How to Light the Candles
It is normally woman who lights the candles, but men may light them when no woman is present.
Candles may be lit, at the earliest, 1-1/4 hours before sunset, but the customary time is 18 minutes before sunset. If the traditional 18-minute time limit cannot be met, candles may be lit during the 18 minutes immediately preceding sunset.
At least two candles should be lit. These represent “shamor” [“keep”] and “zakhor” [“remember”], the first words of the commandments in the two Ten Commandments passages in the Torah concerning Shabbat (Exodus 20:8; Deuteronomy 5:12). They also symbolize the unity underlying all apparent duality, such as man and woman, body and soul, speech and silence, creation and revelation.
The ritual of lighting the candles involves:
1. The actual lighting of the candles
2. Drawing the hands around the candles and toward the face from one to seven times (three is most common)
3. Covering the eyes with the hands
4. Saying the blessing
Barukh atah Ado-na’i Elo-hei-nu melekh ha’olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel shabbat.
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with commandments, and commanded us to light Shabbat candles.
After saying the blessing, you can softly utter prayers for yourself or others.