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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 on Friday, 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.

On Fridays, 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
© 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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Discussion (136)
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?
Anonymous
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.
Malkie Janowski for Chabad.org
Chabad.org
November 4, 2016
I have a question...

Where do we find Sarah lighting a sabbath ccandle? As also Rebecca?
Jerry Thomas
Eugene Oregon
August 26, 2016
Shabbos prayer!!
Shabbat Shalom. Please pray for my son Elijah to come home to mom. I miss him!!
Corinne Morales
Phelan,Ca
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.
Albert Kagan
Roswell
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...
Yisroel Cotlar
Cary NC
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?
Anonymous
June 7, 2016
Thank You.I wish You to great Shabbat Shalom.HaShem bless You.
Igor Bartolic
croatia zagreb
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!
Stephanie Howell
Hardeeville, SC
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.
Eliezer Zalmanov
for Chabad.org
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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