"But consider the candle.
"When understood and performed with its original spiritual intent, the lighting of the Sabbath candles can be a sublime moment, an ecstatic moment, a moment of supreme holiness.
"For lighting the Shabbas candles can be our weekly connection to God, the Creator, and to the exact moment of creation.
"The Sabbath prayers tell us that Shabbas is zecher l'ma'aseh v'rasheet, a 'remembrance of the act of creation.' Each week we commemorate and celebrate God's creation of the world and God's rest when the task was completed.
"And what was God's very first act of creation? The Bible reports, 'God said, "Let there be light" ' (Genesis 1:3).
"The world, as we know it, began at the exact primordial moment when God created light.
"Every particle of creation is infused with God's light.
"Light is the symbol of God.
"Light is the symbol of God in us. For, as the proverb teaches, 'The candle, the flame, the spark of God is the very soul of humankind' (Proverbs 20:27).
"That which makes this lump of clay that is a body into a living, breathing, functioning human being is the soul — and the soul is the light of God.
"So what do we do as Shabbas begins, what do we do at the exact moment that is the weekly observance of the birth moment of our world, the 'remembrance of the act of creation'?
"We imitate God.
"In that tiny second when we light the flickering flame of the Shabbas candle, we instantly transport ourselves backward through time; we connect ourselves and merge with that original primordial moment of creation.
"God infused the world with light, and creation began.
"We, who are created in the image of God, imitate God's act of creation by creating light.
"Like God, we infuse our world with light: the light of God, the light of creation, the light of each human soul.
"We renew creation in our time and place.
"So, next time — every time — that you light your Shabbas candles, don't just see a routine ritual; don't just see stubby little white candles.
"Look deeply into the flame; candle gazing is not just a New Age phenomenon. Stare at the light for ten seconds, for thirty seconds, for a minute or more.
"In that light, see God; in that light, see the exact moment of creation; in that light, see the entire universe. In that light, see yourself and your children, and your children's children, and generations yet unborn. In that light, see the totality of existence — your deep connection to all that was, all that is, and all that will be. See your long-ago beginnings and your forever destiny.
"To heighten the sense of seeing, and to enrich Shabbas, you may want to recite words of modern prayer as you light your candles.
"Since we often welcome Shabbas within a circle of family or friends, this prayer — as are many Jewish prayers — is in the plural, 'we see.' If you are welcoming Shabbas by yourself, you may want to make the meditation-prayer more your own by shifting to the more personal I.
we see the world
in a new light.
On this night
we add a new spirit
to our lives.
On this night
a new time of peace.
from desire for gain,
ambition for things.
We raise our eyes
to look beyond time and space
come to see the world
in a new light.
"Let a new light shine upon us
and may it be our blessing
to see its splendor."
"Consider the candle.
"Everything that is important to us at the very core of our beings — everything that is important to our world — is in its flame.
"Open your eyes and see.
"Close your eyes and see."