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Fighting With Fire on the Front Line
by Rabbi Gershon Avtzon

Thursday, two girls were tragically killed in a blast while trying to help others light up the world with Shabbos candles. Why did they, and why do thousands of Lubavitcher all over the world continue to, outspokenly encourage Jews of all religious levels to light Shabbos candles from a young age?

Mivtza Neshek, which stands for the words Neiros Shabbos Kodesh, was instituted to encourage woman and girls to light Shabbos and Yom Tov candles.

In the summer of 1974, on 24 Elul, the Rebbe introduced this special Mivtza for all Jewish woman and girls. The Rebbe also revitalized the custom that when a Jewish girl reaches the age of education and understanding, she should light her own candle.

Many people were shocked by this Mivtza, because for most people it was not the custom that young Jewish girls should light candles before their wedding. The Rebbe responded with two different answers:

1) There has never been so much darkness in the world as there is in our present times.The world is in need of as much "Mitzva-light" as possible to combat this increasing darkness. The Rebbe stressed that the word "Neshek" - the acronym for Neiros Shabbos Kodesh - is also the Hebrew word for ammunition. The light of the candles that are lit my Jewish women and girls is our ammunition with which we battle against the dark forces of impurity.

The following story illustrates this point clearly.

A person wrote to the Rebbe that it was against his family tradition for his young daughters to light candles. The Rebbe responded (Likkutei Sichos Vol.21 pg.382) forcefully, "Was it your family custom to read newspapers, wear make-up and learn secular studies?"

2) This mivtzah prepares us for the light of the Geulah. The Rebbe also showed how our Matriarchs lit candles from the age of three. Rashi teaches (Breishis 24:67) that when Rivka Imeinu was brought to Yitzchak, at the age of three, she lit Shabbos candles.

This custom is also taught in the Sefer Aruch HaShulcan, whose author was not a Chassid, that is was the custom in his time that every Jewish girl lit candles in her mother's home.

There are a number of special segulos that come to us as a result of lighting Shabbos candles.

1) The Zohar (Breishis 48b) writes: "A woman who lights Shabbas candles brings peace into her home and will merit to have sons who will light up the world with Torah, thereby adding peace to the entire world."

2) The Talmud (Shabbos 23b) writes: "Whoever lights candles will merit having sons and sons-in-laws (Rashi) who are Torah scholars".

On this point the Rebbe (Likkutei Sichos Vol. 17 pg.146) commented that in today's generation, this segulah is also a merit for marrying a husband who is a Talmid Chacham.

3) "Whoever brings pleasure to the Shabbos by lighting Shabbos candles, which brings honor and pleasure to Shabbos, Hashem forgives all his sins." (Shluchan Aruch - AlterRebbe - siman 242)

4) The Talmud tells us: "On Friday night, a person is escorted home from synagogue by two angels, one good and one evil. When he comes home and finds the candles burning, the table set, and the beds made, the good angel declares 'May it be G-d's will that the next Shabbot be the same,' and the evil angel reluctantly answers 'Amen.' If the home is not prepared for Shabbos, the evil angel proclaims 'May it be G-d's will that the next Shabbos be the same,' and the good angel must answer 'Amen" (Shabbos 119b).

As with each mitvtza, the implementation of Mivtza Neshek includes details which must be included when bringing this Mivtza to other Yidden. When designing a brochure about lighting Shabbos candles, the brochure should include a picture of a small candle. Also, it must be made clear that the candles are to be lit before sunset.

In addition, it is important to keep in mind that the first time a girl under Bas Mitzva lights candles, she should make a Shehechiyanu. The best way to accomplish this is by buying the girl a new dress or making sure that this first lighting happens on Yom Tov. (Sicha 25 Iyar 5750 and footnote 38).

A great resource for information such as these details mentioned here and for materials in connection to Mivtzah Neshek is the website

There is nothing like a really inspiring story to illustrate the power that the mivtzoim of the Rebbe have demonstrated. The following story was told over by Rabbi Thaler, Menahel Mesivta Chabad of Los Angeles.

"While I was learning in Kollel in Crown Heights, my wife once left her purse in a taxi. We were certain that the purse and the money inside were lost for good. We were surprised to get a call from a store-owner in NYC who had found the purse and was happy to return it.

"My wife went to his store, and when she realized that he was Jewish, she seized the opportunity and asked him if his wife lit Shabbos candles every week. He said that unfortunately his wife has passed away, but that he had a daughter learning in university. My wife left him a candle with our name and address with it before she returned home.

"She completely forgot about the incident.

"A year later, we received a letter from this girl, explaining to us in great detail, that in the merit of starting to light Shabbos candles, she had changed her entire life and was currently keeping Torah and Mitzvos. When I gave this letter to the Rebbe, he told me that it is 'Mitzva Lefarsem', indicating that I should publicize the contents of the letter (without the name of course), as it would encourage others to become involved with Mivtza Neshek."

Mivtzah Neshek is directly related to bringing Moshiach, as Chazal say (Yalkut Shimoni Parshas Behaloscha): "If you watch - keep the Mitzva of - the Shabbos candles,I will show you the lights of 'Tziyon' (the rebuilt Yerushalayim in the times of Moshiach)."

Every mitzvah adds light to the world. This light will be revealed in the times of Moshiach. This is especially true for the Mitzvah of lighting Shabbos and Yom Tov candles, through which we can see the light and brightness even in the time of exile.

Let us continue sharing the light!


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