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Project Inspire Arizona was created to ignite and empower the Arizona Jewish Community to build a grassroots movement of mutual inspiration through learning and experiential Judaism. Our mission is to create a dedicated group of men and women that grow together with their fellow Jews through learning, social programs and trips to Israel community and read their stories about what ignites and inspires their Jewish lives.
Living Life Empowered: May 2019
Illuminating the Darkness with Shabbos Candles
I love those moments in life when something you thought you knew suddenly takes on new dimensions of meaning. I am fortunate to have experienced this recently after I attended the Project Inspire Arizona Sister to Sister Brunch for women on May 5. The theme was all about women bringing in the Shabbos through the powerful practice of lighting candles on Friday night. One of the speakers, Mrs. Yaffa Palti, said that there are various reasons explaining why we welcome in the Shabbos specifically through lighting candles. (Too bad we don’t have the custom, as she jokingly suggested, of welcoming it in by eating a pie of pizza!) One of the reasons for the candle lighting of which I had previously been aware is to increase shalom bayis, or peace in the home between family members, specifically the husband and wife. The light of the candles ensures that nobody stumbles or trips and then gets angry at someone else, thereby causing a fight.
But I never knew it the way Yaffa explained it.
She said that the light of the Shabbos candles illuminates our path so that we can see all of those things toward which we have become blind. There are so many gifts that we have been granted that we become so used to seeing that it’s as if we no longer see them at all. All of the relationships in our lives, especially the one between us and G-d, can benefit so greatly from opening our eyes and appreciating the small things. How often do we appreciate the gift of air conditioning? Or that our refrigerator is in working order? When these things are taken away, they suddenly mean everything to us. How many things about our spouse do we forget to see and appreciate? The Shabbos candles take care of that by shedding light on those qualities.
Yaffa described her late father who suffered from a degenerative disease. Even when the disease had advanced to the point of only being able to move his mouth, she never once heard a word of complaint leave his lips. His every moment until the end was spent appreciating his gifts with joy.
I have always been inspired about the idea of appreciating all of the joys in life, large and small, in order to create happiness. However, I had never before associated this idea with the Shabbos candles.
This past Friday night, though, as I began to strike the match, it all came together in my mind like the last piece of a beautiful puzzle. Before I lit each candle (I light one for each child respectively and for my husband and myself), I allowed its light to show me a quality about my husband that is wonderful or something that I appreciate that he does for me. I felt the glow of the candles embedding these things into my heart. I hope to continue to do this every week either about my spouse or about any of my loved ones and friends. What better way to enter Shabbos, a time set aside for connection with our Creator and the people in our lives.
I owe a lot of gratitude to Robin Meyerson, Michael and Carol Dean, Yaffa Palti, and all of the sponsors and speakers of the Sister to Sister Women’s Brunch, for providing me, along with so many women, the opportunity to see Shabbos candles in a new “light.”
May we all merit to bring love into our homes through the Shabbos flames each week!
(Ayala Shoshan is the rebbetzin of Ahavas Torah: the Scottsdale Torah Center, which she founded with her husband in 2004. As a life coach she specializes in relationships and life satisfaction. Ayala runs a blog and whatsapp group which feature audios about shalom bayis, marital harmony, for women. Visit her blog at ayalashoshan.blogspot.com.)