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How do I light Shabbat Candles?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht


Library » Women & Judaism » Women's Mitzvot » Candle Lighting | Subscribe | What is RSS?


1. Get Ready

Shabbat candles can be made of anything that burns cleanly and (preferably) scent-free. Get them at your local supermarket, and ask the shelf guy for white wax candles in the box, or tea lights. Avoid the tall glass candles—they’ll burn all week. You’ll need candlesticks too (unless you went for the tea lights), and the nicer, the better—silver is ideal. Doing a Mitzvah elegantly is a Mitzvah too! Pretty glass candlesticks for a few bucks can usually be found over in the “home furnishings” section.

It is customary to give charity before lighting the candles. Light them eighteen minutes before sunset.
2. Light up

Friday afternoon, put the candlesticks on the dining room table–customarily, unmarried girls light one candle each, and for moms, see How many Shabbat-candles should I light?. Put the candles in. It is customary to give charity before lighting the candles. Light them eighteen minutes before sunset. Click here for exact candle lighting times for any location in the world.

3. Get spiritual

Here’s where the magic happens. With the candles lit, the Jewish woman goes Kabbalistic. After drawing her hands inward three times to internalize the Shabbat spirit, she then covers her face with her hands and says the blessing: 

Baruch atta Ado-noy Elo-hai-nu Melech ha'olam asher kid-sha-nu b'mitz-vo-tav v'tzi-vanu li-had-leek ner shel Shabbat Kodesh.

[Blessed are You Lord, our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the light of the Holy Shabbat].

Many women take an extra few moments at this holy occasion to recite a personal prayer.

Shabbat has arrived.1


  • 1. As soon as all the candles are lit, (even before the blessing) Shabbat has begun for the woman who has kindled them. Therefore: a) she may not extinguish the match she was using to light the candle. Instead, she should drop it on to the metal tray where the candles are standing, and allow it to go out itself. b) She may not move the match box from the table after she lights the candles. She may ask her husband, or anyone else who has not yet accepted the Shabbat, to remove the box, or she should ensure before she lights that the box is in a location where it can remain for the entire Shabbat.


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Shabbat » Candle Lighting

(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
(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.
(adj.) Pertaining to Kabbalah—Jewish mysticism.
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.