Monday, January 9, 2012

Judging our Neighbour

In thinking about todays first Mass reading I came across this Jewish sermon. Very sensible and moving stuff by Rabbi Mark H. Levin:

Hannah’s guts ached. She was eating her heart out. She could not get pregnant. Not that her husband did not love her, or was unavailable to her. But, she desired children for both herself and for Elkanah. She felt childbearing was her reason to live, and God had conspired to deny her this one source of satisfaction. She intimately knew profound personal loss. But that was not the matter’s entirety. Would that it were! She might be able to cope better with a one dimensional problem.

No, her problems of self reproach revolved also around jealousy. Her husband’s other wife not only bore him children but received additional portions of the sacrifice Elkanah offered to God. Elkanah’s hands were tied; he could do no other. Each member of the family received their rightful share of the sacrificial meat. Elkanah could not deny them their due. But to Hannah it felt like somehow the other wife, Peninah, was holier.

To make matters worse, Peninah, knowing that Elkanah preferred Hannah to herself, tormented her rival about receiving less of the sacrifice and about having no children. “God prefers me over you,” she would taunt in that whining nasal voice of hers each time they traveled as a family to Shiloh. It gnawed at Hannah’s intestines, but there was absolutely nothing she could do. Elkanah assured her of his love, but he did not really understand. He was not a woman. His protestations only worsened matters, for the woman beloved by her husband wants to please him, and Hannah felt Elkanah would like nothing more than a child from his favored wife. Hannah cried herself to sleep nightly, but felt she had no place to turn.

Finally Hannah could take it no more. Go HERE to continue reading.


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