Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Cosmic Flame

My Reflections on Lighting Shabbos Candles



The Sun Sets and I Awake

There is no other focus like the one I experience every seven days when lighting the candle that ushers in Shabbos. For me, it is both a moment of deep reflection of the past week, and sincere prayers for the one fast approaching. It is a thank-you note to G-d, and a supplication for a new era. It is the whole world wrapped in a flame.

My hand brings the match to the candle and an image of a million other hands burns in my mind. The faces of my ancestors praying for future generations. The faces of the women who lit candles during persecution. The faces of many of today’s women who look forward to it as their only spiritual and connecting ritual.

Sometimes I see the flame as a soul imprint of the past week. It knows the routine and often perplexing patterns of daily existence that have brought me here, searching for tranquility.

Gazing into the purples and blues of the flames center, I am summoned to face my mission in the world. By lighting the candle, I say two things: I am a Jewish woman. And more than that, I am G-d’s. The light-filled ceremony concretizes the fusion of these realizations, and I’m a new person…once again.

I am a Flame

The setting sun has commanded me into existence. I stand erect, dancing slightly. With my birth, all chaos has been consumed, and my warmth transforms to harmony within the people, air, and walls that make this home. I hear whispers of reflection, and prayers for the coming week. I am the ultimate witness to the pain and joy, the hopes and dreams, the transformation, and the fresh renewal within Jewish women worldwide. I am a flame. I am more than a flame. I am the fireworks inside every Jewish home. I may be small, but I set the world aglow.

Something to Count on

The Jerusalem sun is threatening to set with its darkening orange display. Shabbos is arriving in ten minutes, and I’m in a lost taxi on nowhere street. With each minute passing, a drum bangs in my stomach. My whole body cringes as I sit in disappointment. Shabbos, which holds the gift of spiritually recharging, was not meant to be greeted this way - in a mad rush, hair undone, and racing against time.

When I finally arrive at my hosts, I have one remaining minute that gets quickly used up with dropping my bags and greeting the family. Time is taking its command, and I am suddenly standing still before the unlit candle which was prepared for me.

I strike the match, and I feel the world around me spin into a new creation. All chaos freezes. A flame is born, and a warm harmony suddenly seeps from within and sinks into the air, and the very walls around me. The world is both standing still and dancing in the life’s most poetic movement. Shabbos is here.

In the madness, I had forgotten - when you light Shabbos candles, you’re under its rule. There’s no escaping the clarity and deep peace it naturally brings. The candle would not let my rushed mood be a barrier to its holy mission. Standing in its warmth, I recite the blessing with a refreshed appreciation for this unique commandment. While cab drivers in Israel may be completely unreliable, the blessing that is lighting Shabbos candles will always be something to count on.

5 comments:

Der Shygetz said...

You iz seriously vantink fin a cosmik flam? Either to light dem Shabbos kendles oder der Chanike menoire azoy vi der gez is offent, oder varf on der kendles a gellon gezoline. Make sure iz very highly insured your property, end make a run far it fest!

Seriously, this is a really beautiful post. Just that I could not resist the theme of candles and fire of a different sort that was so much a part of my now closed blog (yes, I am about to burn it and collect the insurance on it too!) Gut Shabbos - tizki lemitzvos - and don't take the advice above too seriously :))))))!

c said...

tres bien!
captures the spirit, the warmth, the glow...
keep on shining!

shloime said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
shloime said...

People should give out Friday night light kits .It is a Commandment with a universal appeal .I have given out candles to antiwar Jews ,I tell them when they light the guns and missile launchers in the over 30 current conflicts worldwide fall silent for a moment, the planes stop dropping their payload and the solders on the two sides shake hands and wish each other Shabbat Shalom that the world and humanity should know peace .I have gotten over a hundred humans( also non Jews to light with their Jewish boy friend’s) to start to light candles .I meet them in airports ,subways, a church in Rome called SAN PIETRO IN VINCOLI and business shows . In a world thirsting for peace this is a wonderful command, and one the candle lighters can share with all humankind. This winter I was at a show in Tucson I met a couple from a little town in the Oregon wildness. She a Jew him an Irish catholic .She told me every Friday night she wishes her husband Shabbat Shalom, so I told her now you can wish with lit candles .And I sent her a candle kit in the mail .A few weeks later she sent me a e-mail “how she can’t believe I remembered a Jewish women in the middle of the Oregon hinterland. Here is to spreading the light.”

Yettel said...

Mimi, this is exactly how I feel.
Every week, the hush and rush of life comets to a standstill as the candle is lit. You're right, it doesn't matter what went on before, but the flame engulfs you, and the peace descends.

5 more days left 'till Shabbos!!!