Torah & Texts

Waiting for Ewe, a Talmud animation from Ketubot 62b

By Jacob Rivkin and Muriel MacDonald

Talmud, interpreted by emerging artists

Artists’ statement: The Babylonian Talmud tells of Rabbi Akiva’s transformation from a poor shepherd to a prominent Rabbi over a period of 24 years (Ketubbot 62b; Nedarim 50a). Rabbi Akiva’s wife plays an instrumental role in this transformation, but remains unnamed in the text. Instead, she is referred to as Akiva’s wife or Ben Kalba Savua’s daughter, or as a ewe, or a beast. From other stories, it is known that Akiva’s wife is named Rachel. Though she is not named in this story, the artists who created “Waiting for Ewe” chose to name her in the film.

This film wrestles with balancing two readings of the story — one where Rachel is empowered, named, and given agency and one where she namelessly gives up her own comfort and desires in favor of her husband’s greatness. The film attempts to address both of these readings, naming her and treating her as a heroine, while still showing the pain of her decision and the difficulty of her role.

Created in chevruta, or partnership, between a visual artist and a writer as part of a 2012-3 program called Studio G-dcast.

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Ketubot 62b-63a Source Sheet

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The BimBam Creative Talmud Curriculum

The development of this program was made possible in part by funds granted by the Covenant Foundation. The statements made and the views expressed in the individual projects, however, are solely the responsibility of the artists.

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