Shabbat Candles:

Shabbat Candles
Feminine Light

What:

Every mitzvah introduces light into the world. With certain mitzvot, the light we generate can actually be seen and appreciated. Lighting candles to usher in the Shabbat is one such mitzvah; the candles that lend a soft and peaceful atmosphere to the holy Day of Rest.

Who:

Shabbat candles are traditionally a woman’s mitzvah. The woman sets the tone of the household; it is her task and G‑d-given ability to ensure that light and harmony prevail in her home.

Put some money in a charity box before lighting the candlesGirls begin lighting Shabbat candles when they can recite the blessing (approx. three years of age).

A man should light the candles if no adult woman is present.

When:

Light the candles eighteen minutes before sunset. Click here for candle lighting times for any date and location.

How:

Young girls light before their mother.
Place the candles upon or near the Shabbat dinner table.
Put some money in a charity box before lighting the candles.
Until marriage, women and girls light one candle. Post-marriage, women light two candles. Some add an additional candle for each child. E.g., a woman with three children lights five candles.
The procedure:

1. Light the candles.

2. Extend your hands and draw them in a circular motion toward yourself and cover your eyes.

3. Say: 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 Ko-desh.
[Blessed are You, L-rd 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.]

4. Candle-lighting time is auspicious for private prayer. While your eyes are covered, take a moment to pray for whatever your heart desires.

Take a moment to pray for whatever your heart desires5. Uncover your eyes and greet your family: “Good Shabbos,” or “Shabbat Shalom.”

Technical notes:

Once a woman recites the blessing, she has ushered in the Shabbat. From that point on she may not engage in any activity that is forbidden on Shabbat.
The candles and candlesticks may not be moved until the conclusion of Shabbat.
Electric bulbs can be used as Shabbat candles where an open flame is not possible, such as in a hospital.

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