Experiencing PIJE at NewCAJE
The first and last sessions engaged participants in inquiries around Biblical texts. In these sessions we chose to use art in different ways: the first, to create a ‘gallery of laughter’ to trigger an exploration of Sarah’s reaction to the news she would have a child and, in the last session, to explore artists’ interpretations of the relationship between Naomi, Orpah and Ruth in Megilat Ruth. The second session ‘”Beyond the first question” focused on skills of inquiry, whereas the third, longer session, offered an opportunity to explore both the ‘theory behind the practice’ of this approach, including videos from the classroom. 59 educators took part in the sessions, several coming back again and again!
Interpretations of Naomi’s Silence
Ruth’s famous plea to Naomi to let her come with her is one of the best known parts of the Megilat Ruth – we expect Naomi to be happy, to be touched by this moving speecha nd rach out to Ruth…. but what really happens next? In the text we are told that Naomi’s response to Ruth is silence:
|יח וַתֵּרֶא, כִּי-מִתְאַמֶּצֶת הִיא לָלֶכֶת אִתָּהּ; וַתֶּחְדַּל, לְדַבֵּר אֵלֶיהָ||18 And she [Naomi] saw that she [Ruth] was determined to go with her, and she stopped speaking to her|
|…יט וַתֵּלַכְנָה שְׁתֵּיהֶם, עַד-בּוֹאָנָה בֵּית לָחֶם||19 And they went on both of them, until they arrived to Beit Lechem…
What does it mean to “cease speaking” to someone? (וַתֶּחְדַּל, לְדַבֵּר אֵלֶיהָ). Was her silence a way of giving Ruth permission to come, or was Naomi simply left speechless? Was it a way of stepping back and letting Ruth make up her own mind or does she then just ignore Ruth as each continued the journey in their own space (וַתֵּלַכְנָה שְׁתֵּיהֶם)? What else might it have meant? After exploring our own uses of silence we returned to the text and explored what we thought Naomi’s silence meant as we looked at a range of traditional and modern commentaries, including seven different images of this moment portrayed in art and sculpture. Breaking into groups we then created a ‘freeze frame’ of this moment as we interpreted it. Hold your curser over the photos below to hear how we interpreted the scene!
To access the resources used in this session click here.
“Thank you for a meaningful session about Naomi’s Silence. You have so beautifully invited us to read the text from different perspectives. Focusing on Naomi’s silence became an essential detail in my reading the Megilah.” Esti BenDavid