While the crushing physical labor of the Egyptian exile left the nation exhausted and short of breath, the emotional toll was in many respects worse. Jewish families were torn apart. The people were demoralized and depressed, stripped of the most basic sense of human dignity and self-respect.
To a certain extent, the women felt the pain more keenly. After all, it was from their very arms that their babies were taken away to be thrown into the river or cemented alive into brick walls to fill missing quotas. It was they who saw their husbands’ tired faces, agonizing wounds, and mounting depression. It was the women who understood that even in such intense spiritual darkness and oppression, family life must go on and a new generation of children needed to be born. But no matter how difficult their lot, the women seemed to possess superhuman strength and emunah in Hashem.
The question is: From where did the women get their strength?
In the Egyptian exile, there were no open miracles and no Mishkan. So, what was their secret? The righteous Jewish women in Egypt had four very important things:
- There was a Divine promise that redemption would be at hand. These women no doubt drew strength from the fact that the Jewish people would indeed survive. They also knew clearly what their goal was: to prepare the nation for this impending g’ulah.
- They had Miriam. She was a formidable leader, teacher, and role model who imbued within the women a spirit of strength and emunah.
- They had each other. The women were incredibly united in their mission. The Torah attests to their m’siras nefesh, commitment to family purity, and their desire to draw close to Hashem. No doubt, each woman was a source of chizuk and inspiration to those around her.
- They no doubt had their personal avodah. Chazal tell us that at the time of the redemption from Egypt, these righteous women were on the level of tzadikim. How did they get to that level in a personal sense?
Every single day, each woman was presented with the choice to fall into depression or move a bit closer to her Creator. Every morning, each woman woke up to the darkness of the Egyptian exile and chose to focus on the light within it. When one of them would briefly fall into despair, she quickly picked herself up again, and continued to push forward, further encouraging those around her.
This should be an inspiration for us today. These days, we also have a Divine promise of redemption, and there are many “Miriams” among us, offering chizuk, encouragement, and clarity. But perhaps most importantly, today, as well as every single day, each one of us has the ability to choose to see the light within the darkness – whether that darkness is in the world at large, our communities, our homes, or even within ourselves. The more we choose to focus on that light and move towards it, the stronger we’ll be and the further we’ll go, bringing everyone else along with us.
(Material was previously published on www.ShiratMiriam.com.)
List of People Who Need a R’fuah Sh’leimah
(a complete recovery)
Please recite Psalms 20, 30, 88, 121, and 130.
Yeshayahu Yosef ben Zari
Rachamim ben Sa’eda Mazal
Alter Shmuel ben Chavah Leah
Meir Yaakov ben Esther
Yehudah ben Dinah
Chaim Avraham ben Shifrah Zisel
Yosef ben Basya
Yehudah Yudel ben Miriam Gittel
Yisachar Dov ben Chayah Brachah
Refael Aharon ben Devorah
Meshulam David ben Alta Hendel
Moshe ben Chasiya
Rafael Avraham ben Ivonne
Tinok ben Tzivia
Gideon ben Ludmilla
Yishai ben Moriasha Tovah
Yosef ben Miriam
Rafael Moshe Yehudah ben Feiga Necha
Yerachmiel Daniel ben Tovah Basha
Chaim Meir Binyamin ben Chanah Sarah
Pinchas ben Feiga Dinah
Yitzchak Mordechai ben Rose Nizha
Chaim Menachem ben Leah
Yechiel HaLevi ben Rachel
Yehudah Aryeh ben Yitta
Moshe Shmuel ben Freida
Sariel Yosef Yitzchak ben Bat-Chen
Rivkah Fruma bas Leah Baila
Irina Ester Chayah bas Yafah
Yafah bas Basanda
Chayah Sheva bas Sheina Reizel
Hadassah bas Hennah Rivkah
Ruchamah Perel Malkah Leah bas Chanah Serel
Hinda Zalma bas Sarah
Esther Hadasah bas Devorah
Sarah bas Ilanah
Rechamah bas Feiga Rivkah
Tinokes bas Efrat Tehilah
Efrat Tehila bas Nina
Chayah Esther Yirat bas Feige Dinah
Tziporah Yeta bas Yehudis
Rachel bas Hinda Reizel
Efrat bas Sonia
Gila Glikel bas Feige
Chayah Rachel bas Yafah