Showing posts with label women and the Schechinah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label women and the Schechinah. Show all posts

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rosh Chodesh - Holiday for the Suffering of Israel, Women and the Moon

My Shabbos table for years, at least when I had the energy, was devoted to long deroshose about two things. One was the old Torah that I had learned from Gedolim Reb Aharon Kotler, Reb Moshe Feinstein, Reb Yaacov Kaminetsky, etc., and the second thing was the greatness of women. For instance, I would note that in the first three Jewish families of Avrohom, Yitschok and Yaacov, the men wanted to do things that would destroy the Jewish people, and the women opposed them and saved the Jewish people. Avrohom wanted Yishmael to stay in the family and Soro disagreed. HaShem told Avrohom that Soro was right and that all that she said he must listen to her because Soro was greater than Avrohom in prophecy.

Yitschok wanted to give the birthright, the leadership of the Jews to Aiso, and Rivka fought with him and succeeded in getting the birthright for Yaacov.

Yaacov opposed Leah, but from her came the major tribes and the greatest ones. Also, in Egypt the men gave up under the pressure of slavery and refused to have any more children. Then little Miriam said to her father, "Father, Pharaoh decreed to kill the boys, and  you decree to destroy everyone, as nobody has babies." From this her father relented, took her mother back, and Moshe was born.

Also, the only Jewish leader who was perfectly successful was a woman, Devorah. Furthermore, at Sinai the men worshiped the Golden Calf and the women did not. When the Jews crossed the sea during the escape from Egypt, and the Egyptian army drowned, the men stood and chanted their thanks, but the women took musical instruments, played joyful music and danced. The men took swords from Egypt and the women took musical instruments, as they trusted in HaShem to protect them.

But there is another side to all of this. The women suffer more than men. The man does nothing painful to have a baby, but the mother suffers for nine months of gestation, and child birth, and the raising of the child. Although the home is the realm of the mother, the household is led by the father, who leads the meals in the prayers, and who is the boss.

Men make a berocho "who has not made me a woman." And yet, the gemora says that Jewish women have an easy time entering heaven but not the man.

There were two Jewish prophetesses, Devorah and Chulda. Both of these names are interesting. Devorah means a bee, and Chulda is a mole. This is because a woman has a very holy and elevated status, until she enters the public arena. Then even if she saves the Jewish people spiritually and physically, as Devorah did, she is shaming herself and is thus a "bee". Indeed, the Torah begins with the word בראשית that means בית ראש according to the Zohar. If so, the Torah begins with the role of women, and the first word of a book is its whole essence. And yet, women are not the ones who read the Torah nor do they devote much time to learning Torah.  Are women high or not? Here they are superior to men and here they are the opposite. What is going on around here?

This problem began before men and women were created. Briefly, the sun and moon were created equal. The moon blazed its light just like the sun. But the moon knew that it was superior to the sun. So it requested of G-d that the sun shrink its light and the moon would rule. HaShem replied, "Go and diminish yourself," Thus, the moon is a tiny bit of light and often dark, while the sun blazes away. The Moon protested bitterly but nothing helped. However, HaShem told the Moon that the Jews would count their holidays according to the Moon, not the Sun. The sun is the "male" essence and the moon is "female."

Keep in mind that this happened before people were created. The sun and moon were angelic servants of G-d, so how could the Moon act this way and argue with HaShem? And what is so wonderful of having the Jews count their holidays according to the Moon that she should be in darkness and the sun lights the day?

But  this Medrash is telling us about the Jewish people. It, too, by keeping the Torah, wants to be special, but instead, the Jews suffer more than anyone else. G-d is telling the Moon, and the Jewish people, that this world is for testing, and those who pass the test merit the happiness of the Future World. But there are various levels in the Future World. Those who have had a good time in this world may have a more difficult time in the other world. But those who worship G-d in this world with suffering, merit in the Future World fantastic rewards.

This is the theme of Shir HaShirim, the Song of Songs. A woman seeks her husband, and while she looks for him the police beat her. She suffers and cries out to her husband to help her. She has questions, meaning, the Shechina has questions, because the Shechina suffers along with Israel in this world, and she wants answers. HaShem tells her that precisely because she was so deserted and desolate in this world, she will merit fantastic glory and happiness in the Future World. Thus, women, Israel and the Schechina are one. This world offers them challenges, and for this, they merit quickly the highest levels in the Future World.

But all of this comes with a cost. The world despises a Jew and women are relegated. The Schechina is also a holiness in suffering because of this. And it seems that HaShem made a mistake, chas vishalom. Therefore, HaShem honors women on Rosh Chodesh, and gives them the day as a holiday, but not the men, because men worshiped the Golden Calf. HaShem commands the Jews to bring a special offering on Rosh Chodesh, the New Moon, to remind him that this holiday for the superior level of women does not really exist in this world, as it is really in the Next World that Israel and women will merit greatness and happiness. HaShem says that this offering is an atonement for Him, for making such a world of suffering for the Moon and women and Israel. We are thus reminded on Rosh Chodesh that what seems down and low in this world is not necessarily down and low. HaShem made it this way to allow for a higher perfection in the Future World. Only there are answers to the suffering of Israel,women, and the Schechina.


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