Two old ideas combined create a new idea

Candle lighting is a foundational mitzvah for women. In traditional Judaism women are exempted from nearly all time- bound mitzvot/commadments.  Candle lighting is an exception to that rule.

Usually, women cover their heads when they say the blessing over the candles. When my sisters and I got married my mother went to a fancy lace store in the garment district, bought a beautiful length of lace and finished the edges. We each received it as a pre wedding gift.

Mine was beautiful re-embroidered lace. I put it on the first Shabbat of my married life. I felt that while I was old enough to get married, I wasn’t old enough to wear that beautiful piece of lace. So I put it away and began the custom of lighting candles with my head uncovered.

The first Shabbat after my daughter was born, I tried that lace head covering again. I still wasn’t old enough to wear it. That beautiful length of lace remains put away.

My mother used to light candles quickly. She said the blessing and then kissed all of us. It was a sweet moment. The first time I saw my mother in law light  candles I realized that it could be a much bigger production than I was used to. My mother in law  recited “ baruch hu u’baruch sh’mo” Blessed be He and blessed be His Name  three times as she waved her hands in a huge arc. Then after she lit the candles and said the blessing, she recited a long  Techina/ a prayer of supplication in Herew. She had learned that Techina from her mother. I didn’t catch all of the words but it asked for children that could earn a good living.

Traditionally, the moments after candle lighting, women can make their requests of the Divine.  Many of those requests are said in the woman's own words. There is a tradition of Techinas and various more formalized texts of supplication.

After my mother in law became demented, she was no longer able to remember that Techina. I was always on the look out for that text. While searching, I found a different version of  the candle lighting Techina.

The techina I found most often was essentially this one:

May it be Your will, Lord my God and God of my fathers, to be gracious to me and   and to all my family; grant us and all Israel good and long life; remember us for good and blessing; consider us for salvation and compassion; bless us with great blessings; make our household complete, crowning our home with the feeling of Your Divine Presence dwelling among us.
Make me worthy to raise learned children and grandchildren, who are wise and understanding, who love and fear God, people of truth, holy and attached to God, who will dazzle the world with Torah and goodness and service of God. Please hear our prayers, in the merit of our matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, and ensure that the glow of our lives will never be dimmed. Show us the glow of Your face and we will be saved. Amen.*

I loved this text. I have been making wall hangings with this text. I made a challah cover using this text.

I have been invited to show my work at a conference on Jewish Women and clothing run by the Jewish Theological Seminary. Thinking about the conference gave me the idea to make a head covering for women to wear while lighting candles that is covered with the text of the techina.
techina (1)

There is a old Jewish legend  that in summary is that while the earliest generation knows both the proper acts to perform as well as the prayer to send up before god, the following generations loose the action and are left with the prayer, until finally our generation is left only with the story of what was done.

I have certain issues with that story, one of which is that certainly in my family, there are some later generations with more knowledge than the earlier generations.

techina (2)
I also have a slightly odd addenda to the story of my mother in law’s Techina. My mother in law used to recite the techina out of the little blessing book that she got at my cousin’s bar mitzvah in the 1950’s.  When I looked at a different copy of that same book, my mother in law’s techina wasn’t in there, the standard one was.

I was then on the look out for my mother in law’s Techina. I finally found it. I found my mother in laws text in a prayer book that had belonged to my grandmother.

I hope to make another candle lighting  head covering with my mother in law’s  techina  text.

Shabbat Shalom!

* translation from the Aish site


  1. Thank you. I think your idea is very inspirational.

    I love the way you give people visual ways to think. I do hope it is something that becomes widely accepted. I think the words will help many women (and their families)think beyond the act to what the words of the prayer really mean.
    Sandy in the UK


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