Thursday, September 3, 2015

Shabbat Rituals

There are two rituals honoring Shabbat in which I had the opportunity to participate. Lighting Shabbat candles to welcome the day and the Havdalah ritual of bidding the day farewell until next week. I've posted images of each in the recent past here. This post is the first of another set. I still haven't quite gotten the images I'm looking for to portray the beauty of each of the rituals, but I'll keep trying.

The Shabbat candles are lit on Friday evening before sunset. According to legend the first person to have practiced the ritual was Sarah, Abraham's wife. The Jewish Sages made the enactment of the lighting into ritual to signify peace in the home and to welcome the Shabbat, Queen of days. The candles are most often lit by a woman past Bat Mitzvah age. If unmarried she lights one candle, if married, two, and one for each child. Given the size of most very observant or haredi families, this could turn into quite a display. After lighting she waves her hands three times over the flames, covers her eyes, and recites the traditional Shabbat blessing. Usually a blessing is recited before performing a ritual, but in this case it's done afterwards  because after the blessing, Shabbat has begun and the lighting would be prohibited.

Also, it's traditional during this ritual to put money in a box for Tzedakah, which is sometimes translated as charity, but has a much deeper connotation when translated as righteousness. More about Havdalah in the next post.

Setting the example for giving Tzedakah:

Now it's my turn:

Me too:

Lighting candles, one for each child:

The glow of Shabbat candles, a beautiful light:

Watching mommy:

I know how to do it!

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