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How many Shabbat-candles should I light?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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Strictly speaking, it is sufficient to light one candle for the household.

However the prevailing custom us to light (at least) two candles. The commandment to keep Shabbat is mentioned twice in the Torah; once in Parshat Yitro,1 where we are told to "remember" the day of Shabbat, and a second time in Parshat Vaetchanan,2 where we are further instructed to "keep" it holy. Therefore, we light two candles, one to represent each term.

We are told to "remember" the day of Shabbat, and a second time to "keep" it holy. Therefore, we light two candles, one to represent each term
"The candle of G-d is the soul of Man."3 Because every Jewish soul brings the light of G-dliness into the world, there are those who observe the custom of lighting an additional candle upon the birth of each child. Thus a woman with three children would light five candles.4

An unmarried girl should light one candle. [A woman who is divorced or widowed should continue lighting the same amount of candles as when she was married.] 

Footnotes

  • 1. Exodus 20:8.
  • 2. Deuteronomy 5:12.
  • 3. Proverbs 20:27.
  • 4. In certain families/communities it is customary for all married woman to light a certain number of candles--seven, ten, etc. Be sure to ascertain your family/communty tradition!

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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.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.