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Ask the rabbi Shabbat and Holidays Candle Lighting

Candle Lighting

Rabbi David SperlingIyyar 12, 5772
324
Question
Why do we light the cadels and what dose it mean?
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Candle lighting in honour of Shabbat and Festivals has long been a central part of Jewish households. The Torah tells us to honour the Shabbat, and having light in one's house both brings honor to the Shabbat, and joy to those who partake of it. The main reason for the candles is to bring a sense of delight to the Shabbat meals. Eating in the dark is certainly no pleasure - and so the Rabbis instituted an obligation to light candles (before Shabbat starts, as lighting fire on the Shabbat itself is forbidden). Another reason is to make sure that no one trips and falls in a dark house on Shabbat - as not only lighting candles is forbidden on Shabbat, but also carrying them from place to place. So in order that the house have illumination within, one had to light candles before Shabbat started. Over the course of time, a special blessing was instituted for these candles, and women especially took on the task of lighting the candles. This is because they are more responsible for the "light" (both physical and spiritual) of the home. Even today, when we have electric lights - which should be turned on for Shabbat throughout the house so people can see their way - we still have the special and beautiful mitzvah (command) to light Shabbat candles. By ushering in the Shabbat with prayer and light, the Jewish woman brings in a holiness and calm that radiates throughout her home, and enlightens the hearts and souls of those who merit to spend Shabbat in her presence. May you be blessed with a Shabbat Shalom.
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