Jewish Guide to Shabbat / Candle Lighting
Shabbat or Shabbos is the Jewish day of rest & spiritual enrichment and is also a Jewish holiday that occurs once a week, not once a year like other holidays mentioned in the Jewish Guide.
Shabbat begins at sunset on Friday evening and ends at sunset on Saturday evening.
For those that observe Shabbat, it's a day of great joy and peace. One should refrain the day from creative work activities or melacha and engage in restful activities such as reading.
Melacha is any act which represents the ability to put our intellect to work such as turning on a light switch. Melacha is prohibited in the Torah. Refraining from any creative act on Shabbat makes us recognize G-d as the ultimate creator.
Traditionally, three meals are eaten: Friday evening, Saturday morning and Saturday evening. At the first meal, a prayer is recited over two loaves of bread or challah.
Many Jews attend synagogue on Shabbat. Services are held on Shabbat eve, Shabbat morning and in the evening again.
Candle Lighting play an important role in observing Shabbat. As the work week comes to an end, and sun is about to set, the light of a candle illuminates the darkness and the holiness and tranquility of Shabbat is ushered in. Shortly before the sun sets, the candles are lit, mainly by women and girls. The origin of a woman lighting a candle dates back to ancient times. The first person to ever light candles on Shabbat was Sarah, Abraham's wife. According to Jewish belief, Sarah would light the candles on Shabbat and it would miraculously burn from one Friday to the next.
Until marriage, women and girls can only light one candle. After marriage, a woman can light at least two candles. If there are no females present at home, a male can light the candle. A candle can be lit as early as eighteen minutes before sunset, but under no circumstances after sunset.
Candle Lighting Procedure
While dressed in your Shabbat clothing, place several coins in a charity box.
Light the candles. Do not extinguish the match, instead let it burn out by itself on a safe surface
Extend your hands over the candles, draw them inwards three times in a circular motion, and then cover your eyes
Say a blessing:
Baruch a-ta A-do-nay Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam a-sher ki-dee-sha-nu bi-mitz-vo-tav vi-tzi-va-noo li-had-leek ner shel Sha-bat Ko-desh.
Translation: Blessed are you, Lord 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.
This is a good time to pray for your desires and wishes, while your eyes are still covered. Take this time also to pray for others who need blessings and good health.
Uncover your eyes, stare at the candles, and then greet everyone with blessings of a good Shabbat (Shabbat Shalom).
With the lighting of the candles, Shabbat has commenced.