Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel Quotes on Shabbat Candles

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel Quotes on Shabbat Candles

These poetic quotes from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel describe the moment when Shabbat arrives, bringing with it an atmosphere of light, peace, rest, joy, and renewal. Heschel points to the creative and transformative power of lighting Shabbat candles, which officially marks the beginning of this holy day. In his book, “The Sabbath,” Heschel explains why Judaism is a religion of time, as opposed to space, designating Shabbat as the ultimate symbol of the sanctification of time. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) was one of the leading Jewish theologians and philosophers of the 20th century.

“Let There Be Light!”

When all work is brought to a standstill, the candles are lit. Just as creation began with the word, “Let there be light!” so does the celebration of creation begin with the kindling of lights. It is the woman who ushers in the joy and sets up the most exquisite symbol, light, to dominate the atmosphere of the house.

And the world becomes a place of rest. An hour arrives like a guide, and raises our minds above accustomed thoughts. People assemble to welcome the wonder of the seventh day, while the Sabbath sends out its presence over the fields, into our homes, into our hearts. It is a moment of resurrection of the dormant spirit in our souls.

The Sabbath Arrives in the World

Refreshed and renewed,
Attired in festive garments,
With candles nodding dreamily to
Unutterable expectations,
To intuitions of eternity,
Some of us are overcome with a feeling
As if almost all they would say would be like a veil.
There is not enough grandeur in our souls
To be able to unravel in words
The knot of time and eternity.
One should like to sing for all men,
For all generations…
There is a song in the wind
And joy in the trees.
The Sabbath arrives in the world,
Scattering a song in the silence of the night;
Eternity utters a day. Where are the words
That could compete with such might?