05/06/2012 03:25 pm ET Updated Jul 06, 2012

Hatzelponit: Generosity Within Receiving

"The angel of God came again to the woman, and she was sitting in the field, and Manoach her husband was not with her."

וַיִּשְׁמַע הָאֱלֹהִים, בְּקוֹל מָנוֹחַ; וַיָּבֹא מַלְאַךְ הָאֱלֹהִים עוֹד אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה, וְהִיא יוֹשֶׁבֶת בַּשָּׂדֶה, וּמָנוֹחַ אִישָׁהּ, אֵין עִמָּהּ

--Judges 13:9

Manoach and his wife, who are childless, live in the time of the judges. Although the wife is nameless in the Bible, a midrash (drawing on I Chronicles 4:3) calls her Hatzelponit. An angel appears to Hatzelponit and tells her that she will bear a son. This child must be dedicated as a nazir (one who renounces wine, leaves his or her hair long, and stays away from dead bodies). His hair must never be cut. His mother must drink no wine during pregnancy.

Hatzelponit runs to tell her husband, and her husband prays to the angel to appear again. The angel does appear again, but only to Hatzelponit while she is meditating in the field. The persistent woman runs to get her husband, but when Manoach huffs and puffs into the angel's presnce, the angel tells him: "The woman must take care about all that I told her." When the angel disappears, Manoach is afraid that he will die, but Hatzelponit reasons: " Had God desired to kill us ... he would not hav eshown us all these things." The child Hatzelponit bears is Samson, who becomes a judge.

Because Hatzelponit has the gift of acceptance (hod), she is able to understand God's generosity (chesed) when she receives it. Her husband is full of gevurah, of severity -- he wants to know the rules, and he is afraid that God's presence will kill him. Hatzelponit, however, is comfortable with the appearance of angels. She knows that the prophecy she has received is one of love. We are most like Hatzelponit when we are able to take in the miracles of our lives with gratitude, and without fear.

This is an excerpt from the "Omer Calendar of Biblical Women," available at West Side Judaica in NYC or online.

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