Jewish Women Cannot Sleep in the Sukkah, But We Can Have a Deep Impact on the World
Sukkot is upon us. Simcha is in the air.
It’s my favorite time of the year. The deeper meaning of the holiday represents so many beautiful values we treasure as proud Jews. I love to explore these meanings with my children through children’s books. While we snuggle together under the covers and turn the colorful pages of these beautiful stories, we feel uplifted by the magic of Sukkot and can’t wait until we can feel its power when we are in our actual physical sukkah once again.
There is one particular children’s book about Sukkot with a message never leaves me at this time of the year. I’ve read it many times to my children in the past, and there is always so much to learn from this one story.
It’s called “Dina-dee, Jewish Girls are Special!” and it’s written by Menuchah Beckerman. In the story, little Dina-dee enthusiastically assists her parents in building, cleaning, decorating, and preparing the sukkah.
She becomes saddened when she realizes that there is only enough room for her two brothers and father to sleep in the sukkah. They tell her it is a mitzvah for boys and their fathers to sleep in the sukkah. She feels disheartened because all the work, time, and love she put into the sukkah feels like it was all for nothing.
As she cries, her mother comes over to her and takes her into her arms. She comforts Dina-dee by telling her that she will be sleeping in her father’s bed that week. She informs Dina-dee that she is going to tell her a secret.
She explains to Dina-dee that Miriam watched over her baby brother Moshe when he was in the Nile River to make sure that he wouldn’t be harmed. She hid so no one would see her while she watched over him. She says that Jewish girls “keep everything running smoothly, but you don’t see them. They’re like the motor in a car, and the heart in the body – so important, but hidden inside. Everyone appreciates the wonderful Jewish girls who do so much without attracting attention.”
This message rings so true.
We live in times where self-esteem seems to hinge on being out there: gaining attention, becoming famous, having many “friends” on social media, and attracting attention is the norm.
You have to wear the nicest clothes with the brightest colors and keeps up with the latest trends. You have to have a fancy degree with many certifications and titles next to your name. You have to cook the best and if you do, it has to look the best and taste the best. The list goes on for miles. What does all this “attention” and “popularity” really give us? Does it give us meaning? Does it fill our inner void? Does it truly make us worthy?
In a simple children’s story, little Dina-dee learned that you can put all your heart, soul, time, and physical effort into something, but not receive tangible reward for it. Yet, it was her heart, soul, time, and physical effort that brought the sukkah into physical reality.
And this is what women do: they bring life into physical reality.
A baby can be started in a test tube, but medical science cannot cause the baby to grow and develop into a full-sized healthy human without a woman and her womb. A man cannot create the atmosphere in his home the way a woman can. No matter how much a man would like to be able to nurse a baby, he doesn’t have the physical ability to do that. And, a woman is born with higher level of spirituality than a man and has special mitzvot such as niddah, making challah, and lighting Shabbos candles.
This is not a contrast between men and women or a diatribe on feminism. It’s a reality. Women were created to be the heartbeat of their family and of the Jewish people. Their roles are not “out there,” always to be physically seen and touched. But their roles are real, and they are felt for generations.
So next time you go into your sukkah, Jewesses, remember: you are the engine of this holiday, of your family, of the amazing Jewish nation. And that’s a lot to be proud of.
Tamar Shtrambrand lives in Monsey, NY with her husband and three children. She wears a variety of hats (and wigs :-)), including
homeschool mom, freelance writer, adjunct professor at Rockland Community College, and clinical psychology doctoral intern at CAPS at Bikur Cholim.