A new look at women in the Bible
"After the Apple: Women In the Bible, Timeless Stories of Love, Lust, and Longing," by Naomi Harris Rosenblatt. Miramax Books. 2005. 288 pages. $23.95 hardbound.
Naomi Harris Rosenblatt, a psycho therapist, teacher, and writer, gave two talks last week on her latest book: "After the Apple; Women in the Bible: Timeless Stories of Love, Lust, and Longing"-on August 18 at the Bunch of Grapes book store in Vineyard Haven, and on Saturday morning at the regular Shabbat morning service at the Martha's Vineyard Hebrew Center.
Ms. Rosenblatt describes her book, and her passion for the Bible:
"I've had a love affair with the Bible since I'm six years old, and it only gets more and more intense, the more I mature. My latest book chronicles the lives of 14 extra-ordinary women in the Hebrew Bible who are up against overwhelming odds, and yet they are resilient; they have a clarity of purpose, and they achieve incredible every-day miracles in their strictly patriarchal world. The amazing thing to me is that many times they resort to unconventional ways of achieving their goal - like Rebecca; like Ruth when she snuggles up in the middle of the night to Boaz and suggests marriage - an unconventional thing for women of those days.
"The amazing thing is the biblical scribes describe what they achieved and laud them for their boldness. Therein to me, lies the Bible's humanity. The women are lauded for their achievements and the offspring from some of these unconventional relationships become the forbearers of the House of David in Judaism, and of Jesus in Christianity."
So, perhaps it's not true, after all, that the Bible oppresses women?
"No, that's one of the rumors I'm trying to dispel. As I read these stories over and over and over again, I'm aware that legally these women were second-class citizens, but they believed in one of the most important principles of Judaism, that they - like their men - regardless of color, gender, or race, are made in the image of God, and therefore - regardless of how the society of their day judged them, they had their relationship with the Almighty that transcended the laws of the day, and they went about achieving what to them was most important - the continuity of the covenant that God had struck with Abraham and Sarah.
"I spoke at the Hebrew center on Shabbat morning . . . and I concentrated on Rebecca, who's one of the women I most identify with, and with whom I've got deep sympathy and empathy, and know that I'm here today because of her actions 4,000 years ago.
"On Friday night I spoke at Bunch of Grapes - Martha's Vineyard has been very kind to me - where I had a lovely signing and talk. The people that came were so responsive, the questions were great, there was great interaction, and I left feeling terribly happy about the quality of the evening."
Ms. Rosenblatt was born in Israel, served in the Israeli navy, and was married "very, very young" to an American tourist, whom she "followed to these shores." The Rosenblatts have three children and five grandchildren and are longtime Vineyard summer visitors and residents of Washington, D.C.
"After the Apple; Women in the Bible: Timeless Stories of Love, Lust, and Longing" is available, also in paperback, at Bunch of Grapes Book Store in Vineyard Haven. Ms Rosenblatt is also the author, with Joshua Horwitz, of "Wrestling with Angels; What Genesis Teaches Us About Our Spiritual Identity, Sexuality, and Personal Relationships."