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Acts that Transform: The Special Mitzvahs of a Woman

Acts that Transform: The Special Mitzvahs of a Woman

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Did you know that there are mitzvahs given specifically to women? Out of all the mitzvahs in the Torah, a select--and very important--few are intended primarily for Jewish women. Think of them as custom designed especially for you.

As you prepare for your bat mitzvah, take some time to study these mitzvahs. Make sure you know how to do them correctly, and think about what they mean to you. These are both good choices for your mitzvah project.


Shabbat Candles

Shabbat is an island in time, a day when we stop to appreciate that there’s more to life than work and play. A special light shines on Shabbat, one that allows us to rise above our routine and connect to something much higher. And you, the incredible Jewish woman, are entrusted with kindling that light each week.

Lighting a candle seems like a very simple act, but it’s more powerful than you think. Each Friday as the sun goes down and your match meets the wick, a warm glow will permeate your home. But the light of your Shabbat candles does not end there. The spiritual light you create with this mitzvah will make the entire world that much brighter.

Jewish women and girls have been lighting candles to welcome the sabbath for thousands of years. When you do this mitzvah, you are continuing a chain that began with our matriarch Sarah.

Some girls begin lighting as young as three years old, but if you haven’t been doing it until now, your Bat Mitzvah is a wonderful time to start. So go ahead, let your light shine.


How To

Do-It-Yourself Shabbat Candles
Simple-to-follow instructions on how to light the Shabbat candles.

Candle Lighting Wizard
Why Shabbat Candles... Who Lights... Times for Candle Lighting... Charity before Lighting... Kindle the Lights... The Blessing... Welcome the Shabbat...


Shabbat Candles in Depth:

What’s with the Candles?
I notice that lighting candles is a big part of Judaism. What is the connection between candles and spirituality?

To Be a Sun or Black Hole?
One Friday afternoon, Rochi Levitansky, the Chabad emissary to Sumy, Ukraine, decided to visit an elderly Jewish woman and offer her the opportunity to light Shabbat candles...

The Meaning Behind the Flames
Every week, when I hurry to kindle my Shabbat lights, I feel the warmth of my mother’s love...

For more videos, stories and reflections, visit Let There Be Light.




Taking Challah

Have you ever eaten Challah? Possibly even made it? Then you’ll know just how delicious it is! But did you know there’s a special mitzvah involved in its preparation? And that mitzvah was given specifically to Jewish women.

When the Beit Hamikdash – the Holy Temple in Jerusalem – stood, Jewish women separated 1/24th of the bread they baked and gave it to a Kohen (priest) and his family. Although we do not have the Temple anymore, we separate and burn a small piece of dough to commemorate the mitzvah. Separating the dough is called “taking challah.”

Bread is the most fundamental food. In fact, it represents all our sustenance, like when we talk about our “daily bread” or someone being a “breadwinner.” By reserving a portion of our dough and dedicating it to a holy purpose, we remind ourselves that everything we have does not truly belong to us. It is a gift from Above, and we must use it wisely.


How To:

Do-It-Yourself Taking Challah
How to separate challah from dough.

Challah Wizard
A Step-by-Step Guide

Challah Baking Video


The Mitzvah of Challah in Depth

My Daughter’s First Mitzvah as a Bat Mitzvah
The challahs came out of the oven and filled our new, unfamiliar house with the smell of home. They smelled like Jerusalem. Like Shabbat.

Knowing What Comes First: Lessons from Challah
My mother showed us how even the seemingly mundane parts of life are part and parcel of our spiritual service...

Risin’ to the Occasion
Some people are challah-phobic. To them I say, jump right in! The dough is fine...

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