Saturday, 10 November 2018

SHABBAT CANDLE LIGHTING


Guest Post By: Yehudit Bat Yonathan


Kindling the Shabbat candle has been a very important religious ceremony and is associated with the ushering in of Shabbat since ancient times. In those days, the Shabbat lights were interpreted as commemorating the ancient custom of weekly refilling and rekindling the Menorah in the temple. But since the absence of the temple, the new generation says that the importance of the candle lights lies in the symbol of the joyful delight that fills the Jewish home on the Shabbat. 18 minutes before sunset all manner of work stops and the ushering in of the Shabbat begins.

 WHAT ARE THE NECESSARY REQUIREMENTS? 
  • A table which will be covered using a white cloth.
  • A candle stand.
  • Two candles.
These are needed by the females in the home. The candles are lit after reciting the blessing "Barukh atah Adonai elohenu melekh ha olam asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzvanu l'hadik ner shel-shabbat".

Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by thy commandments and commanded us to kindle the Shabbat lights. She does this by shielding her eyes with the palms of her hands.
 
WHAT DOES THE TWO SHABBAT CANDLES SIGNIFY? 

According to our sages, the Shabbat candles signifies peace and tranquility in the home. It is also said that the candles represents the husband and wife.

The Hebrew word " Ner" which means "candle" has the numerical value of 250, in other words two candles combined together will give the numerical value of 500.


According to the Talmud, there are 248 limbs and organs in a man's body while in a woman's body there are 252 which if combined together gives us a total of 500. Thus, the lighting of two candles represents the togetherness of the husband and wife which is the foundational reason behind the mitzvah ( law) of the Shabbat candles.
 
WHAT'S THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE SHABBAT AND FEMININITY?

 The mystical connection between Shabbat and femininity according to Kabbalah is the "lighting of the Shabbat candles".  It is said that she invites the Shabbat angels who are "the angels of peace" into her home for blessings of peace by offering prayers and lighting the Shabbat candles. With this, the moment she transcends into an awesome divine space of higher consciousness. She is now face to face with the creator.

In equal vein, the Shabbat is referred to as "The Beloved, the Queen and the Bride". It's a day in which the fundamental essence of creation takes a total different form.

WHY IS THE LADY OF THE HOUSE CHOSEN TO PERFORM THIS UNIQUE MITZVAH?

The Shabbat is referred to as the divine attribute of kingship. On a kabalistic level, it is the receptacle of divine sustenance which flows from the higher attribute of kingship into the physical world. She was chosen because of her inherent physical nature that receives first and forms the embryo. This possibility can be related to the divine attribute of kingship wherein the Shabbat is intrinsically female because of her ability in giving nature of the previous six days of the week. 

Due to the receiving nature of the Shabbat and the biological receiving nature of women "Conception", the Shabbat corresponds to the disposition of women in general.


WHAT FACTOR DOES THE ZOHAR REVEAL? 

According to the Zohar, the woman is chosen specifically to light the Shabbat candles because if her sin in the Garden of Eden. Where she unwillingly expelled much of the divine light from world ( Zohar 1:48b).  Because of this, the creator obliged her to light the Shabbat candles as a duty in order to restore what was lost. 


WHAT'S THE ESSENCE OF THAT ONE TRUE PRAYER BEFORE LIGHTING THE SHABBAT CANDLES? 


The blessing we recite " Barukh atah Adonai ( Blessed are you Adonai) Asher kid'shanu ( who has sanctified us with his commandments.....) It might interest us to know that the word "kid'shanu” comes from "kiddushin" which is related to marriage. In essence, this means that whenever we recite the blessing we bind ourselves to the creator just like the case of a wife and her husband. 


To draw the curtain, our first thought as humans is the pure spiritual element which follows our lighting of the Shabbat candles. This degree of our physical enjoyment during the rest of Shabbat goes hand in hand with our spiritual concentration there in bringing peace and tranquility in the home.
 
Shalom!
Yehudit Bat Yonathan
Rock Of Ages Synagogue, Asaba, Delta State, South-Eastern Nigeria

 

6 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Thanks for this wonderful write-up, Yehudit.
    But would like to know if men would be permitted to light the candles in situations where there are no women in the house

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  3. Great post.. Keep the work going, shabbath shalom

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the warm support and encouragement. May you be favored by the Holy One of Israel, Blessed is He!

      Delete

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