The campaign to spread the life-changing mitzvah of lighting Shabbos candles was my shlichus (mission) on a visit to Israel with my wife Adina this past June.
After checking into the hotel in Tel Aviv, we went to the Central Chabad-Lubavitch office. There we met Rebbetzin Rivky Reizes. She was very accommodating, offering us refreshments and asking what she could do for us. I then asked her for some sets of Shabbos candles with the brachot inside.
The next morning we were having breakfast in the hotel when our waitress, Sabina, whom we knew from our visit two years ago, came to our table. I asked her if she lights Shabbos candles. She said, “Not really.” I then showed her one of the sets of Shabbos candles and handed it to her. “Wow! For me?” she exclaimed. “Yes, for you,” I answered. She thanked me and said, “Now I will light Shabbos candles this coming Friday.”
The next day we went to the shopping mall in Ramat Aviv. Hundreds of people were coming and going. My wife noticed the Louis Vuitton store and said, “Let’s go in.” How could I refuse? She looked at several handbags and other items. A sales girl came over to assist. She was very pleasant and said her name was Shanee. Several minutes later, I asked her if she lights Shabbos candles. She said, “Not in a long time.” I then handed her the Shabbos candles and she froze right there. She said, “Now I will light. Thank you very much,” and then proceeded to kiss my wife on both cheeks .
Israel is very special for us each time we visit. As we were checking out of the hotel early Thursday morning, I asked the front desk receptionist her name. She said her name was Jenny and that she had come to Israel with her parents several years ago from Russia. Of course I asked her, “Do you light Shabbos candles?” She answered, “My grandmother in Russia lights Shabbos candles, but I don’t.” I handed her a box of Shabbos candles and I could see her teary eyes. She was overcome with joy. Now she will light as her grandmother does back in Russia.
After a few days, we were back on a plane, waiting to take off from Ben-Gurion Airport to JFK in New York. An El Al stewardess came over and checked to see if we needed anything. Before takeoff, I asked her for her name. She said, “My name is Netta.” After our delicious lunch, I asked her if she lights Shabbos candles. She was hesitant to answer. Finally, she said that for several weeks she had been thinking of buying Shabbos candles. “Now here you are offering to give me Shabbos candles! Metzuyan! (Terrific!) I will take them. Thank you very much.”
And so the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Shabbos lights continue to shine.