Lighting Shabbat Candles

Question

Dear Rabbi, why do we light candles before the Shabbat? Thanks!

3 months

Answers

  1. We light the candles before Shabbat begins because it is forbidden to kindle a light on Shabbat. Therefore, candles are lit prior to Shabbat, and they are lit so that there should be plenty of light to fill the home. Who likes to eat in the dark?!

    One of the reasons that we light a minimum of two candles is to represent the two different ways that the mitzvah to keep Shabbat is transmitted in the Torah. The first time, we are instructed to “remember” the Shabbat, and the second time to “guard” it. Each candle is symbolic of these two ideas.

    Remembering the Shabbat includes, for example, cleaning up and preparing special food and clothing for Shabbat. And making Kiddush at the beginning of the day to “remember: that it is now a holy day. Guarding the Shabbat means not to do any activity that is forbidden on Shabbat.

    There is a beautiful custom that many people practice, which is to light an additional candle for every child in the family. The flame of a candle is compared to a soul of a person, and just as a flame is never completely still, so too does the human soul continuously strive to “reach up” to God. However, one of the repercussions of the sin of Adam and Eve is that death was introduced in to the world. By lighting Shabbat candles, we are symbolically reintroducing life in to the world, because Shabbat brings with it an “extra soul” — called the neshama yeteira — for those that keep this holy day.

    Shabbat Shalom — with much physical and spiritual light!

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team