The Lubavitcher Rebbe greatly encouraged strong Jewish education for women. He once commented that one of the reasons for the large-scale assimilation of the Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe around the turn of the last century was the fact that the mothers were unable to answer the "Why?" questions of their children. They had great faith, but insufficient education.
Sometimes he would deliver special addresses in the main Lubavitch shul just for women. At those times, the women would sit downstairs. Any men who wished to listen had to crowd into the Women's Section upstairs. Our generation will be redeemed in the merit of righteous Jewish women…
Moreover, as early as 1960 the Rebbe emphasized the great responsibility of the Jewish women in our generation to bring the Redemption. Just as the generation of Egypt was redeemed in the merit of the righteous Jewish women, so too, our generation will be redeemed in the merit of righteous Jewish women. He accentuated that as a preparation for Mashiach, each woman should strengthen Torah values and love of all Jews in her household.
The following is an extract of two of the Rebbe's talks to Jewish women. It is based on the pamphlet (published by Sichos in English) "Women as Partners in the Dynamic of Creation."
Women, Redemption, And Happiness
The very concept of redemption is intrinsically related to women. The sefira of malchut reflects the feminine dimension…
In Kabbalistic terms, it is explained that the sefira of malchut ("sovereignty") reflects the feminine dimension. During the periods of exile, malchut is in a state of descent and does not receive direct influence from the other sefirot. Metaphorically, this condition is described as a woman in an enforced state of separation from her husband. Conversely, in the Era of the Redemption, "a woman of valor [will be] the crown of her husband" (Proverbs 12:4; see also Jeremiah 31:21 and commentaries). The higher source of malchut will be revealed, the direct bond between malchut and the other sefirot will be reestablished, and malchut will become a source of vital influence, renewing the totality of existence.
These concepts have been reflected throughout Jewish history. The Talmud states that "In the merit of righteous women, the Jews were redeemed from Egypt." Similarly, the Sages associated subsequent redemptions with the merit of Jewish women. We have been promised (Micah 7:15), "As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders." The Holy Ari emphasizes that the future redemption will follow the pattern of the Exodus and, thus, will also come as a result of the merit of the righteous women of that generation. Since the generation of the ultimate redemption will be a reincarnation of the generation of the exodus from Egypt, the future redemption will reflect the pattern of that archetypal redemption.
A Home for a Family: A Sanctuary for G-d
The present day emphasis on the education of Jewish women, over and above the various socio-economic reasons for such a change, must be seen as one of the steps which both heralds and hastens the coming of the Redemption. A woman's study…should also include the Torah's mystic truths…
In this connection, it must be emphasized that a woman's study of Torah should not be superficial. She should probe deeply into Torah study without reservations or qualms about the restrictions that applied to studying certain subjects in the past. Moreover, this study should also include the Torah's mystic truths.
The greater role played by women within the world today should be mirrored in the activity of every woman within her own home. It is largely through the efforts of the woman of the house that every home is transformed into "a sanctuary in microcosm" (Ezek. 11:16), a place where G-dliness is revealed in a way which parallels and leads to the revelation that will permeate the entire world in the Era of the Redemption.
In the Talmud, Shabbat is called "a microcosm of the world to come," and, conversely, the Era of the Redemption is referred to as "the Day which is entirely Shabbat." It is the woman of the house who introduces the atmosphere of Shabbat by lighting its Shabbat candles. Thus, it is the women who usher the light of Redemption into the world. The visible light which the candles generate reflects how every mitzvah and, in a wider sense, every positive activity a Jew performs, such as a friendly word or an act of kindness, increases the G-dly light within the world.
Women as Catalysts of Liberation
In the Egyptian exile, it was Miriam who communicated the prophecy that a redeemer would emerge. Further, when her mother was forced to place Moshe in a reed basket in the Nile, Miriam "stood at a distance to see what would happen to him." Our Sages explain that, in addition to her apprehension for her brother's future, she was also concerned about the fate of her prophecy. How indeed would the redemption come about? The women broke out in song and dance, giving thanks to G-d with spirited rejoicing…
In a metaphorical sense, this narrative is relevant to all Jewish women, those living at present and those whose souls are in the spiritual realms (see Jer. 31:14). Concerned over the fate of the Jewish people, they anxiously await the Redemption: Ad Matai! Enough already! How much longer must the Jews remain in exile?
Celebrating in Advance
The anxious anticipation for the redemption felt by Miriam - and by all of the Jewish women - was paralleled in its intensity by their exuberant celebration when, after the miracles of the Red Sea, the redemption was consummated. After the men joined Moses in song, the women broke out in song and dance, giving thanks to G-d with spirited rejoicing which surpassed that of the men. Indeed, as they prepared to leave Egypt, the women were so confident that G-d would perform miracles on behalf of the Jewish people in the desert that they took small drums with them so they could rejoice when the time came! [ed. note: Many women are buying tambourines for the anticipated occasion!]
Although we are still in exile, the confidence that the Redemption is an imminent reality should inspire us with happiness. The experience of such happiness demonstrates the strength of our trust in the promise of the Redemption, and the expression of this faith will, in turn, hasten its realization.