Friday, July 15, 2011


A couple of days ago, I went to a role playing class where we play out roles from various characters in the Tannakh/Bible. 

I had to play Cosbi.

Some background on Cosbi:  After the Hebrews were freed from Egypt, they had many battles and traveled around getting to Israel /Canaan.  During their travels they encountered the Midianites lead by Balak.  Balak tried to curse the Hebrews by calling upon Bilaam -who was a bit of a sorcerer.  Bilaam tried and tried but couldn't; instead he blessed them! Finally, he told Balak to seduce the Jews, that ought to send them downhilll in God's eyes.

So he did. Balak sent Midianite women to announce sales!!! The sales would attract the people and then the women -who were scantilly cladded -would seduce the men and have them perform the ritual to their god, Baal Peor.  

Balak's own daughter, Cosbi, was reserved for going after Moses. Since she was a princess and Moses was the leader of the Israelites.  

In the end, Cosbi is taken by Zimri but in the midst of their intercourse and immorality, they are killed by the zealous Pinchas and that's the end of the story.

It was really hard playing Cosbi because so much of my own issues came to the surface.  Cosbi arguing with her father, Balak, as to why she has to give up her life, her body, her virginity for the "good of the community" ; her inner struggle wanting to do the right thing but also wanting to be happy for herself as well---now that I think of it, it is also a topic in the Black community at large.

In my role, I made that Cosbi decided to try and trick her father by agreeing to go and seduce Moses, but once she got Moses's audience, she would beg for protection against her father and hope that he, being such a spiritual and powerful leader, would have some compassion and take her in -just like he did the other Midianite woman, Tzipporah.

However, there was another problem brewing.  Shimon and Levi were always ill at ease with each other.  Even though, Shimon was the older of the two (son #2), Levi, who was son #3, was chosen for the priesthood.  So down the line, their descendents quarreled about that and had to do tikkunim /reparations from this (according to Rabbi Hoffman). 

Anyway, Moses made the decree that no one should go to those Midianite women and their sales pitch because it was a trap to bring them to immorality and avoda zara/ idol worship.  In order to defy Moses (who is from the tribe of Levi),  Zimri (from Shimon's camp) brazenly went out to find a Midianite woman. 

In strolls Cosbi on her way to Moses.

Zimri:  Why go to Moses, Princess? I am higher than he! I am son from the tribe of Shimon, which is son #2 of Jacob, whereas Moses is from Levi which is son #3.  I am a prince of my camp and so money and honor will not be lacking for you, my princess. Come away with me and let's make sweet together!!

Cosbi finds Zimri quite attractive.  So she comes up with a different plan. She can defy her father yes, but this time with someone that she's actually attracted to! the perfect ending!! she thinks.

And so they come together. But first Zimri has to make sure Moses feels the pain. So he goes before Moses with his Midianite woman and then defiantly goes into his came for some hanky panky.

Poor, poor Cosbi.  all she wants is just a family.  A loving husband and children. A normal life with a garden and good neighbors. Simple things based on the stories she heard when she was a child --that's me putting in my own character in Cosbi.

It was a lot of fun playing the role of Cosbi.  It was like me strategizing and plotting to get away from the abuser in my life when I was a kid.  At a certain point it got a bit overwhelming and I didn't want to reveal to much over there. But it was loads of fun.


Chaya said...

I wish I had seen your Cosbi!

Your post prompted me to compare Cosbi's tragic tale to the story of the wife of the Roman emperor who is commanded to seduce R. Akiva. She fails. But ultimately ends up with him in a kosher marriage rather than in a licentious love affair.
She also escaped a bad man. And gets the house and garden, etc.

Where did Cosbi go wrong? Couldn't she smell that Zimri was up to no good???

Miriam said...

hi Chaya!

re: the wife of the Roman emperor and Rabbi Akiva. Amazing story isn't it? its like who seduced who in the end? hahahah.

I think Cosbi had two strikes against her. (1) her youth. I think it made her be so self absorbed that her only goal was to leave her wicked father; she didn't even check why Zimri was so adamant about her going with him vs going with Moshe.

and (2) The ex-wife of the roman emperor had a chance to go home and think about it. She could weigh her choices and make the right one. Cosbi had to decide on the spot. So she let her heart -not the brains- make the decision.

my take.

Chaya said...

Oye to Cosbi!

I smell a gilgul....

Instead of 'head over heels', it should be head over heart.