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YomTov: - Why Women Saved the Day

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Rabbi Yehudah Prero

Mar 27, 2001, 3:24:12 PM3/27/01
YomTov, vol. VII, # 1
Week of Parshas Vayikra
Topic: Why Women Saved the Day

On the holiday of Pesach (which begins at nightfall on April 7, 2001) we
remember the bondage of the nation of Israel in Egypt and the nation's
subsequent miraculous exodus. We celebrate the fact that the nation was
able to emerge as just that: a people who had grown in number, in size, in
fortitude and strength, ready to serve G-d.

The Talmud (Sotah 11b) relates that there was a correlation between the
perseverance of the nation and the departure: "Rav Avira expounded: In the
merit of the righteous women who lived in that generation, the nation of
Israel was delivered from Egypt. When they went to draw water, the Holy
One, Blessed be He, arranged that small fishes should enter their pitchers,
which they drew up half full of water and half full of fishes. They then
set two pots on the fire, one for hot water and the other for the fish,
which they carried to their husbands in the field, and washed, anointed,
fed, gave them to drink and had marital relations with them among the
sheepfolds. . . ."

Pharaoh was worried that the people living in his land would overpower the
natives. He devised a scheme to ensure that he and the Egyptian people
would retain supremacy over the descendants of Yaakov living in his land.
The people were to be enslaved. They were to be broken, in mind and spirit.
The men would be forced to work for long hours, so that they could not
return home to their wives. The result would be a decline in the birth
rate. The nation would not grow, in numbers, in strength, in resolve.
However, the women of the nation of Israel had a different plan in mind.

The women realized that the nation had to grow and continue to exist. They
would not let the Egyptians succeed in their nefarious task. The Maharsha
explains that the women wanted to provide support for their husbands. They
went to draw water for their husbands, so that they would have enough to
drink. Drawing water, the Iyun Yaakov notes, is no easy task. It is a
difficult job that was traditionally done by the men. However, the women
desired to strengthen their spouses, enabling them to get through their
difficult ordeal. G-d assisted the women in their noble task, by causing
small fish to swim into the pitchers as the water was being drawn. The men
then not only had water to drink, but they had food to eat as well. The
women provided the foundation the men needed to survive.

In addition, Pharaoh's decree initially had its desired effect. The men did
not return home, Married life, family life as the people knew it, had come
to an end. Couples no longer had any intimacy in their lives. The holy bond
that ties families together was threatened. Yet, the women knew that in
order for the nation to survive, the families had to remain in tact as
well. The women remained true to their spouses, never allowing their desire
for intimacy to violate their marital union. The women took a proactive
role in rebuilding the intimacy of their relationships. They went out to
the fields where their husbands were laboring, and gave them food and
drink. They washed and anointed them, making them feel refreshed and
invigorated. They then rekindled that spark of intimacy that Pharaoh had
tried to extinguish. The woman became pregnant and had children, thereby
ensuring that the nation would indeed grow and persevere. In the merit of
these holy actions of the women of the nation of Israel, the entire nation
was redeemed.

The women did not merely recognize that the nation's existence was in
danger. They took action to assure that not only would the nation continue
to exist, but it would grow and thrive as well. As we sit in exile, subject
to assaults, (albeit different in style but not in substance,) we must
recall the valiant efforts of the women in Egypt. They realized that
survival of our nation depended on strength of spirit and strength in
numbers. Devotion, to G-d, to one's people, to one's family, to one's
spouse, is integral to our survival. When we sit down at the Seder,
recalling how we were enslaved and redeemed, we must take some time to
contemplate how we have put into action that which we learned from the
righteous women in Egypt.

YomTov, Copyright Š 2001 by Rabbi Yehudah Prero and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author has Rabbinic ordination from Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem, NY.

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