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Wednesday
Mar142012

THE SHABBOS GUEST 

“I hope she’ll show up,” Suri said to Mindy, as she arranged the gefilte fish on the platters.

“Don’t worry, she sounded interested, didn’t she?” Mindy was putting salads and dips into bowls.

“I hope she didn’t lose the address.”

“Even if she did, it would be hard to miss the big Menora in the front.”

“I hope she didn’t forget the time……or the day…..”

“Suri, stop worrying so much. This is not the first person that we’ve invited to spend Shabbos with our family. Why are you so concerned?”

“Well, usually Tatty or Mommy does the inviting. This is the first time that someone I gave a candle-lighting brochure to actually asked me for more information. I took down her number, and with Mommy’s permission, I invited her for Shabbos. I hope she gets here before candle-lighting…Wait! Someone is ringing the doorbell! It must be her!”

Suri ran to the door and opened it. There on the threshold stood a tall, middle-aged woman, carrying a box of kosher chocolates. Suri rejoiced inwardly; yes, it was Monica, the lady she had invited.

Suri, Mindy, and their mother tried to make sure that Monica was comfortable while they finished their last minute preparations, but it was only after candle lighting that they had a chance to talk to their guest.

“I’ve travelled all over the world, and I’ve seen many types of cultures. I belong to a group that aids women in difficult circumstances, and we encourage them to take action to better their lives. We’ve taught mothers in the jungles of Africa how to read and write. We’ve sponsored women to study law in India, so that they can seek justice for their downtrodden sisters. Even in so-called civilized countries, there is too much discrimination against women.” Her voice then dropped to a conspiratorial whisper. “If you ever want to find out about what rights you’re entitled to, I’ll be glad to help.”

Suri looked confused.

Mindy looked amused.

Their mother was somewhat taken aback. “What gave you the idea that we don’t already have everything that we are entitled to?”

“Poor thing, don’t you realize that you are victims of discrimination? I know all about it. I did some research online, and I know that men were given more Mitzvos, like putting on T’fillin, reading from the Torah, and being counted towards a minyan. Women stay home and do the housework.” Monica turned towards the two girls. “Wouldn’t you want to one day develop a talent, like singing, art, or drama?”

Mindy laughed. “We are already doing just that! I have the lead part in the school production this year. I’ve also just begun producing short films on Jewish themes. I hope to make them professional enough to be used by girls’ schools around the world. Suri, tell Monica about your artwork.”

Suri was a bit shy about her accomplishments, but she spoke up anyway. “I like to draw. I’ve taken a few lessons.”

“Come on, Suri, tell her about your painting that won an award last year, the one with the mother and daughter looking at the Shabbos candles. It made such a kiddush Hashem!”

 Now it was Monica who looked confused. “You’re allowed to paint? You’re allowed to act in plays? Make films? But I thought…”

This time it was Mommy who answered. “If Hashem gives someone a talent, obviously He wants that person to use it. Of course, it has to be used the right way and for the right purpose. Every talent can be developed in a kosher way. Every talent can be used to serve Hashem. When the Jews in the desert were building the Sanctuary, the women used their unique talents to make the roof-coverings.”

“You mean that women were actually allowed to contribute?”

“Of course. The Torah implies that the women came first, before the men. They contributed purely out of choice, not out of obligation. Their contribution of copper mirrors is singled out from among all the contributions, because Hashem appreciated this donation more than any other.”

Suri had something to add. “Before the Giving of the Torah, Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu to first tell the women about the Torah, before the men.”

Mindy added: “We learned that it was in the merit of the righteous women that didn’t lose their faith that our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt.”

“Well, you’ve certainly given me a lot to think about. Maybe I was too quick to judge something that I apparently know so little about.”

“If you really want to know more about women and Judaism, I’ll be happy to learn with you,” Mommy said.

“Sounds good. I didn’t know women are allowed to learn Torah.”

Mindy had a mischievous grin. “Come learn Torah with Mommy, and you’ll find out what rights you are entitled to. She’ll be glad to help!”

The above story is fictional. The lesson is based on Likkutei Sichos vol. 16 p. 449-457, vol. 26 p. 262-271.

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