Jan 3 2014
“Lamentations over the Death of the Firstborn of Egypt” by Charles Sprague Pearce
This post is part of our Torah commentary series through the perspective of a new mom. This Shabbat we read Parashat Bo. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.
This week’s Torah portion is Bo. We read about the final plagues, culminating in the slaying of the Egyptian firstborn.
I often like to interpret Torah metaphorically. I love the Hassidic tradition of reading Torah as a sort of psychological analogue for what’s happening inside us all the time. For me, this is a way of connecting to Torah as a story that’s happening continually, rather than an ancient document that may or may not have taken place.
But sometimes there is a story so literal and vivid that to metaphorize it feels like a cop-out. For example, the slaying of the firstborn.
The 10 plagues always felt kind of removed from me–sort of magical and not relatable, like a fairy tale. Now, reading as a new mom, the words “slaying of the firstborn” feel very, very real. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 12 2013
I knew my life had gotten strange when I found myself standing in my in-laws’ living room, having recently purchased my son from a priest, as my husband threw chocolate silver coins down my hooter hider while I breastfed my son.
We were at my in-laws for my son’s pidyon haben, a ceremony where a firstborn male child who meets all sorts of criteria, such as resulting from a vaginal birth and not having a mother who is the child of a Cohen or a Levi, is redeemed from Temple service. I am pretty ambivalent about all things Temple-related so it wasn’t the top ritual to perform on my list. Breastfeeding in public while among a large group of elderly relatives was also not on the top of my list, but I had low milk supply and my son was latched on, more or less, 10 hours a day, so secluding myself entirely for months didn’t seem like a viable option.
My husband had apparently gone a bit bonkers from sleep deprivation, which was accounting for the throwing the chocolates down my hooter hider while yelling out “Fifty points! I am going to be able to win a cheap plastic toy!” Apparently the last level of sleep deprivation-induced insanity involves confusing your wife for an arcade game. Read the rest of this entry →