Dr Judith Guedalia

Crowning Glory; The Gift - Not Just Learning About Chesed, But Doing It

I looked at her thinking of my grandmother, who used to refer to one's hair (especially girls') as "your crowning glory."   There she stood before me, all of 14 years old, hair shorn in a kind of choppy very short ponytail (Kuku in modern Hebrew, and a Fringe in UK).



"I didn't want to tell anybody until I did IT," she said.   Other girls have done IT too.  IT was first growing her hair the longest it has ever been and then cutting it so that it can be used to make a wig for a young cancer patient.


I thought of the oft-told story of two brothers who loved each other so much that each night they crept over to the other's property and added wheat to the beloved brother's day's harvest so as to help him be more successful.  The story goes on to say how one night they met and on that site the Beit HaMikdash - Holy Temple was built; a story emphasizing unadulterated selfless brotherly love, as the foundation of Hashem's earthly presence.


Lehavdil (to differentiate between the sublime and mundane) there is a famous O. Henry short story, "The Gift of the Magi," which comes to mind.  Recounted is the story of a young financially strapped young couple who want to give each other a special gift.  He has a precious watch he inherited; she has beautiful long hair.  As O. Henry puts it, they sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house.  In order to afford the gift she cuts and sells her hair and buys him a watch fob, and he "hocks" his watch to buy her beautiful combs for her long hair.  Their love for one another is the true gift.


I return to thinking about hair. Hair can be such a bone of contention between teens and parents.  Too long, too short, not long enough.  For males perhaps, it is cut too near the pe'ot (specific areas of the face); for teens and young adults it's shampoo "laced" with H2O2 - hydrogen peroxide (instead of H2O-water)!  In young marrieds, it's the different opinions regarding pe'ot - (sheitel) /wig hair vs. cloth, tichels or hats used for hair coverings.


Here these few young teen girls, at the height of their opportunity to show off their OWN crowning glory, choose to coddle it, grow it, and then cut it off for a chesed- altruistic, meaningful selfless purpose for another. 


Wait a minute; I said to myself, this process sounds a lot like parenting.  We are given the gift of taking and coddling the young, effecting children's growth (home, schools, and communities), this younger generation forms our Crowning Glory and finally, we are charged with letting them go off into Life to do the Greater Good for others. 


I saw my granddaughter's shorn hair along with the sparkle in her eyes and glow on her face as she showed me the certificate she received from Zichron Menachem - the organization for children with cancer.  But more than that, her soft words touched my heart.  When she saw the surprised look on my face she said: "Don't worry Oma Judi, it will grow again." 


I relearned life's truth: growing leads to cutting which leads to selflessness and re-growth.  May our children's learning and doing the way of Chesed enhance love for others and speed the rebuilding of the Holy Temple.


Tags: Crowning Glory | Hair | Jewish Press