Published on November 18, 2019
In the Torah portion of Chayei Sara we are introduced to our matriarch Rebecca. According to Rashi, we meet Rebecca when she is three years old and quite mature for her age.
When Eliezer returned to Isaac with Rebecca, he recounted to Isaac the miraculous events of his trip. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sara’s tent. Rashi explains that she was just like his mother Sara.
This means that just as when Sara was alive there were three miracles that regularly occurred (which ceased with Sara’s passing) the miracles resumed when Rebecca came into the tent.
What were the miracles? The candles that she lit on Shabbat eve burned until the next Friday. There was a blessing in her dough, meaning that even a small amount of her bread satisfied hunger. And a cloud hovered above her tent.
It would seem that the listing of the miracles should be reversed. When she came into the tent, wouldn’t Isaac have noticed first the cloud hovering above the tent?
Then he would have experienced her bread and finally, would it not have taken an entire week for him to know that her Shabbat candles burned from Friday to Friday? Why does Rashi reverse the order?
Our Sages teach that our ancestors upheld all the mitzvot (commandments) although they had not yet been commanded. Regarding Shabbat candles, if there is no woman in the home to light the Shabbat candles, then a man should light them.
This being so, from the time Sara passed away, Abraham would have been lighting candles. So why did Rebecca, who wasn’t yet married and wasn’t yet Bat Mitzva, light the candles in Sara’s tent?
There is a uniqueness to Shabbat candles lit specifically by women, even unmarried women, and even girls before Bat Mitzvah.
A woman’s Shabbat candles bring light and blessing into the home all week. Even if one can’t see the physical candles burning, there is a spiritual light that burns all week on account of women and girls lighting candles.
The spiritual light from the candles is more powerful than that of any man. A man can build a house, but it takes a woman to turn it into a home. A woman can do this because G-d imbued women with the ability to effect the home beyond what any man can do.
Now we can understand Rashi’s order of the miracles. The first miracle is associated with the mitzva done at age three by a girl– lighting Shabbat candles.
This brings to the next blessing, that as she matures, the work of her hands are blessed just as the dough was blessed. And these bring to the third blessing, which comes with marriage, when she makes her own home, bringing to it the Divine Presence itself, through keeping the laws of family purity.
This great power of Jewish women is a gift and an inheritance from their ancestresses all the way back to Sara and Rebecca.
May the light of the Shabbat candles fill our homes and the world with G-d’s Presence and usher in the coming of Moshiach! Moshiach NOW!!!