Questions Involving Women

Real questions, submitted by actual OU Torah followers, with their real answers. NOTE: For questions of practical halacha, please consult your own rabbi for guidance.

Q. Is waving and covering the eyes derived from Kabbalah?

A. Thanks for your question. I assume you’re referring to when women light Shabbos candles.

Think about when we light Chanukah candles: we say the bracha and then light. That’s the way it should be for Shabbos also except there’s a problem. If one were to recite the bracha first, she would have accepted Shabbos already and be unable to light! Accordingly, a woman lights the candles, covers her eyes to recite the bracha, and then opens them to reveal the lit candles. This is a legal reason for covering the eyes.

The waving is not required by Jewish law. It’s a custom through which the women symbolically “usher in” Shabbos. I have seen kabbalistic significance attributed to it but I think that’s more an explanation after the fact than the origin of the practice, which appears to be more contemporary than covering the eyes.


Necessary background information: according to halacha, the proper order of putting on one’s shoes is to put on the right, put on the left, tie the left, and then tie the right. See more here.

Q. I recently bought a new pair of shoes and was tying them in a special way. I started off by tying the left shoe and when I was halfway through tying it, my mother started tying the right shoe. I undid the right shoe and carried on tying the left. Is it fine like that or do I need to retie them?

A. Thanks for your question. Some authorities (not all) would advise that if you make a mistake, you must go back and start again. It sounds to me like this is exactly what you did when you untied the right and resumed with the left. I don’t think that there would be any reason to go back any further than that.

Incidentally, since I don’t know your gender, I’ll mention that some authorities don’t require this practice of women. This is because it’s largely predicated on tefillin, in which women are not obligated.


Deuteronomy 24:1: “…if she finds no favor in his eyes… he shall write her a bill of divorce, put it in her hand and send her out from his house.”

Q. Does Deuteronomy 24:1 apply if the woman leaves the man?

A. Thanks for your question. If a married couple splits up, the husband must give his wife a “get” regardless of the circumstances of their separation. This is true even if the woman initiates the break-up.


Referring to erchin – the “valuations” at the end of parshas Bechukosai.

Q. These are some disturbing pesukim. How do we understand men and women having different values?

A. It’s based on the value of a person if sold as a servant. Men are typically able to do heavy labor and women generally aren’t, so men tended to command a higher value as hired labor, which is reflected in these valuations.

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