The woman, the pillar of the Jewish home, has been gifted with three special mitzvot that are the foundation of Jewish living.
These mitzvot are:
- kindling the Shabbat and festive candles;
- taking challah, and by extension, the laws of keeping kosher;
- the laws of family life.
While both men and women are obligated in these fundamental mitzvot, the Jewish woman has been given precedence and carries the authority in ensuring their proper fulfillment. As the backbone of her home, she sets the tone and imbues her environment with its inner spiritual mission.
The Shabbat candles ushering in the holy day of Shabbat transform our mundane weekday into a time of peace and sanctity. The challah taken from our loaves of bread reminds us that our sustenance comes from G‑d and, like the laws of kosher food, demonstrate that even the seemingly mundane activity of eating is a G‑dly act. And the laws governing family life reflect how even our bodily drives can be holy (…)
The candles should be placed on or near the Shabbat dinner table.
Put some coins in a charity box before lighting. Dressed in Shabbat finery, at least 18 minutes before sunset, light the candles (before marriage, women and girls light one candle; post-marriage, at least two candles).
Cover the flames with your hands, then cover your eyes while saying:
Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the holy Shabbat candles.
Baruch a-ta A-do-nai Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-leek neir shel Sha-bat ko-desh.
Uncover your eyes, look at the flames, and greet your family with “Good Shabbos” or “Shabbat Shalom.” No weekday activities are to be done from that point on (…)
The first portion of your kneading, you shall separate as a dough offering (challah) . . . In all your generations, give the first of your kneading as an elevated gift to G‑d. (Numbers 15:20–21)Life in its totality is a sacred endeavor
When the Jewish people first entered and settled the Land of Israel, one of the gifts they were commanded to give to the kohanim, the priestly tribe, was challah—a portion of dough separated from their kneading bowl every time they baked bread (…)
Family Life and Mikvah
The laws of family life reflect the Torah’s view that the physical union between man and woman is holy and G‑dly. The mandatory separation times fosters feelings of longing, desire and a sense of appreciation, which are followed by the excitement of reunion. It offers couples the possibility of repeated “honeymoons” during the course of their marriage. The times of physical separation also ensure that the relationship sets time to nurture not only physical closeness but also strong emotional bonds (…)
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