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October 28, 1988 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-10-28

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Ver

Wayne State University

WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY
CENTER FOR JUDAIC STUDIES *

I UP FRONT I

Lilith

Continued from Page 5

in cooperation with

THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

presents

An International Conference

THE HEBREW BIBLE:
SACRED TEXT AND LITERATURE

October 30-November 2, 1988

Wayne State University
Detroit, Michigan

*The Center is a cooperative effort of the University and the United Jewish Charities of the Jewish Welfare Federation
of Metropolitan Detroit. The conference is partially funded by a grant from the National Endowment fo the Humanities.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30

Opening Address — 8 p.m.
"THE HEBREW BIBLE AND THE JEWISH HERITAGE"
Moshe Greenberg
The Hebrew University
Jewish Community Center
6600 W. Maple, West Bloomfield

midrash," Bernstein said.
"The demon, the whore.
Nowadays she is seen both as
a strong woman — like the
feminist magazine that bears
her name — and as a temp-
tress, a frightening force of
evil?'
The details of Lilith's life
are not found in the Torah,
but in the midrash, the ex-
egetical portions of the
Talmud in which the rabbis in
narrative form attempted to
fill in details omitted from the
biblical text.
Lilith would not be sexual-
ly subservient to Adam, Bern-
stein said, describing the
midrash. And so Adam com-
plained to God. Rather than

MONDAY, OCTOBER 31

Wayne State University
McGregor Memorial Conference Center

Session II
2:15-5:00 p.m.

Session I
9:30 12 Noon

-

"THE FORMATION OF CANON"

"SOURCE CRITICISM"

James Vanderkam, North Carolina State
University
Joseph Blenkinsopp, University of Notre Dame
RESPONSE: David Noel Freedman,
University of Michigan

Jeffrey Tigay, University of Pennsylvania
William Propp, University of California —
San Diego
RESPONSE: Rolf Knierim,
Claremont School of Theology
Baruch Levine, New York University

TUESDAY, ,NOVEMBER 1

The University of Michigan
Rackham Building

Session II
2:30-5:30 p.m.

Session I
10:30-12:30 p.m.

"BIBLICAL HISTORIOGRAPHY"

"ANCIENT EXEGESIS"

, Peter Machinist, Univeristy of Michigan
Baruch Halpern, York University
RESPONSE: Jack Sasson,
University of North Carolina

Alan Cooper, HUC-JR
Marc Brettler, Brandeis University
RESPONSE: Moshe Greenberg,
The Hebrew University

Session III
8:00-10:00 p.m.

"THE USES OF MODERN LITERARY CRITICISM IN INTERPRETATION"

Edward Greenstein, The Jewish Theological Seminary
Adele Berlin, University of Maryland
RESPONSE: Michael Patrick O'Connor, Ann Arbor, Michigan

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 2
Wayne State University

McGregor Memorial Conference Center

Concluding Session
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
"THE HEBREW BIBLE AND THE WESTERN LITERARY TRADITION"

Herbert Schneidau, University of Arizona
RESPONSE: Jill Robbins, SUNY — Buffalo
David Stern, University of Pennsylvania

Admission to all programs is free

16

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1988

Inquiries (313) 577-3015

Mashey Bernstein:
Fear and attraction.

bow to the wills of her hus-

band and the Almighty, Lilith
invoked the name of God and
vanished. She took up habita-
tion at the bottom of the Red
Sea.
Ever since, she has been
viewed as the killer of
newborn children. Tradition
has it that Lilith impregnates
herself with unused semen
and gives birth to demon
children. When a man dies,
these demon children try to
gather at his casket.
The Lilith concept fits neat-
ly into the Ofthodox Jewish
.view of sex roles, Bernstein
said. "The rabbis siphoned off
the sexual aspect of woman
and called her Lilith." Eve
became the domesticated wife
and mother, the Aishet
Chayal, the Woman of Valor,
"because a woman who is sex-
ually free cannot be a wife."
"The makers of Fatal At-
traction probably had no idea
that they were recreating a
Lilith myth," Bernstein said.
"They just tapped into certain
fears and ideas we all share."
Bernstein used clips from
the film to demonstrate the
parallels between Lilith and
Fatal Attraction.
Lilith's association with
water and nature recur in the
film, Bernstein said. The
Lilith character, played by

Glenn Close, is named Alex
Forest. Her surname suggests
the forces of nature, while her
first initial suggests primacy:
the first wife.
Michael Douglas' wife is
called Beth. The 'B' indicates
a secondary role, like Eve.
Her name in Hebrew means
house, symbolizing the
domesticity of the Aishet
Chayal.
Early in the film, Douglas
and Close rendezvous in a
restaurant. She asks, "Where
is your wife?" He answers,
"She's in the country visiting
relatives?'
In a short story called
"Lilith and. Eve," by Jacov
Lind, Lilith comes to a man
and asks the same question.
The man answers as Douglas
did, Bernstein said.
In this scene, Lilith draws
the man toward the tryst.
Douglas and Close make
love in a kitchen sink filled
with dishes. Lilith turns on
the tap. "Domesticity is being
taken over by sexuality. Plus
you have the water element?'
, The film's climactic scene
takes place in an atmosphere
laden with water, Lilith's
natural habitat. At the end,
seemingly drowned" in a
bathtub, Alex appears to rise
from the dead. She is finally
stopped by Beth, who shoots
her.
"How was she able to rise
again? My answer is Lilith
lives in water," Bernstein
said. "She is killed by her
sister Eve, not the man" who
has no real power over her.
According to Freud, water is
a symbol of sexuality, par-
ticularly female sexuality,
Bernstein said.
He added that the concept
of collective memory — the
common subconscious
knowledge we all share —
suggested by Freud's col-
league, Jung, applies to the
myth of Lilith, and to Fatal
Attraction.
"Lilith is a symbol of a cer-
tain kind of fear that women
_ have, and a certain kind of at-
traction that men have,"
Bernstein said.
Long before Freud, the rab-
bis of the Talmud delved into
psychology. However, they us-
ed biblical and theological —
rather than Freudian — ter-
minology and methods to ex-
plain psychological
phenomen. Bernstein cited
one midrash which describes
the possible origin of the con-
fusion in male-female roles
and relations.
"In the beginning, women
ruled the world. At some
point, the men rose up and
overthrew the women. The
men then rewrote the holy
texts to put women in a
subservient role."

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