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ב"ה

Dear Chava'le...

Thursday, 25 March, 2021 - 9:59 pm

Tonight, Jewry will usher in the ShabbatHaGadol-Passover nine-day experience. We are also coming-off the one-year anniversary since Montana went into Covid lockdown and turned life the way we knew it upside down. It is with this in mind, that I’ve put fingers to keyboard to share my feelings with my beloved Chavie, who is the bedrock of our home and has gotten us through everything:

 


Dear Chava’le,

I’m writing this just as you are wrapping up a full week of cooking, prepping our home for our holiday Seders and meals, while i finished my whirlwind month of ensuring that every Jew in the State has Shmurah Matzah for their Passover Mitzvah. Despite our mutual exhaustion, infused with our common love for our fellow Jews, I needed to take a moment amid all the craziness and hullabaloo to say thank you. Why am I writing to you in public? Why not just give you a hallmark card with a gift card to Anthropologie and call it a day?  Because in our society we grieve in public, kvetch in public, rant in public, opine in public, so it only makes sense to share gratitude in public too.

I’ve often wondered why the Midrash teaches that it was “in the merit of the righteous women that our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt”. Though a part of me gets it, they were devoted to their families with heart and soul; another part of me is confused: It wasn’t like their husbands were vacationing in Sharm El Sheikh! They were enslaved, suffering day-in and day-out from the task mastering Egyptians and so the mothers had no choice but to step up and care for their families. Why do they deserve so much credit for a most basic human responsibility? Does one deserve accolades for caring for their own children?  

Yet, as we delve deeper into the Exodus story, and as I lived through the Covid pandemic with you, my own “righteous woman”, I now understand this concept so much better. You see, the Jewish women in Egypt didn’t just care for their families while kvetching about their lot. They didn’t just reluctantly step up to the plate and ensure that all the Jewish babies survived as they defied Pharaohs ruthless decree. They didn’t just bring food and drinks to their husbands who were out working with sweat, blood and toil. They did a lot more and they did it with class, love and enthusiasm.

These devoted wives beautified themselves so that their husbands, always on the verge of physical collapse, were overly attracted to the loves of their lives. They were there for their fellow women who were struggling in childbirth, and postpartum, and created a clandestine team of Jewesses, led by Yocheved and her daughter Miriam, who ensured that all the Jewish women giving birth were pampered and cared for until they were fully back to themselves. They set aside tambourines, because despite their unimaginable hardships, they never lost hope in the future redemption and wanted to be ready to celebrate properly, with song and dance, when the miracle of Exodus came about.

These women were warriors through and through. Hope permeated every fiber of their being. They didn’t veer off the G-dly path despite their life challenges, despite seeing so many Jewish children murdered, and despite not being 100% sure when the change, the light, they dreamed of, would become reality. “We shall overcome” was felt through their every sleepless night.

Chav, I know you don’t like my mushy writing, but this is exactly what I’ve seen in you over the past year. You didn’t just reluctantly care for our children. You didn’t bemoan the experience of our kids being home 24/7 for months on end and kvetch about it all day. You didn’t shut down, despair or even lose your bearings; you stepped up every day bright and early to be there for our family, for our spiritual, emotional and mental wellbeing. I know I’m speaking for so many other husbands who were also blown away by the devotion, sacrifice and sensitivity that their spouses professed during these trying times. In addition, you were there for me. I don’t stay as calm as you, I can’t handle the change of pace with the stride that you do and you were there for me, through thick and thin, to make this year bearable, and super successful.

I’m in awe.

You found innovative ways to keep our kiddos busy and their minds intrigued, we did family hikes and road trips together, you re-invented their playroom, the community playroom, so that they, and their friends, can have a most educational, productive, and fun experience during their play time. You read thousands of books to them, baked and cooked with them (though you don’t like a messy kitchen), you prepared beautiful Shabbos dinners and lunches even when we weren’t hosting our myriads of guests, and you made each of them feel loved and special even on days when all they did was make you, us, feel exhausted and half dead.

I watched (and still do) as you spent hundreds of hours each month on the phone with teachers, principals, counselors, therapists, doctors, holistic healers, friends, mentors, and anyone that may be able to guide and help us, as we endeavor to figure out what to do next to help each of our children and their never-ending needs. You did this all when we were emotionally drained ourselves and as our Chabad in-person activities came to an abrupt halt and the world seemed to be falling apart, causing all of us, the masked-up souls of 2020-2021, aggravation, hopelessness and uncertainty.

I looked back at Egypt and realized that my Chavie, and so many of her fellow Jewish women the world over, are truly the righteous ones, making us worthy of redemption. I think it’s straightforward: when you live in a redeemed state of mind, state of being, you are able to bring all of us closer to redemption, helping an “enslaved nation” realize that miracles aren’t only possible but probable. When you live with feminine faith, a deeply embedded recognition that Hashem is in charge, then believing G-d could rock redemption is not a farfetched idea, it’s actually a realistic option.

So now Erev Pesach, one year after Big Sky Country entered this pandemic era, I want to salute you my dear Chavie for showing me, showing our children, showing our beloved Montana community, what perseverance looks like and how to wake up each morning and be there for each child that Hashem has gifted you with love that is palpable, seeing redemption in yourself, each of them and all of Klal Yisroel.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said, “A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water”, she was right. This year, when we reached our collective boiling point, I realized once again how blessed I am to have you as my partner, and how much Jewish women do for the survival and growth of Jewry.

L’Chaim dear Chav! We are deserving of redemption thanks to you and your fellow women troopers! Looking forward to a special Pesach together with friends and family. 

Love,

Chaim Shaul

 


May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Mashiach speedily. May G-d protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

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