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Women's Corner

In Those Days, at this Time: a Hanukkah Message

Rabbanith Ruth Menashe
Friday, November 29, 2013/Kislew 26, 5774

Hakham Yosef Hayyim a"h, writes in Kether Malkhut that Hanukkah is one of the special days, where women are endowed with a higher level of Qedusha (sanctity), in the same way as they are on Rosh Hodesh.

Rashi explains in the Gemara of Shabbath (23a), that women were the ones who brought about the miracle of Hanukkah and, therefore, are obligated to hear the blessings on the Hanukkah candles. The Ben Ish Hai adds that women should not wear their everyday clothing, but rather, should change into festive attire and if they own gold jewelry, they should wear it.
I would like to tell you about one courageous lady – Hannah, the daughter of Mattithyahu, the High  Priest. The midrash relates that  Hannah got married at a time when every single bride was forced to go to the Greek official before being allowed back to her husband. Many Jewish women did not get married In order to avoid this devastating decree. This lasted three years and eight months, Hannah, in the midst of her wedding celebration, and in the presence of honored guests exposed herself. Imagine the embarrassment of her groom, her family and her father in-law! Her brothers wanted to kill her.

At that moment she spoke up and claimed : "You are enraged that I am standing naked here in your presence, but you have kept quiet all this time, while Jewish brides are being defiled by the Greeks?". This resulted in the rebellion of the Maccabim (her brothers) against the Greeks.

There are times that we have "go with the flow ". However, there are times when we have to go
against the tide. It may be ironic, that Hannah had to remove her clothes in order to make a change or bring about the onset of the rebellion. I wonder, whether in our days, going against the tide requires us to do the exact opposite:  cover ourselves more. This is perhaps a message for us, righteous woman of our generation, the more the people around us expose their bodies and infuse impurity into the world, the more we need to infuse holiness into the world by raising the bar of our modesty, through the way we are dressed and how covered we are

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