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prayer and mitzva in groups & taking challa on Rosh Chodesh

Rabbi Ari ShvatTammuz 5, 5778
62
Question
Thank you. I was at a challah baking event yesterday for Rosh Chodesh and it was absolutely beautiful with like 40 women there praying baking etc. and I really enjoyed it. When women gather as a big group to daven pray and give tzedakah does that have a better and stronger effect for Hakodesh Baruch Hu to hear our prayers? What's the difference if one is baking alone at home versus in a large event full of women praying davening and kneading dough and giving Tzedakah and lighting candles for Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess. It was absolutely beautiful, I thought I knew how to pray but wow boy did I learn how to pray yesterday, with such Kavanah and sincerity and giving lots to tzedakah, it was the most beautiful experience ever in the whole entire world. Can you explain why women gather and make huge challah events on Rosh Chodesh of every month?
Answer
God always hears our prayers, but on different occasions, we receive different answers. Doing mitzvot in a large group has several benefits and advantages which clearly have a stronger impression in Heaven as well as here on earth: 1. “The glory of a king is in large numbers” (Proverbs 14, 28), so it adds to the glory of Hashem. 2. The nation of Israel is not just a collection of individual Jews but we are an organic collective unit. 3. There’s no comparison of the sweeping feeling and kavana (as you described so beautifully) one gets when feeling part of something greater, which is surely the proper and beneficial way to do the Godly mitzvot, which really are great. 4. There is a positive peer pressure, which is the reason why peer pressure was created and how it should be used beneficially. 5. In many instances in life, the large quantity adds to the quality. 6. This camaraderie is fun, and mitzvot should be done with joy and happiness, “Serve God with joy” (Tehilim 100, 2) 7. Our Father obviously wants His children to be happy! 8. It also encourages us, leaving us looking forward to the next time. 9. Some people unfortunately don’t find happiness in the family unit, so this collective feeling can, to a certain extent, help serve that need. Accordingly, men are supposed to always pray in a minyan (quorum) of ten, while women, correctly look to challah, communal events or volunteering, “amen parties” or other similar opportunities to get together for positive spiritual causes. Rosh Chodesh is singled out as especially important for women, granted them as a reward for not listening to their husbands to give their jewelry for making the golden calf in the desert. Hence, the custom is for women to abstain from at least one type of work (e.g. laundry, sewing…) on Rosh Chodesh, as a type of additional “mini-Shabbat” (Shulchan Aruch Or.Ch. 417). Accordingly, it’s the most logical time for a collective event for Jewish women, as is the custom in many communities!
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