“Tell Me Mother:” A Song About a Mother’s Prayer while Lighting the Shabbat Candles

This moving Hebrew song is about a young girl who asks her mother what she is thinking about while she lights the Shabbat candles. In answering her daughter’s question, the mother recites a well-known supplication (“techina”) attributed to an 18th century European Jewess. At the end of the song, the daughter asks her mother the same question again on her wedding day, explaining that she wants to one day pass along this tradition to her daughters as well. The central theme of the prayer is the mother’s desire to raise wise descendants who will love God and practice Torah and good deeds. Today, many women have the custom of reciting this same prayer, while others use this time for their own personal prayers. 

This song was written by Miri Yisraeli and is sung by a young boy named Avi Sharon. While the melody, tone and sweet voice of the young singer can be appreciated by anyone, this song will be enjoyed most by those who understand Hebrew. Follow along with the Hebrew and English translation of the lyrics below.

Hebrew Lyrics

פזמון: יהי רצון מלפניך אלוקי,
שתזכני לגדל בנים ובני בנים
אוהבי ה’
יראי א-לוקים
בנים ובני בנים,
חכמים ונבונים,
זרע קודש בה’ דבקים
בנים ובני בנים, מאירים את העולם
במעשים טובים, ובתורתם,
וזכיני לגדל, בנים.

אמא, בואי שבי איתי, כאן על המיטה שלי,
כל לילה את קוראת איתי את קריאת השמע
אני כה עייפה,
וכבר כמעט ישנה.
ואמא, את עדיין לידי.
שפתייך רוחשות,
בתפילה ממלמלות,
אמא, מה את מבקשת?


אמא, ברכי אותי,
בזה היום יום חופתי.
עומדת אני עתה, על סף חיים חדשים
רוצה גם אני, שתשאל אותי ביתי,
אמא, מה את מבקשת?

אמא, תגידי לי מה את מבקשת?


English Translation

Mother, tell me, what are you thinking now? You are standing before the Shabbat candles, tears sparkling on your closed eyes. Mother, why are you crying? Your lips are whispering in murmured prayer. Mother, what are you asking for?

Chorus: “May it be Thy will, O my God, That I will be able to raise children and grandchildren to love God and to be in awe of Him. May my descendants be learned and wise, holy descendants that cling to the Divine; who bring light to this world through their good deeds and their teaching of Torah.”

Mother, come and sit with me, here on my bed. Every night you recite the “Shema” prayer with me. I am so tired, and I’m almost asleep. And Mother, you are still beside me. Your lips are whispering in murmured prayer. Mother, what are you asking for?


Mother, bless me on this day, the day of my wedding. I am standing here now, on the brink of a new life. I also want my daughter to one day ask me, “Mother, what are you asking for?” Mother, tell me, what are you asking for?