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Blessings & Instructions for Shabbat Candles

Blessings & Instructions for Shabbat Candles

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Darkness is settling upon the world; the workweek is coming to a close. A week of activity, a week of growth, a tiring week. But as the sun goes down, a new day is being ushered in: the day for which we toiled the entire week, a day of rest and tranquility, the holy Shabbat.

Greeting the Shabbat (and also Jewish holidays) are girls and women across the globe. Shortly before sunset they light candles, which usher in peace and blessing to their homes and to the world.

Click here for the candle-lighting instructions.

Origin and Reasons

The first woman to light Shabbat candles was our Matriarch Sarah. According to Jewish tradition, Sarah would light the Shabbat candles on the eve of the Shabbat, in the famous tent she shared with Abraham, and the candles would miraculously burn from one Friday to the next. Thus the pleasant sight of Sarah's candles greeted the many guests that visited Abraham and Sarah's tent throughout the week.

When Sarah passed away, the flames on her Shabbat candles were extinguished. A few years later, when Isaac saw that the Shabbat candles of his prospective wife, Rebecca, had the same miraculous ability to continue burning throughout the week, he understood that she was Sarah's righteous successor, and he wed her happily.

Our Sages implemented the lighting of Shabbat and holiday candles for several reasons.

Peace in the Home: Shabbat and holidays are intended to be peaceful oases in our chaotic lives. We illuminate our home so that we should not stumble in the darkness, something which would have a decidedly un-peaceful effect.

Honoring the Day: We add light in the home to honor the Shabbat Queen.

Pleasure: To fully enjoy the Shabbat delicacies, one must be able to see the food—which requires a well-lit room.

The mystics explain that Shabbat is the day that brings illumination to our world, which so often seems to be dark and negative. Furthermore, candles are a metaphor for Torah and for the human soul. The candles represent the light we introduce into the world through studying Torah and observing its precepts. And they also represent the "additional soul" with which, our Sages explain, we are endowed on Shabbat.

The Basics

Prepare the candles (or oil and wicks) and matches, and a fireproof surface upon which to place the match after lighting the candles, such as a metal or ceramic plate.1 The candles should be set up in close proximity to where you will eat the Shabbat meal. The candles should be sufficiently large (or the oil bountiful enough) so that the flame will burn for the duration of the meal. Many have the custom, when applicable, that the man of the household sets up and prepares the candles for lighting.

Until marriage, women and girls light one candle. Post-marriage, women light (at least) two candles. Some add an additional candle for each child: e.g., a woman with three children lights five candles.

If no woman (over the age of bat mitzvah) is present in the home, a man should light the candles.

Light the candles eighteen minutes before sunset—and under no circumstances later than sunset! The times fluctuate based on date and location—click here to receive a free SMS reminder every Friday with candle-lighting time for your location. (On holidays [other than Yom Kippur] that do not coincide with Shabbat, one may light the candles after sunset, using an existing flame.)

The Procedure

  • While dressed in your Shabbat or holiday finery, place several coins in a charity box. Many have the custom to dedicate this charity to the poor in Israel.
     
  • Light the candles. Place the lit match on the designated surface.
     
  • Extend your hands over the candles, draw them inwards three times in a circular motion, and then cover your eyes.
     
  • Say the blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אַדֹנָ-י אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל שַׁבָּת קֹדֶשׁ

Transliteration: Baruch a-ta A-do-nay Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam a-sher ki-di-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.

(Click here for holiday blessings)

  • Now, while your eyes are still covered, is an auspicious time to pray for your heart's desires. The custom is to pray for children who will be upright and G‑d-fearing, and for the coming of Moshiach. Take the time also to pray for others who need blessings and good health.
     
  • Uncover your eyes, gaze at the candles, and then greet everyone with blessings of a good Shabbat or holiday.

With the lighting of the candles, a woman ushers in the holy Shabbat. No "weekday" activities are to be done from that point on, as she has now entered a world of tranquility.

FOOTNOTES
1.

Once the candles are lit, the Shabbat has been ushered in. As such, it is forbidden at that time to extinguish the match.

By Chabad.org Staff
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Discussion (110)
April 11, 2015
Pesach 2015
Good Yomtov
Dave
Here
March 26, 2015
To Annie
According to some opinions, a woman accepts Shabbat as soon as she lights the candles. Therefore, the match should be put down in a safe place to go out on its own, and not extinguished.

I do not know of a custom regarding the order in which the candles are lit.
Rochel Chein for chabad.org
March 20, 2015
Shabbat Shalom
David
colombo
March 18, 2015
2 questions about Shabbos candle lighting
The footnote says:
Once the candles are lit, the Shabbat has been ushered in. As such, it is forbidden at that time to extinguish the match.
Can we extinguish the match before we say the Bracha?
Also-if one lights more than 2 candles is there a special order of which candles are lit first-then around to the left or right or does it matter?
Thank you so much
Annie
January 16, 2015
Yes, now I got answers for my essay 👉👌
Lloyd
Blackburn
November 28, 2014
Is it permitted to either recite or sing the blessing over the candles? Only recite?
Connie
October 6, 2014
Toda Rabah
David
Colombo sri Lanka
September 19, 2014
Dear friends,
Shabbat Shalom dear friends, from Berlin :)
ana herrmann (fb:lara herm)
berlin
July 25, 2014
Is it ok to sing the blessing or just recite it?
Anonymous
February 22, 2014
For HaShem's Joy
Imagine what HaShem sees as the candles are lit across the globe on Shabbat? Like an orange-clove spice ball, our beautiful globe becomes dotted with candlelight, flickering and filled with love for HaShem. This is what I imagine, as I close my eyes and say the blessing and then uncover them to see the lit candles for "the first time." I imagine that we are with HaShem, gazing down in joyful surprise at this gift of light to Him.
Ann
Canada
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