The weekly light of paradise

by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

G-d created the first human beings on Friday, the sixth day of Creation. He created man and He created woman. Adam and Eve committed their sin on their very first day of existence. G-d sentenced them to exile from Gan Eden, Paradise. But He allowed them to stay for one day so that they could spend Shabbat in Gan Eden.

Every week, when we experience Shabbat, we experience Paradise. In Gan Eden, when Shabbat came to an end, Adam and Eve encountered darkness in exile for the first time and they were frightened. Our Sages teach us that G-d showed Adam and Eve how to make fire and therefore how to make light. He taught them how to light up a dark world.

This is why we conduct Havdallah with a Havdallah candle. We bring the paradise we experience through Shabbat into the week, by extending the light
 of Shabbat into the week ahead. This light shows us the way forward and helps us illuminate a dark and sometimes dangerous world.

When we are faced with dark times in a dark world, we have two choices: we can curse the darkness or we can bring light into the darkness. Havdallah allows us to do just that. The Havdallah candle brings the light of peace, joy and blessing to the Jewish people and to the world.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is an international religious leader, philosopher, award-winning author and respected moral voice. Described by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales as “a light unto this nation” and by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as “an intellectual giant”, Rabbi Sacks is a frequent and sought-after contributor to radio, television and the press both in Britain and around the world. Since stepping down as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth – a position he served for 22 years - Rabbi Sacks has held a number of professorships at several academic institutions including Yeshiva University and King’s College London.

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