12 Kislev 5781 / Saturday, November 28, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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Woman of Uman    

Woman of Uman

I had no problem letting my husband go overseas for weeks at a time, because I would see the concrete dollar benefits of his absence; what about the spiritual benefits of Uman?


I used to eye them with pity, these women of Uman, whose husbands would pack up for Rosh Hashana, leaving them to fend for themselves for all Yom Tov. I used to be grateful that my husband was not in the least interested in making the trek to Uman, had no inclination to all things Breslev, and had no connection to Rebbe Nachman. I used to look at these women with a mix of consternation and sympathy—alone with their kids for Rosh Hashana! What noble creatures! What insensitive husbands!

And then it happened. What began as a small window of interest turned into a huge window of opportunity—and my husband jumped through it—and went to Uman. Being that half of our building was man-less, (due to Uman) and there were my fellow compatriots to support me—those Women of Uman—that first Rosh Hashana was not as bad as I thought it would be. But how, pray tell, did I get from a staunch de-Umanizer to make a total about face and become a stout Umanizer?
I came to the realization after only a short battle with myself (inner battles can usually last much longer). Upon moving to Israel, my husband used to have to go back and forth to America to make a living. I used to have to hold down the fort here in Israel by myself (with HaShem's help, of course), for up to six weeks at a time. And I did it. What choice did I have? None. My husband needed to make a living, and at the time, this was the only recourse. It wasn't easy. At times I wanted to pack everyone up and just finish with the whole Aliya business. But I didn't. Why? Because the benefits of being in HaShem's Land far outweighed any hardship involved.
And so, when my husband broached the question of Uman, at first I balked. “What kind of macho mens' club is this?!” my yetzer rallied. “Leaving you helpless and alone to go have a good time in Uman while you slave away here in Israel! Harumph!” And so on.And so forth. And so on. And –you get the picture.
And then the Yetzer ha Tov swooped in and saved the day—or the trip, rather—with this astounding illumination: For money, I had no problem letting my husband go, because I would see the concrete and physical benefits of his absence, translated into dollars, and therefore any hardship was justified. Was I so petty that I would deny my husband, and by extension, our family the spiritual wealth that is Uman, simply because I might not be able to 'see' it right away? Didn't my husband, who worked so hard, deserve a spiritual 'injection', along with an IV of emuna to carry him the rest of the year? And so yes, after a good talk with myself—he went to Uman.
While my husband was in Uman, a very interesting thing happened Rosh Hashana morning. As we were getting up, I heard a sudden 'pop' coming from the fuse box. Our electricity was down! I still don't know why I did this in retrospect, but in my panic I hurried to street level, looking for what—I don't know. Some kind of answer to this dilemma that had happened smack in mid Yom Tov. In a town with very very few non Jews around, I don't know what—or who I was expecting to find so early in the morning. But there, as if sent from heaven (and I am sure she was) was a Philippine woman, taking care of her elderly charge. A Philippine! On my street! Just when I needed her! She was made aware of the problem, and was our shaliach in enabling us to have electricity the rest of Yom Tov. I realized, then that even though my husband was away, I didn't have to wait too long to see the spiritual and the physical benefits of his going to Uman.
When you send your husband to Uman, you are reaping spiritual gains for the entire family. The same way you would not hesitate to allow your husband to go overseas to gather diamonds—or hard currency for living, he too is gathering diamonds of a different sort—diamonds that will carry you through on your spiritual bank account for the year to come.
So am I officially a Woman of Uman? Have I finally joined this sisterhood of holy women who spend Rosh Hashana—not alone, but together, knowing that their husbands are gathering spiritual diamonds? I sure hope so.


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