By Gustave Dor’e–
In short, the answer is: “No”.
So, if God did not command us to light candles on the Sabbath, then: why do millions of Jews repeat each week that he did? Answer: “The rabbis”.
I will discuss the symbolism and significance of “lighting candles” at the end of this article, but first I just would like to talk about: “the authority given to the rabbis” and what have been its ramifications for the Jewish people.
Naturally, people say that the rabbis are: “the authorized interpreters of God’s word and we must obey them”. Ironically, this quote comes from the New Testament; this is exactly what Jesus told his disciples.
Nevertheless, let’s just say this is correct, the rabbis are indeed the authorized interpreters of the written Torah. Unfortunately, this is not what the rabbis do; the rabbis do NOT interpret the written Torah. The rabbis claim that, in addition to the written Torah, they were given an “Oral Torah”. What exactly God told to the leaders of the community who originally received this “Oral Torah” is unknown, but the rabbis have been adding to this “Oral Torah” for thousands of years and, more or less, just ignoring the written Torah.
Hence, we see Rabbi Shlomo Riskin declare again and again: “The rabbis are: ‘God’s Partners’ and ‘God’s Co creators’”.
Yes, if you truly believe that your word is equal to God’s word and your authority is equal to God’s authority then there is no problem if you make up new laws all the time. But ! What if it isn’t true?
What if in fact there had been no “Oral Torah” given at Mount Sinai? What if the rabbis are NOT God’s partners and God’ co-creators and never had been?
If what the rabbis say is NOT the truth, then one would expect that God would be pretty annoyed with the Jewish people, correct?
The rabbis claim that they are the last in a long line of descendants starting with the original leaders at Mount Sinai. In other words: first this group was referred to as: “the leaders”; then they were referred to as: “the judges”; then they were referred to as: “The Pharisees”; then they were referred to as: “The Tannim” and now, as we all know, they are referred to as: “the Rabbis”.
During this same period of time the Jewish people have been forced to wander in the desert for 40 years; they have had large portions of their land conquered by the Philistines; they lost the Kingdom of Israel to the Assyrians; they lost the Kingdom of Judah to the Babylonians; they were conquered and, eventually, sold into slavery by the Romans; they have been dispersed around the world for 2,000 years; they have suffered thru the Holocaust and today are now facing the threat of a billion angry Muslims attacking Israel.
Looks to me as if God is indeed quite annoyed with Israel and always has been; ever since the time the original leaders started to claim they had received an oral law at Sinai…
But, “Oh no” insist the rabbis: “God isn’t angry at us”. God is angry at the people because they don’t listen to us”.
Really? I think the two million plus Orthodox Jews who lived in Poland did indeed listen to their rabbis. It was Zeev Jabotinsky who they did not listen to…. The result: over two million Polish Jews died in the concentration camps, while many of their rabbis were ransomed at the last minute and escaped to New York…
But hey, who’s counting?
Today there are almost 6 million Jews living in the United States. Are their rabbis encouraging them to move to Israel? Silly question, isn’t it?
In fact, the story of American Jewry sounds eerily similar to the story of the ten dis-honest spies. American Jews believe that if they move to Israel their children will be killed. Isn’t that exactly what the original group of “leaders” (i.e. teachers of the oral law) told the Israelites?
Didn’t the Israelite leaders claim that living conditions were better in Egypt? Why was Moses forcing them to move to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Doesn’t the American leadership today claim: “We have found our promised land”? Don’t the American rabbis insist that it is possible to live a full Jewish life in the United States?
In conclusion, there is only one thing to think about:
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob didn’t have the oral law; they didn’t have the Talmud; they didn’t have rabbis….
The only thing these poor unfortunate souls did have was conversations with God or his angels…
Does your rabbi have conversations with God or his angels?
“Okay they don’t, but so what?” …What does all this signify? What difference does it make?
Light represents: enlightenment and the messiah, who is anointed with olive oil, is “the enlightened one” because in the past olive oil was used to provide light in lamps. The important aspect for us to remember is that Saul and David did not anoint themselves; they were anointed by Samuel the Seer. Likewise, Solomon did not anoint himself, he was anointed by the Zadok the Priest and Nathan the prophet.
In earlier articles we discussed that the Sabbath, which is the seventh day, should be compared to the seventh step/level on the throne of Solomon because this was where the chair which Solomon sat/rested on was located. Hence, just as one would not speak in the presence of Solomon, but would wait for the king to express his opinion, on the Sabbath, we too should not speak and give speeches about what we think is the meaning of the Torah in the presence of God (and, especially not give speeches about the wisdom of other rabbis).
On the Sabbath one is to wait for God to speak. Sometimes this can take a long time, just like it took Abraham a Sarah a long time to produce their son: “Isaac”. In other articles we also spoke of the connection between the Holy Day of “Shavout” and first born sons, since in Hebrew the word for first born sons and first fruits of the field is exactly the same. Thus, Shavout, which is associated with the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, is also called: “The Festival of the First Fruits” thereby tying first born sons, first fruits of the field and the word of God together.
Also, the 50 days leading up to Shavout are called “Counting the Omer” and the “omer” is a head of wheat. Thus, people also say that “The Torah is the Bread of Life”.
In conclusion: on the Sabbath we are to wait for God to enlighten us, we are not to attempt to enlighten ourselves, hence the prohibition against searching for food on the Sabbath (In other articles we repeatedly showed that each type of food is a metaphor for a different type of knowledge).
Lighting a candle on the Sabbath, especially lighting a candle as commanded by the rabbis, symbolizes that people want to provide enlightenment for themselves. Hence the rabbis claim they are: “co creators with God”. Sure, I believe that….”the rabbis are enlightened beings”….Sure, I believe that….
God did NOT command us to light candles on the Sabbath…The rabbis commanded us to light candles on the Sabbath…Why are they lying ? For the same reason the Roman Catholic Church changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. It is a symbol of their authority over men…Men following the teachings of men, not God.
And that, my dear friends, is a very heady feeling.