This coming Shabbat we will start a new cycle of Torah reading with the first Torah portion ‘Be’Reshit’.
This time we would like to address a certain quality related to women in Judaism as implied in this portion.
In Hebrew there are three words seemingly describing the same thing – wisdom:
· Khokhma – חוכמה
· Binah – בינה
· Daat – דעת
However, there is a difference between “khokhmah,” “binah,” and “da’at.
Khokhmah is understanding and practical knowledge how to do things, things you can learn and teach: how to drive a car, how to tie your shoes, etc..
Binah is knowledge of relationships: Putting A and B together, logical reasoning – deduction, but also intuition.
Da’at is experiential knowledge – this knowledge usually cannot be proven, only experienced: How you know you’re alive, how you know that 1+1 = 2.
Actually the Hebrew word בינה “binah,” is considered to be one of the most important and deepest expressions of feminine qualities.
Binah can be defined as the ability to discern critical differences between situations or entities, which on the surface seem similar, it is the ability to deduce one thing from another.
The Torah establishes a connection between ‘binah’ and the woman in Be’reshit – Genesis 2:22:
וַיִּבֶן יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הַצֵּלָע אֲשֶׁר-לָקַח מִן-הָאָדָם, לְאִשָּׁה וַיְבִאֶהָ, אֶל-הָאָדָם
“Then G-d built the side that He had taken from the man into a woman, and He brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:22).
Pay attention that the Hebrew verb for to build is וַיִּבֶן.
It has the same root as the word בינה
Let’s elaborate on the Hebrew verb for “built” in the above verse is – וַיִּבֶן – “v’yiven.”
This verb does not appear frequently in the Torah text, compared to the more frequent appearances of verbs related to creation/making, such as, “formed,” “made,” or “created.”
The verb “v’yiven” comes from the Hebrew root בין “bin,” which also means “between.”
Our sages comment that the presence of the root “bin” in the story of woman’s creation suggests a feminine intuition – the ability to read “between the lines”.
This ability is the source of the feminine attribute of “binah.”
The term binah, in its association with certain powers of discernment, is exemplified in one of the blessings recited from the Jewish prayer book every morning.
The blessing reads:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר נָתַן (נ”א: הנותן) לַשֶּׂכְוִי בִינָה לְהַבְחִין בֵּין יוֹם וּבֵין לָיְלָה
“Blessed are You [God] who has have given the rooster binah, [i.e. the ability] to distinguish between night and day.”
Presenting the character of a rooster may seem a bit strange within the context of a daily prayer.
But, note how the rooster announces the onset of morning, when for others it seems to still be night.
It appears that the rooster is able to perceive a situation not for how it looks, but deduce what it truly is.
Yoel & Orly
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