SATISFACTION FROM CHILD RAISING AND HOUSEKEEPING
Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern
(You can see Part 1 here)
The Jewish Home
The Zohar writes "When the Jewish nation was building the Mishkan, the craftsmen verbally dedicated each item saying, 'This is for the Mishkan, this is for the Paroches,' etc. This was done in order to sanctify their labor. Similarly, when a person builds his home, he should say ‘this is (being built) for avodas Hashem’ (meaning that the home will be utilized for serving Hashem to attain spiritual growth). He will then merit Divine assistance, and sanctity and peace will enter his home." (Parshas Tazria with translation of Hasulam pp. 146, 150)
The Zohar is conveying a very important message: The sanctity of our homes can echo the holiness of the Mishkan.
Moreover, we can actually merit having the Shechina (Divine Presence) in our homes. Chazal write that the Shechina resided in the tent of Avraham Avinu and was indicated by the presence of a cloud above his tent (Midrash Rabba Bereishis 60:16, Rashi 24:67). After our forefathers passed away, the Shechina no longer had a place to reside until the Mishkan was erected when our nation reached the spiritual level of our forefathers (Ramban, end of Bereishis).
Rav Avigdor Miller notes that their tent had no ceiling, floor or beams and was small enough to fold together and transport on the back of camels (Awake My Glory, p. 339).
Thus, by creating the proper atmosphere in the home, a family can transform their plain and simple home into a Sanctuary with the presence of the Shechina in it. (This is similar to the concept that the shechina dwells in a home where there is shalom bayis – family harmony, Sotah 17a and commentary of Eyun Yaakov ad. loc.).
An additional factor which personifies the sanctity of the Jewish Home is the custom of placing salt on the table when eating. The Rama explains that this is because the table is like the mizbayach (altar) and the food is compared to the korbanos (sacrifices). The Mishna Brura, quoting chazal, explains that during the time of the Bais HaMikdash, the sacrifices atoned for our sins. Today, our table atones for them (either in the merit of serving food to the poor or the Torah discussed at the table.)
Thus, the Jewish Women’s workplace, which is her home, is unique because it has the potential of being a miniature sanctuary and merit the presence of the Shechina with the table and food as substitutes for the mizbayach and korbanos.
The Eishes Chayil
An accomplished woman is referred to as an eishes chayil, a term taken from the well known chapter in Mishlei (31:10-31). The commentary of the Metzudos translates chayil as zriza ve’yeshara, which perhaps can be loosely translated as conscientious, skilled, and honest – traits that certainly befit the title. (The standard translation of "woman of valor" appears to be incorrect. Valor is defined as "strength of mind in braving danger," which more befits a soldier and is totally out of context in how the above chapter describes her.)
By perusing through Shlomo Hamelech's description of an eishes chayil, we discover that she is portrayed and characterized as an efficient housewife.
The following explanation is based on the commentary of the Metzudos:
"Batach bo lev baala" etc. – her husband relies upon her – she efficiently manages the home so that there is nothing lacking.
"Dorsha tzemer u’fishtim" etc. – she seeks wool and flax etc., she tends to her family's clothing needs.
"Ha’yisa ke’a'niyos sochair" etc. – she travels like a merchant's ship to bring sustenance to her family.
"Vatakom be'od layla" etc. – She arises during the night to feed her household.
"Yodeh'ha shilcha bachishor" etc. – Her hands work with sewing and weaving utensils, etc. Even though she travels to earn a livelihood, nevertheless, she doesn't remove herself from her household duties.
"Tzofia halichos baiso" etc. Rashi explains that she keeps a watchful eye over the activities in her home, meaning that she is the mashgiach of her home.
Thus, it is quite evident that even though the Eishes chayil assists with earning a livelihood for her family, nevertheless, she does not neglect her maternal and household duties and obligations.
The Jewish woman's career is tending to the needs of her family as a loyal wife, mother and homemaker; and, if she must go to work, the purpose is to help support the family, and not to look for a career outside her home.
(Picture courtesy of karjo)
Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.