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Women in Judaism
Devorah as Prophetess, Judge and Mother:
A Woman's Innate Ability to Inspire
Part 1 of 2
The story of Devorah appears in The Book of Judges (4:1 - 5:31). Devorah becomes Judge at a time when the Jewish nation is experiencing a spiritual and moral ebb. This state of affairs is summarized in the Artscroll Tanach introduction to the Book of Judges:
"With the death of Joshua, the Jewish nation entered a new era. No longer was there a single national leader, a virtual king of the nation, as Moses and Joshua had been. True, there were courts in every town and city, as commanded by the Torah, so that there would be a system of justice, but there was no formally constituted national leader... As the Book of Judges notes all too sadly, "...In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was proper in his own eyes" (17:6 & 21:25). There were episodes of extreme sinfulness that caused God to remove His protective providence from Israel, and foreign oppressors would exercise predatory control over parts of the country. Nevertheless, the masses of the people never lost their faith in God and their basic allegiance to Torah. God would choose a leader, known as a judge, who would rally the people to repent and thus deserve God's help once again. Then, generally, the judge would conquer and expel the oppressor and the nation would enjoy a long period of tranquility - until it slid downward again...In reading the Book of Judges, it is essential to note that the combined years of peace and righteousness far outnumbered the years of failure and persecution. Always, the Judge was chosen by God, and whenever he or she called upon the people to repent, they responded. The nation had shortcomings, but it was essentially righteous and true to the Torah and its Giver."
The above description suggests that a judge must be a capable leader/ commander-in-chief and must have a character that merits God's appointment. Beyond meeting these criteria, Devorah as the only judge in Jewish history apparently brings to the position something only a woman can provide.
Devorah's selection as judge raises a fundamental question. Given that Torah law prohibits a woman from holding public office, why does God appoint her the highest public official in the land?
Commentaries bring many explanations for God's choice of Devorah. One opinion differentiates her as the only judge in Jewish history who is also a prophet. As a prophetess/judge, Devorah does not formulate rulings in the traditional manner, but is essentially a vehicle and spokeswoman for rulings from Above. For this reason, she might be considered an exception to the ruling that a judge be male.
Another commentary on Devorah's role as judge cites a prophet's prerogative to make one-time changes in Jewish law, in order to rectify a problem. As a prophetess, Devorah exercises this right by making an exception for herself to the rule excluding women from public office. She does so not in order to pave the way for future female judges, but in response to her assessment that she, alone, is best equipped to respond to the needs of her generation.
Beyond Devorah's validity as a judge according to the explanations of the above commentators and others, the question remains: why does God proceed outside mainstream parameters of Torah in order to appoint a woman. Why does He not make the more straightforward choice of a qualified man? (In this regard, Pinchas, son of Elazar, remains a suitable candidate for judge in this era, however, God chooses Devorah because 1)she has a particular merit, to be discussed further and 2) as also discussed further, her feminine character is appropriate for a leader of this particular generation. Devorah, herself, states, "I arose as a mother to Israel" (Judges 5:7)).
Devorah's unique vitality radiates from the privacy of her own home (where it transforms her husband), to the public domain where it re-inspires the Jewish nation. Devorah's power to empower is the source of her effectiveness as both public leader and wife.
Devorah is married to Lapidot (also referred to in the text as, "Barak") - a man who is not knowledgeable about Torah. The Hebrew word Lapidot means, "torches," which provides insight into the significant role of light in the relationship between Devorah and her husband. Rashi observes that the Hebrew description of Devorah as "wife of Lapidot" indicates she is "a woman who makes wicks." Devorah does indeed fashion wicks. She sends them with her husband to the Temple for use in its Menorah, the symbol of the light of Torah, which is the essence of the Jewish nation. Because of his wife's initiative, Lapidot is exposed to the holiness of the Temple and the people in it, and he is inspired to get involved in making the wicks and to take part in spreading the light of Torah among the Jewish people.
Central to Devorah's aspirations for her husband - and for the Jewish people - is her hope that each Jew will find a deeper understanding of and connection to life's purpose. Devorah's generation needs inspiration in this regard, and God selects her to help them pursue it. As a leader, Devorah motivates the Jews to take responsibility for their own internal illumination. In the same subtle way that Devorah inspires her husband, she moves the Jewish nation to re-embrace Torah.
The text of Judges (4:5) relates that Devorah prophesies and leads her nation from her seated place under a date palm:
"...a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth...She would sit under the date palm of Devorah, between Ramah and Beth-el on Mount Ephraim, and the children of Israel would go up to her for judgement."
The date palm is a metaphor for Devorah's generation. In the same way the life giving sap of a date palm is limited to its trunk (whereas in other trees it extends through the leaves), Devorah's generation has limited access to the life force of Torah, because it has but a few Torah scholars. To continue the metaphor, the date palm's minimal shade represents the relative absence of spiritual and physical protection without Torah.
Inasmuch as the date palm exemplifies the shortcomings of the Jewish people in Devorah's day, it is also a symbol of their strength. Specifically, the concentration of sap in the date palm trunk typifies the Jews of Devorah's era, who are said to be united towards God with one and the same heart. This attribute seems to contradict their deficits. How can both extremes be true of the same generation?
Devorah herself understands the reality behind this seeming contradiction. As judge, she inherits a somewhat disconnected generation, with a potential for spiritual greatness. She then empowers them with Torah knowledge, with her own exemplary righteousness and - most significantly - by believing in them. Devorah's faith in the Jewish people comes from what may be considered her maternal love. In the same way parents want the best for their children, Devorah holds such hopes for the Jews. And in the same manner a mother understands how to foster a child's own sense of accomplishment and self-esteem, Devorah inspires in the Jews a renewed sense of their value as God's chosen people.
In sum, Devorah exhibits a woman's ability to instill rather than impose, to invigorate rather than force, and to cultivate rather than command.
As judge, Devorah brings a feminine sensibility to a male dominated office. She refers to herself as a "mother of Israel," and her commitment to nurturing the Jews with subtlety and patience bespeaks this title. Devorah's leadership style is profoundly generous - focused as it is on her populace, rather than on herself. This style, together with her appreciation and knowledge of Torah, and her prophetic gift, marks Devorah as an agent of national rejuvenation.
Contemporary society is only now beginning to recognize that in order to succeed, a woman need not jettison her innate patience, insight and ability to inspire. Indeed, these feminine assets may prove essential to her accomplishment and personal fulfillment in life. Devorah embraces and utilizes the full extent of a woman's power for positive change. As wife, judge, prophetess and mother, or in the quintessentially male role of commander-in-chief (as will be seen in part 2 of this essay), Devorah is consistently, successfully and wholeheartedly a Jewish woman.
Women in Judaism, Copyright (c) 2002 by Mrs. Leah Kohn and Project Genesis, Inc.
Helps & Hints & Ideas
Money Saving idea
have a neighborhood party, just coffee & etc. have each person bring something for snacks. Trade items you do not want have no use for; an example: clothing,recipes,dishes,toys,plants, etc. or trade with labor, sewing,cooking.
Brain storm for ideas to be frugal and save money, they may know something you don't for years I was called poor, now they call it frugal, nope just had big family and every penny counts, I used the second hand shops when it was not cool and garage sales.Tips on second hand shops....carry a tape measure with you the sewing kind, most used clothes do not have the tags in them for sizes, check in each shop and see when sale days are, some sale clothing by the grocery sack one day a week, senior citizens discounts etc. And point to ponder why would you want to buy MDF (machined density fiberboard) when you can go to second hand furniture place and buy real wood?? Sometimes it just needs cleaned, refinished, painted, drawers reglued. I just got new to me chest of drawers that was in the trash, all wood for $0, reglued the drawers and painted varnished; my cost $20.00 versus $200.00.
FREE SAMPLES: Save free samples to give as gifts. They make great tuck-ins for cards and can complement gift baskets. The perfume pages of magazines work well to scent drawers. They're perfect in your travel kit, too.
- No Sew Scarf-
(instructions & videos)
nice site alot of crafts
(a free shopping service, that finds prices for you on items)
L & G Original Beadworks
Nice Site & Jewelry
(the How-to manual)
(Monteblanc, fountain pens, all brands)
Refreshment for wives, mom's
Burned out on housekeeping and cooking??
Trade with a friend....she could clean your house.....you clean theirs.
Make a schedule where no one is home, and trade cleaning for a day.
Trade cooking for a week or day or so, someone else is cooking for you and you are cooking for someone else.....what happens? New food ideas, sharing and a nice change. Meals could be frozen and traded. For instance maybe your friend makes a dish that you just enjoy and maybe you make one she enjoys......just trade, and you could also put the recipe in the bag so to speak. It is sort of like using the old principle of bartering, you have a skill they have one.
Tired of the way your home is decorated? The designing shows are nice, but some of those rooms are big bucks.....so get your best friend, friend and trade ideas, have your friend give ideas how they would re deocrate your living space. Sometimes painting and moving furniture is a whole new room.
For me, myself and I....I like white or cream walls, yah the decoraters are having a fainting spell.....but it sure saves money than all I have to do is change accessories when I get tired of them (pillows, vases, etc.) I also favor contrasts; light and dark and texture and to bring the outside in; plants, etc. If I see something I like I usually make it, with computers the how too's are usually accessiable unless it is a 52" plasma , flat screen TV.....ha ha
Scrubbing Bubbles cleaners work well for doors (front doors, back doors, door handles) test the door finish first though. It takes all the finger prints, black smudges off.
To clean the filter in your dryer use a old fabric softner sheet, run across the screen, cleans it in a snap.
The sheets can be used in stuffing dolls and stuffed animals to, make sure the person you make it for is aware it has the sheets stuffed inside in case of allergies. I also use lids all sizes to make doll house furniture, everything in the doll houses I make are made from recycled items, that is green; finding a use for something in another way.
Tip on those green light bulbs.....they contain mercury...go figure take it out of thermomters and than put it in the light bulbs. Anyway if one breaks use gloves to pick it up. All the bulbs donot contain it but please read the package.
To clean ball point ink off of clothes, spray it with hair spray.(sometimes works, new inks today)
Those scrubbing bubbles work great on those mini blinds. Take them outside hang over a fence, spray with water first with a hose; than spray the spray on the blinds, wait couple of minutes, hose off.
You can also take the mini blinds to a self car wash, hang on the mat holders, spray with the tire cleaner, and rinse well. Wax if u want. Be careful with vinyl and plastic, you can crack them.
Fabric sheets keep rodents out of cabinets they do not like the smell, I guess, I tried it worked for me we have an old house and no mice got into the cabinets. They are also good dusting rags.
For roaches, at wal mart they have combat I believe it is called, it is a jell in a syringe, it works and has money back offer.
To clean walls with soap and water use a good sponge mop, make sure this mop is set aside for cleaning the walls only, wring excess water out.
To keep water spots off of cars put your dishwasher spot remover in the washing water.
To clean spots on carpets and in cars use window cleaner, spray on , blot off.
To clean pet puddles on carpets use baking soda, if dry wet lightly with water, sprinkle soda on puddle, let dry, vaccum up. If there is a smell take a syringe with needle and shoot perfume, freshner into carpet into the pad.
To make whites white when washing that have dulled, your detergent, bleach and dishwasher soap let set for 30 mins. in water than wash.(equal parts bleach to same amount of dry dishwasher soap. Don't mix in same cup measure.)
To clean blood, food products use hydrogen perxiode, sprinkle on, let bubble up, wipe off than wash.
To clean the top of a stove, the black marks, use Bar Keep, it is only thing I have found that works, buy at food stores, discount stores.
Rough heels, elbows, grab the crisco (don't laugh) first put your lotion on let sink in, than put crisco over it, rub in like the lotion, put socks on, and old sheets ( it will stain them).
To get rid of grease in clothes use grease (grandpa said) I use the cooking oil and just rub some in, works on light grease, than wash.
To seal prints from your printer (water soluble ink) lightly spray with hairspray with quick short strokes side to side. (Don't glob it on, it will smear).
To touch up scratches on furniture, paneling grab the crayons and match the color, than color it, might take to colors to blend it, my brother taught me this one, than I put wax over it.
Scratches on stainsteel? Buff it, you can use polish like automotive, let the paste set up and rub, takes alot of elbow grease but does get rid of alot of scratches.
Well that is all for now.
Women in Judaism
Devorah as Prophetess, Judge and Mother:
A Woman's Innate Ability to Inspire
Part 2 of 2
Our previous class explored the historical backdrop against which the judge and prophetess Devorah becomes an important figure in Jewish history. As mentioned, God appoints Devorah to the male-dominated office of judge, and from here she inspires the Jewish people to re-embrace their heritage. Devorah sustains her intrinsic feminine power to educate, encourage and uplift, even when she assumes the role of commander in chief during Israel's battle against its oppressor, Yavin. Regarding the tyranny of Yavin, Judges states:
"And the Lord sold them [the Jews] into the hands of Yavin king of Kena'an.. the captain of whose host was Sisera.. And the children of Yisra'el cried to the Lord; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he strongly oppressed the children of Yisra'el" (Judges 2:3).
Yavin is backed by Sisera, general of the king's formidable military. While Israel is no military match for Sisera, Devorah prophecies that God will nonetheless lead the Jews to victory. As commander-in-chief of the Jewish army, Devorah shows the same unwavering dedication to Torah that she exhibits as judge. She staffs her military with members from the families of Zevulun and Naftali - two of the twelve tribes of Israel who promote and financially enable others to study Torah. (Naftali, one of Jacob's sons, provided for his father's physical needs and enabled him learn Torah without distraction. Zevulun financially supported fulltime learning for his brother, Yisaskhar).
The activity of supporting Torah study requires a measure of selflessness, since the benefactor foregoes the pleasure of fulltime learning -while their beneficiaries enjoy the riches of this pursuit and the ensuing closeness to God.
It is not by chance that, of the twelve tribes of Israel, Zevulun and Naftali fight in Devorah's ranks, since their mission of facilitating the spread of Torah reinforces hers. As Devorah's troops, they carry into battle her message that the stakes against Yavin are far higher than those associated with conventional warfare. More specifically, Yavin initially attacked the Jews because of who they are on a spiritual level. Thus, the battle Devorah, Zevulun and Naftali fight is for the sake of the soul of the Jewish nation. In addition to enlisting Zevulun and Naftali, Devorah appoints her husband, Barak, to the position of army general:
"She sent and summoned Barak..and said to him, 'Behold, Hashem, the God of Israel, has commanded, saying, Go and gather your men to mount Tavor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naftali and the children of Zevulun.. And I will draw out to thee to the brook of Kishon, Sisera, the captain of Yavin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thy hand" (Judges 4: 6-8).
Barak responds to Devorah: "..If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go" (Judges 4:8). The hesitation implicit in his words seems improper for a man of Barak's caliber, especially considering his wife's decisiveness and her assurance of God's help in overcoming Yavin.
Closer examination, however, reveals Barak's true dedication to God, as well as his respect for and commitment to Devorah. The Artscroll Tanach, comments: "Barak did not lack faith in God or in Devorah's prophecy. Rather he considered himself unworthy of such a momentous miracle, and felt that he needed the merit of the judge and prophetess to insure the success of his mission."
In other words, Barak asks Devorah along, so that Israel will acknowledge the impending miracle in her merit. Further proof of Barak's intentions is that his name appears in the important "Song of Devorah," which praises God for His assistance in Yavin's defeat:
"Deborah sang - as well as Barak son of Abinoam - on that day, saying..bless Hashem" (Judges 5:1 - 2).
The "Song of Devorah" is one of only ten in Torah referred to in Hebrew as "shirim."(lit: songs) The profound spiritual outpourings of shirim recognize and laud God's sustained involvement in Creation. Barak's presence in Devorah's Song confirms his place as her partner in returning the Jews to Torah. This accomplishment testifies to the impact of Devorah's influence. Devorah's Song also celebrates a national "mission accomplished," inasmuch as it compares the unsatisfactory state of what Israel "was" under Sisera, to the grandeur of a people fully returned to Torah, thanks to God's help, via Devorah:
"..[during the reign of Sisera], highway travel ceased, and those who traveled on paths went by circuitous roads. They stopped living in unwalled towns in Israel, they stopped; until I, Devorah, arose; I arose as a mother of Israel" (Judges 5: 6).
Time and again in her song, Devorah re-connects Israel to its divine lifeline. She refers back to the moment when the Torah was given at Mount Sinai, describing how the entire earth responded to this event:
"Hashem, as You left Seir, as you strode from the fields of Edom, the earth quaked and even the heavens trickled; even the clouds dripped water. Mountains melted before Hashem - as did Sinai.." (Judges 5: 4-5).
Through her portrayal of God's prowess over Creation, Devorah implies that as His chosen people, Israel's singular mission is to align itself with His Torah. Further on in her Song, Devorah commends those who have already accomplished this task:
"My heart is with the lawgivers of Israel who are devoted to the people, [saying,] "Bless Hashem" (Judges 5:9).
While at the helm of the Jewish nation, Devorah functions as judge, teacher and commander in chief, however, she sees herself in a primarily maternal role, as she states, "I arose as a mother in Israel" (Judges 5: 7). The word "mother" (Hebrew, "eym") is linked by the commentators to how Devorah nurtures an impaired nation back to health.
Metsuda compares Devorah's capacity to inspire positive change, with a mother's ability to admonish in way that encourages, rather than discourages. Ralbag (R' Levi ben Gershom of Provence, 1288-1344) sees Devorah as a type of maternally oriented leader who motivates her followers to create a better life. The Malbim (R' Meir Leibush ben Yechiel Michel, 1809-1879) comments that like a mother, Devorah in effect gives birth - in this case to a nation that emerges with a completely new sense of self.
Devorah's maternal vision is distinctly Jewish (attached as it is to Torah), intrinsically feminine (in its use of inspiration as a tool for promoting self-improvement), and eternally available to Jewish women past, present and future. In terms of our individual contribution to the Jewish people, today's woman need look no further than herself for the resources necessary to make her mark. While Devorah chooses to work towards large-scale national change, her success is relevant even for those who seek to improve the quality of their own lives and the lives around them. Torah tells us that all of Israel shares a Divine spark. Accordingly, when we effect positive change or inspire strength and commitment in others, contribute to our own well being. As we grow in our individual spiritual service and awareness, through study and guidelines of Torah, we influence our family, benefit the Jewish people and partner with God in correcting the world. In this context, Devorah's accomplishment in her own time becomes more than an isolated success story and issues forth as a legacy to Jewish women of all ages.
Women in Judaism, Copyright (c) 2002 by Mrs. Leah Kohn and Project Genesis, Inc.
Are you abused?....than you are broken.....ask Jesus to heal you, and than let Him, He did me.....