Friday, February 19, 2016

Ladies, Raise Your Spirits!

Last night I went out with most of my favorite females, which means most of my daughters and granddaughters. We went to a performance, you could call it an "operetta*," since most of the dialogue is in song and dance. Or maybe it's really a "light opera," because the theme was extremely rich and thought-provoking. But the truth is that it was fun, and since there's only one more performance scheduled, I'd rush to get those tickets ASAP.

Yes, I'm talking about Raise Your Spirits Theater, SISTERS! THE DAUGHTERS OF TZELOFCHAD! Written and Directed by Toby Klein Greenwald and based on the Biblical story, just a few lines in the Bible, it is an amazing and scholarly interpretation of what can be considered one of the more "feminist" Biblical events. Tzelofchad's five daughters were given the status of sons by Gd. And here on stage we heard and watched their story.
Bamidbar 27
א  וַתִּקְרַבְנָה בְּנוֹת צְלָפְחָד, בֶּן-חֵפֶר בֶּן-גִּלְעָד בֶּן-מָכִיר בֶּן-מְנַשֶּׁה, לְמִשְׁפְּחֹת, מְנַשֶּׁה בֶן-יוֹסֵף; וְאֵלֶּה, שְׁמוֹת בְּנֹתָיו--מַחְלָה נֹעָה, וְחָגְלָה וּמִלְכָּה וְתִרְצָה.1 Then drew near the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph; and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah.
ב  וַתַּעֲמֹדְנָה לִפְנֵי מֹשֶׁה, וְלִפְנֵי אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן, וְלִפְנֵי הַנְּשִׂיאִם, וְכָל-הָעֵדָה--פֶּתַח אֹהֶל-מוֹעֵד, לֵאמֹר.2 And they stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, at the door of the tent of meeting, saying:
ג  אָבִינוּ, מֵת בַּמִּדְבָּר, וְהוּא לֹא-הָיָה בְּתוֹךְ הָעֵדָה הַנּוֹעָדִים עַל-יְהוָה, בַּעֲדַת-קֹרַח:  כִּי-בְחֶטְאוֹ מֵת, וּבָנִים לֹא-הָיוּ לוֹ.3 'Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not among the company of them that gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah, but he died in his own sin; and he had no sons.
ד  לָמָּה יִגָּרַע שֵׁם-אָבִינוּ מִתּוֹךְ מִשְׁפַּחְתּוֹ, כִּי אֵין לוֹ בֵּן; תְּנָה-לָּנוּ אֲחֻזָּה, בְּתוֹךְ אֲחֵי אָבִינוּ.4 Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he had no son? Give unto us a possession among the brethren of our father.'
ה  וַיַּקְרֵב מֹשֶׁה אֶת-מִשְׁפָּטָן, לִפְנֵי יְהוָה.  {פ}5 And Moses brought their cause before the LORD. {P}
ו  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר.6 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying:
ז  כֵּן, בְּנוֹת צְלָפְחָד דֹּבְרֹת--נָתֹן תִּתֵּן לָהֶם אֲחֻזַּת נַחֲלָה, בְּתוֹךְ אֲחֵי אֲבִיהֶם; וְהַעֲבַרְתָּ אֶת-נַחֲלַת אֲבִיהֶן, לָהֶן.7 'The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father's brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them.
ח  וְאֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, תְּדַבֵּר לֵאמֹר:  אִישׁ כִּי-יָמוּת, וּבֵן אֵין לוֹ--וְהַעֲבַרְתֶּם אֶת-נַחֲלָתוֹ, לְבִתּוֹ.8 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying: If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.
Many years ago, I discovered a family history to the name of one of the daughters. My great-grandfather gave his fifth daughter (out of six, no sons) the name Milcah, who was one of the Biblical sisters/daughters. He had also made sure that his daughters were educated, and this was in Rogotshov, Belarus, over a century ago.

I enjoyed seeing my granddaughters mesmerized by what they saw on the stage. I come from a family of theater lovers, meaning both on and off the stage. The only times I wish we had moved to Efrat, rather than to Shiloh, is when it's production and performing time for RAISE YOUR SPIRITS THEATRE. I'm so itching to be there with my friends on the stage and behind the scenes. 

And I hope that my older granddaughters managed to listen and follow to the story, too. Actually, I think that the girls high schools here and post-high school study programs for girls from abroad should hire the theatre to perform for them. It would be a shame if they gave up this chance to learn the story of those very special daughters and sisters.

*Operetta is a genre of light opera, light in terms both of music and subject matter.


Toby Klein Greenwald said...

Dear Batya, thank you for your wonderful warm words! FYI, we have FOR YEARS pursued the high schools and the post-high school midrashot, and this year more than ever before, reached out to them, due to the topic. There are 2000 midrasha students in the Jerusalem area, but the only midrashot that sent students, as a school (to the best of my knowledge) -- were Midreshet Bat Ayin (around the corner from us), Omanut v'Emunah of Jerusalem (yashar koach to Rabbi David Debow). Midreshet Darkeynu (the special needs program in Lindenbaum), and Lindenbaum posted a sign-up sheet for other students. Yes, it is a mystery. Halevai that your post will be read by some midrasha directors.

Batya said...

Toby, I've been telling everyone about it. It's a shiur on the stage. All the Matan students should be seeing it!