By the Grace of G‑d
18th of Elul, 5735 [August 25, 1975]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

To the Editors of: "A Woman of Valor — an anthology for the thinking Jewess.”

Greetings and Blessing:

I am pleased to be informed that you are preparing to publish an anthology on the role of the Jewish woman in the home, family and in Jewish life in general. The following remarks are in response to your request to comment on this vital subject.

In a Jewish household, the wife and mother, the Akeres Habayis, largely determines the set-up and atmosphere of the entire home.

G‑d demands that the Jewish home — every Jewish home — be quite different from a non-Jewish home, not only on Shabbos and Yom Tov, but also on the ordinary weekdays and in "weekday" matters. It must be a Jewish home in every respect.

What makes a Jewish household different from a non-Jewish household is that it is conducted in all its details according to the directives of the Torah, Toras Chayim — meaning that it is the Jew's Guide in daily life — given by G‑d. Hence the home becomes an abode for G‑d's Presence, a home for G‑dliness, one of which G‑d says: "Make Me a sanctuary and I shall dwell among them." (Exod. 25:5).

It is a home where G‑d's Presence is felt not only on Shabbos and Yom Tov, but on every day of the week; and not only when Davenning and learning Torah, but also when engaged in very ordinary things, such as eating and drinking, etc., in accordance with the directive, "Know Him in all your ways. "

It is a home where mealtime is not a time for indulging in ordinary and natural "eating habits" but a hallowed serve to G‑d, where the table is an "altar" to G‑d, sanctified by the washing of the hands before the meal, reciting the blessings over the food, and Grace after the meal, with every item of food and beverage brought into the home being strictly kosher.

It is a home where the mutual relationship between husband and wife is sanctified by the meticulous observance of the laws and regulations of Taharas Hamishpocho, and permeated with awareness of the active third "Partner" — G‑d — in creating new life, in fulfillment of the Divine commandment: "Be fruitful and multiply." this also ensures that Jewish children are born in purity and holiness, with pure hearts and minds that will enable them to resist temptation and avoid the pitfalls of the environment when they grow up. Moreover, the strict observance of Taharas Hamishpocho is a basic factor in the preservation of peace and harmony (Sholom Bayis) in the home, which is vitally strengthened and fortified thereby — obviously, a basic factor in the preservation of the family as a unit.

It is a home where the parents know that their first obligation is to instill into their offspring from their most tender age on, the love of G‑d and also the fear of G‑d, permeating them with the joy of performing Mitzvos. With all their desire to provide their children with all the good things in life, the Jewish parent must know that the greatest, indeed the only real and eternal, legacy they can bequeath to their children is to make the Torah and Mitzvos and traditions their life-source and guide in daily life.

In all that has been said above, the Jewish wife and mother — the Akeres Habayis — has a primary role, second to none.

It is largely — and in many respects exclusively — her great task and privilege to give her home its truly Jewish atmosphere. She has been entrusted with, and is completely in charge of, the kashrus of the foods and beverages that come into her kitchen and on the dining table.

She has been given the privilege of ushering in the holy Shabbos by lighting the candles on Friday, in ample time before sunset. Thus, she actually and symbolically brightens up her home and peace and harmony and with the light of Torah and Mitzvos. It is largely in her merits that G‑d bestows the blessing of true happiness on her husband and children and the entire household.

In addition to such Mitzvos as candle-lighting, Challah and others which the Torah entrusted primarily to Jewish daughters, there are matters which, in the natural order of things, lie in the woman's domain. The reason for this being so in the natural order is that it stems from the supra-natural order of holiness, which is the source and origin of the good in the physical world. We refer, of course, to the observance of Taharas Hamishpocho which, in the nature of it, is in the hands of the Jewish women. The husband is required to encourage and facilitate this mutual observance; certainly not hinder it in any way, G‑d forbid. But the main responsibility — and privilege — is the wife's.

This is the great task and mission which G‑d gave to Jewish women — to observe and disseminate the observance of Taharas Hamishpocho, and of the other vital institutions of Jewish family life. For besides being the fundamental Mitzvos and the cornerstone of the sanctity of Jewish family life, as well as relating to the well-being of the children in body and soul — these pervade and extend through all Jewish generations to eternity.

Finally, it is to be remembered that the Creator has provided each and every Jewish woman with the capacity to carry the most in daily life in the fullest measure, for otherwise, it would not be logical or fair of G‑d to give obligations and duties which are impossible to fulfill.

The points mentioned above — all too briefly in relation to their vital importance for our people Israel, individually and collectively, especially in the present day and age, as discussed at greater length elsewhere — should be the objects of intensive and widespread activity by Jewish women everywhere. There is a crying need to bring them to the attention, and within living experience, of the widest possible Jewish circles. There can be no danger of overemphasizing these vital aspects of Jewish life, nor of over publishing on these subjects. Every additional volume — as the present one — is to be heartily welcomed, and those who share in this effort should be warmly congratulated.

With prayerful wishes for Hatzlocho in the fulfillment of the above task, and with blessing for a Kesivo VaChasimo Toivo.