The Time I Asked A Non-Innocent Question, Innocently

This story was sent in by Dreamer, who was profoundly innocent for longer than you’d think possible. 

I was in eighth grade and and we learned that Rivkah was an akarah for 20 years before she had Yaakov & Esav at the ripe old age of 23.

I raised my hand to ask the obvious (to me) question: “How could she have been an akarah for so long if you can’t even have kids until you’re 12?”

This was a perfectly innocent statement. I had no idea where babies came from or the significance of menarche. I was just repeating a fact I’d been told, probably by my mother when younger.

The teacher looked at me for a very. long. time. Then she ignored me and went on with her lesson.

I still think it’s a valid question.

Editor’s note: I never realized that Rivkah gave birth so young! 

The Time I Asked A Non-Innocent Question, Innocently

4 thoughts on “The Time I Asked A Non-Innocent Question, Innocently

  1. Jonathan Wacks says:

    I was taught that Eliezer did not meet Rivka at age 3. Rashi had an incorrect version of Seder Olam that says that Yitzchok was 37 at the Akeidah. Many other mefarshim quote the correct version of Seder Olam, which says he was 26. This would make Rivka a somewhat more respectable 14 at marriage, and hence 34 at motherhood.


  2. Dana Friedman says:

    it’s really amazing that a teacher is…just so struck by a question that might strike at her core beliefs, and everything she was taught to mouth back to her students that she couldn’t even say she didn’t know, and that she’d research it and get back to you. WOW! Maybe she was one of those straight-outta-seminary-into-BY teachers. <>


    1. Mark says:

      @Dana, I don’t think it has to do with core beliefs. I think it mostly has to do with staying away from anything that might relate to sex and sexuality. And, it’s tough to explain conflicting midrashim to kids that age. It’s also possible that she wasn’t very good at arithmetic 🙂


  3. We were taught that to be considered an akarah, ten years without conceiving had to have passed. They didn’t start worrying until she was 13 because you can’t have a child before that (they may have mentioned exceptions? I don’t remember), and then ten years later, when she was 23, it was a huge miracle that she gave birth because an akarah giving birth requires a miracle. So whoever my teacher was (I don’t remember which grade, though I think as young as 6th grade possibly) actually handled this one pretty well. No mention was made of menstruating, and I don’t know if anyone made the connection. I did, because I had read that fabulous book “The Wonder of Becoming You,” so I knew all about the pear-shaped uterus and the way a girl’s body practices for motherhood!! So even though I knew some of us got our periods before 13, I knew that the body had to practice a little bit first anyway before it was ready to have a baby.


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