Sermon preached at Gorbals Parish Church on Sunday 13th June, third Sunday after Pentecost.
When I was growing up I loved to watch films about the life of Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. Two of my favourites were Fiddler on the Roof and Yentl. “Fiddler on the roof” was the more famous of the two, but when I read today’s passage I immediately thought about Yentl, starring Barbra Streisand and Mandy Patinkin. Yentl is a story of a rabbi’s daughter who was very unusual amongst other girls in the village. She wasn’t interested in cooking or sewing, and she wasn’t looking to get married like all the other girls. Yentl wanted to study the law of Moses, and the Talmud, which is a series of commentaries on the law.
But that was a problem in 1904, because women were not allowed to study the Talmud. The film begins in a Jewish market place, where a fish trader entices Yentl to buy a fish that is ‘so beautiful, it will cook itself’. Yentl needed all the help she could get, so she agrees to buy the fish, even if she’s not even looking at it. Her eyes are drawn to a book trader driving his cart through the market place yelling: “Picture books for women, sacred books for men! Picture books for women, sacred books for men!”