Gluckel of Hameln #2
Following her husband’s death in 1689, with eight of her children still unmarried and living at home, Gluckel continued single-handedly to manage the family’s business affairs in Hamburg and at the trade fairs she attended in various cities. This is the focus of Book Five in Gluckel’s memoir’s, she mourns over her husband’s death, engages in the kiddish, and continues to read the Torah day and night. A major theme within Book Five is the aspect of a positive Jewish community along with Gluckel’s ability to conduct business transactions while constantly traveling and almost always being aided by fellow Jews from the city. Also, she appears to have been an active and equal partner in all decisions with both family affairs and business matters. As a result, when her husband was asked on his deathbed whether he wished to leave any final words, he replied, “I have no instructions, my wife, she knows everything. Let her do as she has done until now.” (p151).
When her husband had passed away the entire community was struck with horror at the learning of his death. Members of the community would visit and pay their consolidations to her which kept on for two-three weeks. Although she does state that after a while the community had forgotten about her it prompted her to leave a quote for her children to live by which was “Trust only to yourselves, for now there is no man and no friend on whom you may depend on.” (p155). Regardless of how she felt the Jewish community was very strong wherever she traveled to, she would always have a place to stay, always having a business transaction, and constantly marrying off her children one by one without much problem. Some of the problems that did arise were with some of her children that had gone off to study and to conduct business but were met with some sort of trouble or resistance.
One particular occasion was when her child Joseph wanted to learn the Talmud found a teacher that promised to...
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