Project Genesis

Shabbos Candle Lighting

Could you please kindly send me the proper recital for the woman lighting the candles ~ in hebrew and an English translation please if possible. Also please describe briefly the movements by the women ~ ie bringing the light/energy to our faces/eyes…

Thanks for your question. The order for lighting candles is as follows:

1) Many women give tzedaka (charity) before they light, they put a few coins in a tzedaka box.

2) Then light the candles and extinguish the match. At this point, some women make circular motions three times around the candles and then cover their eyes.

We are not bringing the energy to our eyes at this point. There are two distinct reasons for these two motions: the waving of the hands and the covering of the eyes. Briefly they are:

a) We cover our eyes to avoid enjoyment of the light until after the blessing is said. You see, we usually make a blessing first and then complete it with the action (witness the kiddush service), but because lighting a candle is categorized as forbidden activity on Shabbat, we light the candle first and then recite the blessing—since once we make the blessing it will be Shabbat. By lighting first, we avoid transgressing the Sabbath. By covering our eyes, we avoid actually using the light until the blessing is made.

b) While I have searched diligently for a source that explains the hand-waving, the only explanation I have found is that we want to be thoroughly certain that we are not enjoying the light of the candles—from any direction—before we make the blessing. It’s as simple as that.

3) Make the blessing:

“Baruch Atah Ado-noi Elo-henu Melech ha’olam asher kidishanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu lehadlik ner shel shabbat.”

While I can provide you with a direct English translation, it will be only the faintest echo of the true meaning of these words:

Blessed are You, God, our God, King of the Universe, Who has created a special relationship with us and given us His mitzvos, and commanded us to light a candle for Shabbat.

For more information, you may want to look at these articles at and

Women & Shabbat Candles or Candle Lighting: How To

Ita Leban
The Jewish Experience

1 Follow-up »

  1. Does Torah tells us who was the first to initiate Shaabat candle lighting and where?

    The written Torah does not directly address this issue. We have a tradition though, that the Matriarch Sarah lit candles each week.

    Comment by ATR — November 23, 2006 @ 12:25 pm

We respond to every follow-up question submitted, but only publish selected ones. In order to be considered for publication, questions must be on-topic, polite, and address ideas rather than personalities.


Powered by WordPress