Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on Shabbat is the Sabbath day, the Day of Rest, and is observed from Friday night through Saturday night. Is set aside from the rest of the week both in honor of the fact that God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. On Shabbat, many Jews observe prohibitions from various activities designated as work. Shabbat is traditionally observed with festive meals, wine, challah, prayers, the reading and studying of Torah, conjugal relations, family time, and time with friends..
Rituals are powerful, and in this time I invite us all imagine the visual and emotional power of standing before your candlesticks but not lighting candles! – as you acknowledge that you’re doing this in the face of climate change, and as a symbolic teaching in the face of the fires that are decimating large parts of our planet. And think about the particulate matter you won’t be adding to the air from using paraffin candles or even from using oil, not to mention the harm done to bees if we use beeswax candles.
The traditional words we recite when lighting candles are curious, as they say:
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Shabbat lights.
There’s no such commandment in the The Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general.! The blessing may have been a Talmudic era invention to support the practice of Jews who kindled lights before the beginning of Shabbat, in opposition to those Jews who didn’t, like our Karaite kin, who to this day have no fires in their homes during Shabbat, to honor their interpretation of Exodus 35:3.
My new blessing for not burning candles is based on God creating light on the first day, but not creating the sun and stars (and thus fire, I imagine) until fourth day:
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and commanded us to remember the light of creation.
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh Ha’olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav, vitzivanu lizkor or ha-briut.
These words can be feminized and can be chanted to the melodies you’re familiar with. You may close your eyes as you chant them, and use your hands to draw close to you the light that was the very first thing God created, a mystical light that fills the entire universe, a light which we can’t see with our eyes, but which we can feel with our hearts and take into ourselves and share on Shabbat, as a form of blessing.
I keep big colorful marbles in my Shabbat candlesticks, another one with many different colors swirling through it for Havdallah, place twigs I find in the street in my The holiday which celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem following its conquest by the Syrians in 165 BCE. The holiday is celebrated by lighting candles in a hanukiyah oon each of eight nights. Other customs include the eating of fried foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (jelly donuts), playing dreidl (a gambling game with a spinning top), and, in present day America, gift giving. The seeven-branched menorah stood in the Temple, and many present-day synagogues feature the menorah. Titus' arch depicts the Romans' sacking of the Temple and theft of the menorah. A nine-branched menorah called a Hanukkiyah is lit on Hanukkah to symbolize the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days., and put out a large pine cone on someone’s (Yiddish) The anniversary of a death, usually marked by the lighting of a 24-hour yahrzeit candle and the recitation of Kaddish, the memorial prayer. For U.S. Jews, the unveiling of the headstone usually takes place on or around the first yahrzeit.. I invite you to be creative as we change this ritual to support our climate action work in a symbolic ritual way in this critical time.