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Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Revolution Starts Here!

Recently  ran into some female friends who are very involved with activities to get Israel out of the mess it's in.  They're on my mailing list for Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers at Tel Shiloh.  Usually one of them starts apologizing when she sees me:
"I know I haven't gotten there yet, but I really want to.  Believe me; I will come to Shiloh to pray on Rosh Chodesh.  I just don't know when."
But this time she didn't say a word.  I was very disappointed.  So I told her, and I added that no place in the world is more suited to women's prayer to save the Jewish Nation than Shiloh.  The other woman began to argue with me that another site was holier.  I countered with:
"The מהפך Mahapach, the big change, revolution after the anarchy of שופטים Shoftim Judges  in Biblical times started with Chana's prayers in Shiloh for a son to lead us.  So how can any place be more suited to pray for good strong Jewish leadership than Shiloh?"
Yes, they then agreed that their visit to Shiloh is long overdue.

Following is an article I wrote for Voices Magazine:

Voices from Shiloh
Where’s the Miracle?
By Batya Medad
April, 2011

If the Jewish month of Nisan means miracle, why can’t our homes be cleaned miraculously? Just like the rain G-d sends down to wash the dust and sand off the koltei shemesh, solar panels which heat the water, why can’t G-d just send a miraculous wave through the house to clean away the chametz?

I’ve been learning a lot of Bible in Matan this year. All those G-d given miracles only work with a special magic ingredient, our hishtadlut, our efforts. Consider it like matching funds. G-d will add His part if we do ours.

Most of us like to complain, whether we admit it to ourselves or not. We want others to do, fix etc. And the main “other” is G-d.

Here in Shiloh, I’ve found myself thinking a lot of Biblical Chana. On a recent Shabbat I attended a shiur by Rabbi Arye Mendelkorn, one of the many neighborhood rabbis. He spoke of the mitzvah of p’ru urvu, “be fruitful and multiply.” My mind was someplace else, unfortunately. I suddenly got all upset, considered it a very peculiar mitzvah. According to the rabbis, it’s a male requirement, but no man can do it on his own. He needs a woman to be pregnant from him and carry the baby to term. But it’s not so simple, because there’s a third “being” involved, G-d. And G-d has veto power. So how can G-d command us, or more specifically a man to do something he can’t do alone and even if he does it all correctly with a woman, G-d can make their attempts failures?

And then I thought of that awful Biblical statement by Elkana to Chana after she had shown her concern that she was childless:
1 Samuel Chapter 1 שְׁמוּאֵל א
ה וּלְחַנָּה, יִתֵּן מָנָה אַחַת אַפָּיִם: כִּי אֶת-חַנָּה אָהֵב, וַיהוָה סָגַר רַחְמָהּ. 5 but unto Hannah he gave a double portion; for he loved Hannah, but the LORD had shut up her womb.
ו וְכִעֲסַתָּה צָרָתָהּ גַּם-כַּעַס, בַּעֲבוּר הַרְּעִמָהּ: כִּי-סָגַר יְהוָה, בְּעַד רַחְמָהּ. 6 And her rival vexed her sore, to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb.
ז וְכֵן יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁנָה בְשָׁנָה, מִדֵּי עֲלֹתָהּ בְּבֵית יְהוָה--כֵּן, תַּכְעִסֶנָּה; וַתִּבְכֶּה, וְלֹא תֹאכַל. 7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she vexed her; therefore she wept, and would not eat.
ח וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ אֶלְקָנָה אִישָׁהּ, חַנָּה לָמֶה תִבְכִּי וְלָמֶה לֹא תֹאכְלִי, וְלָמֶה, יֵרַע לְבָבֵךְ: הֲלוֹא אָנֹכִי טוֹב לָךְ, מֵעֲשָׂרָה בָּנִים. 8 And Elkanah her husband said unto her: 'Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?'

It could be taken a different way. Maybe Elkana meant that Chana had nothing to fret about, because the mitzvah of p’ru urvu was on him, not her.

Of course, it’s obvious that he hadn’t a clue as to what was actually on her mind, her plans and goals for a child. She didn’t want a child for her own personal maternal fulfillment. Chana knew that the Jewish People needed better leadership. Chana knew that G-d had commanded the Jewish People to anoint a king. Hundreds of years had already passed since the Exodus from Egypt and the conquest of the Promised Land by the Jewish People. Chana wanted a son to transform the Jewish People into a united kingdom, not some loosely related tribes.

Chana poured out her heart to G-d in prayer in Shiloh. Her method of prayer is the template for ours today. G-d accepted her prayers, and Samuel was born to her and Elkana. Chana brought him to Eli the High Priest in Shiloh when he was old enough to be without her, but she didn’t just trust that he’d manage. She visited every year, bringing him a new coat and teaching him what she considered important.

No doubt that Shmuel HaNavi, Samuel the Prophet would never have fulfilled his potential without his mother’s care and training. There are no miracles without our hard work.

We must never give up. Miracles are the bonus given by G-d for our hard work.

You can get information about visiting Tel Shiloh by calling 02-994-4019 or email telshilo@gmail.com And, ladies, please join me at Tel Shiloh for Rosh Chodesh Prayers. Rosh Chodesh Sivan is Friday June 3, 2011, 9:30am. Details on shilohmusings.blogspot.com  or email me.


Hadassa said...

I have an idea of what the other holy site is, and even without Chana's prayers, doesn't the fact that the Mishkan had been in Shiloh give the site extreme importance, especially since it's difficult to go up to the Temple Mount?

Batya said...

Hadassa, that wasn't the site. I was debating putting in that little story, because the "guessing game" as to the people involved is problematic loshen haraa-wise. But it could really be so many women who are supportive but never find the time.

Compared to most holy sites for prayers, the popular ones, Shiloh is so pleasant and accessible. I don't understand why it's not mobbed, at least on Rosh chodesh by women.