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Weekly Letter: The Role of the Jewish Woman

This week, we present a letter from the Rebbe on the important role Jewish women played in our redemption from Egypt and subsequent receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, in addition to the women’s initiative in their contributions for the mishkan and refusal to participate in the golden calf. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s personal trusted secretary, Rabbi Nissan Mindel.

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By the Grace of G-d

2nd of Tammuz, 5730

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Prof.

New South Wales, Australia

Greeting and Blessing:

After a long interval, I was pleased to receive your letter of last week, with enclosure.

For various reasons, I am replying in English, one of them being that you may wish to show the letter to some of the friends of Chabad in your community, for whom a Hebrew text may not be so easy.

Referring to the main topic of your letter, namely the dissemination of Yiddishkeit among the Jewish women, I can hardly overemphasize that this activity is one of the most basic and vital efforts for general strengthening of Yiddishkeit. The role of Jewish women in Jewish life goes back to the time of Mattan Torah, as is well known from the commentary of our Sages on the verse, “Thus shall you say to the House of Jacob and tell the Rashi on this verse). In other words, before giving the Torah to the whole people of Israel, G-d told Moshe Rabbeinu to first approach the women and then the men. This emphasizes the primary role of the Jewish wife and mother in preserving the Torah. Ever since, and throughout the ages, Jewish women have had a crucial role in the destiny of our people, as is well known. Moreover, the Jewish housewife is called Akeres habayis – “ the foundation of the house.” In addition to the plain meaning of this term, namely that she is the foundation of her own home, the term may be extended to include the whole “House of Israel,” which is made up of many indivisual homes and families for, indeed, this has been the historic role of Jewish womanhood.

Bein acutely aware of this role of Jewish women in Jewish life, especially in the most recent generations, my father-in-law of saintly memory frequently emphasized this, so much so that immediately after his liberation from Soviet Russia in 1927, when it became possible for him to publish his teachings, he published a number of discourses, talks and addresses in Yiddish in order to make them more easily accessible to Jewish women and daughters. There is no need to further elaborate on the obvious.

With blessing,

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The above letter is from The Letter and the Spirit by Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP).

These letters were written originally in English and were prepared for publication by Rabbi Dr. Nissan Mindel, whose responsibility it was the Rebbe’s correspondence in English and several other languages.

We thank Rabbi Shalom Ber Schapiro, who was entrusted by his father-in-law Rabbi Mindel with his archives and who is Director of the Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP), for making the Rebbe’s letters available to the wider public. May the merit of the many stand him in good stead.

 

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