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Pomona Women

11/18/2013 02:27:57 PM


It was movingly beautiful to see the women of the Pomona community get together last night for a social event to make jewelry and meet Rebbitzen Yoni.
The women of our community have a foundational role.
When Hashem instructs Moshe Rabbeinu regarding what will be the “Sinai Experience”, the Almighty says (Shmos 19:3), “Thus shall you say to Bais Yaakov, and tell Bnei Yisroel...”. Two things are obviously remarkable in this pasuk:
a) There are two terms for the Jewish People. Why are the Yidden being divided into two subcategories, and what is the distinctions between them?
b) The word “Ko” - “thus” is used, as opposed to simply saying, “Say to Bais Yaakov and tell Bnei Yisroel”. Why was this word necessary?
Rashi explains that Bais Yaakov refers to the women, while Bnei Yisroel refers to the men. Each must be addressed in their own manner. The women should be addressed in a soft manner (hence the usage of the word “say”), while the men must be addressed in a harsher manner (hence the usage of “tell”). The nation is subdivided because each component must be addressed in its own way.
The word “ko” is used, says Rashi, because the two must not only be addressed in a unique manner, but in this ORDER as well. The women are to be approached and addressed before the men.
The rationale for the differential presentation is understood, but why was the order so critical?

I think that the answer to this question highlights the fundamental and foundational role of the women of our community, and all of Klal Yisroel.

My Rebbi, Rav Aharon Kahn Shlit”a often makes the following comment:
Shlomo Hamelech instructs us (Mishlei 1:8), “Listen my son to the mussar of your father and do not abandon the Torah of your mother.”
The teaching of one’s father is referred to as mussar, while the teaching of one’s mother is called Torah. Shlomo Hamelech enjoins us to LISTEN to the mussar of one’s father, but not to the Torah of his mother. Regarding the Torah of one’s mother, the instruction is to not ABANDON. How can one abandon something that he never listened to? How exactly did he learn it?
Apparently, the mussar of one’s father is something that one will only learn if he pays attention, but the Torah of his mother, he absorbs without even being conscious of it.
We all have modes of behavior that we never consciously learned. Our sensitivities, our attitudes and perspectives often result from simply being raised in our mother’s home. Those sensitivities, attitudes and perspectives are the Torah of the mother, something we are instructed to take care that we do not abandon.
I think it is for this reason that a wife is referred to in the Torah with the word Bayis, home. In the first Mishnah of Yoma there is a discussion if the Kohen Gadol should have a backup wife for Yom Kippurim, in case his should be nifteres, rachmana litzlan. Why is it so necessary for the Kohen Gadol to have a wife on Yom Kippurim? The pasuk (Vayikra 16:6) states, “...he [the Kohen Gadol] shall atone for himself and beiso - his home.” Chazal explain, “beiso” refers to a wife. Therefore, the Kohen Gadol must have a wife on Yom Kippurim.
It is along the same lines that Chazal learn that Esther was married to Mordechai. The Megilla states that Mordechai took Esther as a “bas” (Esther 2:7), implying that he adopted her as a daughter. Yet, Chazal (Megilla 13a) say do not read it as daughter, but rather as “bayis”, which means a wife. There are many more example of this as well.
The Jewish woman is the foundational source of values among the Jewish People. The atmosphere of the home is determined by her. The sensitivities, attitudes and perspectives of the home are defined by her. Our precious kinderlach absorb these values without even realizing it, because they are raised in her home. This is the Torah of the mother.

How necessary it is then, that when the Torah is to be accepted by the Jewish People, that the women must be approached first. It must be this way, it can only work this way.

It was beautiful to see the precious mothers at the Schwartz home last night, in a warm expression of achdus and care for one another and the community as a whole. Neshei has such a critical role in the community, aside from its members providing the Torah of the mother in each and every home, Neshei provides the chasadim and services that our locale requires to function as a community. Whether it is meals for mommies, welcome baskets for new members of the community, mishloach manos for Purim, or the many other services and activities that Neshei supports; we cannot be a community without it.
Thank you to those that were able to make it last night. We hope to have many more functions in the future.
May we continue to grow together and spread the Torah, in its broadest sense in so many different ways.

Etan Moshe Berman

  10 Nisan 5783