Cheshvan 26, 5757
November 8, 1996

"Let There Be Light"
The Jewish Women's Guide To Lighting Shabbat Candles

Text Version


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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


Click here, to see pictures of the Rebbe


We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, the 82nd issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.


In this week's issue, we focus on one of the Rebbe's Mitzvah Campaigns, the laws of Shabbat Candle Lighting (which is one of the three special mitzvot for Jewish Women).1

Therefore, we present here "Let There Be Light - The Jewish Women's Guide To Lighting Shabbat Candles," and other related material about Shabbat Candle Lighting.


Our sincere appreciation to L'Chaim weekly publication, published by the Lubavitch Youth Organization, for allowing us to use their material.

Also, many thanks to our copy editor, Reb Mordechai Staiman, for his tireless efforts.


It is our fervent hope that our learning about Moshiach and the Redemption will hasten the coming of Moshiach, NOW!

Rabbi Yosef Y. Shagalov,
Committee for the Blind

15 Cheshvan, 5757
Brooklyn, New York


1. The other two are Kashrut and family purity. (Which will be discussed, G-d willing, in a future issue).


The following true story is adapted from a talk given by the Rebbe during the fall of 1976.

The little Israeli girl was only five years old. One day, in school, a visitor from Chabad told her class about lighting Shabbat candles. Although she and her classmates were far below the age of bat mitzvah, declared the young woman, they could nonetheless participate in this mitzvah.

When the little girl came home that Friday, and excitedly told her mother about her new discovery, her mother replied that she knew nothing about this whole business (she had received no Jewish education whatsoever). "Did you ever hear of such a thing!" exclaimed the mother angrily. "A little girl should want to do things that her own mother doesn't do, and bring new ideas into the house!"

But we all know what young children are like. The little girl started to cry and she pleaded with her mother. "I'm not asking you to do anything. All I'm asking is that you should let me do it. I have a candle-holder; they gave me one in school. I know the blessing; they also gave me a paper with the instructions on when and how to light the candle. Please let me light it!"

Mother gave in. "All right, do whatever you want. But stop crying, and leave me in peace."

Our little girl was overjoyed. She put the candle on the dining room table, lit it herself, made the blessing, and was in seventh heaven! She went around from one member of the family to the other, warning each one of them in her childish but serious way, that no one should touch her candle or blow it out.

When mother and father saw that it wasn't so terrible after all, they let her light the candle the next Friday without any fuss. The little girl again lit it with the same delight and enthusiasm as the first week, and her infectious joy spread to the rest of the family.

A few weeks went by. One Friday the father said that "it just somehow didn't seem right" to have the television on with the little one walking around the house singing Shabbat songs, and with the candle burning on the table. While the candle was lit, he could not bring himself to turn on the television. Some time later the telephone rang and mother did not answer it, because the candle was still lit.

Weeks later mother surveyed the Friday night scene and decided that something was wrong. How strange it looked to see just the single candle burning on the table, to see her little daughter full of joy and telling everyone that it was a holy day, etc., while she, the mother, was busy as if it were just an ordinary day. "It just doesn't seem right! I'm going to start lighting candles, too!" Once she started lighting candles, she could not bring herself to turn on the oven. "After all, I have just declared in the blessing that it is the Holy Shabbat; how can I now go ahead with making supper--and turn the oven on or off in violation of the Sabbath?"

No one likes cold food; so mother started to make "cholent" (the traditional Shabbat stew allowed to cook from Friday afternoon until Shabbat afternoon) for the midday meal. Naturally, the whole "cholent" procedure affected the way they did things and the meals they ate the next day, too.

Later, mother decided that since she was now lighting candles, she would dress up in honor of the Friday night atmosphere.

And so it went on. From one thing to another. From one aspect of Shabbat to another. From one small candle lit by one little girl following a scene and tears; to refraining from doing work while the candle was still burning; to the mother's beginning to light Shabbat candles; from there to the wearing of nicer clothes in honor of Shabbat; and on to refraining from all types of work prohibited on Shabbat.

Eventually the entire family and household became transformed. This family has now returned completely to their tradition and heritage. All, because of the light of one Shabbat candle!


The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of Lubavitch, issued a call that "The time of our Redemption has arrived!" and "Moshiach is on his way!"

The Rebbe stressed that he is saying this as a prophecy, and asks us all to prepare ourselves for the Redemption, through increasing acts of goodness and kindness.

Let us all heed the Rebbe's call.


The Jewish Women's Guide To Lighting Shabbat Candles2


Peace descends on the Jewish home every Shabbat.

The news of the day may tell of murder and mayhem, politics and pollution, disease and disaster - indeed the global catalogue of human misery. For ours is a threatening world. One in which the Jewish spirit is under constant assault by hypocrisy, injustice and rampant immorality.

But there is a divine spark in each of us. And so, there is hope. For light is a compelling force that will always triumph over darkness.

Fire touches wick. Flame reaches upward. Another home is bathed in peace and holiness, in warmth and unity.

A Jewish woman has invited the Shabbat Queen into her home. The darkness of the day's headlines recedes, exiled by the peaceful glow of candles.

It is truly a gift from on high.

All that is good, all that is holy is symbolized - indeed realized - in the flickering light of the Shabbat candles:

* * *

Tradition recounts the miracle of our Matriarch Sarah, whose Shabbat candles burned from Friday eve to Friday eve.

Our sages tell of our Matriarch Rivkah, who lit Shabbat candles from the tender age of three.

Two millennia ago, the Holy Zohar declared that a woman kindling her Shabbat candles with joy in her heart brings peace on earth, long life to her loved ones, and is blessed with children who illuminate our world with Torah.

And in our generation, the Rebbe said: "Let every woman - young girls included - add her holy light to illuminate the world shrouded in darkness and confusion."

* * *

Lighting Shabbat candles is the historic responsibility of every Jewish wife and mother. But in our times their light is not enough . . .

Today we also need the holy flame of every Jewish girl in order to keep the forces of darkness at bay.

These are times when children look beyond home and hearth, in quest of their own identity and the desire to create a meaningful life for themselves.

Let them hold a candle all their own . . . Let them kindle a flame of their own . . . Let them bring their aspirations in sync with the divine warmth of the Shabbat light.

Jewish Girls! Your mothers need you. Your people need you. Your future as Jewish women cries out for you to enter its service now.

Jewish Mothers! As soon as your daughter is old enough to recite the blessing, teach her to kindle her own Shabbat candle. Because darkness is all around us, and only you have the power to drive it away.


2. Adapted from the brochure published by: The Lubavitch Women's Candle Lighting Campaign.



Just as candles are lit in honor of Shabbat, so are they lit in honor of the festivals.

Various blessings are recited on the different festivals. (See our "Festival/Holiday Guides" published before every Festival/Holiday, for the proper blessings).

NOTE: When lighting after the onset of a festival, a preexisting flame must be used to light the candles, as it is prohibited to create a new fire by striking a match or lighter, etc. However, it is permissible to use, or transfer live, from a flame burning continuously since the onset of the festival - such as a pilot light, gas or candle flame.




Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe,
who has sanctified us by His commandments, and has
commanded us to kindle the light of the holy Shabbat.


The Shabbat candles must be lit 18 minutes before sunset. It is prohibited and is a desecration of the Shabbat to light the candles after sunset.


Eight plus ten plus five is 23. Add to that 40, 6, 300, 100 and 1 and you have the number 470. But 470 isn't just the sum of a random set of numbers. In Hebrew, each letter has a numerical value. And the numbers listed above are the numerical values of the Hebrew letters that spell the name of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, the Rebbe's wife.

One of the very first activities initiated in memory of the Rebbetzin was "Project 470," a division of the Lubavitch Women's Organization Candle Lighting Campaign. Esther Sternberg, coordinator of the campaign since its inception at the Rebbe's behest in 1974, tells about the background of Project 470. "We had scheduled our annual fund-raising event for the 26th of Shevat that year (5748/1988). We sent the invitation to the Rebbe and received the Rebbe's blessing. When the Rebbetzin passed away just days before the event, which meant that it would take place during the shivah (the week of mourning), we thought to postpone it. But, as we had already received the Rebbe's blessing we decided to go ahead.

"At the evening itself," remembers Mrs. Sternberg, "we announced that we were establishing a special fund in the Rebbetzin's memory that would be devoted exclusively to publicizing, through newspaper and radio ads, the special mitzvah of Shabbat candles."

At that point, the project did not yet have a name. It was through a comment made by the Rebbe that this far-reaching project received its name. Explains Mrs. Sternberg, "Right after the Rebbe got up from shivah, we were told that the Rebbe wanted to see my father (Rabbi Shneur Zalman Gurary, shlita) and me. My father and I were both with the Rebbetzin in her last moments, and we thought that maybe the Rebbe wanted to ask us some questions. When we arrived in the Rebbe's office he was holding the invitation to our evening. Someone had informed the Rebbe about the fund. The Rebbe wanted to give $470 'al shem hanifteres'--in the name of the departed--and another dollar that the project should be a success."

Animatedly, Mrs. Sternberg describes the rest of the audience with the Rebbe: "The Rebbe gave many, many blessings for the Candle Lighting Campaign and said that anyone who inspires others to light Shabbat candles, as well as those who begin to light Shabbat candles, 'yair mazalon'--their fortune will shine. The Rebbe showered blessings on anyone who would be involved."

The main undertaking of Project 470 has been a classified ad on the front page of the New York Times every Friday, reminding Jewish women and girls to light Shabbat candles. The ad includes the correct time for candle lighting that week in New York City as well as the computerized telephone system (718-774-3000) that gives the candle lighting time for any location in the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. This classified ad has run consecutively for the last 9 years.

Mrs. Sternberg notes that she constantly receives calls for candle lighting times around the world, which is not surprising, as the front page of the New York Times is duplicated in all foreign editions as well. A system to allow callers to receive computerized information for the entire world is currently being created for Project 470.

Although there are hundreds of stories connected to the Candle Lighting Campaign in general, Mrs. Sternberg retells one unique incident: "Exactly 18 years ago, I was going to Israel. I saw many Jewish college students who were also on their way to Israel in the El Al area at the airport. Always eager to encourage more Jewish girls and women to light Shabbat candles, I approached the young women and asked them if they light Shabbat candles. They all answered affirmatively. They were very proud and excitedly told me about their interaction with Chabad on their college campuses around the country. I was elated by their positive responses."

Continues Mrs. Sternberg: "In those days the El Al security system included booths that were electronically monitored. As I was planning on going to a few European countries after Israel to talk about the Candle Lighting Campaign, I had an entire suitcase full of candlesticks with me. I was afraid the metal detectors would be set off by the candlesticks, so when I was about to enter the cubicle, I told the security guard in Hebrew, 'I'm afraid to go in.' He told me not to be afraid. He saw I was in a very good mood and commented on it. 'You can't imagine how happy I am,' I told the officer, truly exuberant over my conversations with the college students and my trip to Israel.

"'So, Madam, maybe you have neshek?' the officer asked me with a twinkle in his eyes. I was sure that he had seen me talking with the students and had seen me pull out some candlesticks from my suitcase." In Israel, the Candle Lighting Campaign is well known as Mivtza Neshek. Neshek, which literally means 'weapons' is an acronym for Neirot Shabbat Kodesh--Holy Shabbat Candles. "We consider 'Neshek' as one of the 'weapons' in the Rebbe's war against assimilation and apathy.

"I said proudly, 'Of course I have Neshek, a whole suitcase full!' Instantly an alarm was sounded and within seconds five police came running to the little cubicle to arrest me."

With a chuckle, Mrs. Sternberg remembers, "I opened the suitcase and showed them what was inside. 'I am talking about a different kind of Neshek altogether,' I told them innocently."

May the Shabbat candles, of the millions of Jewish women
and girls around the world, illuminate our way, until we very
soon see the fulfillment of G-d's promise (as it is written in the
Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni, Beha'alotecha)): "If you will observe
the kindling of the Shabbat lights, you will merit to see the
lights of the redemption of the Jewish people,"
speedily in our days, NOW!



* For local candle lighting times, consult your local Rabbi, Chabad-Lubavitch Center, or call: (718) 774-3000.
* For a free candle lighting kit, contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
* For a listing of the Centers in your area, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).

Times shown are for Metro NY - NJ

Friday, Nov. 8, Erev Shabbat Parshat Chayei Sarah:

Saturday, Nov. 9, Shabbat Parshat Chayei Sarah:


*. The Shabbat candles must be lit 18 minutes before sunset. It is prohibited and is a desecration of the Shabbat to light the candles after sunset.

**. Rosh Chodesh Kislev is on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Laws of Shabbat Candle Lighting for the Blind

Shabbat Candle Lighting Blessing

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