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They Called Her Rebbe : The Maiden of Ludomir Paperback – December, 1991

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Israel Book Shop (December 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0910818908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0910818902
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,064,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rabbi Yonassan Gershom VINE VOICE on July 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Chana Rochel, the "Maiden of Ludmir," was an historical personage and yes, she was also a Hasidic Rebbe who counted learned rabbis among her many followers. Her remarkable story is well-known among Hasidim, and certainly deserves to be told to the general public. Unfortunately, Gershon Winkler was not the one to do it.
I was very disappointed in this book, which is a work of fiction that borders on fantasy, and comes mostly from Winkler's imagination. The Chana Rochel I know from the legends was a deeply spiritual mystic with profound respect for Jewish tradition. Yes, she was a woman doing some "male things" such as wearing a tallis (prayer shawl) and tefillin (phylacteries), but that was not her central identity. Serving God was. There is nothing in her story to indicate that she wanted to overthrow rabbinic Judaism.
The Chana Rochel we meet in this book is an iconoclast who spouts arguments that were common in third-wave feminist circles in the mid-1980's (when, I presume, this book was being written. It was first published in 1991.) The seven-page polemical exchange between her and Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl (pp. 40-47) sounds as if it came from a Jewish Renewal pamphlet. The result is a preachy novel that reads like propaganda. Maybe it is.
Most disappointing was the way in which Winkler completely altered the pivotal mystical incident in Chana Rochel's life, when she received her personal mission from God. In the original legends, the story reads like this:
"...One morning while visiting her mother's grave, Chana Rochel fainted and fell into a coma.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let me state from the outset that I have enjoyed reading many of Gershon Winkler's books, and that they have had a profound influence on my overall Hashgafah (world overview/way of seeing the world). I also enjoyed reading this book as well...up to a point. But beyond that point my reaction became very mixed -- hence, the 3 star rating. Whether or not R' Gershon presented a factual and historically accurate account of Channah Rochel, or a more fictionalized/literary account (a "docu-drama", in current parlance), the net result for me was that I found myself increasingly disliking Channah Rochel as the story unfolded. And that surprised me, since I consider myself to be a Lilithite -- an Israelite/son of Israel who feels that the world as we know it was perverted from the very beginning -- as a direct result of Hashem's (G-d's) failure to direct Adam to recognize Lilith's legitimate equal status. Hashem abandoned his first daughter by acquiescing to Adam's whiny, ungrateful, chauvinistic nature, and men have been conspiring to perpetuate that Original Injustice ever since.

So, rightfully or wrongfully, I expected to find in Channah Rochel a shining example of a female Jewish role model infused with the living spirit of Lilith (which never died, unlike Adam and Eve) that would inspire women (and men) to see the fundamental falsehood, rooted in feminiphobia, of this broken Adam-dominated world. What I found instead was a one-winged bird whose flight pattern was erratic and less than commensurate with the insights she exhibited with regard to the Torah and to other people. The beauty of the Torah, at least for me, lies in its insistence that spirituality be balanced between the duties and obligations of this world, and an understanding that this world is not the end all and be all of reality.
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Format: Hardcover
"They Called Her Rebbe" is an extraordinary book. Many individuals know of the movie "Yentl" starring Barbra Streisand. If you have enjoyed that movie, you will adore this book. Chana Rochel's story is about a woman who lived in the early 1800's in Eastern Europe (Russia) in a common Jewish shtetl (small village). She was unlike many other women of her time or even of today in the fact that she desired to study Torah and Talmud. This is uncommon to the degree that she desired within the Orthodox Jewish community. Women have a different place when it comes to Torah study than men. Chana Rochel was not content to remain in the "customs" of the people. Her argument being that neither the Torah nor the Talmud actually forbids the study of Torah or the observances of mitzvos (commandments) by women. They merely discourage it, as a woman has other preoccupations. Chana Rochel took her guidance from God Himself. As He directed her in her studies and later in her spiritual guidance of others, both men and women, she defied custom and followed the Lord. Chana Rochel's story is strong when it is put up against the background of customs. She followed the Spirit of the Lord, staying within Halakhah (Jewish Law), she stretched her God-given rights as a Jewish woman to serve Him in every capacity to which He had called her. Many Rabbis of her time and even since, have dismissed her by saying she possessed the soul of a great Rabbi, a MALE Rabbi. Many individuals who sought her guidance could not comprehend that a woman was being given this direct guidance from the Lord, so to ease their minds they also agreed with "soul of a great Rabbi" theory.Read more ›
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