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What are Shabbat Candles?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht


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


A. Shabbat brings light into your universe: the rat race, the bills, the Weird Wired World—for 24 hours, it’s gone. You escape. Your soul emerges. Moms and dads and kids come closer together. And the portal to this beacon of light is the Shabbat Candles.

B. Just before sunset every Friday afternoon millions of Jews around the world usher in the Shabbat by lighting Shabbat candles. The very first Jewish woman, our Matriarch Sarah, lit Shabbat Candles.1 Throughout history Shabbat Candles were the first sign of Shabbat light at the end of the work-week tunnel. 

C. Shabbat is the original mom thing. That’s why the Shabbat candles are a woman’s Mitzvah2 —because Shabbat nurtures the family, like a mother nurtures her children. Young girls join their moms and start lighting Shabbat candles of their own as soon as they can recite the blessing, which is usually some time around (or on) their third birthday.

See How do I light Shabbat candles?


  • 1. Rashi on Genesis 24:67
  • 2. In a home where no woman is present, men light the Shabbat candles.


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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.
First Jewess, first of the four Jewish Matriarchs, wife of Abraham--the first Jew. Lived in Mesopotamia, and then Canaan, in the 19th century BCE.