What Stops the Plague?
Miriam Gedwiser / April 29, 2021
Plague is one of God’s preferred forms of collective punishment in the Bible. Just as plagues often start in reaction to human misdeeds, they can often be stopped by human action as well. What stops a plague? How can individual actions, even extreme ones, change the balance of the public’s guilt in God’s eyes? To answer these questions, we will examine depictions of plague and how it can end through the lens of rabbinic texts, including the story of Rabbi Akiva’s students and the abrupt cessation of their plague-related deaths.
Miriam Gedwiser is a faculty member at Drisha and teaches Talmud and Tanakh at the Ramaz Upper School. She has a B.A. in the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine from the University of Chicago and a J.D. from N.Y.U. School of Law. Miriam studied at Midreshet Lindenbaum and in the Drisha Scholar’s circle. She previously practiced commercial litigation at a large law firm and clerked for the Hon. Debra Freeman, U.S.M.J., in Manhattan. Miriam serves as a guest lecturer at synagogues and programs around the Northeast, and has written on topics of Jewish and Torah interest for The Lehrhaus, The Forward, the Center for Modern Torah Leadership blog, and Project 929. Miriam lives Teaneck, New Jersey with her family.