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Secrets from Shabbat Candles

Updated: Jul 4, 2022


It’s become a well-established custom for women to kindle candles to

usher in the holy and awesome day of Shabbat. Even not so religious women do it

as many learn from a very young age to separate Shabbat from the other days of

the week. This is embedded in almost every Jewish home.

The Halachot (laws) are very simple, 20 minutes (or earlier) than sunset,

women are enjoined to light a minimum of 2 candles and say “Blessed are you

God, Lord, master of the universe that has sanctified us and commanded us to

light Shabbat candles”. Once that happens Shabbat officially starts for the woman

lighting.



Many have the custom to light the candles even before as a way of

extending Shabbat time, and this is a well-known segulah to increase blessings in

the home (and have children that are Torah scholars), as the sanctity of the

Shabbat spills out to the mundane days of the week.

Yet, we know that nothing is a simple as it seems, and there are many

Kabbalistic secrets we can learn from this simple Mitzvah.


Rectifying Blood-Spilling

We spoke before how each of the 3 Mitzvot women are commanded come

to rectify one particular sin. Lighting Shabbat candles comes to rectify the sin of

spilling blood, since death existed only in potential before Adam and Chava ate

from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The soul is called Hashem’s candle,

as we find in the verse נר ה״ נשמת אדם חופש כל חדרי בטן .


This verse reads “the soul of man is a candle to Hashem [used to] search all

inner chambers”, which means that with the soul, Hashem understands a person

innermost feelings and thoughts. While this soul was diminished due to the

primordial sin, it is slowly rectified with the kindling of Shabbat candles.

Moreover, there are 39 types of forbidden work on Shabbat, which correspond to

39 curses Creation received (10 for men, 10 for women, 10 for the snake and 9 for

the earth). When we observe Shabbat, we are literally annulling these curses from

Creation.


Rebuilding the Temple at Home

In the Zohar, we find many allusions to the two candles. One is that they

each represent one aspect of the Mitzvot, namely, one candle for “Shamor”

(safeguard, the feminine aspect) and another candle for “Zachor” (remembrance,

the masculine aspect). Another is that the candles symbolize the holy Menorah

from the Temple, which is the source of all wisdom.

The Zohar also teaches us that there are 4 main rectifications of the

Shekhina (the immanent, feminine aspect of Hashem’s providence). They are

alluded to in the episode when Elisha the prophet is hosted at the house of the

Shunamite woman, who was so holy she could gaze at his face and not die.

Paralleling the spiritual worlds, she set up a bed, a candelabra, a table and a chair

for her esteemed guest. These items are also present in the Holy Temple in the

form of the Holy Ark with Cherubim, the Menorah, the Golden Table of the

Showbread and the Golden Incense Altar, all of which were inside the Heichal (the

Inner Chamber building). For this reason, just like the Menorah was lit with olive

oil, so too, ideally, should Shabbat candles be lit with olive oil.


As we’ve talked the power and importance of women in Judaism, it should

then be no wonder why all the rectifications for the Shekhina happens through

women. With our holy work, we can literally turn the home into a Temple

wherein the Shekhina abides and blesses us.


Other customs

Halacha teaches us that the candles must be lit where the meals take

places so we can enjoy the lights. This is because they themselves irradiate peace

in the home, and they naturally bring joy. But, as we saw above, it’s also to unite

all the rectifications of the Shekhina together.

There’s a special meditation from the writings of the Arizal which draw

down the holiness and light of the candles to the home. It’s as follows: The

Hebrew word for candle is נר which has numerical value of 250, and is also the

first letter of the first 2 parts of the soul, Nefesh (נפש) and Ruach (רוח). 250 is the

union and sweetening of 3 of Hashem’s main names (אהיה – אלוהים – אדוני) with

3 times the supreme name יהוה. This yields for us:

איההיוהה

אילההויהם

אידהנויה

Notice how, in order to affect a union in the spiritual words and sweetening

of these names, we weave these 6 names together, which yield the numerical

value of 250 (candle). This meditation can be done both by the woman lighting

the candles as well as the man before doing Kiddush, while looking at the holy

candles.


May we merit to bring all the blessings from the Torah and turn our homes into a true Temple of Hashem!


Learn how to light Shabbat Candles


This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!

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