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Finding the Women of Valor

Friday, 29 January, 2016 - 11:43 am

We are all familiar with the passage in Proverbs (31) entitled “the woman of valor,” in which King Solomon describes the many praises and virtues of a good woman. Some don’t realize that he begins the passage with a question, “A woman of valor who can find?” While it can be interpreted as rhetorical, another quote of his from Ecclesiastes, 7:28, “One in a thousand I have not found,” leaves some room for the understanding that it may be a real question.

Leaving that debate aside, I would argue that Solomon was simply looking in the wrong room. Had he peeked in on a gathering taking place this weekend in New York, that quote would be revised to “thousands I have found.” I refer to the International Conference of Shluchos, women, who along with their husbands and families, serve as the Rebbe’s emissaries around the world.

Each of these women embodies the term “multi-tasker.” In addition to their role as “akeret habayit – foundation of the home,” caring for large families, they also serve as educators, guidance counselors, administrators of institutions, fundraisers, community leaders and countless other roles. Oh, and by the way, they manage to host scores of people at their homes for Shabbat and holiday meals. They may be involved in Hebrew schools, preschools or day schools. They may be running a Mikvah or directing women’s classes and programming. They may be running a Chabad on campus, serving as a positive force to hundreds of Jewish students. They may be overseeing the construction of a facility that will serve their respective communities. They may be directing a camp or a friendship circle, making a meaningful impact of the lives of Jewish children. They may be a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on for many a despondent or searching soul. They may be expecting a baby or caring for a newborn. They may be long-distance mothering to children who are away at school because their communities do not have Jewish high-schools. Most importantly they are all role models of what a Jewish woman is supposed to be.

This weekend is their chance to energize and network, coming back with recharged batteries and fresh ideas. So while Chabad Rabbis all over the world are manning (or dare I say, womanning?) the house and kids this weekend, a powerful group of women have come together to inspire and be inspired. Each of them will return to their hometown with a drive to transform and elevate their communities. Collectively they will be successful in turning this world into a dwelling place for G-d Al-mighty.

In the meantime the husbands and kids will be just fine… and now I gotta run and find the kids’ proper Shabbos clothes so that they don’t look like their father dressed them this weekend. Over and out!

Have a good Shabbos
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin 

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