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What’s With the Candles?

What’s With the Candles?

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Question:

I notice that lighting candles is a big part of Judaism. We light candles every Friday for Shabbat, we light candles on every festival, and Chanukah is all about candles. What is the connection between candles and spirituality?

Answer:

There is something about a candle that makes it more spiritual than physical. A physical substance, when spread, becomes thin. Spirituality, when spread, expands and grows.

When you use something physical, it is diminished. The more money you spend, the less you have; the more gasoline you use, the more empty your tank becomes; the more food you eat, the more you need to restock your pantry. But spiritual things increase with use. If I use my wisdom to teach, the student learns, and I come out wiser for it; if I share my love with another, I become more loving, not less. When you give a spiritual gift, the recipient gains, and you lose nothing.

This is the spiritual property that candles share. When you use one candle to light another, the original candle remains bright. Its light is not diminished by being shared; on the contrary, the two candles together enhance each other’s brightness and increase light.

We sometimes worry that we may stretch ourselves too thin. In matters of spirit, this is never the case. The more goodness we spread, the more goodness we have. By making a new friend, you become a better friend to your old friends. By having another child, you open a new corridor of love in your heart that your other children benefit from, too. By teaching more students, you become wiser.

Keep lighting your candles. There is an endless supply of light in your soul. You will never run out of goodness.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Leah August 24, 2015

wow... This is just so beautiful. Thank you. Reply

Anonymous August 24, 2015

So true!
The more we exercise our humanity the more humane we are, in fact - this is the only way to structurally grow our souls.

Soul is like a muscle - it gets more powerful when we use our souls to fulfill what is almost unachievable - forgive, understand, help and do stuff like that ;) Reply

Rex Lovino Philippines April 19, 2011

hhmmmmm..... Great deliver of speech...it refreshes me a lot... but what about those pagan and demon worshipers, they also use candles for their rituals and festing... Does it have a connection also of using a candle for some spirtual reasons? Reply

suzi orlando, fl December 5, 2010

WHAT'S WITH THE CANDLES What a lovely, true, and spiritually learned answer. I ABSOLUTELY love the simplicity of it. It appears that truth is very often the simple and obvious response. The shortest way from A to B, IS THE PATH OF MOST RESISTANCE, the truth, which is just staring you in the face.

Thank you Reply

Anonymous December 4, 2010

Wow That is such a great way to put it. I kind of wondered the same thing, but I never thought of it like that. Words of wisdom seems to come to mind when reading this. Reply

Mariam Bahawalpur, Pakistan December 3, 2010

Light the candle Great. Lovely. I am blessed really, refreshed like anything. Thanks. Reply

Isabel Mercado Weslaco, Texas, USA December 2, 2010

To anonymous: the center candle (shamash) is the first one to be lit always. This candle lights the other candles.

To Rabbi Moss: You have such a spiritual way of answering the questions. You truly are a gifted person. Reply

Anonymous Marietta, Ga December 2, 2010

Ever Higher This is my favorite Comment each year. I feel so inspired to do good when I read this one. Thank you, Rabbi Moss. Reply

Britt Ohra Wolf Malmö, Sweden December 2, 2010

Chanuka I've never thought of that way, with the spiritual even if I have lived and noticed that when I do something good or help someone I will be happy. I share with you what I have so it will be great to see the person who is happy, even if there is a glass of water.

It is true that every day, if we listen to our fellow man no matter what they say we learn something, hopefully something positive.

Chanukah is a special holiday that gives us so much joy is not for nothing called "Nes gadol flinch po/sham" - a great miracle happened here/there, depending on where we are in the world. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA December 2, 2010

The King Candle... In your menorah, it may be the center, or it may be on the right because we go from right to left. You light the King candle, and USE it to light the first. The second day you light another King candle, and use it to light the first and second. The third day, you light another King candle and use it to light the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, etc. etc. Reply

Joseph Niceville, Florida December 2, 2010

Candles Candles bring light where once there was darkness. Candles light our way so that we don't bump into things. A lit candle brings a ceratin kind of serenity and calms our troubled thoughts. Reply

Anonymous marlborough, ma December 2, 2010

center candle Is the center candle the last to be lit after the other 8. thank you Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA November 30, 2010

I received a reply from one rabbi, That seniors in a rest home or other such place who are not allowed to light a fire with a match are allowed to use electric lights but without the blessing. I am wondering isn't the blessing separate from an actual FIRE. Since it is a metaphor, meaning light and love, then why shouldn't we thank G-d for the Sabbath? The actual blessing is for the lighting of the candles, so maybe I'll just change the blessing to be "Thank you, G-d, for the light of the Sabbath"? Reply

Inge Reisinger Germany November 30, 2010

B"H
a candle is always a metapher for a soul
the more candles are lightning the more souls feel the spirit Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA November 29, 2010

This is so beautiful and poetic. Candles are a metaphor for increasing light and love in the world. Beautiful! I am wondering, in places we can't light fires because of safety, like in old age senior apartments, can we use electric candles and it would mean the same? Reply

Stacy Elder Murfreesboro, Tn May 24, 2010

Light in my soul What a beautiful reminder of who we are. This has inspired me to share with others. Reply

Isabel Mercado Weslaco, TX/USA December 9, 2009

What's With the Candles? As soon as I started reading the answer to the question, I KNEW it was Rabbi Aron Moss giving the answer. All his comments are filled with such spirituality and love, I cannot find the words to describe it. Thank you for such a beautiful and spiritual answer. Reply

Anonymous December 9, 2009

As always wonderful and "erleuchtend"
(sorry I don't know the english word) Reply

Liz Raphael Helgesen Marietta, GA November 28, 2007

Keep Giving What inspiring wisdom about the power of our expansive spirit. Thanks for this wonderful affirmation of how I grow each time I help, teach others. Makes me want to keep giving, keep my own candles burning. Reply

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