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Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Woman and Her Seven Sons


While reading Italo Calvino's Italian Folktales, I noticed all of a sudden the heaps of good measures those folktales bestow upon women.

Truth is, we have our own Hebrew folktales. Our tradition notes and appreciates deeply the passive heroism of the Israeli woman.


Is it because of Hanukkah that the first example which comes to my mind is the story I'm going to tell you now?

You know, Hanukkah is the celebration of the victory upon the Greeks.

Not at the Olympics.

Some two thousand years ago.

They demanded of the monotheistic Israeli people to bow to idols.


She's "The Woman and the Seven Sons".

Or, "The Mother and the Seven Sons".

Later versions name her, "Miriam Bat Tanhum and the Seven Sons".

Or as of late: "Hannah and The Seven Sons".


Kill me, but I do not believe this is a true story.

Who cares about such horrible stories today?

Maybe in a small provincial place...

Like at an educational site of the third largest city - Haifa...

With professional suggestions: Discuss the Nature of Heroism.


The Woman/Mother/Miriam/Hannah advises her sons not to bow and witnesses their cruel executions, one after the other.

To the youngest, a mere toddler still suckling, who comes for her advise, she says:

"My Son, go to Abraham our father and tell him: 'Don't be too proud. You've only set one altar for one son - I've set seven. Yours was just a test - mine was The Act itself.'" (Talmud Bavli, the book of the Maccabees)


What is Heroism?
Abraham Our Father? Are you kidding?

With Abraham it was the abolishment of the pagan rite.

The Woman is reviving Tradition, speaking to the pagans in their own language.

They know only the language of Violence.


At "Noffey Haneffesh" Dacia Maraini tells how she cringed whenever she was told the story of her namesake Dacia The Martyr, whose breasts were cut because she refused to bow to idols, or give up Christianity.

United We Stand!


The mother sends her seventh to the bosom of Abraham.

For sure we are not as primitive as those who delude themselves with virgins' bosoms awaiting them in Paradise.


One version relays that The Mother lost her mind a few days later and threw herself from the rooftop of her house.

This I believe.

One rooftop is the farthest The Woman/Mother is allowed to take her disobedience to, and Jump.


read it in Hungarian;


  1. The ending however makes this story beautiful. Thank you.
    Yesterday they lit the last light, Chag Hannukah Same'ach...

  2. Today, not far from Tel-Aviv, a woman jumped from the 12th floor. At that time a family - mother, father, a ten months baby in his nanny's arms, got out from their car and started walking to the entrance unaware of what was about to fall from above. The woman fell on the baby and crushed him to death before the eyes of his parents. The nanny was slightly wounded.

    The baby's name was Koren (=radiating). Family name, Shemesh (=sun).


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