During the course of the Jewish year, candles (or oil wick lamps and other types of lights) are used in many different ways. In fact, many different types of lights are used, depending on the occasion.
How many different types of lights can you think of? When are some of the times that we light candles or other lights for Jewish reasons?
Below we are going to look at 4 different types of lights.
- Why do we light two candles?
- What is the purpose of Shabbat candles?
- The Talmud says that Shabbat candles are very important since they are needed for Shalom Bayit, peace in the home. How do the Shabbat candles help with Shalom Bayit?
- The Mishneh Torah says that the Shabbat candles are an important part of our Shabbat pleasure (oneg Shabbat). How do you think the Shabbat candles contribute to our oneg Shabbat?
How to Light Shabbat Candles (beracha below)
- Shabbat begins after lighting candles and after it ends, another candle is lit. Why do you think that Shabbat is sandwiched between two special candles?
- According to tradition, which Biblical personality is connected to the Havdalah candle?
- When Shabbat begins, the two candles are separate. At Havdalah, we light a candle with at least two intertwined wicks. What message can you derive from the two types of candles?
According to many commentators, the following Talmudic legend is the reason for reciting a blessing on fire with Havdalah:
Havdalah Across the World
The verse below, from Proverbs, is the source for lighting a memorial candle on the anniversary of the death (yahrzeit) of a loved one.
- What do you think is the "candle of God"? Why do you think God needs a candle?
- Have you ever seen a yahrzeit candle lit? What is the feeling in the house when the candle is lit? If you haven't seen one, what do you imagine is the atmosphere in the house?
Photograph by Rachel Buckman
Shabbat candles are meant to be used. We light them so that we're not sitting in the dark during Shabbat, which helps us to enjoy Shabbat and to get along with the people in our home.
The Havdalah candle signals the end of Shabbat by being the first act of creation in the new week.
A memorial candle helps us to remember a loved one who has died.
The purpose of Chanukah lights (candles or oil) is different from the other lights. Read the texts below and answer the following questions:
- What is the purpose of the Chanukah lights?
- Why can't we derive benefit (use the light) from the Chanukah lights?
How to Light the Chanukah Menorah (berachot below)
חג אורים שמח!