Jewish Soul Journey

JEWELRY AND THE JEWISH WOMAN

                       

                                                                               

            Over the past several decades the roles of
both men and women in contemporary society have shifted dramatically leaving both
genders in the midst of  an identity crisis
that simply did not exist in earlier generations.  Today unfortunately many are confounded by
this role confusion and are finding it more and more difficult to understand
and appreciate their purpose and position in this world.   There
is a solution.

Three gifts were given  to Rivka when she became engaged to our
forefather Yitzchak,  She received a
golden ring called a nezem, and two arm bracelets (Genesis, 24:22.),
therefore there is to endeavor to deepen our understanding of the profound
symbolism that lies within these gifts.    Since our Torah is an eternal document for
all times and all places, these pieces of jewelry are as much a gift for the
Jewish woman of today, as they were for Rivka Imainu in that they are capable
of offering insights that can help to rejuvenate and revitalize each women’s
connection with her proper role even in the midst of  our spiritually troubled and discordant
times.

In  Parsha
Chayei Sarah which tells the story of the engagement of our forefather Yitzchak
and Rivka, we are given an approach toward the solution of this dilemma.  It came to pass that our forefather Avraham Aveinu
sent his servant  Eliezer to Avraham’s
relatives seeking a wife for Yitzchak.   Hashem 
guided  Eliezer and  gave him the opportunity to observe Rivka’s
extraordinary character (midos)  and good
deeds (ma’asim tovim) through her altruistic acts of chesed. It was her very
selfless act of kindness that allowed  Eliezer to understand that he had found that
unique neshama who would be the appropriate bride for Yitzchak. In anticipation
of this eventuality, Avraham had sent special gifts for the bride- to -be and
her family to consummate the engagement.  
  

The words and actions of  righteous Jewish woman emanate from the neshama,
the soul which is rooted in a very pristine place deep within.   Is it then any wonder that the gift for
Rivka was a – nezem – a ring which was used in the place which is the gateway
for the entry of the soul – the place where the Creator breathed the soul of  life into Adam  (Bereishes 2:7).

Our Holy Torah, through this parsha, takes this
opportunity to realign material and spiritual values thereby closing the gap
between them, teaching each women the secret of seamlessly blending within
herself a life of holiness that incorporates softness and strength, kindness
and discipline, generosity and restraint. It is not the radiant heat of the sun,
but the cool white light of the moon which in its gentle sincere manner changes
the course of tides and of man.  It is authority
that is most effectively expressed in the absence of overt power – by innuendo
rather than by direct statement.  For all
its subtlety don’t think for a moment that it lacks purpose, direction or
strength.  It is the antibiotic
camouflaged in the spoonful of ice cream. 
It is  pure empathetic compassion,
objectified, tempered by practicality, seasoned by good judgment and used for
the purpose of  nurturing and healing those
 souls given over to her care.

 This ring has
within it a further message that connects the past with the present in that it had
the weight of a beka–  a half –shekel–
and that too is significant.   Each Jew
was required to give a half shekel gift,  a one time gift for the building of the  Mishkan as well as a yearly donation of this
amount to be used for the communal sacrifices. (Ki Sisa: 30:13; Shekalim, 1:1;
Megillah 29b).

The gift of the half shekel was one that every Jew
was required to contribute toward the building of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle.  It  was
dedicated to the adonim — the silver sockets that held the boards which formed
the walls of the Mishkan.   These sockets
are the foundation of the walls of Mishkan, where we made our home with
Hashem, even as the woman  is the foundation
of the home she establishes with her husband.     

  Eliezer
also gave Rivka two arm bracelets weighing ten golden shekels.  The two arm bracelets represent the two
tablets of the law; and their weight of ten shekels symbolizes the Ten
Commandments. (Chaya Sara, 24:22, Rashi). 
The ring and the golden bracelets are both, being circular, suggestive
of  the fact each woman is able to
complete the connection of the Torah with this world through becoming a conduit
using her unique energy that is provided by her holy soul and binding it with
the performance of good deeds and acts of 
kindness. Through these works of chesed 
every woman is able to greatly rectify this world as a emissary of
Hashem through her home and hearth thereby allowing a holy dwelling place for
the Divine Presence (the Shekina).

 

© Rabbi Yehoshua
Binyamin Falk 2007

 

All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia

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