Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Seven reminds me of the seven “little books” written by …no, not J.K. Rowling, but a 17th century Jewish woman named Gluckel, or Glikl bas Judah Leib.

After the untimely death of her beloved husband, with whom she had built a large family and thriving business, Glikl was left on her own, with eight of her 12 surviving children to marry off. The pressure and loss weighed on Glikl and when she could not sleep at night, she took to writing what became her ethical will and memoir for her children. Her writing served to memorialize her late husband and his pious deeds, along with those of her parents, in-laws, grandparents, and relatives, for her progeny.


What she produced is a singular work describing the life of a Jewish woman, filled with faith, mussar, and stories that impart lessons to her descendants. At the outset of the project Glikl states that she plans to write seven little books. Why seven?

There is no definitive answer. Perhaps seven signifies creation and Hashem’s supervision of the created world, a theme that suffuses Glikl’s memoir. Or perhaps, as my student at LCW, Nisa Goffin, suggested, the number seven relates to redemption (see Megillah 17b and Yerushalmi Berachot 2:4 about the seventh beracha of the Shemoneh Esrei and the seventh Shir Hama’alot in Tehillim). If we count from Tishrei, the redemptive month of Nissan is the seventh.

Glikl found private redemption in the memories and merits of the past, while imparting to her children that it would be the zechut avot and imitation of their pious ways that would bring the ultimate redemption.

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Dr. Chaya Sima Koenigsberg is an assistant professor of Judaic studies at Lander College for Women/The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School.