Every happening connected with the Jewish people, especially a large gathering of Jewish women who are the "mistresses" and "foundations" of the Jewish homes, certainly is endowed and imbued with heavenly blessings and special strengths from the Holy One, Blessed be He, the Master of the world.
This gathering of N'shei uBnos Chabad (the Lubavitch Women's Organization) which takes place in the days preceding the holiday of Shavuos, the Season of the Giving of Our Torah, carries with it special significance connected to G-d's Torah.
Torah is called G-d's precious, sequestered treasure, for which G-d, as it were, has a special affection. It is truly precious and valuable and had to be "hidden and protected." Yet, the Holy One, Blessed be He, gave this beloved treasure to the Jewish people with His gracious benevolence.
For us Torah is the "Torah of life," for we live according to its dictates; it is not locked away in a golden chest. It is also a "Torah of light," for its directives are clear and bright. At the same time it is also the "Torah of truth," for its teachings and precepts are not relatively "good," or "true," but absolutely good and bring out the true nature of all existence. And since G-d is the source of Torah it reveals the true existence of the world and all the creations, that at every moment and in every place the source of life is from G-d the Creator.
Therefore, at the moment of Mattan Torah not even a bird chirped; the world held its breath and stood still, listening to G-d's words. For although the Torah was given to the Jewish people, they must bring peace into the world by imbuing the secular, mundane world with Torah and imparting to all people, even non-Jews, the word of G-d, embodied in the Seven Noachide Laws.
The Torah teaches us how to use every created being for its true purpose to bring glory to G-d, and when we follow the law of Torah we effect true perfection, G-dliness, holiness and light in all worldly things to the point that "the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d."
This is the goal of making the world a dwelling place for G-d.
In a proper abode every detail will indicate who the master of the house is -- if the master is orderly, true and radiant so, too, will all the details of the home reflect these qualities. The Jewish woman, as the "mistress of her home," need not be given these examples, for she knows from her own home how she devotes all her energy and zeal so that her house should shine, that everything should be in order and that anything unsuitable for a Jewish home should be eliminated.
This analogy helps us realize that in "G-d's abode" every detail must be according to G-d's will and desire and that the world must "shine."
At Mattan Torah the Holy One, Blessed be He, chose the Jewish people to receive the Torah. Their mission and Divine service is to cause the Torah to penetrate and permeate all aspects and details of the world and to convert the world into a dwelling place for G-d.
When the Torah was given to the Jewish people G-d first told Moshe to spread the good news and inform the people that they were about to receive such a precious gift.
In this mission Moshe was first sent to the women -- "Bais Ya'akov" -- and he spoke to them in a gentle and pleasant manner. There was no need for harsh words as they would certainly accept the pleasant news. After speaking with the women, Moshe was directed to tell the men.
As Torah itself tells us the story of the preparatory stages for Mattan Torah -- that the women were approached first and then the men -- this story, too, has become part of the eternal Torah and bears an eternal message.
Why was Moshe commanded to speak first to the women? Jewish women have been given a holy mission, to be the mistresses of the Jewish home and to raise and train the children (even those yet unborn) according to their guidance -- "The wisdom of woman builds her home," she has the ability to raise children who will continue the golden chain of the Jewish people.
Even among the gentile nations the conduct of the home is mostly dependent on the women, and certainly this is so among the nation who received G-d's Torah and must bring "peace to the world."
Here we see how we must educate and train Jewish daughters from their earliest years. Surround them with verses of Shir Hama'alos, Mezuzah and songs that lull them to sleep while extolling the values and greatness of Torah. This must be engraved in their minds from their youth, then as they mature and build their Jewish homes, they will continue on this path.
This year the convention takes place on Rosh Chodesh Sivan which emphasizes even more strongly the connection to Mattan Torah.
Rosh Chodesh brings with it a unique custom observed only by Jewish women; to refrain from certain types of work. The source of this custom goes back to the sin of the Golden Calf, when the Jewish women refused to be enticed by the Erev Rav (Egyptian sorcerers who had accompanied the Jews out of Egypt and who fashioned the Golden Calf). They remained firm in their faith and did not participate in any way in the sin of the Golden Calf; in commemoration of this Rosh Chodesh is observed as a semi-holiday by Jewish women.
This spiritual fortitude is the heritage of every Jewish woman who knows with positive certainty that "I am the L-rd your G-d" and no one, and no thing, can swerve her from her faith.
It was this unswerving determination not to be misled that also motivated the women to be the first to contribute the necessary materials for the construction of the Tabernacle.
They gave their most precious possessions, (the mirrors) which they had used to beautify themselves, and their precious jewelry and gem stones. They also donated the gemstones which the Kohen Gadol wore in the Urim V'Tumim [as some commentaries explain].
It was only after the women initially responded with their munificent contributions for the Mishkan, that the men and the princes then came forth with their donations.
Thus, every Rosh Chodesh is connected to the special role that the Jewish women played in our religious history.
On Rosh Chodesh Sivan another point comes to the fore. When the Jews encamped, facing Mount Sinai, on the day of Rosh Chodesh Sivan "as one man with one mind," G-d made His final decision to give them the Torah, because of their unity.
Despite the millions of individuals and countless different personalities and types, when the Jews came face to face with the Mountain of G-d and knew that they were about to be part of the most important event of human history, they fused together as one unit, externally and intrinsically, "with one mind" -- this brought Mattan Torah in which the women were first. The connection of Mattan Torah, Jewish unity and the contribution of the Jewish woman bears further exposition.
The role of the Jewish woman in conducting her home is to bring to the home the unity of "one person with one mind." Despite the different jobs, roles and responsibilities of the individual members of the family, she creates the unity.
The master of the home must be concerned with earning a living and teaching Torah on a more advanced level to the family. The sons and daughters have their roles. Husband and wife must complement each other and bring perfection to the home in two ways: (A) each can supplement what the other lacks and (B) each evokes more perfection in the work of the other.
The children too, give the nachas (pleasure) to their parents and in that way help to perfect the roles which their parents play.
Just as the "mistress of the house" effects the unity among all the family members, so, too, her accomplishments also influence the world. For when there is love, unity and cooperation at home, then, even in the hostile world each family member will have the inner strength to be able to function. In the stormy winds of the golus, having come from homes filled with Ahavas Yisroel and Jewish unity, they will be able to weather the storm.
But it all depends on the "foundation of the home," the Jewish mother and wife.
True, the operation of the household follows and is influenced by the style which the husband brings home from yeshivah or kollel, but the implementation is done by the "mistress of the house." As the true "master" of the house, she introduces the atmosphere of unity and cooperation in her home, and then, in the whole world.
In this manner she likewise educates and trains her daughters from birth, so that when they mature and go out to establish their own Jewish homes they, too, will fill their homes with Ahavas Yisroel and Jewish unity.
This continuing unity will bring the ultimate redemption of our righteous Moshiach. For then Eretz Yisroel will spread over the whole world. (This means that the Jewish people will influence all the countries to be like Eretz Yisroel.)
This is the mission and potential given to all Jewish women to accomplish with joy and gladness -- the birth and development of Jewish people as an eternal Chosen People.
My G-d bless each of you with success in your special work to make your homes a dwelling place for the Holy One, Blessed be He, which will prepare for the building of the Third Bais Hamikdosh, built by G-d, Himself, eternal and waiting for the Jewish people to complete their work and be redeemed -- speedily and truly in our days.
The motto and theme which you have chosen for this year's convention is:
For your work shall be rewarded. (Yermiyahu 31:15)
This promise was given by the Prophet Yermiyahu, whose name symbolized the bitterness of the golus, and whose prophecy dealt with aspects of destruction and exile.
For a Jew to be in exile, away from his father's table, is the most bitter condition. He may benefit from all forms of blessing, yet, the sour taste of golus always lingers in his mouth.
When a Jew sees the problems and vicissitudes of golus he is tempted to isolate himself in his own surroundings where he has warmth, light, Ahavas Yisroel and Jewish unity.
To this person Yermiyahu addresses himself: "There is reward for your actions," the purpose of the bitter golus is to "convert bitterness to sweetness," to use the diaspora to show the quality of the Jewish people. True, the world shakes and wavers, nevertheless, the Jew has the potential to transform this negative state into something positive. If there are storm winds blowing they can be harnessed and utilized to create energy and shed light inside. Similarly, the Jew can transform the evil winds of the golus into "clouds of heaven" and more quickly approach the true redemption. It is the challenge of the bitter golus which awakens and reveals within the Jew these superior powers. Therefore, the last moments of the diaspora must be utilized in this respect to be changed from bitter to sweet.
The unpleasantness of the public domain can be transformed when a Jew leaves his home with the positive intention of converting the world, the public domain, to a private domain, dedicated to G-dliness -- which will call out "G-d is one and His Name is one."
When the home from which the Jew exits is a Jewish home made bright and full of love by the "mistress of the home," then, whenever a member of that household walks out he/she carries the light along and illuminates even the darkness of the golus.
Why should it be necessary for the Prophet Yermiyahu to promise that the reward will be given for our good actions, surely the Holy One, Blessed be He, is no worse than a person who rewards the agent who does his job!?
Yermiyahu is not referring to the obligatory precepts and conduct of the Jewish woman with self and family, etc. Rather he is speaking of a voluntary action -- reaching out to bring peace to the world. Yet, here G-d promises reward for this activity beyond the call of duty.
Is there a Jewish woman or girl lost among the nations, in a far-flung corner of the globe who is unaware of her heritage? Don't hide yourself in a cocoon! Go out of your cozy, love-filled home and reach out to that floundering soul -- this is not a precept of Torah -- you must volunteer for this action.
It is also G-d's mission, for you must "know G-d in all your ways," see to it that every Jewish girl receives a proper Jewish education and attends true Torah camps -- these are your actions and G-d's mission. Fulfill this with dedication and devotion, then you will merit to get the reward for your "actions."
Despite the bitter golus do not hide yourself in your own precincts, go out to the public domain and the lost corners of the world and find Jewish women and girls, and their families, endow them with their true heritage which the Jewish women received at the time of Mattan Torah and which was passed down from generation to generation -- do it with soft words infused with Ahavas Yisroel and Jewish unity.
For these actions the Holy One, Blessed be He, will give you your reward in the fullest sense -- not only the ultimate reward of the soul, but also in the physical realm. And in the physical dimension, down to the simplest and most basic aspects. For G-d's blessings and rewards penetrate and reach all the levels. And all of these levels will bring true satisfaction and spiritual fulfillment and will enhance the success of all your activities.
Then we will merit, "They will return from the enemy's land" -- a place which challenges G-dliness and holiness -- and hence "to their boundaries."
It will then be revealed that each and every Jew is G-d's only child, as the Baal Shem Tov explained that G-d's love for the Jewish people is similar to the love for an only child born to an aged couple. The parents dote and care so much about this child. So all G-d's children return to their land. This will be speeded up by the good resolutions which you accept at your convention with the intention of zealous execution of your plans. In addition to all the resolutions already enacted, an "urgent call" should be issued to all Jewish women, and even small girls, that each and every Jewish woman should use all her talents and powers to increase Ahavas Yisroel and Jewish unity. Since Ahavas Yisroel is called the "whole Torah" -- it follows that all areas of Torah will be enhanced by this project.
Do it with joy and gladness and with much success, and then the eternal blessing which the previous Rebbe was wont to say will be fulfilled:
"May you receive the Torah with joy and true inner acceptance."
After Torah study and prayer we will conclude with tzedakah "which brings the redemption closer" and "is equal to all the precepts." The representatives of the convention will receive dollar bills and distribute two to everyone present -- one to use as she wishes -- to give tzedakah -- and the second to fulfill the mitzvah of Ahavas Yisroel by giving it to a friend so that she, too, will fulfill the mitzvah of tzedakah.
May we merit to celebrate the receiving of the Torah this Shavuos holiday together with our righteous Moshiach in Eretz Yisroel, and then in Yerushalayim the Holy City and on the Temple Mount, speedily and truly in our days, so that Moshiach will teach Torah to the entire nation, this year, with joy and gladness of hearts.