Art and Rectification: Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum Visits Los Angeles
Creative Jewish women throughout Los Angeles had an opportunity to hear and learn from Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum, an award-winning author and founder and director of Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin (MBBA) in Israel. The seminary is unique in its holistic approach to Torah learning and living, and it draws women of all ages who are seeking to integrate their creativity and spirituality with Judaism. Rebbetzin Siegelbaum visited Los Angeles as part of her annual North America speaking tour.
Rebbetzin Siegelbaum’s visit began with an annual dinner in support of MBBA, held at the home of Shterny Fogelman, mother of a former student of MBBA. During the “healthy and hearty dinner,” where only wholesome food was served, the Rebbetzin shared the latest news from MBBA, including the completed construction and the planned new buildings that would improve the living conditions for the students.
After dinner, Rebbetzin Siegelbaum gave a shiur, open to the community, entitled, Dinah – Daughter of Transformation: Rectifying the Shadow-side of Israel. Citing traditional sources, including the Arizal, the Rebbetzin explained that Dinah had the special power to transform evil into good. According to the midrash, Yaakov is criticized for having hidden Dinah from Eisav. If Dinah had married Eisav, she would have been able to reveal the divine spark within him. Yaakov, however, chose to protect Dinah from her mission.
“Dinah didn’t get to transform Eisav,” said Rebbetzin Siegelbaum, “but she brought about an even greater transformation.” Even though she was taken to Shechem against her will, she managed to release the sparks of holiness that were trapped within Shechem. “Through the dirtiest, darkest things can come the holiest,” said the Rebbetzin.
She explained that according to kabbalah, Dinah was able to rectify the sin of Adam and Chava. “The impurity that the snake put into Chava came back into Shechem,” she said. Dinah emerged from her horrific experience purified, and this purity was passed along to all the Jewish women.
Rebbetzin Chana Bracha also met with local women privately during her stay in Los Angeles. She also taught a class entitled Women, Art, and Emuna: Exploring the Inherent Connection between Feminine Art and Emuna in a private home in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood. The Rebbetzin spoke about using art as a means to strengthen our emunah and deepen our relationship with Hashem. The Hebrew word for art, “omanut,” has the same root as the word “emunah.” Both emunah and art have always been the strengths of the Jewish women. Women played a central role in the construction of the mishkan, using their talents to serve Hashem.
Later in history, art had become corrupted by the Greek and Roman cultures, and Judaism had distanced itself from art. But now, as the time of Mashiach is approaching, it is appropriate to bring art back into Judaism by using it for holy purposes. And when art is produced as a way to serve Hashem, it has the potential to bring other Jews closer to Hashem as well.