Friday, October 19, 2007

Body Checking Bentch Licht

(Picture courtesy of

The Gemara [Gittin 52a] teaches that one must be especially mindful to refrain from expressing anger on Erev Shabbos since this is a time when the yetzer hara makes an extra effort to incite discord in our homes before the Shabbos candles are lit.

Week after week my two oldest children jockey for position next to their mother in front of the Shabbos candles. As they attempt to body check each other out of the way, the scene often turns into the opposite of what Shabbos is all about, namely peace.

On a few occasions I have explained to my son that just as there are some mitzvos that are only for boys, the mitzvah of lighting Shabbos candles is a mitzvah for girls. I then ask him to stand back with me so we can watch his mommy and older sister light the candles together.

The problem is that this only works some of the time. The rest of the time my two oldest children transform into two hockey players trying to slam each other up against the boards. If I want to judge them favorably I could say that they have a great zeal to fulfill this mitzva. However, the incessant fighting before bentch licht unnerves me and occasionally lets my yetzer hara get the better of me in these moments before we bring in Shabbos.

I gave some thought on how to rectify this problem and instituted another new family minhag before bentch licht in order to calm the atmosphere. Now, before we go into the dining room each person now gives every one in the family a hug and tells them that they love them. We then proceed happily into dining room where my wife and oldest daughter light the candles.

Did this new family minhag work immediately from week one? Of course not.

However, over the course of a few weeks the body checking slowly decreased and a little bit of shalom was finally added to my Shabbat Shalom.


At October 19, 2007 at 10:34:00 AM EDT, Blogger AS said...

You could try a yoga routine for say 15 min? Nice post :)

At October 19, 2007 at 10:40:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Thanks, but that might be problematic

At October 23, 2007 at 7:10:00 AM EDT, Blogger der ewige Jude said...

How about giving your son his own candle to light? Although it has become a women's mitzvah, since they are in the home and the men are in the shul, men are by no means exempt. If the woman of the house isn't home for Shabbas the man lights in her place. Also there will probably be a time when your son is not at home and not yet married, he will need to light for himself then. So why not let him practice now?

At October 23, 2007 at 7:13:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

You raise some good points, however call me an old fuddy duddy but I like to keep this separate for the girls.

At October 10, 2011 at 2:28:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

THe minhag I grew up with is that only married women bentch licht.


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