~ Kindling the Lights for Shabbat~

Baruch atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha-olam
Blessed are You, Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe,

Asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Shabbat
Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the light of the Shabbat.

The Shabbat lights are kindled approximately 18 minutes before sunset.

In accord with the cherished Jewish view [Shabbat 2:6-7], considering the home as the woman's sphere and the workaday world as the man's, the lights marking the beginning of the Shabbat are kindled by the wife, while the twisted candle of the Havdalah marking the resumption of the week's work at the end of the Shabbat rest is kindled by the husband.

Since the Scriptures uses light and joy as synonyms (Tehillim 97:11; Ester 8:16), it has been suggested that the Shabbat illuminations were originally intended as symbolical of a day of joy, serenity and good cheer.

The custom of lighting two candles at least is explained by the two synonyms, "Remember" and "Observe," which introduce the Shabbat mitzvah in the two versions of the Torah, respectively (Shemot 20:8; Devarim 5:12).

Even though the blessing for the lighting of the Shabbat lights is one of non-biblical precepts, it is based on the authority of the Talmudic sages. All religious duties ordained by the Sages, such as the reading of the Megillah on Purim and the kindling of Shabbat lights and Chanukkah lights require the formula "Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us" in the introductory benediction. Where in the Torah did G-d so command us? In Devarim 17:11, where we are told to act according to their judgment... This applies to all the mitzvot inaugurated by the Sages. (Yad, Berachot 11:3)

After the recitation of the benediction for kindling the lights of Shabbat, it is customary to recite the below special prayer composed by women, for women. The Talmud declares, 'One who is scrupulous in the kindling of Shabbat lights will be blessed with children who are Torah scholars' (Shabbat 23b), the prayer stresses the supplication that the children of the home grow up learned and righteous.

May it be Your will Hashem, my G-d and G-d of my forefathers, that You show favor to me [my husband, my sons, my daughters, my father, my mother] and all my relatives; and that You grant us and all Yisra'el a good and long life; that You remember us with a beneficent memory and blessing; that You consider us with a consideration of salvation and compassion; that You bless us with great blessings; that You make our households complete; that You cause Your Presence to dwell among us. Privilege me to raise children and grandchildren who are wise and understanding, who love Hashem and fear G-d, people of truth, holy offspring, attached to Hashem, who illuminate the world with Torah and good deeds and with every labor in the service of the Creator. Please, hear my supplication at this time, in the merit of Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, and Leah, our mothers, and cause our light to illuminate that it be not extinguished forever, and let Your countenance shine so that we are saved. Amein.