forgetting/teshuva

by tobybee

“ The Torah reading for the first day of Rosh Hashana begins with the sentence “And God remembered Sarah” (Genesis 21:1). …

What does it mean that God remembered Sarah? First of all, it means that God had forgotten her. …

This “forgetting” will happen again and again, throughout the Bible and throughout history. Sarah’s daughters won’t be remembered. Her granddaughters and great-granddaughters will be totally forgotten.

Thus I want to suggest a reading of this first sentence that sees in it a promise not to be fulfilled in the text, but to be fulfilled in the studying and interpreting of the text by women in the future, women today. In this sentence God is taking responsibility for having forgotten Sarah and is promising to remember her. This promise will take centuries to complete. God has done a lot of forgetting of women. But if we can hear in these words God’s intention to do teshuva with women, then we can be freed to see our struggles with the text and our interpretation of it as holy work. By daring to imagine God’s teshuva, we elevate the importance of our work in recovering the untold stories of Jewish women.”

— Tamara R. Cohen, “Returning to Sarah” in Beginning Anew: A Woman’s Companion to the High Holy Days (1997), edited by Gail Twersky Reimer and Judith A. Kates. pp. 78-9.

(from vladislava)

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