Shabbos Lights

The first thing we do when we sit down at the table Friday night is to sing the traditional song
"Shalom Aleichem," welcoming the angels of peace for Shabbos.  The song has a lovely melody,
and after so many years of being sung around Shabbos tables, it always connotes a sweet warm gathering.  In the past I have thought of the Shabbos candles as standing in some way for these angels of peace, as they quietly shed their light.

This Shabbos I looked in the flames and the presence of the angels struck me again.  Unless the window is open, a candle flame is very still; it is almost stationary. There is a calm and peacefulness to its existence.  It comes into the world to do one thing.  And it does that thing in a way that is both strong and quiet.

But what is that thing that it does so calmly?  It is one of the most dramatic transformations of the physical world: fire changes matter into energy.  Here we have a candle, something solid and relatively inert, and for hours the flame turns a stick of wax into warmth and light.  This awesome physical transformation occurs right at our table, calmly and quietly, and the warmth and the light that it sheds are a blessing; for some they make the nighttime meal possible.

Aren't this light and warmth like the angels, whoever they are and whatever they are doing?  They glow.  They glow with the awesomeness of the spiritual world in the physical.  And when we sing barchuni l'shalom, malachey hashalom, "bless me with peace, angels of peace," isn't that
peace like the calm and quiet of the transforming flame the gives light and warmth and is itself still?


Comments