I am well within my rights to look frazzled at Shul this Shabbos. Right now, I feel like that inept husband who arrives home to a house ravaged by what looks like Hurricane Sandy's second cousin, asks his wife what happened and she smirks and says, "You know you always ask me what I do all day- well today, I didn't do it!"
I've been blessed to travel abroad quite a few times in the last year or so. Somehow my absence did not once seem to generate the levels of concern and unease at home that Naomi's six-day stint in the US has. My "please take care of while I'm away" list goes something like "turn off the lights & lock up before you go to bed". I've never had pre-trip concerns of cooking and freezing meals or arranging after school activities and lift-schemes or strategizing Shabbos shopping lists and clothing suggestions and reminders about this one's medication or that one's dietary preferences. No question, without the woman of the house around, things get pretty shaky. Fortunately, our family has reached the stage where our daughters are kitchen whizzes and have the bath-nappy-bedtime routine down pat (it's wodnerful to start enjoying the investment you have made in a large family). These girls are well on their way to creating homes where things will crumble when they get to travel abroad.
Naomi is in New York at the women's Kinus there. Imagine that? A black-hatted patriarchal "ultra-religious" movement where the women fly off un-chaperoned for a girls-only leadership weekend. They enjoy workshops, lectures, interactive sessions, classes and social networking on a par with any frontline organisation- and they're not just trading recipes and sharing birthing experiences.
This women's conference is designed to coincide with the yartzeit of the Rebbe's wife (this Shabbos). To the Rebbe, Judaism was never about rabbis and pulpits any more than it was about women who inspire people, lead revolutionary projects and build communities- all while producing a well-balanced generation of forward-thinking future Jewish leaders. Men can compete on the half, but typically at the expense of maintaining a home and investing in children as women do.
That's why, when G-d gave us the Torah, He insisted that Moshe address the women first. Besides the fact that the first time He had entrusted Man to pass on instructions to Woman, they wrecked Eden and brought death to the world, G-d knew that women would ultimately lead the world to its purpose.
Judaism is about harmony: Body and soul, idealism and pragmatism, the world outside and the world within. Women naturally carry the instinct to synthesize the disparities of life.
G-d redeemed the Israelites from Egypt in the women's merit, placed them first in line for the Torah, and entrusted the future in their hands, because they intuit the essence of Judaism.
On Shabbos we will read the story of the giving of the Torah and commemorate the life of a remarkable Jewish matriarch by honouring her proteges from around the world. It's a Shabbos of feminine energy; a glimpse of the future.