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At what age should a girl start lighting Shabbat candles?

by Mrs. Shaina B. Lipskier

  

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Rabbi Menachem Schneersohn, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, strongly urged that girls start lighting Shabbat candles as soon as they can recite the blessing said before kindling the candles, which is usually around the third birthday. This is also the age when our Matriarch Rebecca began lighting candles.

The Rebbe pointed out that in pre-war Europe it was the norm amongst many communities for young girls to light Shabbat candles. It was only due to war, candle shortages, blackouts, etc. that this custom was discontinued. Thus young girls lighting candles is actually a return to an age-old beautiful custom.

The earlier a girl is taught the beauty of the light of Torah and Mitzvahs, the better off she will be
The earlier a girl is taught the beauty of the light of Torah and Mitzvahs, the better off she will be. While some may say that starting at this young age is not necessary, and others will argue that a woman should start lighting when she marries and starts her own home, nevertheless, an extra light never hurt anyone... The pressing need for extra lights is especially felt today; in a time when unfortunately all sorts of "dark" secular influences pervade society, many of which infiltrate the home as well.

Obviously a three year old girl cannot light Shabbat candles on her own. When a mother and young daughter light the candles, the mother should first assist her daughter with the lighting and then light her own candles.1

Footnotes

  • 1. There is a technical/halachic reason for the mother to light candles after her daughter: Once a woman has lit Shabbat candles she has already accepted upon herself the sanctity of Shabbat and is forbidden to handle matches or candles.

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COMMENTS

Candles

Posted by: Alice, Colorado Springs, Colorado on Jun 04, 2005

Where is the history or the written account of Rebecca lighting Shabbat candles? I don't find it in my Bible.

Thank you,

Editor's Comment

It's not explicitly stated in the Bible, rather, it's an oral tradition. (It's also based on the Torah's description of the events surrounding Isaac's marriage.)

See Rashi's commentary on Genesis 25:20 (http://www.chabad.org/parshah/rashi/default.asp?AID=9172).


RELATED CATEGORIES

Women & Judaism » Women's Mitzvot » Candle Lighting

Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Rebbe
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
Lubavitcher
One who follows the teachings of the Chassidic group which was formerly based in the Belarus village of Lubavitch. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York with branches worldwide. The Lubavitch movement is also widely known as "Chabad."
Rebecca
Second of the Jewish Matriarchs. Wife of the Patriarch Isaac, and father of Jacob. b. 1675 BCE, d. 1553 BCE.