Updated: Jan 28
In this week’s Torah portion, Bo, we learn about the 9th plague, darkness, in great detail. It was so all-encompassing that it was literally felt or palpable ( וימש חושך) or as R. Shimshon Rafael Hirsch explains, it was so all-encompassing that the people were cut off from each other and their possessions and had to feel their way around.
What can we do to deal with occasional darkness or heaviness, especially at the end of the week?
Start by taking a mindful breath. Notice what you’re feeling. Continue to breathe and check in not only with the sensations in your body, but ask yourself what you need right now.
We have an opportunity to do this every week when we light candles before Shabbat.
As you observe the flames from your candles, say to yourself that it’s time to rest.
Resting takes a lot of work. Many people are great at doing and achieving, but find it hard to stop.
True rest is replenishing our energy. During the week we are pulled in many directions, and our activities might drain us so we need to draw energy back to be replenished and renewed.
As we light candles for Shabbat, we wave our hands near the candles toward us.
Maybe this is symbolizing drawing light and energy inward?
After expending our energy outward, we can draw energy back to us. As you light candles before Shabbat, imagine taking the light and bringing it toward you.
You can stop, take a moment, and think about all the parts of yourself that need care this week. Where has light been missing? If your back aches or your heart has been hurt, imagine bringing some light from the candles toward you and allowing some of the light to seep in.
Is there anyone that you want to share this light with? Wave the light from the candles to the sides, to share it with people you care about. Pause for a deep breath, close your eyes, and think of all the people in your life who need this light too.
Stay there as long as you need to.
Shabbat Shalom. שבת מנוחה, a restful Shabbat.