In the weeks between Purim and Passover I take my stress reduction seriously and I always start walking 5km a few times a week. I see the hillside near my home come alive with spring flowers and mossy green hills. I love to listen to music on these walks and while I was thinking lofty passover thoughts about cleaning schedules and spring fashion and listening to a song about another women shaking her booty, the missing heroine of passover smacked me upside the head.
This amazing and strong woman was dressed simply but beautifully. Her hair and makeup natural but perfect, yet her eyes are what was most striking, they carried a purpose and direction. She said to me, ” When the entire world looked at me as a sex object. When my own father and husband decided that I was not worth bringing into this world or saving, I fought back, I saved my people.” I was in shock, what was going on? I stopped mid stride to listen to what this apparition had to say.
This beautiful woman, then opened her compact mirror, checked her makeup and told me her story as we finished the last 2 km of my walk together.
She was an only child brought up in a world where her seven brothers had been executed and drowned as newborns. She was a servant in a prominent egyptian household. Everyday, she was surrounded by increasing numbers of women and girls who were a reminder of the losses of their siblings to their families and a future without jews to their enslavers. Life was very hard and yet she told me how these proud and brave Jewish women defied the orders of Pharaoh and refused to execute the male babies upon delivery. How other women gave birth alone in the fields to try to save their newborn children. She relived the terrible experience of the loss of her youngest brother at three months, to the vicious Egyptian guards who raided her home as she babysat the child hidden in a closet.
Every story showed the power and pride these women took in their Judaism and their role as women in the world. Their enemies saw them as nothing more than sex objects to be used in the future for their pleasure and to birth Egyptian children after the Jewish men had died out. However, when she discussed the day the Jewish men gave up on the women, her tears and righteous anger were enough to ignite my own anger as well.
She returned home to her new husband as a young bride after they had both completed a grueling days work. She primped in front of her favorite mirror, prepared a meal to strengthen them and when she turned to him for comfort, he rebuffed her. He told her that the men had decided that they could have no more children for the Egyptians to murder. It had been decided that all of the men should separate from their wives, he was leaving within the hour. As this heroine cried as we walked, I understood how such a thing could happen.
I thought about all of the struggles and discussions concerning the shidduch crises, family planning, infertility and the many other struggles a modern marriage faces and whose answers are decided by a local Rabbi. I felt her pain and the pain of every women who has gotten an answer handed down that tears at her heart.
The heroine took back out her compact and wiped her eyes, powered her nose and turned back to me. She said, “when everyone thought that our purpose was to birth or not to birth a physical child or to fulfill or abstain from pleasure, we showed them that they were mistaken.
We called on the greatest leader to change his verdict and to defend the unborn women of the future, who would never be born, all so that jewish boys would not be murdered. We demanded, we seduced, we argued and we won the right to carry on the Jewish people with a female soul, a female faith and a female spirit. Every time, you think that your role is the cleaning or the cooking, or the birthing or how you look or how much you weigh, remember, if that was all we were, no Jews would be left alive today. Women are the soul and the faith of the Jewish people. We infuse every physical thing with which we come in contact, with spiritual purpose. Our lives, our love, our children, our personal gifts and strengths are not what they seem. They sustain the soul of the Jewish people and redeemed our nation from Egypt.
We are here walking, the two us. You are thinking about the whether to clean the oven or the fridge first and what to buy to wear at the seder. These mundane thoughts are either simple and small or part of a vision for a spiritual and happy Passover that will inspire your family and community as they move into the future.” With those words she disappeared and I was left to climb the last hill home alone.
I wish each of us could meet the amazing heroines of the Passover exodus. The women who made sure we survived to make it to a brighter future. I hope I can save this meeting in my mind and take it out every time I think about, or write about, Holiday weight gain, slimming down for summer or any other trendy article that might come up as a holistic health coach. I pray that I will follow her example and imbue every client meeting, every healthy cooking workshop with her message. How we look, how we eat, how we live are all tools to create the spiritual life we crave. Without this underlying purpose we turn ourselves into objects and throw away our sacred mission as Jewish women.
My mission was to channel this feeling in my new recipe and healthy tips book for passover. A Happy Healthy Passover: Freedom for the mind, body and spirit. Available for free download at www.lilyaronin.com.