juliespeaks

The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.

WOMAN OF VALOR

 

WOMAN OF VALOR

One of the rituals of the Jewish Sabbath dinner meal is the recitation by a husband to his wife of Woman of Valor (Eshat Chayil), a 22 verse poem that concludes the Book of Proverbs, wherein such a woman is described as energetic, righteous and capable. It begins, “A woman of valor who can find. Her worth is far above rubies.”  When I hear it I want to respond by saying, “Stop right there.  I can find plenty of women of valor.” To mention only a few, there was:  

Brave Rachel who stole her father’s idols and never begrudged her sister – winner of the wedding wars. Sneaky Rebecca who ensured first born privileges be given to the second: an act that saved the Jewish people. Courageous Miriam, though still a child, saved one who led his people forth from slavery. Deborah, the judge, sent forth words of wisdom from under a palm tree and bravely entered a war of freedom. Esther – a woman of faith, devotion and courage, kept her identity a secret, defied the rules, appeared before her king to beg for the lives of her people – and won.

Emma Lazarus welcomed the oppressed to a land of freedom, argued for a Jewish homeland long before Herzl called it Zionism. Golda, rose through the ranks to become Premier of Israel, secretly crept across borders to make peace with an enemy

Anne Frank, a young girl never to become a woman, courageously exposed the evils of Nazism: one voice who spoke for six million, embodied the triumph of the human spirit in a dehumanizing system. Henrietta Szold – Founder of Hadassah, leader of Youth Aliyah, rehabilitated thousands of children, established a nursing school, opened health care clinics throughout Israel.

Jewish women of valor can be found in medicine, literature, music, science, education and athletics, politics and the entertainment world: women who fight for right, loudly espouse equality and expose the evils that befall humanity. They score their triumphs alone, unaided they venture forth, no crutches or jumper cables for them

Many others of note swept aside, buried in time. What would the world be like absent the paths they walked? Others will come who measure up to these women of guts and glory and talent. Let us remember and continue to tread the roads they traveled for all mankind

See also Two Toasts To the Sabbath

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Julie Rose

editit601@gmail.com

 

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A BLESSING ON YOUR HEAD

A BLSSING ON YOUR HEAD

You may be familiar with that song from Fiddler On The Roof. Remember?

A blessing on  your head,

                       Mazel Tov, Mazel Tov

                        To see a daughter wed               

                       Mazel Tov, Mazel Tov

That’s not the blessing I’m referring to. There’s another for that bride that comes to her much earlier in life.  One of the traditions observed at the Jewish Sabbath dinner meal is the blessing of one’s children.  Parents place their hands on the child’s head and to girls say: “May you be like Sara, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.”  For boys it’s “May you be like Ephriam and Manassah” (Why it is Ephriam and Manassah and not the equivalent patriarchs is another question.) It makes no difference how old a child is. I have observed eighty and ninety year old parents blessing fifty year-olds.

It’s a lovely tradition but for many years I wondered why we wish our children to be anyone other than who they are. Did I really want my Sara to be like the Biblical Sara or my Joseph to be like Ephriam? My bewilderment was resolved when  I heard the following  Chasidic story.

One day his disciples found Rabbi Zusya weeping and they asked him why. He explained that he trembled when thinking about the end of his life and being asked by the Almighty not “Why were you not like Moses?” but “Why were you not Zusya?”

Indeed.  Why were you not who you are? Once my feeble brain understood  that, I changed the blessing for my kids.   It became, “May you be blessed with the strength and the wisdom to become who you are.”

AND THEY DID!  I’m grateful and proud!

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Julie Rose

Julierose601@gmail.com

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