Written by Tamar Fox. Check out last week’s post in this series, Double Mitzvah – Vayehi.
Ah, the beginning of Shemot brings us one of my favorite sexy midrashim. Specifically, after Pharaoh condemned all the male Jewish babies to death, the menfolk decided that rather than sleep with their wives and conceive babies that would then be killed, they would instead practice abstinence, thereby saving themselves and their babies from the anguish caused by Pharaoh’s ruling. The problem with this was obvious—in one generation the Jewish people would be gone, baby boys and baby girls.
So, Miriam – only a young girl – began giving the Israelite women mirrors and encouraging them to stand in front of the mirror and beautify themselves. Once sufficiently prettied, the women would travel out to the fields where the men worked and slept, and flirt with and seduce their husbands. Miriam, a prophet, knew that a baby would be born to bring the Israelites out of slavery, and she knew that in order for that to happen, people needed to have sex.
There’s so much to love about this story. First of all, it condemns abstinence. You might think you’re being all holy by holding out, says this story, but God might have other plans for you between the sheets. I also love that it suggests that women should use mirrors to make themselves beautiful, and feel good enough about themselves that they’re comfortable heading out to make their men hot under the collar. The women need the mirrors to give them some confidence, and feel comfortable and happy about how they look. It can be incredibly challenging to look in the mirror and feel excited about what you see, but giving yourself the self-confidence you need is important. For your sex life, and for your health. These women were slaves and they were still able to find some reserves of confidence and va-va-voom.
Finally, I love that this story both reinforces the idea of procreative sex, and the idea of sex for fun. The Israelite women needed to have children to ensure the continuation of their nation. But they also needed to have sex, to get their own mojo on.
And all this happens before Moses is even born!! Exodus is off with a bang…if you know what I mean.