Lighting the Shabbos Candles
2. It is a mitzvah to light many candles in honor of Shabbos. Some have the
custom to light ten (1); others, seven (2). In general, one should light at
least two candles, corresponding to [two of the commandments pertaining to
Shabbos,] "Zochor" (Remember) and "Shomor" (Keep) (3). In difficult
circumstances, however, a single candle is sufficient.
The candles should be long, so that they burn until after the meal. One
should make an effort to purchase beautiful candles, for Rav Huna states
(Tractate Shabbos 23b): "A person who is accustomed to lighting beautiful
Shabbos candles will merit sons who will be Torah scholars." [This is
based on the verse] which states: "For a mitzvah is a candle, and Torah is
light" (Proverbs 6:23), which implies that through the candle which is a
mitzvah comes the light of Torah.
Accordingly, it is proper that a woman pray to the Holy One, blessed be He,
when she lights the candles, that He grant her sons who shine in Torah (4).
It is also proper that she make a small donation to charity at that time. A
woman who has difficulty raising children or who has no children at all
should recite the Haftorah of the first day of Rosh HaShanah (5) (which
relates Chana's prayer for a son) when she lights. It is preferable that
she understand what she is reading, and that she recite the passage with
the appropriate intent and concentration.
(1) Corresponding to the Ten Commandments (Shelah)
(2) Corresponding to the days of the week ( Mogein Avraham)
(3) "Remember the Day of Shabbos" (Exodus 20:8) and "Keep the Day of
Shabbos" (Deut 5:12).
(4) Since the mitzvah to light Shabbos candles is related to child-bearing,
many women have the custom to light a Shabbos candle for each child.
(5) I Samuel 1, 2:1-10