Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Three lightings for Shabbos


It has been a while since I blogged. I have been very busy with homeschooling, art shows, market places, kinderlach appointments to the dentist, doctors. So life is full and very fast spaced. When shabbos comes it is long desired for each week. To rest, feel refreshed, and to enjoy shabbos with friends and family alike is wonderful. It is what our whole family looks forward to each week.

There is an undercurrent of excitement and joyful anticipation as the family eagerly prepares for Shabbos and another visit from the Shabbos Queen. An atmosphere of tranquility and family unity descends upon the house. Shabbos is indeed a day of rest physically, and emotionally. All grief, care, and burdens are forbidden and indeed, with ourselves. However, Shabbos is enriched not only with rest but with activity. This is alluded in the expressions:
"Remember the Shabbath to sanctify it (Exodus 20:7), by licht benching (candle lighting), reciting Kiddush, dining festively, dressing in special clothes, praying, listening to Torah reading in Shul, and learning and discussing portions of Torah.
Refers to guarding oneself from any of the forbidden 39 categories of work (melacha) as well as others which may be halachically permitted but are not fitting or appropriate on this special day.
Every Jewish home should contain pushkas, containers designed for Jewish charities, shuls and yeshivas. Money, even a few coins, should be put in these every day. Before lighting the Shabbos candles is an especially appropriate time to fulfill the mitzvah of tzedakah. We cannot begin too early to teach our childeren the importance of tzedakah. As a matter of fact with each one of our children their first words were " Emah, Abba, and Tzedakah"

Our Sages have said, "Great is the mitzvah of candle lighting, as it brings peace into the world." On one level this means that the light of the Shabbos candles brings peace by illuminating the house so that people do not stumble in the dark or bump into each other.

In a deeper sense, Chassidut teaches us that the Shabbos candles light up the house and every member of the family with the light of the Torah which guides them safely along the path of life that is full of dangerous pitfalls.

Every mitzvah of the Torah is likened to a candle: "Ki Ner Mitzvah v'Torah Or" (a mitzvah is a candle and Torah is a light [Proverbs 6:23) Each mitzvah that a person does effects a physical and spiritual illumination. Each mitzvah---each light tunes us in more closely to the sprituality latent in this world.Candle lighting has always been a special and auspicious time, one of meditation and quiet prayer. The Jewish woman or girl stands before the kindled flames with eyes covered as she recites the blessing. The reason that the blessing must be said after, rather than before, lighting the candles is that if the blessing were to be recited first it would seem as if the woman has already "inaugurated Shabbos." In that case she would not be permitted to light the candles, since kindling of the lights on the Shabbos is forbidden.

At this moment, when the family is gathered together, she has traditionally offered a silent or verbal prayer on behalf of her husband and children. In generations past, personal prayers in Yiddish called "techinos" were commonly said by Jewish women before doing a mitzvah and on special occasions.
A minimum of two candles are lit corresponding to the two expressions of Shabbos mentioned preveiously: "Zochor" (remember) and "Shomor" (guard), that are mentioned in the Ten Commandments. Some women add an additional light with the birth of each child and continue lighting it throughout the years. The lights are symbolic of the cheerfulness and serenity which distinguishes the Shabbos.

Shabbos is so special to our family that is become an oppertunity to bless our children and let them know how proud we are of them for all the wonderful mitzvos they have done during the week. To see them beaming with smiles that just can make your heart melt. This is the second light we ignite on Shabbos is praising our children and seeing the light within them grow and become brighter than ever before. This is especially a kosher light for Shabbos and the most important.

Some special ingredients at the Shabbos table, where the meal is more leisurely joyful and elaborate, and where all family members are present, are the Torah talks (whch are more detailed than at the weekday table) the songs and guests.

Our sages teach us that the Sechinah (Divine Presence) doe not rest on a person sunk in sadness or laziness, but comes only with the joy of mitzvah performance. Therefore, when a Jew prepares to invite Hashem's presence to his Shabbos table, he must first be able to declare that he has prepared himself for it by elevating himself to the level of spiritual joy which can be done only by means of holy pursuits, such as praising G-d, study of Torah, and performance of good deeds.

Some of the songs (zmiros) sung at the Shabbos meals are from the Siddur (prayer book), some from the psalms, and some from other Holy writings, while other nigunim (tunes) are wordless. All are full of the feeling of joy and faith which fills our hearts on special holy days. According to the Rabbis, food can be sanctified by holy utterances pronounced at the table, and a food thus hallowed becomes a "food of healing."

The third light is the havdallah candle. The Havdalah prayer is said over a cup of wine, with a blessing. However, grape juice, beer, and certain other liquids may be used instead. In addition, two other blessings are also recited. The first blessing is said over the smelling of spices. Sweet. smelling spices have the ability to revive broken spirits, and now that Shabbos is over and our added spiritual soul has departed, our mood needs to be uplifted and revived.

The second is a blessing for fire, said over the light of a Havdalah candle (a special candle made by combining several wicks or by joining the flame of two candles). One reason for this blessing is a remembrance for the light (fire) Adam made by rubbing two stones together when he first experienced darkness, which was on Saturday night. After the blessing, we hold our nails to the light to see the difference between dark and light reflected on our hands. The order of the blessings is wine, spice, flame, havdalah (acknowledgment of the separation).

"If you will obseve the kindling of the Sabbath lights you will merit to see the lights of the redemption of the Jewish people."

Gut Shabbos Yall'!