• Leann Shamash

What if?

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

#whatif #whatifwomenweretheleaders #parshatdevarim #seferdevarim #wordshavewings #poetry #torahpoetry #leadership


This is a bit of whimsy. Looking at the beginning of the book of Devarim, which will be a review of history of the Hebrews in the desert and Moses' parting speech to the Jewish people, we read how Gd asked Moses to find elders in the community to lead them and advise them. The leaders are chosen on the basis of their wisdom and experience. It is not surprising, given the fact that we are looking at times long ago, that these are all men. Each of us are different and a man might judge as a woman does and a woman might judge as a man does, but in my heart I believe that if women were put then in leadership roles, the text and the movement of the text would be different.

Torah is an inspired text. Changes to the text do not happen, so this set of thoughts is indeed whimsical, but it is interesting to look back and imagine the biblical world with more women leaders, and to imagine the benefits that the wisdom and experience that women bring to the table. I imagine that the text would be radically different than how it reads now.

Today we are blessed with many women who are Torah scholars and commentators. It is through their scholarship that we can envision the leadership of women during our history.



"Pick from each of your tribes men who are wise, discerning, and experienced, and I will appoint them as your heads.”

What if women were the

heads?

What if women were chosen as

the wise,

the discerning

the experienced?

What if women were the leaders?


How would our stories change

if written from the eyes of a woman?

From the heart of a woman?

From the eyes of a woman?

From the intuition of a woman?

From the compassion of a woman?

From the strength of a woman?


What would Torah had looked like?

How would stories have changed?

What would be the twists and turns?


What would the story of our origins had looked like?

And what if the foremothers took the place of the forefathers ?

Who would be the heroes and who would be the ones who are blamed?

How would creation looked different if Eve gave names to each living thing?

What would the Exodus had looked like if a woman was the leader?

What would the time in the desert have looked like if women were chosen as leaders?

How would the golden calf story look different if women were in charge?

How would the commandments change?

How would sacrifice look different?

Would had it taken 40 years in the desert

to complete our journey?

What would the conquest had looked like?

How would The Temple look different?

Which would be the positive Mitzvot?

Which would be the negative Mitzvot?


What if the majority of prophets were women?

What would they say to their

countrywomen

and countrymen?


And,

going forward generations,


What if the commentators were women?

Women

who viewed the text with a different set of eyes?

with a different way of looking at humankind?

At the world?

At themselves?

At justice?

At war?

At commerce?

At diplomacy?

At law?

At family?

At relationships?

At the relationship between humans and God?


With the life experience of a woman?


What if the commentators were women?


What if we could go back in time

And write our stories

through and in and out and around

a different lens completely?

Devoid of judgement?


We go,

we return again again.

Each year

we turn the stone and each time

it catches new light,

new perspective.

And now women turn that rock

over and over

and around and around.

Lighting it with their own lights.

Coloring it with their own colors.


But, just what if

our beginnings looked different?

How would we look different today?






הָב֣וּ לָ֠כֶם אֲנָשִׁ֨ים חֲכָמִ֧ים וּנְבֹנִ֛ים וִידֻעִ֖ים לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶ֑ם וַאֲשִׂימֵ֖ם בְּרָאשֵׁיכֶֽם׃

Pick from each of your tribes men who are wise, discerning, and experienced, and I will appoint them as your heads.” Deuteronomy 1:13 (translation from Sefaria)

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