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A Woman’s Inner Strength

A Woman’s Inner Strength

Beruriah’s reaction to the death of her sons


The scholarly woman Beruriah is described as having enormous inner strength. The Midrash on the Book of Proverbs describes how her two sons died suddenly on Shabbat, but she hid the fact from her husband until she found a way to comfort him.

One Shabbat afternoon, when Rabbi Meir was lecturing in the study hall, his two sons suddenly died. Beruriah took her two sons, laid them on a bed, and covered them with a sheet. When her husband came home after Shabbat and inquired about the children, she told him that they went to the study hall. “But I was just there, and I didn’t see them!” Rabbi Meir responded. After havdalah, he inquired again, “Where are the boys?”

“They went out before, and are coming back now,” she replied.

When he concluded his meal, she asked her husband, “In the morning, I was given something to watch. Should I return it to its owner?”

“Of course it must be returned,” he replied. “It belongs to its owner.”

“I will return it, but only because you said so,” she told him.

Afterward, she took him by the hand and led him upstairs to the children’s bedroom, brought him to their bed, and pulled back the sheet. Upon seeing their two sons lying dead on the bed, he wailed and sobbed, “My children, my children, my teachers, my teachers!” (Rabbi Meir was implying, “My children, who would treat me with respect; and my teachers, who would enlighten me with their Torah study!”)

Beruriah turned to her husband, saying, “Didn’t you tell me that I must return the deposit to its owner!?”

“Yes, indeed!” he replied. “I acknowledge that G‑d gave and G‑d took. Let G‑d’s Name be blessed.”

When Rabbi Chanina observed Beruriah comforting her husband, he proclaimed the classic line from King Solomon, “A woman of valor, who can find?” (Midrash Mishlei 31)

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Mrs. Chana Weisberg via August 17, 2016

To Edwin Yes she is a real person and the events described are real and happened. Reply

Edwin Polela Africa August 16, 2016

Beruriah Please forgive me. May no offense be taken with my question. He who does not ask will not find what they seek. May I ask for I am not one conversant with your Torah. Is the lady Beruriah a real person and events real or folktales. Reply

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