Shabbat Inspiration

 
Lighting the Shabbat Candles
Date Uploaded: 
Tuesday 14th September 2021

To welcome Shabbat, women traditionally light candles on behalf of the whole family and other present in the house. Originally, this candle lighting ceremony was designed to ensure that our houses would be filled with light, so that people would feel comfortable and peace would reign in our homes. The rabbis called this "Shalom Bayit" or "Peace in the Home". In modern times, although our homes are regularly filled with electric light, the candle lighting ceremony remains tremendously important for millions of Jewish women. It's a powerful moment of reflection and prayer ushering in the tranquillity of Shabbat.

Our rabbis understood that the tranquil environment that we create enhances the spiritual universe that we are trying to develop. So they suggested that Shabbat candles should be a top priority because of the harmony that they bring to the family and it is this peace which, they say, is the goal of all of Torah and Jewish living. 

Some have a lovely tradition of placing a few coins in a charity box before lighting the Shabbat candles and of making this a time for giving a small Shabbat treat to young children.

Some tips about lighting Shabbat Candles

  • The time for lighting candles is approximately twenty minutes before sunset (check the weekly times published by your local synagogue or find each week’s time at www.theus.org.uk for London. www.myzmanim.com allows you to search for candle-lighting times in locations around the globe).  In the summer since sunset is very late, most communities bring Shabbat in much earlier.
  • Usually, married women light two or more candles whilst some single women light just one candle. If no women are present, a man can light the Shabbat candles.
  • The candles should be lit in the room where the Friday night meal will be eaten.
  • After the candles are lit, the women cover their eyes and make the blessing.  Once they have made the blessing, they are ready to look up and enjoy the beauty of their candles.
  • To watch a video of how to light Shabbat candles, go to www.theus.org.uk/article/shabbat-candle-lighting. The text is in the Authorised Daily Prayer Book (the green siddur) on p. 254 .

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, The United Synagogue’s Israel Rabbi

This series of ‘Shabbat Inspiration’ from US Living & Learning aims to show what generations of Jews, and now much of the world, sees in our special day of rest, how we can benefit better from it individually and how we can expand and develop its role in our own communities