SHABBAT CANDLE LIGHTING

By Messianic Rabbi Eric Carlson

Every Erev Shabbat (Friday evening) Jewish women around the world begin the centuries old traditional mitzvot (command) of lighting the Shabbat candles. Lighting the Shabbat candles is an eternal bond bestowed upon Jewish women linking us to thousands of years of heritage and tradition that defines Jewish and Biblical life! These holy flames are our link to the future generations. The Shabbat candles are traditionally lit 18 minutes before sunset, in the same room that the Shabbat meal is to be eaten showing that the lights are to honor Shabbat

God tells us light is ‘tov’, good! (Genesis,1:4), “And God saw that the light was good (tov).” Torah is likened to light, to the verb "tov". Women are called by the same verb "tov".

The world we live in today is tumultuous and filled with tribulation as well as spiritually challenging. Lighting of the Shabbat candles every Erev Shabbat (Friday evening) is more important than ever as a testimony to the power and love of God! The flickering flame is a reflection of the divine spark within each of us. It is a focal point for the family, united in Shalom, to gather around the "light", to pray together, to spend time together, to pause and share the Shabbat meal together, united in Yeshua!

The Shabbat Candles are traditionally lit by the women because it was a woman who removed the light from the world (Eve) and it was a woman who returned the light to the world (Miriam (Mary) who gave birth to Yeshua). The wife (woman) is the keeper of the light for her entire family and holds the honor of lighting the candles. Her daughters should be taught how to light the candles at the earliest age possible and they should share the responsibility of lighting the candles. Single men and women who live alone assume the mitzvot (command) of lighting the candles. There should always be at least two candles but may be more. Increasing the number of candles increases the blessing. There may be more candles such as lighting a menorah on Feast Days but never less then two. Both candles have a symbolic meaning. The first candle represents Creation "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...And God said, 'Let there be light' and there was light." -- Genesis 1:1,3. The second candle represents Redemption, Yeshua said, "I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12. Traditionally, the woman covers her head with a scarf while lighting the candles as a reminder that God is over her and she is submissive to Him. A second, smaller set of candles may be simultaneously lit by her daughter, as she learns from her mother. The woman lights the candles one at a time then closes her eyes (so she does not enjoy the light before blessing it). She will then spread her hands out around the candles, drawing her hands inward in a circular motion three times. In traditional Judaism the three times represents and is symbolic of life, liberty, and happiness. In Messianic Judaism it represents and is symbolic of HaShem, Yeshua, and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). She will then cover her eyes and recite one of the following blessings:

CANDLE LIGHTING BLESSINGS

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1. Baruch atah Adonai Eloheynu melech ha-olam, asher kid-shanu b'mitz-
votav, v'tzinvanu l'hadlik neyr shel Shabbat
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe who has set us
apart by Your commandments and has enjoined upon us the kindling of the Sabbath light.

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2. Baruch atah Ad-nai Elohenu melekh ha-olam, asher kidshanu b'id v'rekha vna-tahn la-noo 
et Yeshua m'she-chay-noo, v'tzee-va-noo l'he-oat oar la-oh-lahm. Ah-main. 
Blessed are You or Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us in Your Word, and 
given us Yeshua our Messiah, and commanded us to be light to the world. Amen.

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Shalom!