Two Amazing Women
Asenath Barzani (1590-1670) was born in Mosul, Iraq to the chief rabbi of Kurdistan, Shmuel Barzani. After her father’s passing she took over his role, serving as the head of the Mosul Yeshiva and teaching Torah to the masses (preferring to do this from behind a curtain, for she was also very beautiful). Asenath was given the title Tanna’it (“Great Teacher”) and was known for performing incredible miracles, including reviving a dead dove, bringing a legion of angels down from Heaven, and fighting crime using only her mystical powers. To this day, people make pilgrimages to her grave in Iraq.
On the other side of the world, in the Ukranian town of Ludomir, lived a woman named Hannah Rachel Verbermacher (1805-1888). After a midnight incident at a cemetery, where she had a certain revelation, Hannah Rachel transformed into a highly respected Torah teacher famous across Eastern Europe (she, too, gave her speeches from behind a screen for modesty). Many Hassidim became her devoted followers, building a synagogue and study house for the great ‘Maid of Ludomir’. Some even called her rebbe, and she was often seen wearing tefillin and a tallit (which stirred up quite a bit of controversy). At the end of her life, she made Aliyah to Israel and is said to have joined a descendant of the great Yemenite sage Shalom Shabazi in the mission of bringing Mashiach. However, according to legend the angel Eliyahu came down to stop them, for the world was not yet ready!
Words of the Week
Don’t ask for a lighter burden, ask for broader shoulders.
– Jewish Proverb