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Candle Lighting Reflections

Candle Lighting Reflections


With Jewish women from around the world each sharing pearls of wisdom, this candle-lighting pack offers reflections on the Jewish tradition of candle-lighting that are almost as beautiful as the light of Shabbat itself.

Be the light by Lori Palatnik

As I light, I ask myself, am I a light? Am I lighting up my husband, helping him to use his talents for greatness? Am I lighting up each one of my children; am I there for them in the way they individually and uniquely need me in their lives today? Am I a light to those who have joined our family; am I welcoming them with open arms? Am I a light to my community, standing up and taking responsibility when there is a need? Am I a light to the Jewish people, using the gifts that G-d has given me to lead? Am I a light to Hashem; am I a Kiddush Hashem? Do I sanctify His name in all that I do? Am I accepting the mission we were all charged with at Mt Sinai, to be a 'light unto the nations'? And in all, how can I increase the light? Please G-d, help me to burn bright.

Lori Palatnik

Jerusalem, Israel

Fire of faith by Slovie Jungries-Wolff

If my Shabbos candlesticks could speak, what a story they would tell! It is the story of our people, of courageous women who forged a path for us. Forever. One night my Bubby whose name I carry, hid her Shabbos lights in the cold earth. She was taken to Auschwitz never to be seen again. But somehow, a miracle really, my Bubby’s candlesticks came home to me. Each week I circle the flames with my hands, cover my eyes, and send my prayers soaring above. My tears join the tears of thousands of women across the world, united by the fire of our faith. Master of this Universe, as I kindle my Shabbos lights, help me find my inner light. In times of darkness, do not allow me to despair. Grant me the strength to endure. Bring me to a place of peace. Open my heart to Your Torah’s wisdom. Privilege me to create a legacy of love. Amen.

Slovie Jungries-Wolff

The Five Towns, USA

A weekly experience by Sivan Rahav-Meir

Every week, we are invited to join in on this moment of candle-lighting – to transition from a weekday to a holy day. It is a huge gift, which began with Sara, our matriarch, who lit her candle in her tent thousands of years ago. I could describe how on Shabbat we turn off all the distractions and interruptions and bring warmth and light into our homes. I could write about holiness, serenity and the prayers of candle-lighting. But I would fail to describe it properly, because you can’t really put it into words. One should just light Shabbat candles and feel it for themselves. Shabbat Shalom.

Sivan Rahav-Meir

Jerusalem, Israel

Light up the world by Beatie Deutsch

As a professional marathon runner and a mother of five young children, I often feel like I am always running. Running after kids, running twice a day in workouts, running late to pick up kids from school – life is a constant treadmill that never stops. Friday is the biggest race of all, a mad dash of cooking and cleaning. By the time Shabbat comes in, I’ve barely caught my breath, and oftentimes, I’ll sprint out of the shower just in time to light candles.

Those moments in front of my candlesticks are short but precious; and for just a few minutes, I block out all the chaos around me (because, let’s be real – most weeks the table still hasn’t been set, at least two kids are complaining they’re hungry and I still have a towel on my head), close my eyes and pause.

And as I light my silver candlesticks and murmur the prayer afterwards, I hold onto these words each week ומאירים את העולם בתורה ומעשים טובים – God, please let me merit to raise children who shine your light into this world. Let me raise children who love your Torah and mitzvot and light up the world with their actions.

The dancing flames of the candles remind me that each one of us is compared to candle – כי נר ה’ נשמת אדם, each with our own unique strengths and gifts that God has given us. And as a mother, I am tasked with the holy mission of guiding my children to discover their light, so they can share it with the world. Before I open my eyes once again, I end off by asking God to help me as well. Please let me be a vessel to reflect Your light into this world with every race I run.

Soon enough, I am back to the mundane duties of motherhood, doling out chicken soup for my children, preparing the Shabbat table and putting the little ones to sleep. But each Friday night, my soul is recharged with the words of this powerful prayer.

Beatie Deutsch

Neve Michael, Israel

Choosing joy - Adrienne Gold Davis

There is a particular moment that hangs suspended for me, between the striking of the match and the lighting of the Shabbat candles. In that moment I make a conscious choice. I choose to enter the sacred space of the Sabbath and not remain emotionally tethered to the work-a-day week. I recognise that if G-d wants me to be joyful on Shabbat then it must be within my power to choose joy. I have learned that I can be the master of my moods, based on how I frame my thoughts. I have learned that we see the world not as it is, but as we are. And that subjective state of ‘as we are’ reflects how we choose to perceive how we end up 'feeling'. Every Friday night, I exercise my G-d-given ability to be joyous, no matter what has been going on around me! Lighting Shabbat candles is an empowering moment for me. It is the moment where I am the most fully human and proactive. And with that strength, I touch the flame to the wicks and joyously illuminate my family! Shabbat Shalom!

Adrienne Gold Davis

Toronto, Canada

Souls on fire by Gina Goldstein

As I light my Shabbos candles each week, I mention the Hebrew names of each of my children, my children-in-law, my husband and myself. The flame of each individual candle represents the soul of each family member. "The flame of Hashem, is the soul of a person." (Mishlei 20:27) Just like a soul, the flame burns bright, independent and strong. Just like a soul, the flame is mesmerising, always reaching upwards, as high as it can. Just like the pure and holy soul within each person in my home. And, very quickly, with the light, warmth and energy of the Shabbos candles, I am reminded of what I sometimes forget. As a Jewish mother, it is my mission to ignite the souls within my home, that they should shine and burn bright! When we are all switched on, when we are transcendent, when we defy the confines of our own limitations, when we feel passion and closeness to Hashem, when we crave meaning and search for destiny, when we seek truth, we are drawing from the energy of our burning soul! Our greatest achievements, our most noble acts and deepest loves arise from our soul's passionate fire! All the hard work of my week supports this holy mission. All the energy and effort is worthy. I know why I do what I do!

Rebbetzin Gina Goldstein - Johannesburg, South Africa

In the year 2100

On January 1, 2000, the New York Times ran a ‘Millennium’ edition. It was a special issue that featured three front pages. One had the news from January 1, 1900. The second was the actual news of the day, January 1, 2000. And then a third front page projected future events of January 1, 2100. This fictional page included items such as a welcome to the US’s fifty-first state, Cuba, as well as a discussion on whether robots should be allowed to vote. In addition to the fascinating futuristic articles, there was one other seemingly mundane item. Down at the bottom of the front page was the candle-lighting time in New York for January 1, 2100. The production manager of the New York Times – an Irish Catholic – explained: ‘We don’t know what will happen in the year 2100. It is impossible to predict the future. But of one thing you can be certain, that in the year 2100, Jewish women will be lighting Shabbat candles.

Reclaiming tranquility by Rivka Ravitz

The never-ending task list of life. Work, household, children, the omnipresent smartphone. Smartphones may streamline work environments and improve efficiency, yet ultimately, they steal more time than they save, along with peace of mind. The coronavirus crisis reawakened thoughts of society’s compulsive use of smartphones. Long days spent at home during lockdown reinforced that my eyes are hopelessly glued to my screen. I recalled when my husband and I sat across the house, but instead of conversing, simply texted. On Shabbat, we disconnect from it all. For 25 hours, touching the phone is prohibited. These are sacred hours reserved for family, self and our relationship with G-d. Jewish mothers everywhere pray that their children shall perpetuate our golden legacy, appreciate Torah and mitzvot, discover satisfaction and love in authentic Jewish life, and feel integral parts of the wondrous unity that is the Jewish people. 

During that exalted hour in the week when every Jewish mother assumes centre stage, tenderly lighting her Shabbat candles and illuminating her home in radiance and peace, the outside world fades into oblivion, leaving the perfect Oneness of Judaism, family, Shabbat and G-d. Having reclaimed that lost tranquillity, she finally covers her face and offers the tearful prayer expressing her innermost yearning: “Father in heaven, grant that my children shall be righteous, illuminating the world with Torah, kindness and meritorious deeds.

Rivka Ravitz

Tel Stone, Israel

A sanctuary in time by Michal Horowitz

When Jewish women light the Shabbat candles, “the lights go on” as the darkness of this world fades away. When I light Shabbat candles, I recall the impactful teaching of Rabbi JB Soloveitchik (1903-1993) zt’l: “Both Shabbat and the Tabernacle constitute sanctuaries. One is a sanctuary in time [Shabbat] while the other is a sanctuary in space [Tabernacle]. G-d wants Jews to establish a residence for Him both in space and in time. The Jew who prepared properly for Shabbat and is about to light his candles finds himself in the same position of the Jew of 2 000 years ago preparing to enter the Sanctuary [Temple]… While the Mishkan is a lofty and important place, we must remember [that] Shabbat, which is essential to Jewish survival, is stronger. We have survived 2 000 years without the Temple, but we could never have survived without Shabbat.” (Darosh Darash Yosef, p.197-199)

Michal Horowitz

Long Island, USA

A splash of light by Dr Michele Ritterman

After I had made my home,
you gave me
the tools to mend
the week's broken circle:
A pair of candlesticks.
I learned to
circle my hands
over the flames,
to splash light on my eyelids,
to whisper prayers and blessings
like magic incantations,
as you did,
seducing the Sabbath Queen,
dispelling the misunderstandings of the week.

While I stared out
the tall Midwestern window
of my childhood,
losing myself
in the Friday’s last agonising pastels
as they stretched, thinned into darkness.

Dr Michele Ritterman

Berkeley, USA

Let there be love

Before creation, the Universe was “chaos and void, and darkness over the abyss”. And then G-d created light, which our sages explain was not a physical light, but a spiritual one. The Chofetz Chaim learns from this that we defeat darkness in the world by increasing light; by following G-d’s example, and proclaiming: “Let there be light!” once a week over our Shabbat candles. By lighting Shabbat candles, we bring the light, warmth, heat, love and illumination into our homes and into our lives.