Song Lyrics

EVERYDAY BRAVERY

WISE WOMEN TAUGHT

Source:
Words by Sarah Pirtle
© 2005 Discovery Center Music, BMI

Lyrics:

1. A long line of women met by a well.
    Wise women taught.
    And such healing waters no tongue can tell.
    Shanu Khakhamot.

2. A circle of women chant in the night.
    Wise women taught.
    Welcoming Shabbat in the candlelight.
    Shanu Khakhamot.

Refrain:
Pass it on, pass it on, pass it on, pass it on.
We pass the wisdom on.

3. We are here, we are now, 
     teachers and wanderers,
    Women at the center like women from before.
    Ask us, look to us, our hearts hold answers.
    Shanu Khakhamot.

4. At the top of the mountains and at the city gate,
    the wise women taught,
   They stood at the crossroads for all those who wait.
   Shanu Khakhamot.

Refrain:
Pass it on, pass it on, pass it on, pass it on.
We pass the wisdom on.

5. My mother and grandmother they have been lost.
    Wise women taught.
    But their spirits live on past the Holocaust.
    Shanu Khakhamot.

6. We are here, we are now,
    mystics and mothers, Rabbis and cantors.
   Women at the crossroads like women from before.
   Ask us, look to us, our hearts hold answers.
   Shanu Khakhamot.

Refrain:
Pass it on, pass it on, pass it on, pass it on.
We pass the wisdom on.

5. We dance with the timbrals and pass round the bread.
    Wise women taught.
    And the women of the future stretch out the golden thread.
    Shanu Khakhamot.
     
Refrain:
Pass it on, pass it on, pass it on, pass it on.
We pass the wisdom on.

Background of the Song:

Ellen Clegg plays the ancient beladi rhythm on the dumbek to accompany this song. Khakhama, also spelled Hachama, means a wise woman.

In her book, She Who Dwells Within,  Rabbi Lynn Gottleib writes:

Shanu Hachamot: Shanu rabbanan is a Talmudic phrase that means “the sages taught.” We will never know how often and to what degree the words of wise women informed the words of our male sages. I have changed the traditional phrase to shanu hachamot, which means, “the wise women taught,” so that we can begin to think of the elder women in our culture in that fashion. We learn from the Book of Proverbs that women stationed themselves at the crossroad, at city gates, and at the summit of mountains in order to impart thier wisdom in public.” (pp. 46-47)

This song was written to honor Lynn’s work, to honor friends in my community including Rita Hinden, and to honor my cousin, Louise Treitman, who is a cantor. 

For Discussion:

Imagine the women of the future who are stretching out a golden thread. What do they say to us? How can they help give us courage? What would you say to them?

Also, picture women from thousands of years ago. Many anthropologists have postulated that women discovered fire, invented pottery, invented agriculture. Imagine the historical periods and cultures when women and men lived with shared leadership. Describe one possible scene from long ago.