"Let There Be Light"
The Jewish Women's Guide To Lighting Shabbat Candles
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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12
Click here, to see pictures of the Rebbe
We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
In this week's issue, we focus on one of the Rebbe's Mitzvah Campaigns, the laws of Shabbat Candle Lighting (which is one of the three special mitzvot for Jewish Women).(1)
Therefore, we present here "Let There Be Light - The Jewish Women's Guide To Lighting Shabbat Candles," and other related material about Shabbat Candle Lighting.
The Jewish year that has just begun is the year 5758 since Creation. The Hebrew letters are Hei-Taf-Shin-Nun-Ches. Over a decade ago, in the year 5742, the Rebbe stated that the Hebrew letters for that year were an acronym for "This should be the year of the coming of Moshiach."
Since that time, the Rebbe has publicized a phrase describing the year according to the acronym of its Hebrew letters. This year has been designated by the Rebbe's followers as "Hoyo Tihei Shnas Niflaos Cheiruseinu" meaning "It surely will be a year of wondrous miracles liberating us (from the material and spiritual problems of our exile)."
It is our fervent hope that our learning about Moshiach and the Redemption will hasten the coming of Moshiach, NOW!
Rabbi Yosef Y. Shagalov,
Committee for the Blind
11 Cheshvan, 5758
Brooklyn, New York
1. The other two are Kashrut and family purity. (Which will be discussed, G-d willing, in a future issue).
Parshat Chayei Sarah
This week's Torah portion, Chayei Sarah, contains an account of the first marriage mentioned in the Torah. This marriage, between Isaac and Rivkah, affected and is a lesson for the Jewish people as a whole, and indeed the future of the entire nation which was to follow.
In a spiritual sense, this union between the two progenitors of the Jewish nation, symbolizes the relationship between the two components of each individual--the body and the soul. Rivkah was from Charan, a place which was primarily materialistic. Isaac, on the other hand, symbolizes the spiritual dimension, as he had already been consecrated as a "perfect offering" by his willingness to be sacrificed upon the altar. Their marriage epitomized the unity between these two contradictory concepts.
A Jew's soul, even when enclothed in a physical body, is totally at one with G-d, for it is "an actual part of G-d." The mission for which it is sent down into this corporeal world is to bring about a change in the material realm, elevating physical objects by performing mitzvot. This unity of the spiritual and the physical is achieved when the light of the soul is reflected within the body, and the body becomes nullified to the demands of the soul.
Ultimately, the unity achieved between body and soul should extend to the point that it is obvious that all of a person's activities are performed by both in tandem. Afterwards, this unity should be extended into the world at large, so as to encompass every dimension of existence in the entire world.
In this manner, the Jew acts as G-d's emissary, transforming the world into a dwelling place for G-dliness. Thus, the Jew becomes an extension of G-dliness, in the same way that an emissary shares a single purpose and a single identity with the one who sent him on his mission.
The ultimate goal of this unity between the spiritual and the physical is the Era of Redemption, when this unity will be open and apparent. Our task as Jews is to hasten this process by doing mitzvot and studying Torah, for it was the giving of the Torah which allowed for the possibility of such unity. Prior to the Torah's revelation on Mount Sinai, spirituality and physicality, body and soul, were two distinct entities which could not merge. When Moshiach comes, speedily in our day, the unity achieved through our Torah service will be revealed in the world at large, and the union between body and soul will be consummated.
As the children of Isaac and Rivkah, every dimension of our existence should therefore be permeated by the awareness of this Divine mission, to make this world a proper dwelling place for G-d.
The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of Lubavitch, issued a call that "The time of our Redemption has arrived!" and "Moshiach is on his way!"
The Rebbe stressed that he is saying this as a prophecy, and asks us all to prepare ourselves for the Redemption, through increasing acts of goodness and kindness.
Let us all heed the Rebbe's call.
The following true story is adapted from a talk given by the Rebbe during the fall of 1976.
The little Israeli girl was only five years old. One day, in school, a visitor from Chabad told her class about lighting Shabbat candles. Although she and her classmates were far below the age of bat mitzvah, declared the young woman, they could nonetheless participate in this mitzvah.
When the little girl came home that Friday, and excitedly told her mother about her new discovery, her mother replied that she knew nothing about this whole business (she had received no Jewish education whatsoever). "Did you ever hear of such a thing!" exclaimed the mother angrily. "A little girl should want to do things that her own mother doesn't do, and bring new ideas into the house!"
But we all know what young children are like. The little girl started to cry and she pleaded with her mother. "I'm not asking you to do anything. All I'm asking is that you should let me do it. I have a candle-holder; they gave me one in school. I know the blessing; they also gave me a paper with the instructions on when and how to light the candle. Please let me light it!"
Mother gave in. "All right, do whatever you want. But stop crying, and leave me in peace."
Our little girl was overjoyed. She put the candle on the dining room table, lit it herself, made the blessing, and was in seventh heaven! She went around from one member of the family to the other, warning each one of them in her childish but serious way, that no one should touch her candle or blow it out.
When mother and father saw that it wasn't so terrible after all, they let her light the candle the next Friday without any fuss. The little girl again lit it with the same delight and enthusiasm as the first week, and her infectious joy spread to the rest of the family.
A few weeks went by. One Friday the father said that "it just somehow didn't seem right" to have the television on with the little one walking around the house singing Shabbat songs, and with the candle burning on the table. While the candle was lit, he could not bring himself to turn on the television. Some time later the telephone rang and mother did not answer it, because the candle was still lit.
Weeks later mother surveyed the Friday night scene and decided that something was wrong. How strange it looked to see just the single candle burning on the table, to see her little daughter full of joy and telling everyone that it was a holy day, etc., while she, the mother, was busy as if it were just an ordinary day. "It just doesn't seem right! I'm going to start lighting candles, too!" Once she started lighting candles, she could not bring herself to turn on the oven. "After all, I have just declared in the blessing that it is the Holy Shabbat; how can I now go ahead with making supper--and turn the oven on or off in violation of the Sabbath?"
No one likes cold food; so mother started to make "cholent" (the traditional Shabbat stew allowed to cook from Friday afternoon until Shabbat afternoon) for the midday meal. Naturally, the whole "cholent" procedure affected the way they did things and the meals they ate the next day, too.
Later, mother decided that since she was now lighting candles, she would dress up in honor of the Friday night atmosphere.
And so it went on. From one thing to another. From one aspect of Shabbat to another. From one small candle lit by one little girl following a scene and tears; to refraining from doing work while the candle was still burning; to the mother's beginning to light Shabbat candles; from there to the wearing of nicer clothes in honor of Shabbat; and on to refraining from all types of work prohibited on Shabbat.
Eventually the entire family and household became transformed. This family has now returned completely to their tradition and heritage. All, because of the light of one Shabbat candle!
The Jewish Women's Guide To Lighting Shabbat Candles(2)
LIGHT IS BORN . . . DARKNESS RECEDES
Peace descends on the Jewish home every Shabbat.
The news of the day may tell of murder and mayhem, politics and pollution, disease and disaster - indeed the global catalogue of human misery. For ours is a threatening world. One in which the Jewish spirit is under constant assault by hypocrisy, injustice and rampant immorality.
But there is a divine spark in each of us. And so, there is hope. For light is a compelling force that will always triumph over darkness.
Fire touches wick. Flame reaches upward. Another home is bathed in peace and holiness, in warmth and unity.
A Jewish woman has invited the Shabbat Queen into her home. The darkness of the day's headlines recedes, exiled by the peaceful glow of candles.
It is truly a gift from on high.
All that is good, all that is holy is symbolized - indeed realized - in the flickering light of the Shabbat candles:
Dedication to G-d, Torah and Mitzvot.
Triumph of good.
Unending hope and faith in ultimate good.
* * *
Tradition recounts the miracle of our Matriarch Sarah, whose Shabbat candles burned from Friday eve to Friday eve.
Our sages tell of our Matriarch Rivkah, who lit Shabbat candles from the tender age of three.
Two millennia ago, the Holy Zohar declared that a woman kindling her Shabbat candles with joy in her heart brings peace on earth, long life to her loved ones, and is blessed with children who illuminate our world with Torah.
And in our generation, the Rebbe said: "Let every woman - young girls included - add her holy light to illuminate the world shrouded in darkness and confusion."
* * *
Lighting Shabbat candles is the historic responsibility of every Jewish wife and mother. But in our times their light is not enough . . .
Today we also need the holy flame of every Jewish girl in order to keep the forces of darkness at bay.
These are times when children look beyond home and hearth, in quest of their own identity and the desire to create a meaningful life for themselves.
Let them hold a candle all their own . . . Let them kindle a flame of their own . . . Let them bring their aspirations in sync with the divine warmth of the Shabbat light.
Jewish Girls! Your mothers need you. Your people need you. Your future as Jewish women cries out for you to enter its service now.
Jewish Mothers! As soon as your daughter is old enough to recite the blessing, teach her to kindle her own Shabbat candle. Because darkness is all around us, and only you have the power to drive it away.
2. Adapted from the brochure published by: The Lubavitch Women's Candle Lighting Campaign.
A married woman customarily lights two candles and may add an additional one for each of her children. Single women light one candle.
As soon as a young girl can grasp the idea of Shabbat and can recite the blessing (approximately 3 years old) her mother should provide her with a candlestick and teach her to kindle the Shabbat lights.
The child should light before her mother in case she needs assistance.
It is customary to put a few coins in a 'pushka' (charity box) before lighting candles.
The correct time to light the Shabbat candles is 18 minutes before sunset every Friday. Young girls should light just prior to this time.
See Below Laws of Shabbat Candle Lighting for the Blind
Just as candles are lit in honor of Shabbat, so are they lit in honor of the festivals.
Various blessings are recited on the different festivals. (See our "Festival/Holiday Guides" published before every Festival/Holiday, for the proper blessings).
NOTE: When lighting after the onset of a festival, a preexisting flame must be used to light the candles, as it is prohibited to create a new fire by striking a match or lighter, etc. However, it is permissible to use, or transfer live, from a flame burning continuously since the onset of the festival - such as a pilot light, gas or candle flame.
See Below Shabbat Candle Lighting Blessing
Eight plus ten plus five is 23. Add to that 40, 6, 300, 100 and 1 and you have the number 470. But 470 isn't just the sum of a random set of numbers. In Hebrew, each letter has a numerical value. And the numbers listed above are the numerical values of the Hebrew letters that spell the name of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, the Rebbe's wife.
One of the very first activities initiated in memory of the Rebbetzin was "Project 470," a division of the Lubavitch Women's Organization Candle Lighting Campaign. Esther Sternberg, coordinator of the campaign since its inception at the Rebbe's behest in 1974, tells about the background of Project 470. "We had scheduled our annual fund-raising event for the 26th of Shevat that year (5748/1988). We sent the invitation to the Rebbe and received the Rebbe's blessing. When the Rebbetzin passed away just days before the event, which meant that it would take place during the shivah (the week of mourning), we thought to postpone it. But, as we had already received the Rebbe's blessing we decided to go ahead.
"At the evening itself," remembers Mrs. Sternberg, "we announced that we were establishing a special fund in the Rebbetzin's memory that would be devoted exclusively to publicizing, through newspaper and radio ads, the special mitzvah of Shabbat candles."
At that point, the project did not yet have a name. It was through a comment made by the Rebbe that this far-reaching project received its name. Explains Mrs. Sternberg, "Right after the Rebbe got up from shivah, we were told that the Rebbe wanted to see my father (Rabbi Shneur Zalman Gurary, shlita) and me. My father and I were both with the Rebbetzin in her last moments, and we thought that maybe the Rebbe wanted to ask us some questions. When we arrived in the Rebbe's office he was holding the invitation to our evening. Someone had informed the Rebbe about the fund. The Rebbe wanted to give $470 'al shem hanifteres'--in the name of the departed--and another dollar that the project should be a success."
Animatedly, Mrs. Sternberg describes the rest of the audience with the Rebbe: "The Rebbe gave many, many blessings for the Candle Lighting Campaign and said that anyone who inspires others to light Shabbat candles, as well as those who begin to light Shabbat candles, 'yair mazalon'--their fortune will shine. The Rebbe showered blessings on anyone who would be involved."
The main undertaking of Project 470 has been a classified ad on the front page of the New York Times every Friday, reminding Jewish women and girls to light Shabbat candles. The ad includes the correct time for candle lighting that week in New York City as well as the computerized telephone system (718-774-3000) that gives the candle lighting time for any location in the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. This classified ad has run consecutively for the last 9 years.
Mrs. Sternberg notes that she constantly receives calls for candle lighting times around the world, which is not surprising, as the front page of the New York Times is duplicated in all foreign editions as well. A system to allow callers to receive computerized information for the entire world is currently being created for Project 470.
Although there are hundreds of stories connected to the Candle Lighting Campaign in general, Mrs. Sternberg retells one unique incident: "Exactly 18 years ago, I was going to Israel. I saw many Jewish college students who were also on their way to Israel in the El Al area at the airport. Always eager to encourage more Jewish girls and women to light Shabbat candles, I approached the young women and asked them if they light Shabbat candles. They all answered affirmatively. They were very proud and excitedly told me about their interaction with Chabad on their college campuses around the country. I was elated by their positive responses."
Continues Mrs. Sternberg: "In those days the El Al security system included booths that were electronically monitored. As I was planning on going to a few European countries after Israel to talk about the Candle Lighting Campaign, I had an entire suitcase full of candlesticks with me. I was afraid the metal detectors would be set off by the candlesticks, so when I was about to enter the cubicle, I told the security guard in Hebrew, 'I'm afraid to go in.' He told me not to be afraid. He saw I was in a very good mood and commented on it. 'You can't imagine how happy I am,' I told the officer, truly exuberant over my conversations with the college students and my trip to Israel.
"'So, Madam, maybe you have neshek?' the officer asked me with a twinkle in his eyes. I was sure that he had seen me talking with the students and had seen me pull out some candlesticks from my suitcase." In Israel, the Candle Lighting Campaign is well known as Mivtza Neshek. Neshek, which literally means 'weapons' is an acronym for Neirot Shabbat Kodesh--Holy Shabbat Candles. "We consider 'Neshek' as one of the 'weapons' in the Rebbe's war against assimilation and apathy.
"I said proudly, 'Of course I have Neshek, a whole suitcase full!' Instantly an alarm was sounded and within seconds five police came running to the little cubicle to arrest me."
With a chuckle, Mrs. Sternberg remembers, "I opened the suitcase and showed them what was inside. 'I am talking about a different kind of Neshek altogether,' I told them innocently."
May the Shabbat candles, of the millions of Jewish women
and girls around the world, illuminate our way, until we very
soon see the fulfillment of G-d's promise (as it is written in the
Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni, Beha'alotecha)): "If you will observe
the kindling of the Shabbat lights, you will merit to see the
lights of the redemption of the Jewish people,"
speedily in our days, NOW!
Jewish Women and Girls Light Shabbat Candles
For local candle lighting times:
consult your local Rabbi, Chabad-Lubavitch Center, or call: (718) 774-3000.
For a free candle lighting kit:
contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).
Friday, Nov. 21, Erev Shabbat Parshat Chayei Sarah:
Saturday, Nov. 22, Shabbat Parshat Chayei Sarah:
3. The Shabbat candles must be lit 18 minutes before sunset. It is prohibited and is a desecration of the Shabbat to light the candles after sunset.
LAWS OF SHABBAT CANDLE LIGHTING
FOR THE BLIND
Edited by Rabbi Y. K. Marlow*
A blind woman who lives alone should light her Shabbat candle(s) with a blessing.
If she is married to a non-visually impaired person, her husband should light the Shabbat candles with the blessing.
If she is eating and lighting in the company of others who are non-visually impaired, and they lit the Shabbat candles, she should light her own Shabbat candle(s), but without the blessing.
(If at all possible, she should not be the last one to light the Shabbat candle(s), so that she could be absolved by the latter's blessing.)
- *. Head of Bet-Din (Rabbinical Court) of Crown Heights.
SHABBAT CANDLE LIGHTING BLESSING
First light the candles. Then spread your hands out around the candles, drawing your hands inward in a circular motion three times to indicate the acceptance of the sanctity of Shabbat. You then cover your eyes and recite the following blessing:
BO-RUCH A-TOH ADO-NOI E-LO-HEI-NU ME-LECH HO-OLOM
A-SHER KI-DE-SHO-NU BE-MITZ-VO-SOV VE-TZI-VO-NU
LE-HAD-LIK NER SHEL SHA-BOS 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.
Uncover your eyes and behold the Shabbat lights.
The time of lighting is considered especially propitious for praying to G-d for health and happiness. The prayer is readily acceptable because it is offered during the performance of this great mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles.
The Shabbat candles must be lit 18 minutes before sunset. It is prohibited and is a desecration of the Shabbat to light the candles after sunset.
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