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How?

How?

The Candle Lighting Procedure

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It is proper to place some money in a charity box before lighting the Shabbat candles.1

The woman (or man) lights the candle(s). The match should be held to each candle until the flame has taken hold of the majority of the wick which is protruding from the candle.2

As soon as all the candles are lit, Shabbat has begun for the woman who has kindled them.

Therefore:

a) She may not extinguish the match. Instead, she should drop it somewhere safe and allow it to go out itself. Some drop the match on to the metal tray upon which the candles are standing, while others set out a small ceramic bowl for this purpose.3

b) She may not move the match box and charity box from the table after she lights the candles. She may ask her husband, or anyone else who has not yet accepted the Shabbat, to remove the box, or she should ensure before she lights that the box is somewhere where it can remain for the entire Shabbat.

After the candles are lit, the woman stretches her hands out towards the candles, and moves them inwards in a circular motion4 – ushering in a special guest, the Shabbat Queen – three times. After the third time, the woman covers her eyes5 with her hands and recites the following blessing6:

בָּרוּך אַתָּה אַדֹנָ-י אֱ-להֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם אַשֶׁר קִדְשָנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶל שַבָּת קודֶש

Transliteration:

Baruch a-ta A-do-nay Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam a-sher ki-dee-sha-nu bi-mitz-vo-tav vi-tzi-va-noo li-had-leek ner shel Sha-bat Ko-desh.

Translation:

Blessed are you, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the light of the Holy Shabbat.

The moments immediately after reciting the blessing, while the woman's eyes are still covered, are an extremely auspicious time for her to offer a private prayer for anything her heart desires. It is customary to use this special time to appeal to G‑d for children who will glow with the radiance of the Torah, and that He light up the world with the light of the Redemption.7

After reciting the blessing and uttering her silent prayer, the woman uncovers her eyes and traditionally says "Good Shabbos," or "Shabbat Shalom," to all who are present.

The Zohar emphasizes the importance of lighting the candles with hearty joy and positive feelings.8

(The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, explained that this also applies to the spiritual element of candle lighting. We must execute our task of illuminating the world around us with the light of Torah and mitzvot with joy, recognizing that being G‑d's "ambassador of light" to this world is a tremendous privilege.9)

If one forgot to say the blessing, one may still say the blessing as long as the candles are still lit.10

The one who lit the candles should not eat or drink after candle lighting until the Shabbat meal.

The candles, candlesticks, the tray upon which they sit, and the charity box used before the lighting may not be moved or handled until after Shabbat—nightfall of Saturday night.

Great honor is accorded to the candles, and one is expected to behave respectfully and modestly in their presence. For this reason, it would be improper to, for example, change a diaper in the room where the candles are.11

Footnotes
1.

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 75:2.

2.

Shulchan Aruch Harav, ibid., 274:13.

3.

Ibid., 263:7.

4.

Ner Shabbat, ch. 13.

5.

Shulchan Aruch HaRav, ibid. 8.

6.

Generally, blessings are recited before performing a mitzvah. You say the blessing on the matzah before eating it, etc. In the case of lighting the candles, however, the blessing is said after the candles are lit, because once the blessing is said, the woman has begun the mitzvah of lighting the candles and thereby ushers in the Shabbat, and it would now be inappropriate for her to light a candle—an act that desecrates the Shabbat.
So she lights the candles before saying the blessing, while it's still weekday. But, she still wants to fulfill the concept of saying the blessing before the act. How does she manage that? She does so by not completing the mitzvah entirely until after saying the blessing:
After lighting the candles, she immediately covers her eyes. She then says the blessing and only afterwards uncovers her eyes and enjoys the candlelight. This way, she has fulfilled the concept of saying the blessing before the act, since the mitzvah is not complete until she actually enjoys the light.
That is the technical reason. Practically, covering the eyes helps one to concentrate better on the blessing and the silent prayers that are said at that time.

7.

Zohar, vol. III 48b; vol. II 166a.

8.

Ibid.

9.

Likutei Sichot, vol. 2 pg. 552.

10.

Shulchan Aruch Harav, ibid. 11; Ketzot Hashulchan 74:15.

11.

Shulchan Aruch HaRav, ibid., 275:13.

By Chabad.org Staff
This article is compiled from various sources, including from Candle Lighting For Shabbos and YomTov by Nissan Dovid Dubov (Kehot).
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard.
© 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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Jason Wyk November 7, 2016

Thank you. Also, What can you do if you, for some reason, don’t have candles or something to light them with? Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for Chabad.org June 8, 2016

As soon as all the candles are lit, Shabbat has begun for the woman who has kindled them, and she may not touch the candles anymore. Reply

jason wyk fresh meadows June 6, 2016

Why can't you touch or move the candle after lighting on shabbat? Reply

Rochel Chein for chabad.org January 8, 2016

On Shabbat we are not permitted to extinguish candles, so we light them in a safe place and let them burn completely, and use new candles each week. Reply

Lauren Indiana January 1, 2016

Someone might have already asked this but, how long are the candles supposed to burn for? Would I just have to let the candles burn themselves out and use new candlesticks every Shabbat? Reply

Chabad.org Staff March 22, 2015

Once Shabbat has started it is no longer possible to light flames, even from a pre-existing flame. In this case you'd relight the candle after Shabbat has ended, Saturday night. Reply

Bob March 22, 2015

If two candles are lit for Shabbat, and one extinguishes itself can that candle be relit using the flame from the other burning candle? Reply

Sheina from Punta Gorda September 1, 2010

If 8:00 is what it says on your calendar than that is the acual time for lighing, that is 18 min before sunset Reply

Liza Punta Gorda, FL July 30, 2010

If the Candle Lighting time shown on my web side is 8:00 PM does it mean that I have to actually light the candles at 8:00 PM or 18 min before 8:00 PM ? (Or from 7:42 PM to 8:00 PM ?) Reply

Chani Benjaminson, chabad.org July 23, 2010

Anonymous: Ideally the candles should burn from candle lighting time until one recites kiddush, preferably throughout the entire meal. Once Shabbat starts we may not ignite a flame so we do not light other candles.

Alex: One can lilght the candles up to one and a quarter halachic hours, called plag hamincha, to find that time in your location please go to chabad.org/143790 Reply

Alex Ross Avon Park, Florida July 19, 2010

What if in a case of necessity can one light the Sabbath candles earlier than the proper time? Reply

Anonymous Westminster, SC June 23, 2010

How long does the candles have to burn?

Do I light more candles if they burn out before the Sabbath has ended? Reply

Chani Benjaminson, chabad.org May 13, 2010

No, there is no particular order which one must follow when lighting Shabbat candles. Reply

Anonymous South Africa May 13, 2010

Is there any particular order that one lights candles? Left first or right one first?
Thank you. Reply

Chani Benjaminson, chabad.org April 7, 2010

To Anonymous in the Bronx: You are indeed doing the right thing according to halacha, please see this link for more info and sources, and feel free to pass it along as well: Does a single man light Shabbat candles?

To Anonymous in Forest Hills: On the holiday and on Shabbat we are not allowed to extinguish a flame, a match or candle can be simply laid down on a piece of aluminum foil or on the tray on which the candles are placed, it'll burn itself out in just a few seconds. Reply

Anonymous Forest Hills, NY April 4, 2010

How would I put out the candle I used to light other candles on the second day of holiday? I light the candle from an existing flame. I would appreciate it if you could tell me and also can I use a match instead of a candle? Reply

Anonymous Bronx April 1, 2010

I am a single male and I light my own shabbat candles. I have gotten "looks" by women when I tell them. Am I wrong for lighting candles? I don't think this is going against halacha. Please let me know what you think.

Thank you Reply

Menachem Posner for Chabad.org March 19, 2010

Please see Where does the Torah say to light Shabbat candles? to see how Rabbi Tzvi Freeman answers your very question. Reply

Anonymous Berne March 19, 2010

the blessings state "and has commanded us to light the shabbat candles". while i totally see the prohibition of lighting fire on shabbat, i don't know where the commandment to light candles comes from? i understand it is necessary or at least comfortable to be able to see the meal etc but where is it commanded? thank you so much for giving me any ressources/links on the topic!
shabbat shalom! Reply

Linda Kay Kronenberg Hutcherson Detroit, Michigan February 14, 2010

My mother is a polish/Russian Jew and my father was black. I did not grow up with them. My "adopted" mother sent me to Lutheran schools and had me confirmed as a Lutheran.

I am 57 yearsold now, and I have always felt an incredible sense of longing to know my Jewish heritage.

A rabbi that I encountered in a supermarket told me that I was a Jew regardless of whom my father was, andgave mesome literature and explained to me that I should start lighting candles on Shabbat.

Next Friday coming, I look forward to beginning a renewed spirit with G-d, joining my sisters all over the world! Reply

Welcome to our candle-lighting section, where you will find the details and practicalities of lighting Shabbat candles, along with the meaning, spirituality and power of doing so . . .
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