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Blessings & Instructions for Shabbat Candles

Blessings & Instructions for Shabbat Candles

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We usher in the peace and sanctity of Shabbat by lighting candles every Friday evening and on the eve of Jewish holidays. The candles bring peace into our homes, and add light and warmth to a world that sometimes feels dark and cold.

Read: Where does the Torah say to light Shabbat candles?

Read: What are Shabbat candles?

When

The candles are lit eighteen minutes before sunset. Some communities, such as those in Jerusalem, have the custom of lighting the candles and bringing in the Shabbat earlier. In that case, light the candles as per your community custom.

Find times for your area here.

The earliest one may light the Shabbat candles is plag haminchah on Friday afternoon. Plag haminchah, one and a quarter daylight hours before the end of the day. See our Zmanim page for when that is in your location.

The latest you may light the candles is just before sunset; after sunset, Shabbat has begun even if you have not lit the candles, and handling or lighting a flame is a desecration of the Shabbat and forbidden.

On holidays, you can light later as well, provided that you use a pre-existing flame. When a holiday follows Shabbat or a holiday (eg. the second day of a two-day holiday), the candles must be lit after nightfall. Click here for times, procedures and blessings for the holiday candle-lighting.

Read: Why are candles lit 18 minutes before Sunset?

More on the exact time to light candles

Sign up for free SMS or email reminders or get the Shabbat Times App.

Who

Photos: Flash90 (None of the people depicted were photographed on the holiday.)
Photos: Flash90 (None of the people depicted were photographed on the holiday.)

The mitzvah of lighting candles has been given especially to women, the mainstays of the Jewish home, but it is an obligation for every home, and if no woman over bat mitzvah is present to light, the candles are lit by the man of the home.

As soon as a young girl can understand the significance of Shabbat and can say the blessing (at approximately three years of age), she should kindle her own Shabbat candle.

Read more: Do Young Girls Light Shabbat Candles?

What

Photo: Mushka Lightstone
Photo: Mushka Lightstone

Single girls and women light one candle. After marriage, women light two -- and some have the custom of lighting one candle for each member of the immediate family.

Candles are lit on or near the table where the Shabbat dinner will be served, to add to the light and joy of Shabbat.

How

Photo: Duane Stork Photography
Photo: Duane Stork Photography

It is customary to give some coins to charity before kindling the Shabbat candles. Before we pray to G‑d and ask Him kindly to grant our deepest wishes, it is appropriate to display kindness to others.

After you've given charity and removed the charity box, light the candles. A girl should light before her mother, so her mother can help if necessary, and is also forbidden to light her candle after the proper time.

After you’ve lit the candles, do not put out the match. Rather, drop it on a fireproof surface or give it to someone who has not yet accepted Shabbat .

Use your hands to shield your eyes from the flames and recite the blessing while your eyes are covered.

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

Transliteration: Baruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olam A-sher Ki-de-sha-nu Be-mitz-vo-tav Ve-tzi-va-nu Le-had-lik Ner Shel Sha-bbat Ko-desh.

Translation: Blessed are You, Lord 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 time of candle-lighting is considered particularly auspicious for private prayer. Women have traditionally prayed, as they stand with eyes closed, for health, happiness, children who will illuminate the world with Torah, and the ultimate Redemption which will be ushered in by the Messiah. Girls, too, offer their own prayers at this special moment, as they discover the beauty of a practice which will enlighten their entire lives.

Uncover your eyes, gaze at the Shabbat lights and greet your family with "Good Shabbos" or "Shabbat Shalom."

Once you light the candles and recite the blessing, you have accepted Shabbat. As fire is muktzeh (set aside, and forbidden to move) on shabbat, the candles and candlesticks may not be moved until the conclusion of Shabbat.

More on how to light the candles

Afterthought

A small flame, or pair of flames, can seem so small and weak. How much of a difference can it make in the gloom of a world engulfed in darkness? The answer is a lot. The beauty of light is that even the smallest point of radiance can dispel much darkness. In the words of the sages, “a candle to one is a candle to many.”

And together, all of our Shabbat candles, from all over the globe, will join together in creating a giant blaze of spiritual light, ushering in the era of eternal Shabbat, the days of Moshiach. To quote the sages once again, “If you keep the light of Shabbat,” says G‑d, “I will show you the lights of Zion.”

May it happen soon. Amen!

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Lisa Idaho April 11, 2017

I can't find information to two questions. Are candles lit every night of Passover or just on the first night? Also, when the candles are lit the first night, are they supposed to burn for a certain time or be allowed to go out on their own that night? Thanks! Reply

Chabad.org Staff April 16, 2017
in response to Lisa:

Hi Lisa, candles are lit the first two and last two nights of Passover as those are considered holidays. Candles may not be extinguished on Shabbat nor on major holidays such as Passover, hence we allow the candles to burn out and they usually do by the time the Passover meal is over. Reply

Chabad.org Staff February 13, 2017

To Peter What we mean is that we are not permitted to blow out the match we are using to light the candles, after we have finished using it, due to the prohibition to extinguish flames on Shabbat. Hence we place it on the tray or aluminum foil and allow it to burn out on its own, which takes seconds. Hope that's clear. Reply

Chabad.org Staff April 27, 2017
in response to Rosie greenberg:

Single women light one candle, married women light at least two, some light a third candle to represent all their children while others light an additional candle for each child they have. Additionally, many have the tradition that girls light their own candle too, from the age of 3 as our Matriarch Rebecca did. Reply

Rosie greenberg Atlanta April 17, 2017
in response to Chabad.org Staff:

Sorry, question; " how many candles should be lit." Reply

Peter Eckels Phoenix AZ February 13, 2017

I'm not understanding your comment about the match used to light the candles...

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

how can a small match burn continuously ?
Don't you mean the candles ? Reply

Chabad.org Staff January 19, 2017

Source Please see this link for an explanation on the source for lighting Shabbat candles. Reply

PalealYah Ben Israel Elk Grove January 12, 2017

Show me any of the above in the Torah only? Reply

Anonymous November 8, 2016

A poster ask "What can you do if you, for some reason, don’t have candles or something to light them with?"Rochel Chein for chabad.org answered in response to Electric candles that "Real flames should be lit whenever possible. Using a electric lights should only be done where an open flame is not possible, such as when in the hospital."

My question is and assuming you dont have electric candles is what can you do if you, for some reason, don’t have candles or something to light them with? Reply

Malkie Janowski for Chabad.org Chabad.org November 7, 2016

The Midrash tells us of the candle that would burn from one Sabbath eve to the next in the tent of Sarah and later, Rebecca (Beraishit Rabbah, 60), as mentioned in the article. Reply

Jerry Thomas Eugene Oregon November 4, 2016

I have a question...

Where do we find Sarah lighting a sabbath ccandle? As also Rebecca? Reply

Corinne Morales Phelan,Ca August 26, 2016

Shabbos prayer!! Shabbat Shalom. Please pray for my son Elijah to come home to mom. I miss him!! Reply

Albert Kagan Roswell July 17, 2016

I was at the hospital right before the start of Shabbos, and during sunset, I did this prayer when I was at the hospital bed waiting for my surgeon to come in. It was worth it. And after my surgery, they gave me grape juice in my hospital bed, and I did the "b'rey pri-hagafen". It was so worth it. Reply

Yisroel Cotlar Cary NC July 14, 2016

It is not the dining itself that is the problem. Rather, the handling of money, transaction, having food being cooked for you on Shabbos, etc

These are activities we do not do on Shabbos, even if it is inconvenience. Of course, we also make sure to think of Shabbos when we make our travel plans and not cut things to close... Reply

Anonymous July 9, 2016

Is it acceptable to dine in a restaurant on Sabbath if you are far from home and cannot prepare or bring a meal? Reply

Igor Bartolic croatia zagreb June 7, 2016

Thank You.I wish You to great Shabbat Shalom.HaShem bless You. Reply

Stephanie Howell Hardeeville, SC April 10, 2016

Please help Can you put subtitles on these for deaf people? I am not deaf but I can not hear the video because my computer is not working properly but I can't hear what is being said because of this and I really want to hear it! Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for Chabad.org December 27, 2015

Light and good things in general should never be decreased. Once someone started lighting a certain amount of candles, she should not revert to less. Reply

Anonymous Phoenix, AZ December 23, 2015

What is the number of candle(s) for someone is, Chas V'Shalom, widowed? Reply

Rochel Chein for chabad.org November 24, 2015

Electric candles Real flames should be lit whenever possible. Using a electric lights should only be done where an open flame is not possible, such as when in the hospital. 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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