The countdown is almost up, Shavuot is coming! When Shavuot comes there seems to be a neat division of activities in many households. The children who have charts to fill out will either be fighting or making up to get more points on their charts. Mothers will be trading dairy recipes in honor of Shavuot and fathers longingly count down the days till they can learn Torah on an ‘all-nighter’.
In truth it’s not fair or true to say the women are busy solely with holiday recipes. Each mother encourages her children to do good deeds, helping and giving support when necessary. They are all active partners listening to the story of Ruth and they encourage their husbands to try as learn as best as they can, maybe even an ‘all-nighter’.
It seems one of women’s strong attributes is support; giving support encouragement and empowerment to their families and those around them. Shavuot is a holiday, but it has no special requirements. You don’t need to scrub down the house, you don’t need specific foods and you don’t need to go to a river to throw away your sins… Of course there are customs to eat dairy foods or that men stay up all night learning Torah but they are customs and not laws. Without the encouragement of the woman of the house these customs may not get carried out, they all need encouragement or someone to do them.
Besides reading about receiving the Torah what else do we read on Shavuot? The Megillah of Ruth; the Megillah about women and their great strength and dedication unmatched by anyone! About Ruth, a Moabite princess who became a widow who lost her Jewish husband who still gave her full trust to Naomi her Jewish mother in law and told Naomi of her most steadfast commitment to Judaism and to her; “Where you go I will go and your G-d is my G-d.” Though Ruth was a convert, her sacrifice was so great that she merited becoming the mother of Royalty in Israel, the mother of Oved the father of Jesse the father of King David and ultimately the Messiah will come from the descendants of Ruth!
Quietly, behind the scenes in the privacy of our own homes we women have the power and possibility to give life and nurture our families to the greatest heights. Of course every woman who nurtures those around her needs to recharge and strengthen herself. That is why we have the honor and the merit to read the entire psalms on Shavuot and ask G-d in each and every Psalm for the goodness and strength we need.
By R’ Zamir Cohen
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