Devora the Prophetess

The Haftarah for Parshat Beshalach is the story of Devora the Prophetess from the Book of Shoftim, Judges, Chapters 4-5.


When I hear the name Devora, a few images come to mind: Devora the Prophetess, The excellent play being performed by the women in Gush Etzion called "Judge! The Story of Devora", "Devorah’s Song" by Debbie Friedman z”l (who passed away this week) which tells the story of the Haftarah as well as my grandmother Devora bat Feiga, Dorothy DuBrow z”l who passed away five years ago.


In Judges 4:4 we read: “Now Devora was Isha Neviah, a woman prophetess, Eshet Lapidot, the wife of Lapidot, she judged Israel at the time. And she sat under the palm tree of Devorah…And the children of Israel came to her for judgment.”


My grandmother, Devora was in many ways a prophetess as well. She looked to the future to see what would be best for her family and for the Jewish people. She sent my mother to Jewish day school and High school as well as to Jewish camps and Stern College way before it was the common thing to do knowing that the Jewish future will be built through Jewish education.


According to the commentary Metzudat David, the term Eshet Lapidot means Eshet Chayil, a woman of valor who is quick with her actions like a lapid, a fiery torch. My grandmother was always quick to help others and give Tzedaka to those in need. She was a true Eshet Chayail, woman of valor and she received the Eshet chayil award from numerous organizations and institutions.


My grandmother was also in many ways a judge. Just as everyone came to Devora the prophetess with their problems and disputes to settle, so too did each and every member of the family come to my grandmother in New Haven with different problems, issues or to simply ask advice. The last 19 years of her life she lived in Florida where she continued to give advice, literally under the palm trees.


At the end of Judges Chapter 5 it says: “And the land was quiet for 40 years”.


Because of Devora the Prophetess there was peace in the Land of Israel. No matter what the situation was, my grandmother tried to make things as peaceful as possible. She reached out to people of all backgrounds and religious affiliations and she made friends wherever she went.


In Biblical days, it was an exception to have a woman in a position of leadership who served in such an important role. My grandmother was in the workforce way before most women and was greatly respected in the community.


My grandmother, Devora is truly missed but her teachings live on through her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren including three great grandchildren who are named after her as well as the students of Midreshet Devora which was founded in her memory.