Devora Steinmetz

Devora Steinmetz

Dr. Devora Steinmetz serves on the leadership team for special programs at Drisha Institute in the United States and Israel. She has taught Talmud and Rabbinics at Drisha, the Jewish Theological Seminary, Yeshivat Hadar, and Havruta: a Beit Midrash at Hebrew University. Dr. Steinmetz is the founder of Beit Rabban, a Jewish day school profiled in Daniel Pekarsky’s Vision at Work: The Theory and Practice of Beit Rabban. She is the author of scholarly articles on Talmud, Midrash, and Bible as well as of two books: From Father to Son: Kinship, Conflict, and Continuity in Genesis and Punishment and Freedom: The Rabbinic Construction of Criminal Law. Dr. Steinmetz consults for the Mandel Foundation and works at Gould Farm, a therapeutic community for individuals struggling with mental illness.

http://drisha.org/faculty/devora-steinmetz/

שמחת בת | Simḥat Bat, by Dr. Devora Steinmetz and Rabbi David Silber (1987)

Contributed on: כ״ג באב ה׳תש״ע (2010-08-03) by Devora Steinmetz | David Silber |

We name our daughters on their fifteenth day of life. This is based on Vayiqra 12:1-5, which describes the length of a woman’s period of impurity after childbirth. If she gives birth to a son, she is impure for seven days; if she gives birth to a daughter, she is impure for fourteen days. The passage seems to connect the baby boy’s circumcision on the eighth day to the conclusion of the mother’s seven day period of impurity. (Similarly, Vayiqra 22:27 says that a newborn animal must remain with its mother for seven days, and on the eighth day and onward it is acceptable as a sacrificial offering.) It seems, then, that for the first seven days of a little boy’s life, and the first fourteen days of a little girl’s life, the child and mother are still closely linked, and both remain separate from the larger family and community. Then, on the eighth day of her son’s life, and on the fifteenth day of her daughter’s life, the mother begins to rejoin her family and community, and the child too becomes incorporated as a member of the family and community. That is why a baby boy’s father becomes obligated to circumcise his son only on the eighth day, and why the baby boy first receives his name at his brit milah; it is then that the baby boy becomes a member of the community of Israel. On our daughter’s fifteenth day, we come together as a family and as a community to welcome this new member and to give her a name. . . .


מדרשים על אדם הראשון ותקופת החורף | Midrashim on the Origin of Winter Solstice Festivals by the Primordial Adam

Contributed on: י״ז בכסלו ה׳תשע״א (2010-11-24) by Devora Steinmetz | Aharon N. Varady (transcription) |

Our Rabbis taught: When Adam HaRishon (primordial Adam) saw the day getting gradually shorter, he said, ‘Woe is me, perhaps because I have sinned, the world around me is being darkened and returning to its state of chaos and confusion; this then is the kind of death to which I have been sentenced from Heaven!’ So he began keeping an eight days’ fast. But as he observed the winter solstice and noted the day getting increasingly longer, he said, ‘This is the world’s course’, and he set forth to keep an eight days’ festivity. In the following year he appointed both as festivals. Now, he fixed them for the sake of Heaven, but the [unenlightened] appointed them for the sake of star worship. . . .