Here's an interesting article that I received this week from Rabbi Shea Hecht:
Just a few short weeks ago one of the many e-mail messages that pass through my inbox caught my eye. The subject line beckoned me to do something to help the kidnapped Israeli soldiers who are still in captivity. I was fascinated. What could I, living in NY, do to help Israeli soldiers taken hostage?
Turns out that this e-mail campaign was an effort that was spearheaded by Laurie Rappeport, a dynamic woman in Tzfat, Israel. The e-mail was forwarded to women the world over and was related to the Mitzvah of Hafrashat Challah, a Mitzvah specific to women.
The women who answered Laurie's call were willing to dedicate the merit of the Mitzvah of Hafrashat Challah to the welfare of the imprisoned Israeli soldiers. These women dedicated the Mitzvah in an effort to affect a positive change in someone else's life.
Unfortunately, the soldiers are still in captivity, but this worldwide effort by women to help these soldiers really touched a chord.
We all have issues that we rally for. We all have some goal that we work for. But the spiritual power of women who get together to make a difference is a power that makes things happen.
My involvement in the political world has shown me this. I have seen the power of lobbyists - and it is a power to be contended with. Two of the most powerful organizations in the United States are Mother's Voices and Mother's Against Drunk Driving. Just the name alone of these organizations is so powerful, and the fact that it is mothers who are fighting disease and drunk driving lends a large measure of credibility.
One source of the power of women is a spiritual one. We are told that the Matriarch's prayed for their children. Particularly the Matriarch Rachel who still cries for her children to this day. Our sages tell us that not only does Rachel present the case of her children's suffering to G-d, she is the one who is answered.
Researching the Hafrashat Challah story brought me to two women in my very own neighborhood, the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn, Yael Leibovitch and Leah Silverstein. They have groups of 40 or more women who weekly dedicate the merit of their Mitzvah of Hafrashat Challah to women who don't have children.
Speaking to Yael was quite an eye opener. Not only did I find out that there are other similar groups in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and many other areas all over the world but also, that since they started their program over two years ago countless women have been helped. Women who had no children for 10 years and more have given birth after their plight was kept in mind as the merit of the women doing the special women's Mitzvah of Hafrashat Challah.
My daughter is part of a group of women who do this same special thing for their classmates. Some of my daughter's classmates are not married and some don't have children. Those who are lucky enough to have both of those blessings pray for those who don't. They have witnessed the tremendous power of their prayers which have been answered when they have dedicated their Mitzvah to help others.
The Talmud tells us that the Jews were freed from Egypt in the merit of the women. And this is not the only place where great occurrences are attributed to the power of women. Throughout history women prayed and accomplished for others - acting as a powerful spiritual lobby. And we can take pride in the fact that it continues even today. To read about the Mitzvah of Hafrashat Challah click here.