Fire is an important symbol in the Jewish culture. There are many passages in the Bible condemning pagan ritual sacrifices at altars in the forest, and extolling proper burnt sacrifices to the One God:
“…then shalt Thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness with burnt offering…” (Psalm LI: 21)
There are many holidays in which fire plays an important part: Lag BaOmer, when bonfires are made as an echo of the signal fires lit against the Romans during the Bar Kochba rebellion; Hannuka, when the miracle of a lamp containing oil enough for a day burned for eight; the tradition of “soul candles,” which burn for 24 hours on the anniversary of the death of a close family member.
But perhaps the most constant and important fire in Judaism is the Sabbath candles, to be lit on Friday eve by every daughter of Israel. I see the Sabbath candles as a symbol of home and the woman’s duty and privilege to protect and care for her family, physically and spiritually.
My piece contains an unlit Sabbath candle to remind myself that no matter how much women expand our potential as human beings, the role of homemaker is a very profound commitment. It provides the foundation of faith upon which miracles can grow.