Posted by: Susan Gaddis | October 12, 2009

Candles as a Sabbath Tradition

105411_candles_1Did you ever wonder about the Jewish tradition of lighting candles on the Sabbath? It is a beautiful ritual that signals the beginning of the Sabbath.

Since a wife is the one who traditionally is the keeper of the heart of the home, it is usually she who lights the Sabbath candles on Sabbath eve. Sometimes a daughter will light the candles.

Often these are two candles representing the two biblical commands to keep the Sabbath, Exodus 20:8 and Deuteronomy 5:12. Some families light a candle for each child in the family or one for each day of the week.

The woman then covers her eyes and recites a blessing over the candles: Barukh  atah Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Sabbath. Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has made us holy through His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Sabbath light.

Although this is a lovely prayer, many Christians change it to, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has made us holy through Your Son, Jesus Christ, and it is He, Light of the World, that we celebrate this Sabbath eve.”

After the blessing, many women pray for their family. When the blessing and prayers are completed, the woman uncovers her eyes and looks at the lighted candles, symbolizing the anticipation of answered prayer.

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