Welcoming the Jewish Sabbath Into the Home - Lighting the Shabbat Candlesticks
â€œThe Sabbath is a Queen whose coming changes even the humblest home into a palace.â€ Talmud, Shabbat 199a
Jews welcome the Sabbath into their homes by lighting traditional Shabbat candles. Shabbat candlesticks add beauty and personalization to this sacred ritual, and make appropriate and meaningful wedding, housewarming, and special occasion gifts.
The Tradition of Lighting the Shabbat Candles
Shabbat candles are lit 18 minutes before sunset each Friday. This practice began for practical reasons, but continues to be observed today: the candles provide both a literal light and a metaphorical light for the home. Originally, the candles were lit 18 minutes before sundown to ensure that they would be burning by the beginning of Shabbat, since kindling a fire is forbidden on the Jewish Sabbath. Since candles can be lit in a matter of seconds with our modern conveniences, the 18 minutes is now used as a peaceful, meditative transition from the weekdays to the sanctity of the Jewish Sabbath.
Rituals of Lighting the Shabbat Candlesticks
It is customary to light two Shabbat candles, however, some families prefer to light additional candles for their children. The candles, traditionally lit by women, provided the necessary illumination for the Jewish home at the time the ritual began. The Torah also describes two manners of honoring Shabbat: â€œRemember the Sabbath Dayâ€ (Exodus 20:8); â€œObserve the Sabbath Dayâ€ (Deuteronomy 5:12). Many Jews light one candle to â€œrememberâ€, and the other to â€œobserve.â€
The candles are lit, and the woman welcomes the light of the Sabbath into her home by waiving her hands over the flames. Then, she covers her eyes and a blessing is recited: Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam asher kidishanu b'mitz'votav v'tzivanu l'had'lik neir shel Shabbat. (Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the lights of Shabbat.)
Shabbat Candlesticks â€“ A Focal Point of the Shabbat Table
The Shabbat candlesticks are an important element of the Shabbat table. Customarily, the table is set with fine linens and tableware. Shabbat candlesticks, whether elegant, chic, modern, or traditional, often serve as a focal point of the table. Shabbat candlesticks are a timeless gift that families will cherish for generations.
If you enjoyed this article about Shabbat Candlesticks, you may also be interested in:
- The Shema Israel
- The Kiddush Cup
- Meaning of the Yarmulke
- Symbolism of the Tallit
- See our collection of handmade Shabbat candlesticks