April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

This week many celebrate Mother’s Day—and with the barrage of advertisements, all of us are hyperaware of the calendar day. As wonderful as it is to celebrate one’s mother, or a mother figure in one’s life, I approach this time with concern for all the people in my life who are still struggling to be a mother, or struggling with the loss of their mother, and of course for those whose mothers are ill. We have a mitzvah to honor and celebrate our mothers each day. On this Mother’s Day I would like to salute Jewish Women. We have so much to admire in all our women. Many of them are quite amazing. Our women are well educated, hardworking, dedicated, often caring for children and aging parents, all while still involved in community chesed! Working at PUAH I am daily humbled by the strength and grit of our ladies. They are really heroes.

In Jewish history and in building families, women play a central role. The two midwives, Shifra and Puah, courageously defy Pharaoh and help save the Jewish babies from death. Miriam risks her life to watch over her baby brother Moshe, and later leads the women out of Mitzrayim in song and dance.

Heroes? Undoubtedly. Yet, while they are the only such women mentioned by name in the Torah, we know there were many more. Our rabbis teach us that it was in the merit of the righteous Jewish women that we were saved from Egypt. Not just two or three of them, but thousands. Women who, when their husbands were ready to give up, to buckle under the weight of their oppression, did whatever it took to revive their spirits. Women who, somehow, in one of the darkest times of our history, found within themselves the strength to express unwavering emunah and optimism about the future.

These are the seeds of our greatness, implanted by our foremothers. This is the Jewish superwoman, who, throughout history, has quietly but firmly maintained her faith and commitment, no matter what.

Baruch Hashem, we have no lack of superwomen today.

At first glance, Ora does not seem like the model of a Jewish hero. She describes herself as a 38-year-old “chilonit” woman. An irreligious woman, she goes on to elaborate, who has taken upon herself the mitzvah of Taharat HaMishpacha.

After several years of marriage, she relates, she and her husband decided they wanted to have children. She became pregnant within a few months, but, unfortunately, suffered a miscarriage. This affected her menstrual cycle, which became much shorter than it had prior to the miscarriage—so short that ovulation was occurring before she went to the mikvah.

“Now, since I am not religious,” she begins—and, already, in my mind, I am filling in the rest of the sentence: Since I am not religious, and this mitzvah I had taken on was interfering with my ability to have a child, I decided to stop observing it.

But that’s not what she says. “Since I’m not religious, I’m not in the habit of consulting with rabbis. So, I continued doing what I’d been doing until now. I was going to the mikvah, and missing my ovulation. I knew I had taken on a special mitzvah. But I also knew it was a mitzvah to have children. And I began to wonder how one mitzvah could be preventing me from doing another.”

Luckily, at this point, she heard about PUAH. She describes how uncomfortable she was with the thought of discussing these personal issues with a rabbi, but from her very first conversation with PUAH rabbinic counselor Rabbi Dov Popper, she was impressed with his sensitivity, patience and professionalism. Thanks to the medical and halachic guidance that he provided throughout her fertility process, she succeeded in becoming pregnant again.

She is filled with gratitude to PUAH: “Without Rav Popper’s guidance, today I would be a very frustrated and disappointed woman; still keeping Taharat HaMishpacha, but not whole-heartedly. Thanks to PUAH, I continue keeping this mitzvah with full-hearted emunah.”

This is the level of care and commitment that even an “irreligious” Jewish woman has for a mitzvah.

These are the superwomen of Am Yisrael!

By Batya Israel

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