LIGHT – a creation which speaks uniquely to the human condition. Humans alone have the ability to create light. Interestingly, this human creation also is used to usher in Shabbat – a day of cessation of creation. Some say that Shabbat is a day of “rest” but a closer look at the root of the word “Shabbat” leads us to the notion of ceasing. When people in Israel are on strike, the same root is used. So, what are we on strike from on Shabbat? We are on strike from our normal, everyday, mundane existence. It is so easy to become caught up in the everyday. Shabbat forces us to stop and take a break – whether it is a break from incessant e-mails, compelling appointments, chasing after our livelihood, or empty, superficial relationships – we need to stop and push the reset button.
There is a story about a king who had 3 children. He told his children that whoever could fill a room to maximum capacity within a week would inherit the kingdom.
The first girl collected sticks and logs of all sizes all week long and packed the room. She fit the small sticks in between the large sticks so there was not room for another piece of wood. The king came and inserted a toothpick into the room. He said, “Not full enough – there is still room for the toothpick.”
The second girl thought and collected bricks and packed them into the room all week long. Their smooth sides and sharp corners meant that she could efficiently stack the bricks one on top of the other. Her father came and threw a handful of sand into the room. “Not full enough – there is still room for the sand.”
The third daughter thought and thought – Sunday passed, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Her father said to her, “How do you expect to win? You have not collected anything with which to fill the room.” On Friday afternoon, just as the sun set, he opened the door. There was nothing in the room except one lit candle. “You are deserving of the kingdom, my daughter, for filling the room completely with light.”
By lighting the Shabbat Candles, we are brought back to the beginning, filling our homes and our lives with warmth, comfort, and hope. Lighting the Shabbat Candles allows us to go on strike from the everyday and push the reset button – to focus on those things which we want to fill every corner of our lives.