Our Table Welcome to Our Shabbos Table

Welcome to our Shabbos Table!

We hope you enjoy this selection of short divrei Torah, presented to family and guests at our Shabbos table as a springboard for discussion. Each one is followed by a question. The responses shared at our table are enlightening, entertaining, and always thought-provoking.
Please share them at your own Shabbos table, and send us your most interesting responses. A selection of the best will be posted on the website, and eventually, included in a book. To respond, email us at responses@ourtable.org.

Parshas Chayei Sarah | Women of Valor

“And Yitzchak brought her to the tent of his mother, Sarah, and he took Rivkah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; and Yitzchak was comforted over [the loss of] his mother” (Bereishis 24:67). After almost an entire parshah devoted to Eliezer’s search for a wife for Yitzchak, he and Rivkah meet and marry at last.

The Radak (ibid.) notes that Yitzchak loved Rivkah far more than most husbands love their wives, because she embodied his mother’s modesty and other virtues. Thus, through marriage he was finally consoled over the death of Sarah, for whom he’d continued to mourn though she’d passed away three years prior.

Rashi (ibid.) writes similarly that upon entering Sarah’s tent, Rivkah became her. Three miracles had characterized that tent during Sarah’s lifetime: her Shabbos candles remained lit all week, her dough was blessed, and a cloud hovered overhead. When she died, these miracles had ceased. But once Rivkah stepped into Sarah’s home, they all returned. Accordingly, our pasuk is in effect saying, “Yitzchak brought [Rivkah] to the tent, [she became just like] his mother, Sarah, and [only then, seeing that she was worthy of following in Sarah’s footsteps] he took Rivkah … and loved her … and was comforted [by the two women’s similarities].”

Miracles and Mitzvos
The three miracles of Sarah’s tent allude to the three mitzvos unique to women:

First, the Shabbos candles symbolize women’s gift for bringing light, warmth, and spirituality into the home.

Second, the blessing in the dough alludes to the mitzvah of hafrashas challah, as it says: “You shall give the first yield of your dough to the Kohen, causing a blessing to rest upon your home” (Yechezkel 44:30).

Third, the cloud atop the tent symbolizes the Divine Presence, which rests on a home where the laws of family purity are observed.

By fulfilling these commandments, a woman establishes her home on a firm foundation of holiness.

The Legacy Continues/ Continuing Sarah’s Legacy

One contemporary woman who, like Sarah, brought tremendous chesed into her home and community was Rabbanit Brachah Kapach, who was awarded the Israel Prize in 1999 for her contribution to Israeli society.

Rabbanit Kapach was born in San’a, Yemen, in 1920. Her parents began sending her to deliver bread to the poor when she was eight years old. This act made a deep impression on her; throughout her life, she never turned away anyone in need and even sought out the underprivileged.

After settling in Jerusalem, she initiated project after project. One of her first centered on embroidery; she set up a boutique of sorts offering wedding gowns to needy brides. Her best-known project, “Naomi’s Treasure,” was a clothing charity that took up an entire room of the Kapach home. Everything was done efficiently and without fanfare; the needy were never embarrassed, always receiving whatever was promised. She also “married off” innumerable couples and followed their progress for years.

The rabbanit would inform new neighbors that thousands needed food for Shabbos. One was expected to cook or otherwise contribute every Friday. As Passover approached, this petite Yemenite powerhouse went into high gear, distributing wine and matzo to thousands.

By 8 a.m. every morning, she finished all her own housekeeping, so she could spend the rest of the day helping others.

Rabbanit Kapach organized classes for the poor and the elderly as well as summer camps for those with limited funds. When she saw the local women wasting their time on idle chatter, she began inviting them home for coffee and cake – which cleverly morphed into weekly lessons. She taught at two synagogues every Shabbat, and, like all her other selfless acts, these classes made a profound impression upon her students.

With her incredible willpower and altruism, Rabbanit Kapach was truly “a woman of valor.” (“Giving a Great Lady Her Due: Rabbanit Bracha Kapach,” Jerusalem Post, January 2, 2014)

Question for Discussion:

A woman makes innumerable contributions to the household. What is one way your mother made your home special?