Candles play a very big part in Judaism.
Whether it is lighting The Menorah during Chanukah, lighting candles for Shabbat or lighting a candle for a yahrzeit.
Let us explain why Judaism loves candles..
When Do Jews Light Candles?
Jews light candles on several occasions as alluded to in the introduction.
When you enter a Jewish Synagogue there will usually be candles lit.
When you go to a family or friend for Friday Night Dinner there will be Shabbat candles lit.
There are many different occasions where Jews light candles.
Why Do Jews Light Candles?
First of all, it is a Mitzvah (Commandment) to light candles.
It is actually a great honour to donate the oil for lighting candles to the Synagogue
The obvious reason is because when it would be dark, candles would be lit to provide light.
If you look at the Halacha (Jewish Law) then they would need light therefore they lit candles!
So, when there would be darkness, you would light candles to light up the room.
But today we have electricity.
So why do Jews still light candles?
We see in Parashat Behaalotecha, that it was a Mitzvah for Aaron Hacohen to light The Menorah everyday.
Everyday there was a ceremony for lighting The Menorah.
Even though Jews no longer have The Beit Hamikdash and consequently The Menorah, they still light an equivalent which is The Chanukiah.
Rashi has a commentary on Parashat Behaalotecha where he explains a not-so-nice situation that occured.
All the heads of tribes came with a sacrafice to G-d at the inauguration of The Mishkan. Aaron Hacohen sees all of the tribe leaders coming with their sacrafices and felt very uncomfortable that he did not bring a sacrafice.
G-d saw Aaron Hacohen was upset and told him: Don't worry, your part is much greater than all of theirs. You are going to light The Menorah everyday. And not only are you going to light The Menorah everyday, this is going to be for eternity.
Because even now that Jews no longer have The Beit Hamikdash, they still light Chanukah candles.
So, a reason why Jews Light Candles can trace back all the way to the building of The Mishkan.
All the explanations about The Mishkan shows that it had no windows. It was completely sealed with three layers of thick curtains. So of course it needed some light in there. And that's why The Menorah Candles would be lit in there.
So why do we need Candles to light up the room now when we have electricity?
The candles that women light on Shabbat are not for our benefit and it's not to pleasure Shabbat with the light.
It is only to honour The Shabbat.
So, we light the candles to bring honour and respect for Shabbat.
And the same thing is the reason why we lit The Menorah - To make honour and respect for The Beit Hamikdash
The Symbol of Lighting Candles
The light of a candle always goes up.
It doesn't matter whether you turn it sideways or try anything, the flame will always rise up.
The light of the candle, symbolizes the Jewish Soul.
And as the flame of the candles always wants to go up, the Jewish Soul always wants to be elevated.
This is where you see for Jews, regardless of how Religious they might be, they will never be satisfied with only physical pleasures.
Whether a Jew has all the money, fame and success in the world.
They will still crave a connection to G-d
There is a Midrash that says the following:
"My Candle is in Your Hands, and Your Candle is in My Hands"
This is what HaShem is telling us
HaShem says that He is holding our candle.
The meaning of our candle in this text is the Soul.
And the meaning of HaShem's Candle is The Beit Hamikdash
"If You light My Candle, I will Light Your Candle"
Meaning, if Jews light The Menorah in The Beit Hamikdash, The Candles for Shabbat and The Chanukah Candles. Then G-d will light Our Candles
Jewish Teachings From Lighting Candles
We see from this that the special connection between: Judaism, The Torah and Candles is that Jews are literally Holding The Candles of G-d
And there is another beautiful explanation behind Judaism and Candles.
In The Menorah, there are seven branches.
If you look at the structure of The Menorah, it has one candle in the middle, three on the left and three on the right.
The middle candles represents The Torah
And the six candles surronding the middle candle represents The Oral Torah that is surronding The Torah
And how is The Oral Torah brought down?
It is brought down in six pillars.
So all seven branches represent all seven types of The Jews.
And this highlights that there are many different kinds of Jews that are all unique but the one thing we all share is our constant craving of G-d
Understand when you light a candle that you are lighting a candle of The Master of The Universe.
We might not have the The Beit Hamikdash yet but when you are lighting the candle of G-d and He will then light your candle.
And also make space for other Jews to shine in their own unique way.
Embrace your neighbour.
Candles don't fight. They respect each other.
And the same should applies with us as people. Let other people shine.
Till next time! (Rhyme intended)
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