Lighting Shabbat candles fulfils the precious mitzvah of giving honour to Shabbat. It brings peace and blessing to the home too. This mitzvah is normally performed by Jewish women. Here are seven steps to lighting Shabbat candles.
1. Shabbat candles are ideally lit in the same room as the Friday night meal.
2. Shabbat candles are lit fifteen minutes before sunset. One may light the candles before this, as long as it is not before the ‘plag hamincha’ time: in the summer plag ha’mincha can be as late as 7:15pm!
3. If a person is going out for Friday night dinner they should either light at home if the candles will remain lit by the time they return, or light at your host’s home before Shabbat.
4. The standard custom is to light two candles, though some add a candle per child they have.
5. The candles should be prepared beforehand to avoid any last-minute rush or stress: there is a custom for the husband to prepare the candles.
6. After lighting the candles, the hands are waved towards the candles and brought back in a circular motion (similar to the swimming breaststroke motion) as if bringing the light in. After this, the blessing is recited.
7. After one lights candles and recites the blessing one has accepted the sanctity of Shabbat – one may not do any prohibited Shabbat activity (if one lights the candles early enough, under some circumstances one may stipulate that one does not accept Shabbat until later – ask your Rabbi for details). Therefore make sure to have extinguished the match before reciting the blessing.