I was thinking of my mother today. I realized that I still have much to learn from this wise woman. G‑d blessed me with my special mother who serves as my role model, my caretaker, my friend, and above all, my inspiration.
My mother was a chemist by profession in Morocco. She gave it all up to migrate to the United States for a better life for her children. Her parents lived with us and she took care of them to their last days. As I grew up, my mother was a dressmaker, a plumber, an electrician, a chef, a dancer, a doctor, a psychiatrist, and most of all she was the best wife and mother a family could ask for.
Why am I telling you all this? I grew up in a traditional, kosher and G‑d fearing home. As I started my family, I became more observant. I started teaching my mother about the beauty of Shabbat and of reading Tehillim.
Once, as we escorted the Shabbat away and welcomed back the week, the phone rang. My mother was calling, excited to tell me what had happened to her Friday afternoon, half an hour before candle lighting time.
“Now I know that G-d puts us in circumstances solely to help others grow spiritually,” she said.
That Friday afternoon, my mother had decided to go downstairs to get her mail. She grabbed the keys, put on her slippers, and headed downstairs. As she turned back to her apartment, she looked for her house keys and realized that she had taken the wrong set. She panicked and hoped that her next-door neighbor was home from work. She started knocking. Her neighbor opened the door and was kind enough to call the maintenance worker to help open the door.
The neighbor then turned to my mother and asked her if she lit candles Friday night.
“Of course,” my mother replied. She then asked my mother to help her set up the candles and teach her the prayers so she could start lighting candles every Friday night.
My mother was overjoyed with this mitzvah. They both stood close together, reciting the Shabbat prayers. Within five minutes, the maintenance worker showed up and miraculously opened my mother’s door without a problem. My mother kissed her teary-eyed neighbor and they wished each other a Shabbat Shalom.
The best-kept secret in this lifetime is not the best spa, the best chocolate, nor the best diet centers. It is Shabbat. I had a friend who used to tell me that if Hashem would tell her that it was all right not to observe Shabbat, she would be very upset. Family time, rest and spirituality come full circle. During these 25 hours, we are suffused with appreciation for our loved ones and for the Divine.
If you want to experience a sense of peace and connection to the Al‑mighty and to your family, light candles this Friday night and pause. Carefully gaze at the flames and praise Hashem and bless your loved ones.
Was my mother’s story just a coincidence or a wonderful miracle? You be the judge!