Former Miss Israel Mor Maman describes the scary episode which for her was life changing. That was the day her mother who was like the Rock of Gibraltar for her failed to recognize her. Mor called out: “Ima! Ima! Ima! (Mother!)” Her mother stared back at her, seemingly alright but confused, and asked her: “Who are you?” At that moment Mor says it was like the sky fell in. Looking back Mor realizes that this episode actually strengthened her very much and it was a major step in her doing ‘teshuva’ (repentance) and embracing the observance of Torah and mitzvoth.
Mor Maman explains: “My mother fell once while training at a workout room. We have no idea what actually happened there. She fell backwards on her head and the damage was so great that she lost her memory. Up to that day I was spoiled but after that day our roles reversed and I became the mother of the house.”
I have 5 brothers but at the time only the 2 of us were living at home. I cared for her the best I could. The beginning was very difficult as my mother had no memory whatsoever, it was all ‘erased’ by the fall. Beforehand she was a powerful woman, a senior manager in the Azrieli Mall, and she suddenly reverted to being for the most part like a little girl. We were in total shock!”
“When we visited her in the hospital the very first time a few hours after her fall I sat next to my mother and asked: how are you mommy?” and she looked at me and answered : “Who are you?” It was scary. We would ask her what she wants to eat and she had no idea; she couldn’t remember what kinds of foods exist in the world! She only knew she was hungry.”
It was a difficult situation but what were the positive things you got from it?
“I learned a great lesson from my mother. She could have chosen to fall into the abyss of despair right in front of her but she chose life. All this influenced me greatly, built me up and made me mature. At the time she fell I wasn't connected to G-d, now I’m very connected. I know how much he was with me.”
Today, thank G-d my mother is a full functioning woman that does everything except for working out of the house. She still doesn’t remember a thing from before her fall but she relearned everything; how to cook, clean, walk and who we are. She wanted to go back to her job but they didn’t need her anymore. By the way the first thing she did when she awoke after her fall was to start singing the Psalms of the ‘Tikkun Clali’ (10 psalms of ‘General Repairing’ spiritual ailments of the soul) that Rabbi Nachman of Breslov compiled. Since then we are very attached to Rabbi Nachman and his teachings.”
Today Mor is only 21 but she speaks and behaves as someone mature beyond her years. Success wasn’t always her companion. “Until high school, most of my life I was 30 kilograms overweight. I was a fat girl. Health wise and friends wise it was a bad thing. Children as we know can be very cruel. I was an outcast amongst my peers and developed a lack of confidence based on what looked like. I was fat for as long as I could remember and then in the summer between 7th and 8th grade I went on a serious diet and everything turned around. Suddenly people were interested in me much more. I did not sink into externals though it was quite tempting. I came to the point that to look nice is pleasant but it’s not everything and it’s not the most important thing. I always reminded myself and my friends that true beauty is internal.”
After winning the Miss Israel title in 2014, Mor traveled abroad to speak in different Jewish communities. “In my later speeches I started to speak of faith in G-d. It was astounding to see how faith in G-d unites everyone. When you meet a former ‘Miss Israel’ and she has now come back to G-d it fills the heart with a good feeling and reminds people of what is a true value. I would always say over and over again that it all depends on what glasses you choose to put on. If we choose glasses of goodness we will know and feel that G-d is good and does goodness and then we can understand that everything is for the best.
“I became a partner is an American cosmetics company. I haven’t told anyone yet but I’m starting a business for a line of apparel that is both pretty and modest. Slowly this is becoming an item in demand. Just yesterday I spoke to Rabbi Yigal Cohen on the phone that actually helped me along with the Hidabroot Rabbis and the Hidabroot Channel to embrace mitzvah observance. I asked him if he could help me name my new business. He told me he’ll be happy to help on the condition that I bring merit to the masses by selling really modest clothing that is reasonably priced.”
It’s rare for a girl your age to have the capital necessary to open such a business
“This is true, but I worked hard for what I earned and thank G-d I earned well. But besides that, my name opens doors and since winning the Miss Israel title it’s much easier for me to introduce my products. And most of all I have divine assistance! Perhaps it’s because I mean well with truly good intentions. I want to make truly modest clothing, very beautiful and of high quality. I’d like to demonstrate that you don’t need many layers to be modest.”
Today after doing ‘teshuva’ (repentance) Mor says she still models professionally but in a totally different manner than in previous years. “I still work a bit; only when I find it 100% suitably modest, without compromise. I once worked with a big modeling agency and the proposals flowed steadily but now I am my own agent and there are a lot of tests that come my way. They still offer me 100,000 shekel for a half day of work (presently over $28,000!) if I wear immodest clothing. But G-d doesn’t cheat out any one. He just gives it through different channels.”
Don’t you miss the publicity and adulation?
Right now I’m working with an organization called ‘Atara’ (Crown) which takes on young women formerly from religious homes that went through hard times and are now no longer at home. These young women generally like to dress provocatively to draw attention and this specifically is what I work on with them. I tell them that “the man that will love you will mainly love your soul. Otherwise the attention they shower on you will be cheap and shallow. If I stay modest everyone will respect me more. This is the attention a woman should strive for and hope to receive.”
“I had no idea that ‘lashon hara’ (evil speech and slander) were prohibited!”
Coming closer to G-d is Mor Maman’s number one priority right now. “Our home was traditional, we would make Kiddush on Friday night but we didn’t keep Shabbat. Even so some of my brothers repented. By me it all started when I began watching Torah classes I found online. I found these classes really spoke to me and something deep inside me was drawn to it. I suddenly felt I had everything and yet I had nothing! I would fly, work, see and do but my soul was tired of it. I felt that this was the real thing.”
What did you do after this discovery?
“I began my process of coming back to G-d alone together with Hidabroot Channel lectures. I started cleaning up my act. I discarded more and more things like ‘lashon hara’- evil speech and slander. In my previous world I had no idea it was prohibited it was just part of our routine to talk about ‘Mr. A’ or ‘Miss B’. I began to slowly understand that until now my happiness depended on material success. Today I realize that this is not happiness at all! After a while I accepted to start dressing modestly like getting rid of my pants and I can say I really enjoy it!”
Mor also talks of the difficulties and complexities she encountered on her way back to G-d. “One of the most difficult things for me was that things were complex, I progressed slowly and I found things hard to do. When I first met Rabbi Yigal Cohen, I asked him: “Why are there so many things I find difficult to do?” And he answered that repenting is like a rope that’s difficult to climb. G-d wants to see our desire to change and our dedication to it. When we put our efforts to it, it gets easier.”
I also felt that as soon as I repent G-d will guarantee me to open all the gates; that He has to give me a husband, livelihood, health and everything! But it doesn’t work that way. G-d gives but it’s not directly because of my actions and one doesn’t depend on the other. I feel G-d is holding my hand but the reward for my good deeds will primarily be spiritual and not necessarily in this world but rather in the world to come.”
What role does learning Torah, Halacha (Jewish Law) and knowledge of Judaism play in your life?
It has a great big place. I always found it important to understand how things work. Whatever practice I accepted upon myself came from understanding what I was doing and why. I understood Shabbat and ‘lashon hara’ immediately and didn’t find them difficult. But I didn’t originally understand the need for modesty and when I did it became much easier.”
“In merit of this I feel like G-d’s pure girl and I feel it brings good things to the soul. Clearly in the beginning I was confused and would ask myself: Whoa! What did I do! But then I put on the correct glasses of goodness and I began to understand that modesty is beautiful, honorable and good, because it’s the truth! Would you catch the Queen of England wearing shorts? Not a chance! Every woman has to look at herself as
if she is the Queen of England for every woman is truly a queen!
“Today I feel a special responsibility because a lot of people listen to what I have to say. Look There’s no way to run away from what I’ve been. I took down what I could but you can’t control everything and I try to use my influence to do good things. Thank G-d many young women accepted modesty upon themselves because I was involved with them. I don’t spell it out to them clearly but they get the message from how I conduct myself. Now I don’t deal with facing questions anymore but I ask G-d to help me and continue to light up my path. That He should enable me to maintain the faith I have in Him; that I should marry and have children. That I should merit continuing to influence many people to do good things!”