Every week, before the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath, women light two candles to mark the beginning of the religious day of rest for observant Jews. As it was instructed by G-d to His servant Moses on Mt. Sinai, and written in the Ten Commandments: "Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it Holy". The tradition of lighting two candles or two small lamps of oil to usher in the Sabbath, or Shabbat in Hebrew, is said to originate in Jewish communities situated in and around the Mediterranean basin in the 8th Century C.E. The custom eventually spread to other Jewish communities until by the 14th Century it had spread over the entire Jewish world.
The ritual of lighting two candles by the mother of the family usually takes place on Friday afternoon several minutes before the official beginning of the Sabbath (Shabbat) Eve. The woman lights both candles after saying the following prayer: "Blessed art Thou o Lord, King of the Universe, who commands us to observe the holy act (Mitzvot) of lighting the Shabbat candles". If there are unmarried daughters in the house, they are required to light a single candle before the two candles are lit by their mother, officially hallowing the sacredness of the Sabbath. The one candle by the daughter indicates that as she is not yet married her life is still incomplete.
The lighting of the Shabbat Candlesticks, besides welcoming the Sabbath, are supposed to symbolize the last lighting of fire before the beginning of Shabbat when no fires or lights are to be lit.
Shabbat Candlesticks come in a myriad of materials and designs, including those made of crystal, silver, bronze, pewter, ceramic, wood, and glass. While some are very simple in design, others are ornate with designs of biblical fruit, such as pomegranates, and biblical verses dealing with Shabbat. The Candlesticks often come in sets including single Candlesticks to be lit by unmarried daughters. Some Candlesticks have been carried down in families, from mothers to daughters, for generations.
On Jewish festivals, it is permitted to light candles after sundown, providing they are lit from a flame that is already burning. Traditional Jewish women light festival candles in a similar manner as they do before Shabbat, reciting a prayer pertaining to the holiday for which they are lit. If the first night of the festival happens to fall on the eve of Shabbat, then the festival candles are lit first, followed by the ones for Shabbat.
The lighting of candles, whether for Shabbat or a festival is a very important part of preserving religious traditions which have been passed down from parent to child for hundreds of years.
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Handmade Wooden Candlesticks
Modern Shabbat Candlesticks
Crystal Candlesticks with Swarovski Crystals
Large Crystal Candlesticks
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