The Strong Woman
To be black and Jewish in a world of predominantly white Ashkenazi Jewry is not easy. It requires a level of chutzpah. Many women who have made the decision to live a frum religious life in these circles regardless of where society is holding, have developed enormous strength, durability, and determination, Baruch Hashem.
The strength to walk into a shul knowing many heads may turn..and stay turned for a while. To be in a community during the initial period before everyone is familiar with us. To have to fend off "are you Jewish?" questions by those too curious to refrain from rudeness.
Durability to wake up in the morning and do it all over again, knowing that eventually, it will get better, eventually the community will become familiar with us, eventually, for the sake of our children, and our children's children G-d willing, that we would have paved a nook for them to feel comfortable and concentrate on more important things.
And determination to keep our vision clear in our minds and not resort to retaliatory hatred or to not surrender to 'what's easier' despite our true and Holy goal to be upstanding, contributing, giving, religious part of the Jewish society.
This drive and need, propelles us to be very strong. To be hardworking. To take on whatever jobs we need to take when necesarry and to arise in all that we do.
On the other hand, all this overcoming, can rouse a woman to thinking "I am pretty great!" "look how far i've gone -and with what circumstances!" The sages say, "one should always carry a note in each pocket. One that says 'I am nothing' and another that says 'the world was created for Me!' "
Should we also? Even when the former message is quite often pushed into our faces? The answer is yes. Why? Because the message we get from those who try to knock is down is not really an "I am nothing" but a "you say that I am nothing" message. That is false!!! And not at all the same.
"You Say that I am nothing""
Means that not in the face of G-d am I nothing, but in the face of a fellow man. That is more like oppression.
"I am nothing"
Means that before the A-mighty, the Creator of the Universe, Master of all things; before this being we are nothing.
This message reminds us that despite our triumphs, our battles and victories, despite our everything, its thanks to the Blessed Holy One who knows our hearts who helps us to succeed. May this Loving G-d continue to help us and all those striving to do good.