Go forward

“Shalom Sivan, I am writing to you from ‘Bat Melech,’ a shelter for battered women. Several months ago, I escaped here with my children after too many years of being controlled, of being subjected to violence and abuse of many kinds and to much suffering. I understood that what I had kept secret all these years – concerned that perhaps those around me, in my community, and at work would find out – I could not hide any more. I had always kept in mind the thought that I was responsible for creating family stability and domestic peace, especially for the children, but the situation only deteriorated. It was difficult to look myself in the mirror and to understand that I was what is called ‘a battered woman.’ This associated me with all the stigmas that I had heard about victims of domestic violence and, after all, this wasn’t me. Only today, after the rehabilitation process, towards leaving the shelter for a life of independence, I understand how much I was mistaken. I understand that I was a victim, a status I could only change by traveling down a new road.

‘Go forward from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you’. This is the ancient call of G-d to Avraham avinu in the Torah portion that we read on Shabbat. How difficult it is to uproot ourselves, to leave familiar surroundings to which we are accustomed, to embark on a long journey towards freedom, independence, and self-respect. I know that this call to Avraham has elicited much commentary over the years
and has given inspiration to many. I hope that it is now possible to add my commentary since it is a commentary that might save the lives of other women, too: this passage is a call to make an honest self-assessment, and to build up the courage needed to do the right thing, to think about what G-d expects us to do. Sometimes you just need to tell yourself: ‘Go forward.’”

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סיון רהב-מאיר

Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecturer. Married to Yedidya, the mother of five. Lives in Jerusalem. She works for Israel TV news, writes a column for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, and hosts a weekly radio show on Galei Zahal (Army Radio). Her lectures on the weekly Torah portion are attended by hundreds and the live broadcast attracts thousands more listeners throughout the world.
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