the crossing of the Red Sea in the synagogue, and the Song of the Sea, Shirat Hayam, is attributed to Miriam by some scholars.  There is a unique Torah commentary by Ellen Frankel called The Five Books of Miriam.  For this week’s parasha (Torah portion), Frankel  speaks in the voice of Elisheva, wife of Aaron, mother of two of their four sons, who die mysteriously on their ordination day, at the hand of God. (Lev. 10:1-7)  In the Torah, Elisheva is never mentioned; her reaction to her sons’ death is not recorded.  The Five Books of Miriam gives voice to Elisheva’s grief and the comfort she is shown by the women of her community:  “And so the women put away their hand drums…and did not perform the dance…prepared for what was meant to be a day of rejoicing.… They sang a lament to my dead sons, and so was I comforted for my loss.” (p. 161)