Monday, September 05, 2005

" . . .not in my job description" (a poem)

" . . . Asani kir'tzono--He made me according to His will"

I'm trying to understand
A different haskafah, viewpoint
Another perspective
Because this is my half of the community
because I sit on the same side of the mechitzah
and I need to understand why we're there
not just with my mind
but with my heart

We're here
"to blow G-d's metaphorical socks off. "
by being the best individuals--
each in her own right,
each in her own way-- that we can be

We're here
to use the talents that HaShem has given each of us
to introduce tiny tots to Torah
to imbue them with a love of HaShem and our tradition
It's a great responsibility
and we accept it with pride and with joy

"From the fruit of her handiwork she plants a vineyard"
She runs a business, a professional practice, from home
or works outside the home
to send her children to yeshiva
and later, to Yeshiva
ensuring that they will become
a vineyard
that will yield a rich harvest
for HaShem, Am Yisrael, the broader community

We are the other Leviim
With pride, we wash the hands
of those whose hands need washing
Wiping dirty faces after playing a game of baseball with our kids
With pride, we bear the burden of a mishkan,
a place where the Shechina is welcome,
which we set up in our own homes
to draw our husbands, our children
close to HaShem and His derech

We are the scribes, the teachers
who help our children with their homework
We teach them how to judge
to choose carefully
Are TV, movies, music, video games okay?
That depends--which shows, movies, music, video games?
What values do the characters, the lyrics, show you?
Respect and caring
or hatred and violence?
Can you learn from watching commercials?
Yes: You can learn to think for yourself,
and not believe everything you hear,
to say, "This is important to know"
"This would be a great help to have"
"I don't need this"
"This is not good for me"
A mother says to her son,
"I don't care what they call it
--if it has chocolate in it, it's candy, not cereal!"

"Strength and dignity are her clothing"
We have our own dignity
What need have we for externals?
Tzitzit and tefillin, aliyot and minyan
are not in our job description
Our role is different
Why assume that it's any less important?

So much to do
so many responsibilities
Enough work for a lifetime
Caring for the children
Being supportive of one's husband,
"someone's open arms to come home to."
Each of us creates, b'chol yom
A bayit b'Yisrael
Each of us establishes a Bet Yaakov
We are Bet Yaakov
Helping our families, friends, kehillah
"we are the brains behind all the new programs,
the things the community doesn't even know it lacks"
Always learning, doing,
serving HaShem with joy

This isn't a competition--
it's a cooperative venture

"Give her of the fruit of her hands
And let own works praise her in the gates"

" . . .Asani kir'tzono--He made me according to His will"
And that's an honor

The quotes are from:
1) Birkot HaShachar--the Morning Blessings in the siddur (prayerbook)
2) "Eishet Chayil," a.k.a. Mishlei/Proverbs 31:10-31
3) yours truly, giving her son her favorite nutrition lecture :)
4) a writer known as Fudge

(There's also an allusion to ha-m'chadesh b'tuvo b'chol yom tamid maasei v'reishit sprinkled round about.)

This poem is dedicated to Orthodox mothers everywhere, especially:,
dilbert's "holy wife," Dr. Bean's ball-and-chain, MoChassid's wife (give your daughter a hearty "Welcome to NY!" from me), the Out of Step Jew in Kfar Saba's wife, Seraphic Secret's radiant Karen, and Trep's zahava.



Blogger Noam S said...

Very nice poem, I like it alot. By the way, my wife actually is more in agreement with your usual point of view. However, because she was brought up observant, and sincerely believes in God and halacha, she reluctantly accepts how things are and can only fume about how the Talmudic rabbis messed up the man/woman thing and how present day rabbis lack the courage to set things right. I think that she entirely skips the sh'asani k'ritzono bracha, seeing as it grates on her sensibilities.

Fri Sep 09, 09:00:00 AM 2005  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

It's really too bad that the official Conservative siddurim (prayer books) don't have footnotes. I think it's a good bet that Rabbi Jules Harlow, being not only the editor of Siddur Sim Shalom but also, reputedly, a siddur scholar, took the brachah "sh'asani *b'tzalmo*" (Who made me in His image) from a much older version of the Orthodox siddur than what's currently used by the Orthodox community. (Well, if the siddur he used is more that 200 years older than *any* of the current siddurim, it would *have* to be Orthodox!) That is to say, in plain English, that I'm pretty sure he didn't make it up, but rather, he borrowed it from an Orthodox source. Assuming that that's the case, perhaps your wife might be comfortable with considering saying that brachah instead of "she-asani kir'tzono."

Sat Sep 10, 11:50:00 PM 2005  

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