I had always loved visiting my grandmother's home. For me, it was beauty as it was meant to be. Every item had been carefully chosen and thoughtfully placed. The silver and crystal in her china closet shone in perfect arrangement, as if in symphonic harmony. Her inimitable collection of miniatures and souvenirs perched on the simple wooden ledge above her kitchen sink seemed to dance in affirmation to the love and respect of the children and grandchildren who had offered her these gifts. And then there were her paintings. As I grew up, the characters and places depicted in the paintings on her wall became a part of my imagination. In my mind's eye, each of these paintings delineated a perspective of reality that evolved as I learned to see the world through her wise eyes.

I learned to see the world through her wise eyesThen she was gone. On that morning, it was my mother's tear-stained face that greeted me at her door. And for the first time, through my own tears, I noticed the scarcity in my grandmother's home. Suddenly, I saw the simplicity of her furnishings and the improvisation of her decor. The paintings drooped in lifelessness, and the walls that had reverberated with singing and gatherings at Shabbat meals and during holiday meals stood in silent mourning. The beauty was gone. The warmth had evaporated. G‑d had taken my Bubby's soul, and we were left to grieve.

As I stood by her bedroom window overlooking Eastern Parkway, the sorrow of my heart overflowed through my eyes. I could not hold back the tears. I longed for one more late night conversation at the kitchen table, one more piece of advice from a woman who had shaped my character while I wasn't looking.

I wandered listlessly around the house searching for the splendor I had become accustomed to on visits to her home. It had departed, leaving behind a simple apartment and basic furnishings. There was no more grandeur; gone was the majesty. The emptiness engulfed me. I was devastated.

It was just a few years prior that I was swollen with pride when I had brought my husband-to-be to Bubby's beautiful home. But now I sat on her old, green sofa, and noticed for the first time the cracks in the paint on her walls. Was beauty a momentary illusion? An evanescent fantasy?

What, I wondered, was beauty? How could beauty be defined?

I realized it cannot, and its greatness lies in our inability to define it. It is so refined, so real, it transcends us. No words can do justice to its description. It is forever intangible, leaving us in awe; we are often hypnotized by its power- just as I was hypnotized by Bubby.

It is so refined, so real, it transcends us In a world where feminism has struggled to define the individuality of women and their place in society, the Jewish woman stands alone, perpetually undefined. G‑d, Himself, does not oblige women to define and express their connection to Him with time-bound commandments. He has given her the gifts of modesty and elevating her home through which she safeguards a beauty so brilliant, so radiant that our Creator has entrusted her alone to bring a precious soul, a part of G‑d Himself, down to this world. It is she who has been given the responsibility of raising the next generation of Jews.

The Jewish woman epitomizes the strength and triumph of Jewish continuity, the Jewish home. Furniture and décor form the vessels of the house in which she builds a Jewish home, yet it is she alone who infuses her home, her husband and her children, with enough warmth and joy to be proud Jews in the outside world. Bubby loved to talk about the lives of the truly "rich and famous"-- men and women who were known for their legendary self-sacrifice and love of their neighbor and whose riches followed them to the next world.

Bubby had succeeded in imparting the depth and beauty of a generation shaped by struggle and self-sacrifice to an American generation of children and grandchildren spoiled by abundance and comfort. Bubby had built a Jewish home, worthy of a word used when other words are not enough… Bubby's home was simply beautiful, but Bubby's "beautiful" was galaxies away from simple.

As I walked through her apartment one last time, I cried bitterly, envisioning the bags and boxes that would reduce her palace to a pile of neatly piled belongings. The cry of my six- month-old daughter snapped me out of my reverie, and I thought of the Jewish home that G‑d was giving me the opportunity to build, and through my tears I smiled. Bubby had managed to impart the greatest lesson without even saying a word.