Last week, Los Angeles Jewish women had an opportunity to experience a special flavor of Torah learning, brought from Eretz Yisrael by Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum, director of Midreshet Be’erot Bat Ayin (MBBA), a holistic women’s seminary. At MBBA, traditional Torah learning is combined with creative spiritual expression, including art, music, and gardening. The students are able to develop a personal relationship with Hashem utilizing their unique talents within a solid Torah framework.
Rebbetzin Siegelbaum’s annual visit to Los Angeles began on Sunday, February 15th, with a healthy homemade gourmet dinner where some of the dishes were prepared according to the recipes from Rebbetzin Siegelbaum’s new book, The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel, With Their Mystical and Medicinal Properties. The dinner took place in the La Brea area, at the home of Shterny Fogelman, the mother of an alumna. The guests enjoyed the delicious dishes while they listened to the recollections of one of the seminary’s first students, Rachelle Fayga Cherman, who described its humble beginnings. Then Mrs. Fogelman and her daughter Chayala spoke of their more recent experience at MBBA.
The dinner was followed by a shiur on the Kabbalistic insights into women’s hair covering. Rebbetzin Siegelbaum explained that in kabbalah, hair strands, shaped like the letter vav, are described as conduits of light from the brain outwards. Uncovered hair allows a person’s innermost feelings to be perceived by others. Women’s hair in particular is associated with judgment, which is necessary for the world to function properly, but can also make a woman vulnerable to the other side. Rebbetzin Siegelbaum said that women were created with perfect energy balance, as we attest in the morning blessings. Our task is to maintain that balance, making sure that our hair conduits are not depleting us from the energy we need. When a woman’s hair is covered her energy stays inside.
Rebbetzin Siegelbaum also explained that a single woman does not need to cover her hair because her task is to learn and receive from her environment. Once a woman gets married she becomes a giver, and that’s when she needs to preserve her energy within her family.
A lively discussion ensued on different types of head coverings. Rebbetzin Siegelbaum explained that once hair is detached from a head it no longer acts as a conduit. Therefore, wearing a wig presents no problem, according to Kabbalah. Covering hair inside one’s home was also debated, and Rebbetzin Siegelbaum addressed the opinions and issues involved. The attendees found the shiur inspiring and empowering. “It’s good to know why we do what we do,” said Mrs. Cherman, “and to understand our power as Jewish women.”
On Monday, Rebbetzin Siegelbaum gave a shiur in the Pico-Robertson home of Geula Dickerman. Rebbetzin Siegelbaum described the healing power of Shema Yisrael to bring ultimate unity and ultimate rectification of good and evil. Rebbetzin Siegelbaum then invited Los Angeles women to visit her school. Information about Midreshet Be’erot Bat Ayin and more of the Rebbetzin’s unique Torah teachings, can be found at http://www.berotbatayin.org. The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel, With Their Mystical and Medicinal Properties is published by Menorah Books.