On losing a close friend

It has been awhile since I have been able to write on Modest Jerusalem. I like to think that my breaks from posting are those times of reflection, exploring, taking in the world (aka regular daily life!) and waiting for the right time to let it all out and share. Sometimes it comes out in 1 post, and sometimes in 10 posts. I can’t really know or plan it. But I like the natural cycle of this blog, and I was almost sure no one was following until a really sweet mother at Tehila’s gan came up to me last week at the Hanukkah Party and told me she finally realized why I looked familiar. She has been following my blog for quite awhile, using my recipes such as the Mujadara and liked the Recycling posts. It really warmed my heart and I told her if I manage to get out a post in the next week, its because of you! (So thank you!)

The truth is I have been wanting to write this post for a little over a month now. That is about the time when I lost a very close friend of mine. A friend I have been working with for 6 years. Now I say a friend, but this friend was not a regular person. She was a Rebbetzin, though never wanted to be called one officially.  She comes from a long line of revered Talmid Chachamim, and her husband is no less, once giving shiurim at a very prominent Yeshiva in Jerusalem and then opening his own successful one about a year or two ago, with endless support and wisdom from his wife, may her memory be for a blessing.

flowersI will choose not to name her here. Although you will find her name and beautiful stories written about her all over the internet and Jewish women magazines, you won’t find a single picture of her. That is how it is with this kind of royalty, the opposite of lets call it “modern royalty”.

It is not a regular circumstance that our paths should cross. I come from a very regular, secular Jewish upbringing in New Jersey where royalty meant Princess Diana and perhaps famous Hollywood actresses.

And although I no longer consider myself secular, and am still on my own journey with Judaism, it also isn’t a regular occurrence that we should meet. And not only meet, but become friends.

I got to share in her simchas, and her in mine. I got to ask her all sorts of questions and advice about life, and got back infinite wisdom. Let’s be real here.😃 She was my Rebbetzin. But that was her secret way in life. She was just my friend.

Are there really such people in this world?

Sometimes a person is too much of a tzadik or tzadika (righteous woman) for this world. It seems as if the world can’t handle someone, at only the age of 49,  who really embodied, in full, what it means to be an Eishet Chayil, the ultimate righteous women.

So I am in this group on Facebook and saw a discussion the other day about how the song of Eishet Chayil is no longer relevant, and many couples now decide that their husbands won’t sing it to their wives on Shabbat evening because they are equal partners in every way and it doesn’t make sense in our modern lives.

I was really sad after reading the comments on the post.

My dear friend I talk about here was the embodiment of this song. With the strength she gained from being such a righteous women, she left this world a queen and with tremendous nachat from her 11 children and 3 grandchildren.

She told me this many times before her passing… how when she saw her 4 married daughters…the “couples” as she would call them, on Shabbat evenings, or just on an weekly basis, she had so much nachat from just watching and being with them.

She was never scared to leave this world, even though she knew her condition was getting worse over the last few months. I’d ask her if she was scared, and she told me many times she was too busy to be scared. She had a house and family to run!

She was praised by all her children, her husband, her family, and everyone who knew her.

One of her daughter’s at the shiva said to me, “I had the most tremendous tzchut of having such a mother”. What is more beautiful in this life than hearing such words from your own daughter.

I want to lay out the words of Eishet Chayil below in English. Nothing I can write about my dear friend can explain who she was better than this song. I can only cry when hearing the end “Her children rise up and make her happy; her husband praises her. Many women have excelled, but you excell them all!”

You will be missed my dear friend. I will always look to you for guidance and your smile. Thank you for all the beauty you left to this world.

Eishet Chayil

A Woman of Valor, who can find? She is more precious than corals.
Her husband places his trust in her and profits only thereby.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
She seeks out wool and flax and cheerfully does the work of her hands.

She is like the trading ships, bringing food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night to provide food for her household, and a fair share for her staff.
She considers a field and purchases it, and plants a vineyard with the fruit of her labors.
She invests herself with strength and makes her arms powerful.

She senses that her trade is profitable; her light does not go out at night.
She stretches out her hands to the distaff and her palms hold the spindle.
She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She has no fear of the snow for her household, for all her household is dressed in fine clothing.

She makes her own bedspreads; her clothing is of fine linen and luxurious cloth.
Her husband is known at the gates, where he sits with the elders of the land.
She makes and sells linens; she supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is robed in strength and dignity, and she smiles at the future.

She opens her mouth with wisdom and a lesson of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks after the conduct of her household and never tastes the bread of laziness.
Her children rise up and make her happy; her husband praises her:
“Many women have excelled, but you excell them all!”

Grace is elusive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears God — she shall be praised.
Give her credit for the fruit of her labors, and let her achievements praise her at the gates.

(Images in this post are taken from the Instagram of the talented Gila Orkin. I have been drawn to her warm colors and images in the recent months.)

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