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Women's Mitzvot

Women's Mitzvot

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The three most fundamental mitzvot of Jewish family life – Family Purity, Kosher food preparation, Shabbat and Festival candles – were given especially to the Jewish woman, as it is she who is the pillar of the family. Our matriarchs live in each and every Jewish girl and woman. These (mitzvahs) are our inheritance – greater than gold.

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The Sages tell us that our matriarchs had a deep spiritual power; each week they lit a flame in honor of Shabbat and revealed this power. 

Every Jewish female has a similar power to that of our matriarchs when she lights the Shabbat candles Friday afternoon (before sunset). The flame may not be visible all week long, like that of Sarah and Rebecca, yet it has comparable effect. The Zohar tells us that this light brings peace to the world. Thus spiritual feminine energy is harnessed in order to bring us all closer to the goal of Creation.

Traditionally, girls who light use one candle while married women use at least two candles.

Click here for more on lighting or insights on this mitzvah.

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Challah is G‑d's portion in our bread, in our life. It expresses the belief that all of our sustenance truly comes to us through G‑d's hand.

According to the midrash, the challah baked by our matriarchs miraculously remained fresh from week to week. The spiritual essence they kneaded into their dough aroused this phenomenon. We too can tap into this spiritual energy during the mitzvah of separating challah.

This mitzvah is symbolic of the entire practice of keeping kosher—with its emphasis on elevating the physical and mundane to the realm of holiness. The woman not only prepares the physical sustenance for the family, but by observing this mitzvah, she nourishes it spiritually as well.

“You can taste the passion of her prayers, the sweetness of her caring. When she bakes, she is braiding the threads of our faith so that her family will be blessed. Our challah's are prayers of humble yet steadfast devotion.” (Jampa Williams)

Click here for more on challah or insights on this mitzvah.

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According to the Talmud, a cloud hovered over the tents of the Matriarchs. The Sages see this cloud as representing the waters of the mikvah and our Matriarchs’ observance of taharas hamishpacha, the laws of family purity.

A mikvah isn't just about a woman, but, rather, it's about her and her husband, and inviting G‑d into their home and marriage. The preparation and the mikvah itself are physical acts, but the reason behind them is spiritual.

Every month when we menstruate - which means there is no fertilized egg - it's like a potential for life isn't fulfilled. So a woman submerges herself in water, in the source of life. When she emerges, it's as though she is reborn, and the divine energy of creation can flow again. Simply put, immersion in a mikvah signals a change in status -- more correctly, an elevation in status. Its unparalleled function lies in its power of transformation.

One woman asked, "So who commits to this mitzvah of misery?" The answer: a lot of married women do, and a number of them aren't even religious. They just want to perform the mitzvah which stipulates that you go to the mikvah seven days after your period ends. The mikvah is so important in Judaism that if a   congregation has money for either a Torah scroll or a mivkah, they are supposed to build the mikvah first.

Every woman who goes to the mikvah has a different emotional experience. Some feel very little, some feel very spiritual, some in-between. While immersed in the mikvah, as well as when one lights Shabbat candles, one can pray to G‑d - for anything. The gates of Heaven are open for those few precious moments. Below is what some women have shared regarding her experience with Mikvah.

**Click on each quote to read the full article or the link here to see all articles.

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