Candle Lighting (Hadlakat Nerot) Audio
In Jewish tradition, lighting candles at sundown on Friday is the last act of the workweek, the literal spark that carries us into the weekend. While you will find no verse in the Torah instructing you to light two candles at dusk, the rabbinic sages over the centuries linked the practice to the concept of shamor Shabbat and zachor Shabbat, the commandments to keep and remember Shabbat.
The beauty of Jewish tradition is not its certitude but its ambiguity; even the rabbis disagree on what exactly it means to keep and remember Shabbat.
What might it mean for you?
While it’s heartening that the rabbis took the time to create a text-based conceptual framework around the practice of creating light, it is possibly more remarkable — and in its way even more spiritually moving — to recognize that the ritual of candle lighting is first and foremost a practical exercise. Before there was electricity, an embedded candle lighting ritual ensured that you and your friends would not be celebrating Shabbat in the dark. In fact the Jewish legal sources clearly state that if you can only afford to buy one thing for Friday night it should be candles, because if you can’t see your table, your wine, your food, your guests, it’s impossible to enjoy Shabbat.
Thanks to Shira Kline, award-winning performer and music educator, and Josh Nelson, influential composer and performer, for these incredible audio recordings of Shabbat blessings.
Spoken in Hebrew
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha’olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.
Spoken in English
Blessed are You, Infinite One, who makes us holy through our actions and honors us with the light of Shabbat.
Sung in Hebrew
This version uses the word ruach (which means spirit, breath, or wind) instead of melech (which means king). The ruach version is popular with those involved in the Jewish Renewal Movement. Click here to learn more about the difference between the word choices.
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Ruach ha’olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.