Who gets to study...?

Who gets to study God’s word?

Heavenly Father, thank you for providing me with the blessing of a trip to Israel with a group of amazing, beautiful people. As you walked with us, may this once-in-a-lifetime experience speak to us and make a difference in our lives. May we be lead to share these feelings and experiences with others we care about, so we may all learn more about You. Amen.

One of our stops on our trip to Israel was at a synagogue in Tzfat; this experience impressed me—enough to share: As we sat and listened to our guide, Yehuda Ashkenazi, we were filled with the smells and sights of Mishnahs (explanations of Torah) and Siddurs (prayer books) all around us that were hundreds of years old; and I was amazed to think of all of the fingers that studied and turned these pages. –WOW!!

Then Yehuda spoke of an ancient, beautiful Torah that used to be on display for all to see. He pulled back an ornate curtain to show us the chains and locks that now forbid our viewing of such a special antiquity. What a shame! Yehuda explained why this Torah is no longer available for us to see: The Rabbis of the synagogue didn’t want women seeing the Torah. To explain, in an Orthodox Observant world, women are not allowed to read from the Torah. What? They are not allowed to read God’s word. – Really? Yes, really! Even when girls have their equivalent to a Bar Mitzvah, a Bat Mitzvah, the 13-year old girls do not read from the Torah. For a boy's Bar Mitzvah, this act of reading from the Torah is the highest of all praises to God. Boys spend months preparing; many of them “lein” or sing the words—trust me, it is a Big Deal!

I am SO thankful to be a woman of Christ, so I can read His Word and praise Him in doing so!

Do you know when this changed? Do you know the story of Martha and Mary? Most of us think of this story as a lesson to tell us to stop running around, stop fussing over insignificant matters, and set aside quiet time for spiritual learning. I believe this as such, too, and I believe it to be SO MUCH MORE! Can you picture Mary at Jesus feet “learning” Torah? Learning for a woman was a definite, really Bad, No No back then—(and still is, now, for Orthodox Jews)! She was definitely doing something very wrong! At that turning point, Jesus proclaimed His New Covenant: It is okay for Mary (and women) to learn and study God’s word! Praise Jesus!

Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing me to study your Word and for helping me to learn more about you. Thank you for sending your Son to show us! Amen

Jill Maclay

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