The Memoirs of Gluckel of Hameln by Gluckel of Hamelin

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Our member Lynda Maybruck writes:

Written in the late seventeenth century and into the eighteenth century, Glukel began writing as therapy after her husband’s death. She directs her writing to her children, to share her life, but not as a book of morals. She had a gift for storytelling and attention to detail. She wanted her twelve children and their descendants to never feel ashamed of their heritage.

Glukel’s social and business life traveled her to many countries. She spent a tremendous amount of energy in the business world attempting to provide dowries and good “matches” for all her children. Tired of endless travel she failed in business and became dependent upon her children and ultimately married a rich banker, who also went bankrupt, died shortly thereafter leaving Glukel in dire circumstances and once again, relying on life within a child’s home.

Insistent that this not be a book of morals, Glukel nevertheless  portrayed a strong influence of musar literature. She had a genuinely religious outlook. Her strong belief in God’s judgments, her deep piety, sometimes color her descriptions of people and situations.

From Glukel to her children in the seventeenth century, what messages or similarities can we see and apply to today?

  • Serve God from the heart. Don’t give to people that you are one thing while in your heart another.
  • Pray with awe and devotion.
  • Study. Set aside time to know God’s word. It is a mitzvah to have both a secular and religious education.