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Candle Lighting Blessing (Erev Shabbat)

Lehadlik ner shel Shabbat -

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Rabbinical Blessing over the Sabbath Candles

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...call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable...

- Isaiah 58:13

Sabbath candles are lit by the (eldest) woman of the house no later than 18 minutes before sundown on Friday evening (i.e., before Shabbat begins). After kindling the candles, she waives her hands over the flames three times (as if welcoming in the Sabbath), and covering her eyes with her hands (so as not to see the candles burning) says:

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe,
Who sanctified us with his commandments and commanded us to kindle the sabbath candles.

At this moment, when the family is gathered together, the woman may offer a silent or verbal prayer on behalf of her husband and children (in generations past, personal prayers in Yiddish called "techinot" were commonly said by Jewish women before doing a mitzvah and on special occasions).

A minimum of two candles are lit corresponding to the two expressions of Shabbat mentioned in Exodus 20:8 ("Zakhor," remember) and Deuteronomy 5:12 ("Shamor," keep or guard). Some women add an additional light with the birth of each child and continue lighting it throughout the years.

In most cases of berachot, the blessing is recited first, followed by the performance of the mitzvah. In the case of this blessing, however, the woman lights the candles first, and then pronounces the blessing, since once she has pronounced the blessing, she has accepted Shabbat restrictions upon herself, and therefore would be unable to light the candles afterwards.

Candle Lighting Times

The exact time for candle lighting is determined by Rabbinical authority and is known as Zmanim. A weekly Jewish calendar will indicate the time for your locality. 

Transliterated:

Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
asher kideshanu bemitzvotav ve-tsivanu lehadlik
ner shel shabbat.

Note: Messianic believers would object that in fact the LORD has not "commanded us to light the candles of Shabbat," and, since Jesus is the true Light of the world Who alone gives us true rest, generally prefer to recite the blessing listed here.

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Hebrew for Christians
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