Candle Lighting Times

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Blessings and Instructions for Shabbat Candles

Lighting Shabbat candles on Friday as evening approaches delineates the beginning of Shabbat. Tradition teaches us that we are partners with God.  Candle lighting is a sacred deed which allows us to symbolically participate in the act of creation: "Let there be light."  Traditionally, two candles are lit, representing the two times that the fourth Commandment is cited in the Torah: "Remember – Zachor" (Ex. 20:8)/Observe – Shamor" (Dt. 5:12) the Sabbath Day."

Shabbat candles serve at least two purposes: (shalom bayit -- harmony in the home), for they provide light and a "candle light" atmosphere for the Friday night meal, and ( oneg Shabbat -- the joy of Shabbat), as they symbolize the light and gladness that Shabbat provides for us.  In order to fulfill both purposes, the candles should be lit at the place where the meal will be eaten.

To prepare for candle lighting, look up the correct candle-lighting time above, or obtain a calendar with Jewish information from a local organization.  Candles are lit between a half hour and 15 minutes before sunset with many authorities holding that the proper time is at least 18 minutes before.  Choose a place for the candles to stay throughout Shabbat.  Set your candles in the candlesticks and have a match and matchbook set beside them.  Finally, at candle-lighting time, assemble the family.

The order for lighting candles at the beginning of Shabbat is unique.  Normally a brakhah is said immediately before doing a mitzvah, fulfilling a commandment, and the mitzvah follows without interruption after the brakhah.  Since Shabbat starts once we say the brakhah, we cannot light the candles after saying the brakhah.  We solve this problem by performing this mitzvah in the following order:

  • 1. Light the Shabbat candles.  Every Jew is obligated to light candles; when both man and woman are present, traditionally the woman has lit them for all who are present because this is one of the mitzvot traditionally assigned to women.
  • 2. Many follow the custom of drawing their hands to their faces three times in a circular motion, beckoning Shabbat to enter.
  • 3. After the third circle, the person saying the brakhah closes her/his eyes and/or shields the eyes with the hands and says the brakhah.

Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Shabbat.

Praised are You, Adonai our God, Who rules the universe, instilling in us the holiness of mitzvot by commanding us to kindle the light of Shabbat.

  • 4. After the brakhah, the eyes are uncovered, and the person who has made the brakhah then looks at what are now the lit Shabbat candles for the first time.  Personal prayers of thanks may be silently added after the brakhah.  It is customary for everyone to wish each other "Shabbat Shalom."

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