Introduction (written several years ago)
My goals in translating the Sefer Ohel Rachel into English
It is with a feeling of awe that I present this work to you, “Lessons in Ohel Rachel”. There is so much in the way of introduction that I would like to convey at this time, though as a translator, my role has been delicate. On the one hand, I have wanted to remain as transparent as possible, to allow the Torah presented in this compendium of sources to speak for itself and not interfere with the innate layout of ideas that the author skillfully recorded in its original lyrical Hebrew. On the other hand, I have tried to express these concepts on the page in our language in a way that is most easily absorbed, not only into the mind but into the heart. The sources are lofty and at times cryptic as much as the stream of concepts are often abstractly and poetically linked, and it is this feminine touch of bringing them down into our true abode of the heart that I felt would meet my initial goal of translating the sefer in the best way.
I believe that the term “role” as in “a woman’s role” is a bit of a misnomer. A “role” denotes donning a persona that one believes meets the expectations put on one from the outside. I prefer the concept of “essence”. This penetrates far more to the core of our inner workings and allows us to create a relationship with ourselves, Hashem and our families from this place. What is also nice about this approach is that in the same way as no two faces are alike, no two souls are alike, and the Torah is not a straightjacket, but the inside view into reality itself. How its truths manifest in each individual is unique and beautiful and rare. My goal is to present the Torah hashkafa with the best words that I have, and for the truth of those words to resonate with the truth that already lives inside your soul. You will then be able to navigate and apply the principles of Ohel Rachel in your own life and in your own way.
This sefer was released in the year תשנ”ב – 1992 – which the author made note of at that time corresponds to the three Hebrew words נדה, חלה, נרת – the three mitzvos of women. It is my wish that 26 years later this English volume will open these sources to you along with the sensitive insights of its author. The author (who chooses to remain anonymous but received approbations from every leading Torah authority for his parallel work Mishkan Yisroel, the sanctuary of Israel, which was written for men) is a close disciple of Rav Moshe Shapiro Zt”l, a giant of our generation, who opened the wellsprings of Torah from its deepest reservoirs and awoke love and awe of Hashem in thousands by so doing.
In truth, as a companion to this volume, I wish to write another book, called “Pre-Messianic Woman”. In this book to come, with Hashem’s greatest help and blessings, I would like to suggest yet another dimension of the “essence” of women that perhaps hasn’t yet been fully articulated in our times. I am telling this to you now because it is with this in mind that I have approached this book, with a curious mind and uncompromising loyalty to the position of the Torah. Along with this commitment, I have kept my other hand on my own internal world and perception of myself as a woman within BH a Torah life. These two anchors have started coming together for me as I have grown and explored and together they comprise of an unfailing blend of truth and reality (should those two concepts ever have been separated in the first place??).
If this sounds abstract to you, that’s because it needs its own book. In the meantime, I want to express that whatever unique role we have as women in our day – guided by the Torah, the needs of our times, and of course by our “essence” which calls (sings?) to us, is contained in hidden coding in the very pages of this book and will only emerge in its right time from within the foundations of what is presented before you.
May it be Hashem’s will that we are able to learn, absorb, apply and become all that Hashem created us to be.
The Author’s Goal’s in Writing Sefer Ohel Rachel (translated from the Hebrew)
I wrote this sefer:
- To answer questions with regard to the role of a woman, with respect to her own spirituality as well as with respect to her home, through the guidance of Chazal and the early commentators, and the understanding imparted from the most recent link in our Mesorah.
- Learning the sefer causes many potential questions to dissipate automatically and outlines a path of understanding and practical application in a woman’s life based on Da’as Torah.
- To illustrate the inherent goodness, beauty and tranquility of the life of a Jewish woman, as expressed in a life of Torah
- Learning the sefer provides a picture of the splendor and of a Jewish home, which in turn instills a desire to create one
- To allow the natural kochos hanefesh of a woman to surface and be strengthened
- Learning the sefer will give a woman staying power to build a unique home in klal Yisroel, all through tapping into her Emuna and delving into the teachings of the Torah, which have the ability to renew the heart.