One could mistakenly surmise that the custom of candle lighting as the woman’s mitzvah is based on practicality. After all, in most households, women are most active in creating the Shabbat atmosphere of the home.
Tradition states, however, that the connection of women to candle lighting dates back to the matriarch Sarah. According to the Midrash (cited by the great sage Rashi on Genesis 24:67), a candle burned miraculously in Sarah’s tent from one Friday evening to the next. When she died, the candle and its glow vanished. When Isaac’s bride Rebecca moved into Sarah’s tent, however, the miracle of the light returned. This then, is the first allusion to the lighting of a candle for Shabbat. Just as the matriarchs lit a candle on Friday evening to welcome Shabbat, so too have Jewish women welcomed Shabbat with the lighting of the candles, from ancient times until the present.
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