Thinking About Chanah

From the Frum Follies archives of 9/12/12.

The approach of Rosh Hashanah makes me think of Chanah, barren like Sarah. Before she could glory in her triumph she was misjudged as a nobody by Eli, the cohen gadol (high priest). He mistook her unvoiced words for drunkenness when they were actually a prayer full of pain and power. But she triumphed and bore a son who would eventually eclipse Eli.

In the meantime the sons of Eli was thieves and lecherers who abused the mishkan (tabernacle). Eli was a decent man but he wasn’t brave enough or determined enough to correct his sons. When a leader is meek it is not merely a failure; it is a disaster. Shmuel, the son of this modest woman foretold this new reality. He started out not being able to recognize the highest call. But then he heard the message and foretold the disaster to Eli. The house of Eli fell and Shmuel crowned kings.

Every year on Rosh Hashanah I am reminded by Chanah’s story  that things don’t have to stay the same.

The mighty can fall and the humble can rise. The scoundrels can lose their power and the just can replace them. The erlich ones who let corruption surround them cannot escape the awful consequences of their inexcusable meekness.

I wish all of my readers a year where justice will rule, where kindness will console the victims; where proud and haughty scoundrels will be brought down. Perhaps even a year in which the decent meek leaders can rise to their responsibilities. I believe that time will yet come, and those who help it come will be rewarded.

A kesivah v’chasimah tovah to all of you.

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9 thoughts on “Thinking About Chanah

  1. I have mixed feeling about your post. On the one hand you are making a valid and important point. On the other hand, you are speaking in an incorrect way about Aili Hacohen (and his sons). I know that you look at this thing as part of package, that in order to have intellectual honesty and integrity, and thereby have the ability to criticize our Rabbis of today, it comes part and parcel with the right to speak freely about the Rabbis in Tana’ch. But I think you are making the same mistake as those whom you feel are program not to say ‘the emperor has no clothes’ , just in a different sense. The mistake is that when one has a particular approach which is important to them, they apply that very approach with a broad brush to everything without discerning when it applies and when it doesn’t. The correct way is to judge and deal with each issue appropriately as is called for in that specific case. The Rabbis of our times are not the same as the Rabbis of Tana’ch.

    Specifically with Aili Hacohen, you have to correct your words, which speak of him in relatively low regard. You are also mistaken about the facts. He was not simply a decent man. He was the holiest man of his generation, and he was also the appointed Shofet of his generation. He was the high priest and he was a Novi Emes. He knew with Ruach hakodesh or Nevuah heavenly secrets, as he told Chana that her prayers were answered in heaven. Nowhere is it written that he was not brave or that he was meek, and we can’t make character assessment of those whom’s characters are far greater than us and therefore greater than our understanding. It is correct to tell the story as it is written, and not to add editorial comments which slight the honor of the subjects.

    It is written, as your intended point, that he did not correct the situation with his sons, and that therefore they were stripped of their greatness.

    • Sorry to disagree with you about Eli. But the text is clear that the fault was Eli’s. See Samuel/Shmuel I 3:12-13

      בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא אָקִים אֶל עֵלִי אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתִּי אֶל בֵּיתוֹ הָחֵל וְכַלֵּה.וְהִגַּדְתִּי לוֹ כִּי שֹׁפֵט אֲנִי אֶת בֵּיתוֹ עַד עוֹלָם בַּעֲו‍ֹן אֲשֶׁר יָדַע כִּי מְקַלְלִים לָהֶם בָּנָיו וְלֹא כִהָה בָּם.

      In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from the beginning even unto the end.For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever, for the iniquity, in that he knew that his sons did bring a curse upon themselves, and he rebuked them not.

      • Now you are twisting my words. I did not say he didn’t sin. It is clear that it was considered a sin. But you have gone the next step to refer to Aili as having particular character flaws, by your own guess. You speak of him without the due respect. I was quite clear, and if you think you are capable of understanding deeper meanings in Tana’ch than what is written openly, than at the very least, understand my words which are to be understood at face value, and don’t twist them. Nobody is beyond constructive criticism.

        • The fact that you are uncomfortable with my message does not make it wrong. I have drawn obvious conclusions from the simple text of the first three chapters of Shmuel. Where am I saying anything about Eli that is not said in Sefer Shmuel? Please quote words I use and show how they are inconsistent with the clear text of the tanach.

      • Thank you, YL, for all of your immense efforts to bring justice to our world, and to save our children from pain, inflicted by their pathologically sick frum elders. May this coming year bring more and more justice to the offenders, and od yoter chashuv, hinder others from acting out their pathologies. You are a shining light in a sector of darkness. Know that you have those who strongly support your efforts. And hypothetically, in multiple ways , as the need arises

        Shanah tovah u'metukah.    Let this coming year   bring light   to the  corner of darkness  in our community.   I  hope  and pray that a time will   arrive,   that you can  close down  Frum  Follies,  sooner  rather   than later.    And that  that should   occur,  b'karov,   and not be dependent on  arrival  of messiach.  May we all be inscribed for a good year,   of health   and absence of abuse of all  kinds.
        
  2. Eli the Kohen thought that Chana was drunk because her lips were moving but nothing was coming out right. Same to by me; I was under such severe trauma, that I was not audible.

    “When Chana Wept, how did everyone behave after rumors got out by some of the onlookers to whom witness Chana Weeping?

    The leadership, the community, her neighbors, and friends…they looked at her and spoke about her as a drunk (all starting from someones slanderous lies or misnomer). While the truth of the matter was that she was in distress, and breaking down from her weeping soul”.

    I wonder how long, how many years it took for the truth to really come out? Did the same people who called her a drunk, ever apologize to her? Did the righteous community feel her pain from all the slander that they allowed to propagate? Did the Rebbitzens ever stand up for her? Chana weaped is a story about a woman who was slandered, a righteous woman who at the lowest point in her vulnerability lost all of her reputation within a blink of an eye, with no evidence to ever had caused it to happen. Who started the lies?

    • What should we learn from this story of Chana weaped? We learned that Hashem hears our prayers. However, while that is the tale end of the story, the story itself is pretty dark. Should we learn not to cry while praying at shul because someone might tell others that we were crying or out-of-control, or “drunk”, hasvshalom. Absolutely not. –

    Diane Polonsky

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