Time for Shabbat
Time to just be.
When we light candles, we breathe, pray and welcome in the holiness of the Shabbat. By bringing in Shabbat we are essentially stopping to work in the mundane work week and actively start the transformation into Shabbat – which is holy. This reflects the entire purpose of creation – making the mundane world a more spiritual and holy place.
When does Shabbat start?
In order to be sure that we do not kindle fire on Shabbat, the standard practice is to light the candles 18 minutes before the sun sets. This is a time-sensitive mitzvah - with the lighting of the candles, the kindler is ushering in the Shabbat.
Shabbat does not just begin – we usher it in. After a hard week, we also actively welcome in – with a sense of relief and heightened anticipation – this G-d-given gift. We welcome in Shabbat with candles, and with the beautiful words of the famous Lecha Dodi prayer we sing in honor of the arrival of the “Shabbat bride”.
This moment of calm offers a unique time for personal reflection. View and print some of our favorite Shabbat candle-lighting reflections below.
The mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles fills our homes with a sense of warmth and light. A quiet stillness that we feel at no other time in our week descends. We gather around the candles. Some take this opportunity to put some money in a charity tin (before lighting the candles).
The mitzvah of candle-lighting entails the lighting of two candles (some have the custom to light a candle for each person in the family). Cover your eyes, say the blessing and take in the light of Shabbat.
To print a beautiful copy of the Shabbat candle-lighting prayer to use at home, click below.
Take a few minutes to say your own silent prayers and reflect on the week that was – here are some powerful ideas:
- I have the power to ignite light in my home.
- This is my time to bless my children.
- I have the power to bring change into my life and into my home.
- This is my time to ask for health.
- I have the power to bring peace into my life.
- This is my time to recall the week gone by.
- I have the power to bring calm into my home.
- This is my time to pray for the week ahead.
- I have the power to be present in the moment.
- This is my time to be thankful.
- Lighting these candles is my power. This is my time to let all my blessings catch up with me.
Open your eyes to the glistening candle light and exchanges of “Shabbat Shalom” – May peace be upon you – from those standing beside you.
Now let go of the week that was and hold on to what really matters.
Candle-lighting times are set for about 15 minutes before sunset. You can find out the correct time for your city by typing it in the section at the top of this page.
With the preparation for Shabbat complete and the weight of the week lifted, take a stroll to synagogue for the Friday night service. Smile and greet strangers on the street knowing that everyone is coming together to celebrate this special moment in time.
As the new day begins, we sing songs to welcome in Shabbat. This service is called Kabbalat Shabbat and it’s based on the custom of the mystics of Tzfat in the 16th century, who would go out into the fields – dressed in white – to greet Shabbat with psalms and songs. Lecha Dodi is one of these songs – it praises the beauty of Shabbat and the Jewish people, and was written by the 16th century Kabbalist and poet, Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz.
Families and friends gather after the service to walk home together, as they head off to celebrate Shabbat at a shared meal.