Thursday, 1 March 2012

International Woman Month

March is International Woman Month.
This month we honour the women around the world, both past and present who have made and are making a difference in our world.
I would like to start with one of my favourite women:
In Judaism, the Torah is known as She.
She is our Wisdom. She is known as the Tree of Life to all who hunger and thirst.
Torah is referred to as The Jewel of our faith. And in her folds lie the words of life.
When we look into the Bible, for example, in the book of Proverbs where Wisdom is personified as a Woman. Female imagery begins the book of Proverbs in Chapters 1-9 and also ends the book in chapter 31.
Proverbs 2: 2-3 not only tells us to listen to Wisdom, but to seek Her as a treasure, as the finest silver.
In Proverbs 9:1-6, Wisdom is depicted as a figure with a home inviting those in need of her (wisdom) to enter.  She says "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight." In Proverbs 8:15-21, she not only identifies herself as the Divine companion, but also as the source of order in society and success in life. In chapter 31:10 she is personified as the ideal Wife for an Israelite man in a section titled Ode to a Capable Wife.
  There is debate about the status and place of Woman Wisdom in relation to the Divine. Some have interpreted her as a companion to the divine, an abstraction, an extension to the divine, or a Goddess. Further information about the nature of Wisdom is found in Proverbs 8:22-30. In these verses "wisdom speaks of herself as having been created before anything else and as Yahweh's companion and even assistant at the creation of the ordered world."  In Hebrew, the Glory of G-d, the Spirit, The Ruch is known a feminine.
It has always been  easier for me to understand the personification of wisdom as a woman when she is placed in comparison to the other female mentioned in Proverbs 7. In contrast to Woman Wisdom, she is portrayed as a prostitute, adulteress, and a woman with much seductive speech. She is given the designation of being a "foreign" or "strange" woman, even "foolish." The victims of the Strange Woman are among the simple ones, young men (and old) without sense. The young man of Proverbs 6:7 is repeatedly warned to avoid such a woman. This may reflects the biblical insistence on marriage within the Jewish Faith and thus keeping false gods out of the community.
Our Sages say that when a husband loves his wife, he fulfils the whole Torah. How he treats his wife either brings honour or dishonour to The Torah.
Something to think about.
When The Torah is taken out of the Ark, all in her presence stand. She is draped in a lovely mantle cover. When placed on the desk, the mantle is removed with care, her words filling the air and the ears around her to hear her words chanted, rising up to the Throne of G-d. When finished, She is lifted up and rolled once again, redressed in her mantle and placed back in her place of honour.
I often this of a wife and mother. In Judaism, the wife and mother is known as the jewel of the home, the queen. The same life and respect given.
No wonder the Torah is referred to as Woman. She is wine and bread that nurtures our souls. She is the balm of healing and the Treasure of G-d to His beloved children on earth. She is welcoming and yet and exacting in Her correction.
The Torah. The Word of G-d.
She Who has changed our world.
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