Lighting the Ereve Shabbat Candles

Lighting the Ereve Shabbat candles to welcome the onset of Shabbat or a Feast day is a Jewish tradition. This particular tradition is not something that we are commanded to do in Scripture, however, the Bible does instruct us in Ex 20:8 to…

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

The word “holy” in this verse is “Kadosh” in Hebrew and it means “set apart”. We are instructed to Set apart one day a week (the 7th day) and to remember and keep it for Yahweh.

Because of electricity, we don’t often use lighted candles on our dinner table. In our home, we like the idea of lighting Ereve Shabbat (Eve of Sabbath) candles because this is something that we don’t normally do. When we light the Ereve Shabbat candles it helps us to focus on the fact that we are entering a special set apart time with Yahweh. This is one way that we like to make a distinction between the set apart time of Shabbat and all the common days of the week, month and year. In Ezekel 44:23 we are told,

“And they are to teach My people the difference between the set-apart and the profane, and make them know what is unclean and clean.”  The Scriptures translation

All throughout Scripture we see the theme of Yahweh showing how to make a distinction between His set apart ways and the ways of the flesh, or common, or unholy things.  By lighting the Ereve Shabbat candles, we are making a distinction between the Shabbat and the other six days of work. The candles are special and cast a lovely glow on our Sabbath dinner table. The Shabbat table has much significance too but that is another article. 🙂

Many Torah/Messianic believers follow the Jewish custom of lighting the Ereve Shabbat candles just prior to the onset of Shabbat. Others light only 1 candle or 3 or more – there is no right or wrong. We have friends that light a hurricane oil lamp to welcome Shabbat. Go with what you feel lead of the Ruach ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) to do.

You may be wondering, “Why two candles?” The reason for two candles is to remind us to remember and observe the Shabbat. Where does that come from? Firstly remember ~ zachor et yom haShabbat, comes from Ex 20:8

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

The word that is translated as “remember” is the Hebrew word zachar (zah-kar) and it is Strongs #H2142. This Hebrew word, zachar means: to mark (so as to be recognized), that is, to remember; by implication to mention; also (as denominative from H2145) to be male: –  burn [incense],  earnestly, be male, (make) mention (of), be mindful, recount, record, remember, make to be remembered, bring (call, come, keep, put) to (in) remembrance,  think on.

and secondly to observe ~ shomor et yom haShabbat, Deuteronomy 5:12.

Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.

The word that is translated as “keep” is the Hebrew word shamar (shaw-mar’) and it is Strongs #H8104. This Hebrew word, shamar means: properly to hedge about (as with thorns), that is, guard; generally to protect, attend to, etc.: – beware, be circumspect, take heed (to self), keep (-er, self), mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save (self), sure, (that lay) wait (for), watch (-man).

Both of these commands to remember and keep the Shabbat where given by Yahweh to Yisrael and the mixed multitude that gathered at the foot of Mt Sinai. Batya Wooten has said that the two Shabbat candles remind her of Judah and Ephryaim, together.

We use two candles for Ereve Shabbat because it reminds us of the command to remember and observe and we like seeing them together reminding us that one day we will see the whole House of Yisrael standing together as one, echad (in Hebrew).

Shabbat Candlesticks

You can also use candlesticks that you already have or that you can purchase at yard sales, thrift shops, antique stores, department stores, gift shops and Judaica suppliers. We like to alternate between the 3 sets of candlesticks that we have. Some families like to use special candlesticks just for the Biblical Feast Shabbats and the Historical Holiday Shabbats.

Our favorite set of candlesticks (on the left) are simple in design and they came from a Dollar Store. They are two different heights and tinted a pale green/aqua color. I tied a sheer blue ribbon around one of them and sat glass bobeches on top to catch the melting wax.

What is a bobeche? This is a French word (circa 1897) and is pronounced BO-besh (rhymes with go mesh). A bobeche is a thin glass shallow cup with a hole in the center. It sits atop a candlestick holder to catch the melting wax. Some people call it a candle collar, drip catcher or candle saucer. Here is a source with a large selection:

You can use any size taper or pillar candle in any candle holder that you choose. 

Tip: the small white Shabbat candles that are available in most grocery stores and online at Judaica suppliers will burn for approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Armenian Shabbat candlesticks that I purchased online from a Judaica store.

Lighting the Candles

Traditionally, this honor has been given to the women and girls of the household. The women and girls respectfully cover their heads with scarves or shawls to show respect to the King of the Universe – Yahweh. I light the candles with wooden matches because it is a reminder to me of an older time. To me, it just doesn’t feel right to use a lighter or worse yet one of those big, bulky stick lighters. This is just a personal preference, though.

What do single men do? Or men whose wives are out of town? It is our personal opinion that they can light the candles too. Again this is tradition is open for your personal interpretation. Do as you feel lead of the Ruach ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit.)

Lighting Note: The older tradition of covering the eyes, moving of the hands in swirling motions and reciting a phrase in Hebrew/Yiddish three times, is one that I was never comfortable with doing. It was more than just an uncomfortable feeling it was more like a “check” in my spirit – so I long ago discontinued that practice. I have since learned that some Torah believers think that this tradition has pagan incantation trappings. Avi and I have not found any written documentation either way so we go with our feeling and do not include that  as part in our Ereve Shabbat candle lighting.

As mentioned above I do light two Ereve Shabbat candles and I look forward to singing the blessing in Hebrew. We use the standard little white Shabbat candles and buy them in a large box at the grocery store. As I mentioned before, we light the two candles because, to us, it is a way to make a distinction between the regular work days and the onset of the set apart time of rest that is Shabbat.

After the Candles are Lit

After the candles are lit, the woman/women/girls say or sing the blessing. I often use the traditional one because it is the first one that I learned and I have it memorized. I also learned to sing it and that is very special to me. However, I sometimes use the Messianic blessing below.

Below are two candle lighting blessings with the transliterated Hebrew and  English translation.

Traditional Jewish Candle Lighting Blessing

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheynu Melech ha’olam

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe

Asher kidshanu b’mitzvotov

Who has set us apart with His commandments

V’tzivanu l’hadlik neyr shel Shabbat. Amen

And instructed us to kindle the Sabbath lights. Amen

Messianic Candle Lighting Blessing

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheynu Melech ha’olam

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe

Asher kidshanu b’mitzvotov

Who has set us apart with His commandments

Asher natan lanu et yeshua haMashiach, ha’or la’olam.

Who has given us Yeshua our Messiah, the light of the world

Who tikvatanu oobeeshmo nikranu le’heyot or lagoyim. Amen

He is our hope, in Him we are called to be a light unto the nations. Amen

After the candles are lit we continue with our Ereve Shabbat meal-time traditions, then we eat our meal and offer thanks to Yahweh for all his blessings. We allow the candles to burn until they are nearly out. Most often I will move the candles to a window sill so that their light (symblic of Yahshua Messiah being the light of the world, of restored Yisrael and of Yahweh’s set apart commandments to remember and keep this special time with Him) can be seen by the world outside our window. The lit candles also remind us of Yahshua’s words in John 8:12

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

It is a blessing to begin the Sabbath in this way. I will be writing about the other ways that we observe and celebrate the onset of Shabbat and Yom Shabbat in the near future.

Do you light candles for Ereve Shabbat?

Every Blessing,

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  1. Yes, yes, yes! We light candles here, too. Posey, I just love your ideas and how practical this is. And you’ve inspired me to stop using the big lighter from the camping equipment. LOL!


    • I’m glad that you liked the things that I posted. Funny thing about that big lighter from the camping equipment thing – it just seems like it’s out of placed if I’m lighting candles. To me, candles are a means of light from our past and the big bulky butane lighter just doesn’t go with old fashioned wax candles. Maybe matches are too modern too. We don’t have a fireplace in this house and so I can’t light a straw from an old-fashioned broom to use as a candle lighter. I like old fashioned things but I’m not ready to try to light candles with a flint and striker, yet anyway .

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