Lighting Shabbos Candles - Shedding Light in Darkness

This post is dedicated in memory of Etya Sarah bat Yitzchak ha-Levi. May it be an aliyah                                                               for her neshama.
-By Elisheva Maline

When I consider the mitzvot (commandments) that women are given in the Torah, the first that comes to mind is usually the shabbos candles. Even though, according to halacha (Jewish law), lighting candles is something both men and women can do, it is a commandment that applies specifically to women. Why? Men and women are born with the same purpose: to shed light in dark places. However, they reach this goal by via separate routes. Men have a natural bent for the physical, therefore, their part is played through the learning of Torah - a wholly spiritual matter. Since women are spiritual creatures, they are brought down to earth through raising families and running their homes. Every act brings us closer to fulfilling our roles as men and women; we are bringing light and harmony into the world.

Sara Imainu (Sarah our fore mother) is called the mother of klal yisael (the Jews) and serves as the paradigm for righteous Jewish women. During her lifetime one were certain: that her shabbos candles remained lit from shabbos to shabbos. By what merit did Sarah's candles stay lit for such a miraculous amount of time? 

They represented our fore mother's ability to carry the light of shabbos into the week. During the week man toils to make his bread (income). He doesn't have much time to think, let alone remember that there is G-d. Therefore, during the week, the world is a little darker: Hashem is hidden from us. Sarah was so powerful, that just through lighting her shabbos candles she was able to light up the world with this truth, even during the week! 

It is said, "A little light pushes away a lot of darkness."  One mitzva is like a candle. We spark a spiritual light when we do mitzvot: such as giving charity, visiting the sick, inviting guests, or honoring our parents. Each mitzva is a candle and leaves us with the pleasant taste of kedusha (elevation) in our mouthes.

There is a special procedure given by Chabad on how to light the candles erev shabbos (Friday afternoon). The time during which one lights candles is known for being an auspicious time to daven (pray) to Hashem for one's desires. Try to keep it at one wish. Also, the mitzva should be done with lots of joy and positive thinking. 

Candle Lighting Procedure: check the calender to make sure you are lighting at the correct time. After you are finished getting into your shabbos finery, there is a custom to drop a few coins in a tzidakah (charity) box. This helps one remember what one is living for: to shed light in this world by doing mitzvot. Then, light the candles, extend and wave your hands in an inward, circular motion, three times over the flames. Cover your eyes and make the bracha (blessing):
 בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אַדֹנָ-י אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל שַׁבָּת קֹדֶשׁ
Transliteration: Baruch a-ta A-do-nay Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam a-sher ki-di-sha-nu bi-mitz-vo-tav vi-tzi-va-noo li-had-leek ner shel Sha-bat ko-desh.
Translation: 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.
After making the bracha and while your eyes are still covered, ask Hashem to send the messiah and rebuild the Temple. It is also an important time to make a personal wish: make one. Say some tehillim (psalms), whichever you prefer. Next, while having all your other wishes in mind, think, "May Your kindness, Hashem, be upon us, just as we awaited You" (Psalm 33:22). Take time to daven for people who could use a prayer. Finally, open your eyes and gaze at the candles. Turn to your family and wish them a hearty "Good Shabbos!" while imagining your personal wish coming true

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