October 20, 2009


In a few Chassidic circles, women have been adept in the esoteric practices, as well as men. This is especially true of the families of certain rebbes, or Chassidic masters. For example, the story is told in Chabad of how a Chassid once went to deliver a message to Rebbetzin Rivkah (1833-1914), wife of the Rebbe Maharash (Rabbi Shmuel, fourth Rebbe in the lineage of Chabad-Lubavitch). When he arrived, he found the Rebbetzin in the midst of her morning prayers, so he waited in the next room until she had finished. However, he could hear her praying behind the door. He later related that when the Rebbetzin reached the "Shema" prayer, which declares our faith in G-d's Oneness, she stopped to meditate upon the word “echad” (one) for twenty minutes (Le'sheima Ozen).

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov's mother, Rebbetzin Feige (d. 1808) was a grand-daughter of the holy Baal Shem Tov, and sister of the illustrious Chassidic masters Rabbi Baruch of Medzibuzh and Rabbi Moshe Chaim Ephraim of Sudilkov. Her brothers held her in such high esteem that they called her “Feige the Prophetess.” It is said that the Baal Shem Tov taught his daughter, Rebbetzin Udel, certain combinations of Divine Names (yichudim) upon which she could meditate and commune with his soul after his passing. She, in turn, passed down these yichudim-meditations to her daughter, Rebbetzin Feige (Nevei Tzaddikim).