No one quite knows anymore when the practice of lighting Shabbat candles began, but traditional sources agree that the practice reflects the prophet Isaiah’s appeal to “call the Sabbath a delight” (Isaiah 58:13). As Friday night falls, kindling the Shabbat candles creates light by which to enjoy the evening, especially the Friday night meal. No wonder Jewish sewists through the centuries have made Shabbat candles a popular symbol when designing the accessory at the center of the Shabbat table: the challah cover. Why two candles instead of one? Because of the Torah’s two injunctions about keeping Shabbat: to “remember” the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8) and to “observe” it (Deuteronomy 5:12).
More Jewish needlecraft symbolism: fish.
[Top image: Покривка за хала (леб) – כיסוי החלות – Challah cover by Pretoria Travel via Wikimedia Commons]