Shabbat Candle Holders, Sabbath Candlesticks,Shabat Candlesticks, Silver Candlesticks
People unfamiliar with Jewish culture might wonder what Shabbat Candlesticks are when finding out about Shabbat, and also what the difference is between them and regular candlesticks. The short answer is, the candlesticks themselves don't have to be any different. It's the purpose of lighting the candles in them that is different. But let's elaborate. Before Shabbat it is customary for the lady of the household to light candles as a celebration of the beginning of the special Shabbat day. Because biblically people considered it the beginning of the next day when it got dark in the evening, the beginning of the Shabbat day is when the sun disappears beyond the horizon on Friday evening.
Customs and Traditions of the Shabbat Candles
The tradition of lighting special Shabbat candles actually originated from our matriarch Sarah who lit them in the entrance of her tent on Friday evenings, and they lasted all week until the next Friday evening to greet her guests, so they aren't used for the light they produce, but rather their symbolism. Two candles are lit, and in some homes extra candles are lit for each child. Because they are a celebrated part of Shabbat, Jewish homes hold them in high regard, and use decorative candlesticks to hold the candles. You can even find Shabbat candlesticks specially made with decorative themes of Judaism, and others for travel. Because they play such an important part in the Jewish household, they make an amazing gift. Customarily in many communities, a groom buys his bride a beautiful set of Shabbat candlesticks as a wedding gift. In other communities, the parents buy it for the new couple. They are often passed down as a family heirloom. In some communities, more candles are lit than two, some light seven or another number of significance. And some communities hold that if a woman forgets to light candles one week, she adds another candle the next week and for the rest of her life. The candle lighting is so important in Judaism that if one has a choice between buying Kiddush wine and candles, one buys the candles and does Kiddush over the bread. Some of the behaviors associated with Shabbat are to actively keep peace in the home, and try not to argue or otherwise besmirch the peaceful Shabbat feeling, to enjoy and have pleasure through delicious foods and dancing candlelight, and honor for the god given day of rest. All of the beauty of Shabbat is introduced to the home by way of lighting the candles. As such, there are customs and traditions regarding this important act. The candles lit should be big enough to last through the meal, or at least 30 minutes into Shabbat. They should be lit in proximity to where the meal will take place, though most don't put them on the table (because they can't be removed during Shabbat, so the tablecloth wouldn't be able to be changed), where people can look up and see them on Friday evening. In some homes, it is customary for the man of the house to set up the candles and then for his wife to light them. If there isn't a lady around to light them, he lights them. Until marriage, women light a single Shabbat candle, starting in some communities only at bat mitzva age, and in others, as soon as she can join her mother lighting. The lady of the home lights for everyone, so if she has guests or a daughter who lights, they light before her so as not to be automatically included in hers first.
Shabbat Candle Blessing
The blessings and prayers over candles are said right after the candles are lit, since after lighting candles the woman cannot do Melachot. The blessing reads as such:
(בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אַדֹנָ-י אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל שַׁבָּת (קֹדֶשׁ
Baruch ata ado-nai elokeinu melech ha'olam asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu lehadlik ner shel shabbat (kodesh)
Blessed are you, L rd our G d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the light of the Holy Shabbat.
The candles are also lit in the same fashion before each Jewish holiday, with a similar blessing except instead of the "shabbat" in the end, she'd say "yom tov", or both if they fall on the same day. In some cases Shehechiyanu is also recited when lighting for a holiday.