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Not to Miss A Friday Lighting

Not to Miss A Friday Lighting

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In 1974, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, launched his famous Shabbat candle-lighting campaign to encourage every Jewish woman and girl to light Shabbat candles. As part of the campaign, the Lubavitch Women's Organization organized a series of radio ads encouraging women and girls to fulfill this mitzvah. Because federal law required that every ad contain a commercial aspect, the ads mentioned that if the listeners sent one dollar to the candlelighting division of the Lubavitch Women's Organization at 770 Eastern Parkway, they would be sent a special set of Shabbat candlesticks.

Thousands of these candlesticks were distributed. At times, people would err, and instead of addressing their letters to the Lubavitch Women's Organization, they would address them directly to the Rebbe (whose office is at that address).

On one occasion, a woman living on Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn wrote to ask for the Shabbat candlesticks. She, too, addressed her letter to the Rebbe. The Rebbe received the letter in the Friday mail. On Friday afternoon, he had his secretary, Rabbi Binyomin Klein, call Mrs. Esther Sternberg (who ran the Shabbat candle-lighting campaign) and ask her to see to it that this woman had the opportunity to light Shabbat candles that very Friday.

Mrs. Sternberg is not one to take a request from the Rebbe lightly. With 45 minutes left before the start of Shabbat (once Shabbat has begun, the Shabbat candles can no longer be lit), she tried to get the woman's phone number, but was told it was unlisted. Then, noting that the woman's address was not far away, she resolved to deliver the candlesticks personally. If the woman was not home, she would leave them with a neighbor.

Taking two of her daughters along, Mrs. Sternberg drove (flew!) to the woman's apartment. She rang the bell and knocked several times, but there was no answer. She tried several of the neighbors' apartments, but they too did not answer. Finally, a woman from an apartment down the hall replied that, yes, she knew the woman who had asked for the candlesticks. She was an elderly lady, said the neighbor, and hard of hearing. That's probably why she had not answered her bell; she hadn't heard it ringing.

And so Mrs. Sternberg, her two daughters, and the neighbor all knocked hard on the woman's door. Eventually, an elderly Jewish lady answered. She was grateful to see visitors, and even more grateful when she found that she would be able to light Shabbat candles that week.

Mrs. Sternberg was happy to give the woman the candlesticks, but couldn't help wondering: The woman seemed sincerely committed to the mitzvah; why then hadn't she lit candles before? "Don't you have candle holders of your own?" she asked.

"Of course I have Shabbat candles," the woman told Mrs. Sternberg, taking her into her kitchen and showing her a large silver candelabra on top of one of the cabinets. "But when my children moved me here," she explained, "they put my candelabra up there. Neither I nor any of my neighbors can reach it! That's why I haven't been able to light." (Apparently, this woman mistakenly thought that Shabbat candles need to be lit in a ritual candelabra.)

One of Mrs. Sternberg's daughters climbed up and brought down the woman's candlesticks. And Mrs. Sternberg was able to report to the Rebbe that the woman welcomed the Shabbat into her home by lighting candles in her own candelabra that very Friday.

From To Know and to Care by Rabbi Eliyahu and Malka Touger; published by Sichos In English
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Anonymous 07446 November 5, 2011

is it possible a man can light the shabbas candles you don't sound positive, rabbi....for how long, and is there a place in the torah that says that it can be done?.... Reply

Yisroel Cotlar Cary, NC October 31, 2011

Re: When there is not a women in the household to do this Mitzvah , a man certainly light the Shabbos Candles... Reply

DG 07446 October 29, 2011

the shabbat lighting of the candles..... is it possible for a man to light the shabbat candles?... Reply

Nina Oklahoma City, Oklahoma June 24, 2010

Elderly Woman Candle Lighting This woman was fulfilling the Mitzvot because she was acting in accordance with what she understood the law to demand. The technical aspects may have not been perfect--but her heart and mind were unwaveringly faithful to Torah because it proved to be written in her heart. How much greater must her joy have been to know that she, thus empowered and validated by the community, could proceed to fulfill the G-d given gift of this Mitzvot. 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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