Updated: Sep 8
Huldah was one of the seven main female prophetesses in the Tanach. Together with Sarah, Miriam, Dvorah, Hannah, Abigail and Esther, they correspond each to one of the 7 emotional attributes that Hashem reveals to us.
Sarah is related to Chessed (lovingkindness), as together with Avraham, she brought people closer to the true faith and taught kindness to humanity. Miriam represents Gevurah (might and judgment), since when she was born the yoke of Mitzraim intensified and she paved way for the great salvation, which was a display of that attribute of Hashem. She was also one of the midwives who withstood the test of Par’oh with strength and revealed fear through assisting the women in labor (as Rebbe Nachman teaches in Likutey Moharan 60:5).
Next comes Tiferet (beauty and harmony), represented by Dvorah who brought harmony and Divine order to the people. For the attribute of Netzach (victory and discipline) there’s Hannah, who remained steadfast in her prayer to have a child. Avigail comes to teach the attribute of Hod (splendor and humility) in the royal bloodline. And finally, Esther revealed Hashem’s Malchut (kingship) through the whole story of Purim.
A unique undertaking
The story of Huldah is very short, but we learn a few very important lessons from them.
Between the years 3285 and 3316 from Creation, King Yoshiahu began to restore the people’s spiritual strength by purging idolatry brought by his ancestors. This included his father and grandfather (King Menashe) who was the worst king in the history of the Jewish people. One can only imagine the damage they did in the Jews’ relationship with Hashem.
Instead, following King Chizkiyahu’s path (his great grandfather), King Yoshiahu decided to make the people do Teshuvah and also begin the grand project of restoring the glory of the Beit HaMikdash. This happened in the eighteenth year of his rule and, together with Chilkyah the Kohen Gadol, the work began with the people happily contributing to the project, be it in work or resources.
During the project, Chilkyah found an ancient Torah Scroll that had been hidden for a long time in one of the secret chambers of the Temple. And, more than that, it was revealed that this scroll had been written by none less than Moshe Rabbenu himself!
Chilkyah was thrilled and asked Shafan, the king’s scribe, to bring it to him. Now, we have a certain spiritual technique in our tradition that’s called “goral”. Goral is usually translated as “lottery” but this doesn’t even begin to describe it. There’s incredible secrets hidden in what a goral truly is.
What exactly is a Goral?
Many of the holy books have the property of being able to channel future events into its pages, like the Tanach or the Zohar. The words in these holy works encode messages for all generations and some Tzaddikim have the power to utter a prayer to Hashem to ask Him to reveal the issue of the moment when a random page is opened. This happened when the Tzaddik of Jerusalem, Rabbi Aryeh Levin was asked to determine the identity of 12 bodies of soldiers killed in the early days of the State of Israel. Using the Tanach with a goral from the Vilna Gaon, he established all the 12 names of the soldiers.
The goral also works as a prophecy of sorts for what is to happen. Certainly the holy Torah scroll written by the highest prophet Moshe had something to say! And so, the King Yoshiahu asked Shafan to open it and read it. To everyone’s dismay, the place opened was the harsh admonitions and curses that Hashem would visit upon the Jews for abandoning the Torah, from the Book of Dvarim (Deuteronomy).
King Yoshiahu was troubled and asked the prophetess Huldah to interpret it. The main prophet of the time, Yirmiyahu was in Assyria to bring people to do Teshuva. But why ask particularly a woman for this task? There were many other prophets available.
The Talmud in Tractate Brachot teaches us that dreams follow their interpretations. Since prophecy has the same source as dreams, the sages teach us that women are more merciful than men and so Huldah could give a more favorable interpretation to the goral.
Every prophet, except for Moshe Rabbenu, interpreted Hashem’s words and wrote according to his understanding. The Zohar calls them in Aramaic “Aspaklarya She’eina Meirah” (a mirror that doesn’t shine). This is because their interpretations of the letters from Heaven “clouded” and had an influence on the prophecy they received. Moshe Rabbenu on the other hand was called “Aspaklarya She’Meirah” (a shining mirror), whose crystal clear perception of Hashem enabled him to write the Torah, his prophecy, with complete accuracy, without anything of his own.
And so, it was indeed a very wise thing to ask Huldah for her take. Maharsha and Ben Yehohyada, two important comentators explain differently. According to their interpretatin, Huldah, as a woman would certainly have pity on the Jewish people and pray for them regardless.
Huldah brough a good prophecy indeed. Hashem would bring calamity upon the Jews, but not during King Yoshiahu’s reign. It would take another 13 years until his death, when his son Tzidkiyahu would reign and see thedestruction of the Holy Temple due to the people’s many sins.
In essence, the prophetess Huldah teaches us that judging events favorably can have a tremendously positive influence on them. Instead of bringing a prophecy of doom and disgrace, she sweetened it.
More than that, she didn’t despair and believed in her power to change the future of the entire Jewish People for the better. We can certainly do the same, as we are inspired by her wonderful path.
This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!