My mother in law, Esther Wineberg, of blessed memory, was involved in Mivtza Neshek (the Lighting of Shabbat and Holiday Candles’ Project for women and girls).
When the Rebbe first introduced the importance of adding more light to this world. The Rebbe requested that girls from a young age begin to light one Shabbat candle before the mother lights her candles. Each additional candle will help brighten up a darkened world, the Rebbe said. My mother in law passed away on the second day of Elul – Bet Elul, 1987. Each year my husband would make sure to say the kaddish for his beloved mother on the day of her yahrzeit.
This year, when all things are not the same, we wondered if it would be possible to do so.
Our son, Rabbi Mendy Wineberg, who has a Chabad Shul a few miles away, had begun a Shabbat morning service which follows all health guidelines. This seemed an option. With permission from our trusted physician, prior to Shabbat we went to our children’s home. On Shabbat our son has a very careful minyan with all precautions taken, enabling my husband to say kaddish for his beloved mother, of blessed memory. Who would have known that a chain reaction of good would come out of this to light up her soul?!
Among the guests at the Shabbat table was a couple traveling through Kansas City on a road trip cross country. They decided to call Chabad about hotels and kosher food. Instead they were invited to join the family for the Shabbat meals. Boruch Hashem, with this couple, my husband had a minyan on Friday night as well.Shabbat day was amazing as we sat at the table and shared interesting and inspiring words ofTorah and personal stories, and more.
Later that day, I found time to speak to the couple traveling through and we opened up to each other. There was much to learn from them as they had gone through some difficult times and were now in a better stronger place. Their commitment to each other and above all to Hashem was a beautiful sight to see. I asked the wife when they would be traveling on and was told they would be leaving on Sunday.
Sunday morning, I called and invited them to come over to our house. I felt the urge to see them again before they continued on their journey. When I didn’t hear from them, I called again. This time they agreed to come by. I prepared some ‘tzeda laderech’ – food for the way and a mivtzoim package for them to take along (because you never know whom you may meet on the way).
We had a short but sweet visit and laden with ‘goodies’ they were on their way to Vegas to visit the Devorah’s brother and family.
The following week on Friday, erev Shabbat Kodesh, 15th Elul, 5780, I got a call from Devorah. I was so happy to hear from her. She told me that they were now happily home safe and sound, thank G-d.
Devorah asked me, “Do you have a moment?”
I answered, “Of course”.
She then went on to tell me enthusiastically about her experience in Vegas.
“We had a beautiful Shabbat in Kansas City,” she began. “We were so touched by your care packages, the delicious food and the mivtzoim package.”
My brother is a nurse in a hospital in Vegas. During one of his breaks, he had a conversation with another nurse who said to him: ‘I can see that you are Jewish. Actually, I have Jewish blood in my family. My mother’s mother was Jewish.’
“My brother realized that she is Halachikly (according to Jewish law) 100% Jewish!“
Later that evening, my brother told me about this nurse and what she shared.
“I have just the right thing for her,” I blurted out. I ran to my suitcase and brought out the Neshek traveling box that you gave me. Handing it to my brother, I told him, ‘Here, this is for the Jewish nurse.’
“My brother later told us that when he gave her the gift and explained to her what it was for, she was very touched and with tears in her eyes, she assured him that she would use them to light the candles the coming Shabbat for the first time in her life.
“This is the Neshek kit you gave me,” Devorah concluded. “I wanted to tell you, so you would know that they will be used, thank G-d, by someone who just found out that she is Jewish and is excited to light the Shabbat candles. She will be lighting the Shabbat candles which you gave me!”
“Yes,” I thanked Devorah and told her, “B”H, the Rebbe works through us. One more light to light up the world for GOOD.”
Full circle. My mother in law’s active participation to help bring the light of Shabbat and holiday candles to Jewish girls, will now continue from the day of her yahrzeit, to someone who is also beginning to light the Shabbat candles for the first time!
Wishing everyone a Happy and Sweet New Year with all the preparations to help bring the ultimate light of Moshiach down to this world, ushering in a world of healing and Peace. May it be speedily.
By Blumah Wineberg and Devora Mayteles Morgenstern
Postscript: This Friday, Devorah called me with the following Joyful message:
My sister in law and brother, who just had a baby girl, will be using the electric candles* that you gave us this Shabbat in the hospital! Mazol tov! Mazol tov! May we always share simchot.
*Battery operated candles which are permissible to make a brocho on, when fire cannot be used, for Shabbat and the first eve of a Holiday. It is important to note that when one gives them to someone who is not knowledgeable in Jewish law, to remind them that it is not permissible to turn them off till the conclusion of Shabbat or the Holiday.