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The Looking Glass

The Looking Glass

To the women of Israel.

by Aviva Kashuk

I bought one of those little magnifying mirrors some months ago. It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life.

I had no idea what my face really looked like. There were holes, red splotches, little lines and crevices in places on my face that I had no idea existed. I didn't know what to do about it.

My family and I had recently moved back to the United States after living in Israel for nine years. I never noticed these types of things in Israel. Somehow, facial lines, faded clothes and worn shoes fit into the fabric of life in the Holy Land. Here in the States, those same things glared liked red sirens.

Once I moved back here I realized that the clothes on our lift -- the "good ones worth keeping" -- were not good, or worth keeping.

They matched the lines on my face, which I now thought weren't good or worth keeping either.

Here in my corner of America, I have noticed spas or salons on pretty much every commercial block in a 20-mile radius. I haven't been in one yet, but they beckon me with each peek into that dreadful mirror. I overheard my 10 and 12 year-old daughters discussing with their new classmates how many times they had their nails "done." My kids had a big lead for last place.

I started thinking about some of the women I left behind in Israel and the lines on their faces. Did they notice?

The woman who has 14 children and makes it to the Western Wall every morning at sunrise, no matter the weather, to cry out for the sake of the Jewish people.

The grandmother who swam across Lake Kinneret to raise money for autistic children.

The woman who opens her home for thousands of soldiers to thank them and give them honor.

The women who lived in a tent near the Tomb of Rachel with their children to insure that the Israeli Government would protect it.

The women of Gush Etzion who produced extraordinary musicals to heighten the spirits of women suffering from the destruction of bombings.

The women who have taken in families from Gush Katif, providing shelter, food and comfort, in already crowded homes.

These are not women who frequent spas. These women are too busy "earning their stripes."

These are the women who live in Israel, raise their families in Israel, and deal with all that the Land and the politics dole out to them. These are the women who by virtue of living in Israel, "hold our place in line" for the time when we choose to visit, or make aliya.

These women have no fear of that dreadful mirror. The lines on their faces represent lines of love, giving, caring, sharing, struggle, sacrifice, and commitment to the Jewish people, and the One Above.

To the women of Israel, we thank you.


June 9, 2007

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Visitor Comments: 56

(56) Riki, May 24, 2008 5:02 PM

Dear Aviva
thank you very much for your article.
It is very true and makes certain points.
I think that that is one of the problems in the U.S.
the terrific pull in many places is the gashmeus-which is why, sadly every day we lose over two thousand jewish souls to the gashmeus there, where as in israel we lose much less
thank you again for the points you raised
AND THANK YOU to all of those truely dedicated women of ISRAEL and women everywere that truely care about torah and ruchnius and the Jewish nation!

(55) Wendy Portman, August 9, 2007 5:24 PM

How has Aviva been coping with her mirror image since returning to the US? I too praise the Israeli women's values and struggle to sustain those values within my own spirit while feeling the cultural oppression all around me.

(54) Esther, June 20, 2007 3:04 PM

The focus on looks

The point in this article is obviously important, but I don't think it has anything to do with nationality and everything to do with each individual woman making a concious choice whether to focus on their external appearance or not. Both before and after I became Orthodox, I never spent much time worrying about my looks. And both before and after I became Orthodox, I received negative looks from those women who do spend much time on their appearance. At the end of the day, what is important is having the self-esteem and emunah to put less effort into this area and deal witht he fact that there are some people who will react negatively. You won't be as "popular." But you will know you are doing the right thing. Please continue to not encourage your daughters to "fit in" with the fashionable crowd.

(53) Angelica Redpath, June 19, 2007 10:36 AM

I too have looked in the mirror lately. The mirror I have magnifies 10 times the image, so you could imagine what I saw…not only could I see every line… magnified 10 folds. Well I too became aware of my age.

I shared with my special friend my fears of not looking young and fresh. I confessed I wanted to see a plastic surgeon to change my image to a younger one. I asked him should I have the surgery. He responded with the most amazing answer, he told me "I love you exactly the way you are; I love you for your smile, the warmness of eyes, the goodness of your heart and your spirituality. Your fears are superficial and unimportant". I was dumfounded by his most inspiring answer.

Your story has touched my heart even deeper, cloths, wrinkles are not important. The important issues in life are those you mentioned people helping people in Israel, America and in the world. We should never forget the truly important things in life…

Thank you for reminding us!

(52) Anonymous, June 19, 2007 4:20 AM

what a "real and poignant" article in this day and age when, YES< we are all running to spas and clothing stores and trying to look younger. i too am shocked sometimes when i look in the mirror, not believing the lines and wrinkles. then i think about the children i've raised, the diseases i've beat, the tears of joy and pain ( and there have been lots and lots of those )that i have endured and i realize that my face is a canvas upon all which all the experiences of my life have been drawn. i hated the bad times, but grew from them. i love the good times and smile and laugh w/excitement and joy when i play w/my granddaughters or dance at a simcha. so ,yes, i am american and i cannot say that i live the "holy and difficult" life of israeli women who have the zchus to do something meaningful every day of their lives . but i too, agree w/the writer that wherever we are and whomever we are.. we should face our mirrors with acceptance and know that we are doing our best and not be afraid to see the truth!

ps.. sorry gotta run,, need to get my manicure! lol... just kidding.. gotta read my articles... kol tuv,

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