There are luminous pictures that held our attention in rapt focus. I want to put a frame around them.

There are precious pearls that we held for a few brief moments. I want to string them together.

Think back to those days, only weeks ago, when we wereWe truly felt like family gripped by the unfolding story of the kidnapping of the three boys. Think about the unity, the closeness and the concern that spread throughout our family – indeed, we truly felt like family, those in Israel bound by thick ropes of love to Jewish people throughout the world. And when the terrible news came, after 18 days of hope against hope, the grief was palpable and personal; so, too, the need to give and receive comfort.

There was something unique about this chapter, something we haven't seen so prominently in the public eye in a very long time – perhaps not for several thousand years.

Who were the heroes of this story? Yes, there were many, but who are the ones that first come to mind when you think of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali?

Soft spoken, but with steel resolve; optimistic but not unmindful of the challenge; in deep personal pain but not self-absorbed; expressing gratitude and empathy and radiating strength. Three mothers, three women, whose inner beauty dazzled us with its brilliance, and whose outer grace was the most perfect setting for the gems of their souls. They taught so many lessons of faith and trust; they breathed life into concepts that until this point, for many people were just ideas found in books. "The heart is torn, the heart is broken", said Eyal's mother, "and the heart believes", she continued. No contradiction. "Every prayer accomplishes its' job", said Naftali's mother, "and no good is ever lost".

In one moment they recalculated the GPS of Jewish life.

Spiritual leadership was redefined – or more accurately, restored. We responded so quickly because we recognized them: Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah. Yocheved and Miriam and their generation. Chana. Devorah. The grace, the confidence, the love, the dignity, the self- respect and the spiritual leadership that they exuded epitomized the classic model of the Jewish woman, the Jewish mother. They were mothers who yearned to help their children, so they somehow managed to transcend their own personal pain – thereby helping thousands yearning for comfort and a gentle hand. When we saw the respectful way that the soldiers spoke with them, we saw that the smiles and warmth of these mothers also conveyed a sense of boundaries. When they spoke of the transcendent value of prayer and mitzvot our hearts beat a little faster; this was beyond the “put the penny in the gum jar” approach to prayer that most of us connect to in an immediate, urgent sense. These mothers spoke of prayer in a way that conveyed the deeper values of connection to the infinite.

In her eulogy for her son Naftali, Rachel Frenkel spoke of the wish that even as the boys left us, the connections and friendship and caring that characterized the days of search and hope would remain behind. For reasons that are not ours to know, those 18 days were not the end of the challenge. Comfort eludes us still, and the tests and trials loom large.

In a world that appears to have gone utterly mad, it is up to every one of us to follow the example of Rachel, Bat-Galim and Iris Teshura. They lifted all of us up by their brave example; now the world is waiting for us to do the same.

This world of ours has so much brokenness, so much darkness, so much hate. Yet at our core we know, with a knowledge that is deep and true, that this is not the way it is meant to be. But who are we to bring about change, and how would we even do that?

Those three mothers epitomize a core truth that Torah continually emphasizes: the power of individual acts. We are taught the concept of an Infinite CreatorThe context has been distorted who first and foremost cares about the minutiae of His Creations, for whom no act of a human being is ever small. We are given glimpses of a Creator who is the Source of kindness, who gives us the opportunity to not only emulate His love and care, but through our own expressions of kindness to elicit even greater mercy and compassion from Him. (During a shiva visit, Gilad’s mother asked the Chassidic singer, Avraham Fried, to sing one of his most popular pieces, based on a Talmudic piece in which G‑d asks the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, to bless Him. And he does. The High Priest blesses G‑d that He should be merciful to His children, and G‑d nods His assent).

Popular standards throughout human history trumpeted power, wealth, achievement above all else. Cynics might say that not much has changed; careful observers see the cumulative power of good, of a world that is ready for a time when all of those isolated bits of good must come together in something powerful, massive and unprecedented. That time must be now. We simply cannot bear any more delays.

Rachel, Bat-Galim and Iris Teshura, though they may have had no such intention, have restored a treasured image to the public eye and imagination. They have shown us that it's time that we reclaimed parts of our legacy that have become dusty, scorned even among ourselves. It's time that we as Jewish women define for ourselves the value of descriptions that have become tainted through misuse. Words we scarcely dare say, because too often the context has been distorted and the terms became grotesque. It's time for that to change.

"Bat Melech" – lit. the daughter of the King. The term "Jewish princess" actually became a pejorative, and it’s time for us to take it back. It’s time we reclaim our heritage.

The essence of royalty is simply this: Authority - I am in charge. If I find myself in an environment that is in sync with my standards, that's wonderful. And if I find myself in utterly crass, hedonistic and even depraved surroundings, it doesn't matter. I create my environment. That is the essence of the princess.

We saw three royal women a few weeks ago. Their command of themselves, their effect on their environment was clear. It was only natural that their appearance reflected that inner royalty. Their dress was royal, and so was their speech, and the way they carried themselves. This attitude is how kedusha, sanctity, is expressed in real life. First we have the kedusha, the sanctity, of the individual and only when that is established can we go on to have kedusha in our relationships, in our families, and in our community. Kedusha, personal sanctity, is a value for both men and women. But just as Shabbat is celebrated by everyone, yet is introduced to the world with the candles lit by Jewish women and girls, so too, kedusha should be part of all of our lives – yet it is particularly highlighted by the way in which Jewish women express and respect their beauty.

“The grace, the confidence, the love, the dignity, the self- respect and the spiritual leadership that they exuded epitomized the classic model of the Jewish woman, the Jewish mother.” This description of the three mothers is the true definition of the Jewish Princess. They set the tone, they are magnificent role models, each in her own way. They truly gave us a gift of precious jewels.

It’s easy to look at the setting sun, the gathering cloudsIt's easy to become despondent and become despondent. After all, who am I to change the world? Look – it’s a dark world out there! Plucking up the courage to initiate real change, to strike the match and hold up a small, flickering flame might seem futile to some.

Just remember – that courage is what enabled Miriam and Yocheved to lead a whole generation of women in a battle against the status quo, a fight against the superpower that Egypt was. Just remember - at every critical juncture of Jewish history there were women who refused to define their lives by their surroundings and bravely took a stand in favor of personal kedusha, in favor of life, in favor of light.

There’s a world waiting for us to light up – to light our own souls with the light of Torah study, to light our own lives with the light of mitzvot and love, and thereby (as the Talmud says, “Ner l’echad, ner l’may’ah” – a candle for one is a candle for a hundred) – to light up the whole global village.

Don’t underestimate how bright your light can be, how far it can shine. It’s time we hold G‑d to His promise: “If you keep the candles of Shabbat, I will show you the candles of Zion”, that day that is fully Shabbat, with the coming of Moshiach, now.