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הַדְלָקַת נֵרוֹת שֶׁל שַׁבָּת | Hạđḷàˈqạt͡h néˈṛọt͡h s͡hèḷ S͡hạˈbàt͡h | Lighting the Sabbath Candles is a בְּרָכָה | bəṛàˈk͡hàh | blessing sung when lighting the candles on עֶרֶב שַׁבָּת | ˈ‘Èṛèv S͡hạˈbàt͡h | Friday evening just before nightfall —customarily within 18 minutes before sunset.
Traditionally, the candles are lit by the woman of the house or by the eldest woman, in honor of Shabbat. Shabbat is considered a מַלְכָּה | mạḷˈkàh | queen and a כַּלָה | kạˈḷàh | bride, because during Shabbat, the שְׁכִינָה | S͡hək͡hịˈnàh | Divine Presence settles upon the people.
At the beginning of Shabbat, two candles are customarily lit. According to one interpretation, we light the one candle to fullfill the commandment in Exodus 20:8, “זָכֹר אֶת־יוֹם השַּׁבָּת | Zàˈk͡họṛ ’èt yọm hạS͡hạˈbàt͡h | Remember the Sabbath day”; and the other candle to fulfill the commandment in Deuteronomy 5:12, “שְׁמוֹר אֶת־יוֹם השַּׁבָּת | S͡hàmọṛ ’èt yọm hạS͡hạˈbàt͡h | Observe the Sabbath day”. Others assert that the second candle represents the light of the Shekhinah, or the light of the נְשָׁמָה יֶתֶרָה | nès͡hàˈmàh yètèˈṛàh | extra soul that each person is given for the duration of Shabbat, since according to Proverbes 20:27, “נֵר יי נִשְׁמַת אָדָם | Néṛ hạS͡hém nịs͡hmạt͡h ’àđàm | G!d's candle is the human's soul”.
Ordinarily, one always says a blessing just before performing the מִצְוָה | mit͡sˈṿàh | commandement, but the הֲלָכָה | hạḷàˈk͡hàh | path (orthodox Jewish law) forbids kindling fire on Shabbat, and lighting the Shabbat candles signals the beginning of Shabbat. So it is customary to light the candles first, and then recite the blessing while shielding one's eyes from the candlelight with one's hands. After saying the blessing, many people have a custom of symbolically welcoming Shabbat by drawing the radiance toward themselves with their hands three times. Others symbolically greet Shabbat by throwing the candle flames a kiss. Another custom is for the candlelighter to symbolically spread the radiance of the candle flames outwards with their hands to the congregation and the world.
This melody, in a minor scale, is attributed to Abraham Wolfe Binder (1895..1966), the American composer, educator, author, and music director. Whether he composed it himself or merely transcribed a traditional melody is unclear.
The updated lyrics of this version bless the Shekhinah directly, and eschew feudalistic and patriarchal terms.
http://sefaradizo.org/muzica/hadlaqat_nerot_shel_shabat/ Sephardic Association of Órgiva, Granada, Andalusia, Spain 2018.11.18 English edition
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