Tired of the darkness in the world, the bad news and feeling of hopelessness? Perhaps you want to consider a spiritual and uplifting mitzvah this week. The mitzvah of lighting the Shabbat candles. Each week, women around the world light candles to symbolize the beginning of Shabbat. The two candles we light begin the 25 hour period of Shabbat, where we rest from working. The candle lighting helps usher in the day and separate the weekday from the holiness of the Shabbat. It is a beautiful and sacred tradition. I love the fact that we begin this special day of the week with candle lighting. Candlelight represents so many different things like hope and strength and can even illuminate our souls in a spiritual way. We light candles to create a more romantic environment, to honor someone when we are mourning, to invoke hope and candles can also simply provide joy in the darkness.
I have been thinking about candle lighting this week because last week, while attending a monthly Mastermind group one of the members and a close friend made an important request. Her husband who is in his late 40’s has been coping with cancer for several years. He had been in remission and recently the cancer has returned. They were given very little hope about medical treatment but have opted to begin a course of treatment in a few weeks even though the expected results were not clear. My friend also spent the summer doing some spontaneous traveling with her husband and rearranging working arrangements so that she can be present and available for whatever the future holds. My friend asked that each member of our group consider lighting Shabbat candles to invoke hope, and bring more light and love into our lives. Perhaps we will think of our friend and her husband, or perhaps the simple act will just illuminate our own homes. She said that hope is the only thing they have now and she needs as much of it as possible. She hoped that she could inspire a hundred people to begin lighting Shabbat candles before the Jewish high holidays at the end of September.
I have lit Shabbat candles for many years but during the summer have not been as consistent each week. My friends request was a reminder to be present and light the candles with intention or kavanah. Especially at a time when she needs hope and healing. Perhaps you’d like to consider lighting the candles as a reminder that you have the power to bring more hope into the world too.
Never lit Shabbat candles before? You can purchase Shabbat candles at many grocery stores or through amazon.com. Here is my friend Meredith Levin Jacobs from the Beliefnet website video explaining how this ritual is performed.
I realize many non-Jews who don’t observe Shabbat or light candles to usher in this day might find this mitzvah idea inappropriate. But I believe anyone can benefit from lighting a special candle, saying their own silent prayer and just invoking hope, peace and love into their homes and lives.
I’d love to know other ways you bring hope and healing into your own world.