Tradition Today: A woman’s voice

28.01.2012                      04.Schwat. 5772                      Bo


Tradition Today: A woman's voice

If we consider the original meaning of the verse from Song of Songs, it is clear it is a positive statement praising the beauty of a woman’s voice.

‘Let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet,’ pleads the young lover to his beloved in the Song of Songs (2:14). Contrast that biblical verse to the saying of the third-century Babylonian sage Shmuel: “A woman’s voice is indecent.” Yet this is the very verse that Shmuel cites to justify his saying (Brachot 24a)! He derives his idea from that verse because of the similarity of the sound of the Hebrew word “indecent” – erva – and the Hebrew word for “sweet” – arev.
Although spelled differently, they sound alike. Thus Shmuel, using the methodology of midrash, reads the verse as though it means“…your voice is indecent” – i.e. sexually stimulating, seductive. This is not the only time that a midrash interprets a verse to mean the opposite of its plain meaning….