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 Holiday Central > Rosh Hashanah > Candle Lighting
Rosh Hashanah Candle Lighting
By: Rivka C. Berman, Contributor
Click Here for More Holiday Articles

CHILDREN'S BOOK for AGES 5-11

Fun at Grandma Sadie's
A Story for Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah Candle Lighting and Blessings

Candles are lit to usher in Jewish holidays with warmth and light. Since Jewish days begin with the setting sun, a lit candle creates a sacred space, a glimmer in a dark night. Before sunset brings on the night that begins Rosh Hashanah kindle the holiday candles.

What type of candles should be used?
Home apparel stores stock aisles of tapers, scented candles, multicolor wax sculptures with a garden of potpourri embedded in them. These are nice, but more practical and usually cheaper are the basic white candles, plain and parafil, they last long into the night. (Unless an air conditioner or heating vent is blowing on them.)

How many should be lit?
The number of candles to light varies on preference and tradition. Some light one candle for each person in the family. Lighting two candles is another standard practice based on various reasons: the male and female aspects of God’s presence or the two words, zachor-remember and shamor-keep, that the Torah uses to urge Shabbat observance. Lit candles bring joy and peace to the home, the more the merrier.

A Quick Holiday Candle Lighting How To:
1. Light the candles.
2. Sweep your hands in a circular motion above the flames a few times to welcome the holiday to your home.'
3. Cover your eyes or leave them uncovered – depending on your custom.

On Sabbath eve eyes are covered because blessing the candles starts Shabbat, when lighting a fire is prohibited. Usually a blessing is said before an action is done. (For example, the hamotzi blessing over bread is said before eating the bread.) The question is how to keep the Shabbat candle lighting ceremony within the usual blessing-first-action-second order without violating the fire-lighting prohibition. Hmm.

The solution: Light candles and then cover eyes so the lit candles are unseen. Then say the blessing.

Here’s the fun part. Since lighting flames from an existing source is permitted on holidays like Rosh Hashanah, there is no need to cover the eyes and pretend they aren’t lit to say the blessing. So some people have the custom to leave their eyes uncovered while blessing the holiday candles. Others, who value consistency over novelty or who enjoy the private prayer space covered eyes provide, will place their hands over their eyes during holiday candle lighting.

Of course, when holidays begin on Friday night it’s a double whammy. Eyes should be covered because as Shabbat and the holiday arrive at the same time. Whew.

The Blessings
If Rosh Hashanah is on a Friday night add the words “shel Shabbat” (of Shabbat) as indicated.

Ba-rukh Ah-tah Ah-doe-nai Eh-lo-hay-nu Me-lekh ha-olam ah-share kidee-shah-nu b’mitz-vo-tahv v’tzi-vah-nu l’had-leek nair (shel Shabbat) v’shell Yome Hah-zee-car-oan.

We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the Universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and commands us to kindle the lights (of the Sabbath) and of the Day of Remembrance.

Follow up with the Shehecheyanu blessing that is said on momentous occasions and milestones.

Ba-rukh Ah-tah Ah-doe-nai Eh-lo-hay-nu Me-lekh ha-olam sheh-heh-chee-ya-nu v'ki-y'manu v'higi-anu la-z'man ha-zeh.

We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the Universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us,
and for enabling us to reach this season.

Mazor Guide to Rosh Hashanah brings you much more about the holiday, its meaning and its traditions... See the links below.


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