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Nerot - Lighting the Sabbath Candles

Light of the world -

Blessing over the Sabbath Candles

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I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. - Jesus

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 be a light to the nations and Who gave to us Jesus our Messiah
the Light of the world.

Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
asher kideshanu bemitzvotav ve-tsivanu lehiyot or
le-goyim v'natan-lanu et Yeshua Meshicheinu or ha-olam.

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. The candlesticks are often made of precious metal such as silver, and may be family heirlooms.

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. 


The Rabbinical Version

Rabbinical Judaism uses this blessing for erev Shabbat candle lighting:

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

Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
asher kideshanu bemitzvotav ve-tsivanu l'hadlik
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 Yeshua is the true Light of the world Who alone gives us true rest, prefer to recite the blessing listed at the top of this page.

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.

Note: A Friday night service called Kabbalat Shabbat is normally offered at the synagogue after the candle-lighting time but before the Shabbat meal. From the time the candles are lit until after kiddush is made, one should not eat or drink anything.

Thanking God for Shabbat

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יהוה אֱלהֵנוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לָנוּ חַגִּים, חֻקּוֹת, וּמוֹעֲדִים לְשִׂמְחָה
לִכְבוֹד יֵשׁוּעַ הַמָּשִׁיחַ אֲדוֹנֵינוּ, אוֹר הָעוֹלָם
ba·rukh  at·tah  Adonai  E·lo·he·nu  Me·lekh  ha·o·lam,
a·sher  na·tan  la·nu  chag·gim,  chuk·kot,  u·mo·a·dim  le·sim·chah,
likh·vod  Ye·shu·a  ha·ma·shi·ach  A·do·ne·nu,   or ha·o·lam

"Blessed art You, LORD our God, King of the universe,
who has given to us holidays, customs, and seasons of happiness,
for the glory of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, the light of the world."
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