Sacred Commitment: A Bedtime Story

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 17 June 2016 @ 1:46 pm

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. And she had a tante who told her the most marvelous bedtime story. All the time.

little lilly

(It probably wasn’t all the time, but this is how the little girl remembers it and it’s her truth.)

The bedtime story wasn’t of fairy princesses or fantastic adventures or teddy bear picnics; it was the story of Samson.

I don’t know why the little girl’s tante chose this particular Bible story. My guess is that the little girl wouldn’t stop talking and wouldn’t go to sleep and her tante was at her very wit’s end. (I wasn’t there, but I know this little girl very well…)

Several years pass. The little girl got older. But she always remembered Samson’s story and how he got his strength from his hair. And when she was about nine, she decided that she too was not going to cut her hair. Not forever, like Samson was supposed to do. For a specific amount of time. And for a specific purpose.

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Naso, we learn the terms of the Nazarite vow in Deuteronomy 6:1-21. Among the prohibitions of one who voluntarily takes on this vow is the cutting of hair. Though Nazarite practices are no longer common, the little girl was thrilled to discover that this was the Torah portion of the week that she would reach the age of Commandments — bat mitzvah. And the additional reading would be, in fact, the story of Samson, taken from the book of Judges.

age 9

And so the little girl, aged nine, announced that she would refrain from cutting her hair for four years and that her first act as a religiously-responsible Jewish adult would be to donate her hair to an organization that provides wigs free/low cost to those who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments.

Why four years? Surely her hair would be long enough to donate after just a couple of years.

“Mommy,” said the little girl, “I’m not really a very giving person. I don’t want to have very short hair after I donate the amount they require. But if I wait until I become a bat mitzvah, I can donate it and still have hair down to my shoulders.”

(The little girl was nothing if not pragmatic.)

Four years passed. Suddenly, it was time.


May I find courage within myself and strength from God to fulfill my commitment.


Barukh Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melekh HaOlam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu lirdof tzedek.
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, who calls us to holiness through mitzvot and commands us to pursue justice.

final donating

Barukh Atah Adonai eloheinu Melekh HaOlam shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higianu laz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Eternal Our God, who has kept us alive, who has sustained us, and who has brought us to this amazing moment.


And with that, the little girl is now a young woman. Released from her vow, her sacred commitment.

May she go from strength to strength.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bryan Tuk 17 June 2016 @ 2:06 pm at 2:06 pm

Rebecca, I really enjoy your writing. Keep going!



2 Stephen Einstein 17 June 2016 @ 2:40 pm at 2:40 pm

I am awash in tears.

Maybe because, as a rabbi, I am so touched that a Jewish child “gets it” and knows what it really means to become a Bat Mitzvah.

And…perhaps because this young woman happens to be my granddaughter.


3 Norman Fassler-Katz 17 June 2016 @ 2:46 pm at 2:46 pm

What an incredibly beautiful story to ready all of us for Shabbat. Rebecca, I can feel the pride you have in your daughter’s journey. Your words are the poetry of a parent. Enjoy and Mazal Tov on her Bat Mitzvah. Shabbat Shalom, my friend.


4 Lynda Einstein 17 June 2016 @ 6:16 pm at 6:16 pm

What an incredibly sweet story. I treasure the time that I get to spend with all of your children … Most recently Lilly and Jacob. What a beautiful inside / out Lilly has become.


5 Adrienne 17 June 2016 @ 6:48 pm at 6:48 pm

I loved your story, but the part that hit home for me, was, I too, am a Tante. When I babysat for my nieces, I too would read them stories.
Not Samson though, more like Madeline (my favorite), My nieces are adults now, but do remember Madeline.

Thanks for sharing


6 Sheri Gropper 17 June 2016 @ 7:41 pm at 7:41 pm

Such a meaningful mitzvah! Mazel tov to you and your family on raising such a thoughtful daughter and on reaching this milestone’


7 JanetheWriter 17 June 2016 @ 8:19 pm at 8:19 pm

Beautiful…you, Lily, the story, the act, the whole thing! Love it. xoxo.


8 Rona 18 June 2016 @ 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm

I love this story and what a happy ending. The fact that Lily planned this from the age of nine and followed through is a testament to her strength of character. It always helps when you have dark brown silky hair too, but Lily does indeed look just as lovely as before the “The Big Cut”!.

P.S. Who is the “tante’?


9 Tanta Jennifer 19 June 2016 @ 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm

Which aunt through it was totes appropriate to tell a seven year old a story about a guy who was blinded by the Philistines and then killed a bunch of them by pulling a building down on them?

That would be me.

It isn’t so much that I told it all the time over a long period of time. I told it once while we were on that cruise and she wanted to hear it again. And again. And again. And then maybe thirty or forty more times. The big problem, of course, is that I was telling it from memory. I couldn’t remember all the details, so although I got all the big parts right, the other parts changed every time I told the story. Best aunt ever.


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