Builder of Her Home: Women and Communication #3

22 04 2012
Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller

When the Jews reached Har Sinai, the Torah writes, “Vayichan sham Yisrael.” (He (Yisrael) encamped there). Rashi explains that the singular word Vayichan is used because the Jews were like one person. When they were together in that place of true unity Hashem said, “Ko tamar l’beit Yaakov,” so shall you say to the house of Yaakov, “V’tageid l’bnei yisrael,” and tell the children of Israel. Hashem spoke to the men in the plural form but to the woman in the singular form because they signify the unifying force. Women are not meant to lose their individuality. In fact, the Talmud says one thousand women are a thousand individuals. Rather, they are supposed to use their inherent power of bonding to unite others.

The woman is the force that enables connection. This exalted power unites each individual with all the different aspects of his personality. It also unites all of klal Yisrael. Unity doesn’t mean becoming something other than oneself, but rather working towards a shared goal.

Even Jews who are very far from Torah still sense a deep inner drive for something higher. Women retain this power to unify people on this meaningful search.

Mishlei states, “The wisdom of a woman builds her home.” Her task is to unite the members of her family with a sense of purpose. When a woman takes disparate parts and joins them together using the wisdom of her heart, she turns all of the stray threads into strands that are fine and beautiful. She does this by being connected (kesher) and having a relationship (yachas). Being connected means offering real understanding. Having a relationship means giving the other person a sense of belonging to something greater. A woman’s wisdom involves weaving together people’s lives. She begins by making cords of connection, extending threads that connect her and her husband so that all the disparate people in her home become like one person.

The Torah is compared to a woman because it too unifies all the different forces within us. The Torah is called the tree of life. When a person dies, his limbs and organs are still there, but there is no longer communication between them. A person is alive when all of the parts of his body and soul are connected and are working in synch. In order to create kesher (connection), there has to be commonality. The woman’s task is to find that common goal within her home.

The relationship of the woman and her husband, their willingness for kesher and yachas, enables experiential possibility for making a true kesher with Hashem. Through a woman’s ability to make connection, she makes kesher with herself and with the godliness within her.

Even her seeming disadvantage of wanting to charm her husband has purpose. The Gemara says, “There’s no purpose for a woman other than for beauty, children, and feminine jewelry.” These powers enable a woman to make connection. Her beauty allows her to create a bond with her husband. Her role as the mother of their children gives them commonality. Her regality gives her husband a sense of how much he desires her. These gifts draw both the husband and wife to their home. The woman can make her home a place of meaning and significance.

Kol kevuda bat melech penima.” One of the ten names of the soul is kavod. A woman’s glory is expressed within her. The home is the place where a woman senses her inner beauty. The environment she creates, the kesher she nurtures within her home, becomes her crown.

In today’s modern culture, women are brainwashed to avoid the home. We’re told that real life is where you’re achieving something out in the world. This way of life diminishes the home as a place of significance. The idea that a home communicates to its inhabitants a sense of their own value and chashivut (importance) is completely lost. Cooking a warm, satisfying, meal encourages communication, bonding, and a relationship. Straightening up the house so it looks orderly and pleasant creates a sense of kavod (honor).

Judasim teaches, “A woman of valor is her husband’s crown.” Granted that she is dependent on him and it puts her in a weaker position, but this enables her to receive and it enables him to provide. Together they can achieve shleimut (wholeness).

A woman is in a position of continued choice making in her home. Her choices are very deep and touch the roots of the inherent good and evil that live in every human heart. The framework a woman creates can either bring forth her hidden higher self that will in turn engender a positive kesher and relationship or the opposite. A woman’s ability to build or to destroy has no parallel.

The root of all evil is separation and divisiveness. The Hebrew word for trembling, falling apart, is ra’u’ah, from the root word ra, evil. Evil is disintegration. There’s no greater place than marriage where the choice between giving life or causing death, creating unity or disunity, has such a lasting impact. When you choose between unification and separation, between connection or disintegration, it’s not just about you or your home, but about the very root of good and evil.

Advertisements




In the Merit of Righteous Women: Rachel & Leah #7

4 11 2011
Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller 

Rachel and Leah When Yaakov met Rachel coming with the sheep, he immediately recognized her as his bashert-predestined mate. How did he know this? What does bashert really mean?

 

Yaakov was a prophet. He signified emet, which is the ability to perceive something completely – including one’s own place in the larger picture. Yaakov was tiferet, a combination of chesed and gevurah, inspiration and challenge. The perfect mate for tiferet is malchut, taking the vision and making it happen. Malchut means achieving absolute control over oneself and then surrendering that control to something higher. Yaakov saw malchut in Rachel.

 

The Zohar says that Rachel was beautiful but she had no eyes. Rachel wasn’t a visionary. She didn’t live with perceiving the bigger picture from afar. She lived in the here and now and this is what Yaakov saw in her. He needed someone to take his vision and ground it in reality.

 

Hashem gives everyone a mission in life, but it’s difficult to accomplish it alone. He gives us a helpmate to help us reach our destiny but how do we know who our mate really is? The Gemara says one’s first mate is the one who was divinely ordained and one’s second mate goes according to merit. The Malbim explains that the first mate is the bonding of the soul to the body.

 

The person you marry depends on your merits. Every soul has a mission that is applicable to it on many levels. Nefesh is the part of the soul experienced through the body; ruach is the choosing self; and neshama embodies our spiritual uniqueness. A person will encounter his highest zivug according to his merit. Many of us are barely on speaking terms with our neshama. We don’t know ourselves at all. Our zivug will not be with our neshama but rather with our nefesh or ruach.

 

Yaakov recognized Rachel as his absolute zivug. He kissed her and wept. The kiss was not a kiss of desire. He cried because he had a flash of prophetic insight that told him he wouldn’t be buried with her. Nobody thinks of death and desire at the same time. He was in love with her righteousness and part of her righteousness entailed that she wouldn’t be buried with him. She was destined to be interred at the crossroads. Being a doer, uplifting physicality, means you have to address yourself to the world and not hide in a cave.

 

Leah’s eyes were weak from weeping. Unlike Rachel she didn’t live in the moment but rather in the future. She was projective. Leah had great spiritual capacity and could have turned Esav around. But she didn’t want him. He could give her nothing that she desired and she therefore wept for the fate that awaited her. Leah’s middah was binah, insight. Yaakov needed action, not insight, and therefore Lavan gave him Leah so that he would fail in his mission. For Yaakov it seemed like a disaster. For Leah, however, it was the fulfillment of her deepest prayers.

 

Rachel saw Leah just as herself, a woman no less divine than her, who wanted just what she desired. She could not let her suffer humiliation. She sacrificed her entire future to save her sister from shame. Her act took only a moment, but it changed the course of history. The power of redemption is in her merit.

 

Why didn’t Yaakov leave Leah after discovering Lavan’s deception? We believe that all marriages are predestined. If Hashem blesses a marriage with a child, it means the couple is meant to be bonded. However the Torah does permit divorce because people can choose themselves out of a good marriage. Divorce can be a matter of a bad choice. In marriage there has to be a basic premise of honesty between the couple. If it is based on false premises, it’s not a valid pact. Nonetheless, Yaakov’s depth was such that he wouldn’t divorce the mother of his child.

 

In truth it wasn’t a mekach ta’ut (a mistaken pact). The tribes with their caliber had to come from Leah. And Yaakov, the personification of emet had to be married to the wrong woman in order to develop himself. He needed both Rachel and Leah because in a certain sense it was as though he was two people, Yaakov and Yisrael. At this juncture in his life he was still Yaakov, the heel touching the floor, he wasn’t at his highest most developed state. Yet eventually he became Yisrael, the one in whom Hashem would prevail.





Simchat Torah & Women

28 09 2010

Excerpted from Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller’s Question and Answer series on Naaleh.com

Achieving Balance:  Class #9

Question:

Your discussion of women and Simchat Torah did not help my relationship with the chag.  I have no particular desire to dance like the men but I find just standing around and watching it to be deeply boring. My feeling is that observing the dancing does nothing to develop my connection to Torah. What I’ve done for the last few years is to spend the long morning learning Torah by myself, consciously valuing the experience and enjoying it.  Is this ok or should I really be standing in shul with the other women?

Answer:
I understand your misgivings and I think your solution is excellent. Not all women enjoy learning on their own, though. Many women are not as intellectually inclined as others.  Additionally, not all Simchat Torah celebrations are necessarily shallow. I’ve seen many with depth. I don’t know where you live and what your opportunities are, but generally genuine simcha can be found where people really learn. There the celebration will be earnest.

In places where people learn less seriously or learn when they can because their lives flow in other directions, they’ll want to celebrate with the Torah and they’ll do what they’re supposed to, but it may sometimes come across forced or superficial. I’ve also seen the difference between yeshivas where the boys are young and where the boys are more mature and real in their celebration. I won’t say watching the simcha has no effect, but I do understand that for some people experiencing the Torah directly through learning may do the same thing or more. However, I would still recommend you try a place where true simcha is palpable in the air.





Newest Edition of ‘Torat Imecha: Women’s Torah Weekly’ is Now Available

26 06 2009

This weeks edition of ‘Torat Imecha’ is now available. For the entire newsletter in pdf format click on the following link:

Torat Imecha: Women’s Torah Weekly

Here is sampling of one of the articles in this week’s edition:

Rebbetzin’s Perspective Part 12:
Excerpted from Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller’s Question and Answer series on Naaleh.com

Question:
I tend to look at Hashem’s actions and compare Him to the authority figures in my life, with whom I do not have a good relationship. How can I learn to relate to Hashem in a proper way without associating Him with people who evoke negative feelings within me?Answer:
It is true that having a difficult relationship with people in authority may make finding your way to Hashem that much more challenging.  Some people say, “Avinu av harachman-Our father, father of mercy,” and find that the words resonate within them. They see a vision of compassion, caring, and commitment. Other people do not see this. Unfortunatley it is not what their father meant to them. Some people say, ” Ribono Shel Olam-Master of the world” and see Hashem’s glory, benevolence, and love.  For other people, the word, “Master,” immediately evokes every authority figure in their life and it is not necessarily a positive feeling. The way to separate Hashem from people is to learn to become more aware of Him. In my opinion, the best and easiest way to do this is through hitbodedut-dedicating about 20 minutes to a half an hour each day to talk to Hashem about your life.  The key here is speech because words that come from the heart create a different level of awareness. Learn to see Hashem in nature, your children, and in everything He provides you. You will begin to recognize Hashem as the One who took you out of Egypt, both your own personal exile and the collective exile, as the G-d who is committed to you, and loves you.”

Shabbat Shalom!!