When I was a child I watched a movie called “Yentl” starring Barbra Streisand. It was my favorite movie for a long time. Just like Yentl, the young girl in the movie, I wanted to attend the religious training that was only for Jewish boys. I knew they were learning so much about the Bible and other religious documents, which I wanted to learn also.
The movie had a few twist and turns to make it more interesting, but I was interested in the fact Yentl did what she thought was necessary to learn. She assumed the identity of her late brother, until she was found out. This movie had a happy ending for all parties involved. However, that is not always the case in real life.
Many people suffer the consequences for studying the Holy Scriptures throughout the world. But what I want to focus on is the liberation of women in Israel who are finally free to study the scriptures.
Israel Woman Could Not Study
Historically, women were not taught to study the Torah. It was only for men and their sons. Since then women have come a long way in studying the Bible. Now women study too and it has changed the way they view themselves. Their learning has intensified because most women have a real interest in studying. While this is good now, many women have paid dearly for this right to study.
For example, in 1989, religious and secular women marched together toward the Western Wall, carrying the Torah Scroll. They were determined to pray openly without male leadership or approval. This was not heard of before. They appeared to be rebellious women who needed disciplined. So a right-wing, male group violently attacked them.
Possible Reasons Why Women Not Able to Study
Eliezer ben Hyrcanus thought that if women learned the scriptures they would learn to outwit their husbands and sin secretly. Although they were other evidence that suggested women could study the scriptures, his opinion carried a lot of influence and was accepted as correct.
I believe men did not want women to study because they knew women would identify with the various women in the Bible who were in leadership roles and who brought requests to God. God not only answered them, but he also honored them. Some biblical women to admire were Hanna, Esther, and Deborah. Hanna appeared drunk to the high priest, but was actually pouring her heart out to God. Esther risked her life by going to the king without being requested to stand before him. Prophetess Deborah won a war because a man refused to believe and obey God.
Women Study Now
Although women have been secretly studying the Torah for century, they desired to pray and study openly like men did. In time, a group of women went straight to the Supreme Court to apply for their right to pray at the Western Wall and to study the Bible openly. Finally, in 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak ruled that they could. This freed the minds of many women and gave them the confidence to go forward and study. It also released them from the threat of imprisonment.
Now women are studying the stories such as Hanna in 1 Samuel 1 and walking away with hope because they can relate to Hanna, who also lived in a time where men ruled the religious sector. Yet, she defied rules and regulations because she needed something from the only one who could help her – God. She was willing to be beaten to death if necessary, but she had to get to God.
Her story parallels what has happened with women and religion in our time. Some men did (or do) not want women to speak in an assembly, teach or do anything else that would mean being in a leadership role. They are the ones who have held women back for a long time, not God. These are the type of men who crave power and control more than they crave the truth.
But in the end God always has the last say so. It is his will for everyone to hear his truth, even women, who crave God more than power or control. This is why God is blessing them today. They desire God more than power, more than their husband’s love, more than what society gives them. They desire to know him better and the only way to do that is to study his word.
Our Heavenly Father, who is in heaven,
Teach us as human beings to be kinder to one another and allow everyone who wishes to learn your ways be allowed to do so.
In Yeshua the Messiah’s name, Amen.