As a follow-up on yesterday’s post on the blessing over candles on shabat, here is another curious detail about that blessing. Again, for the record, the blessing goes like this:
Blessed are You, God, our Lord who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the Sabbath lamp.
It says G-d commanded us to light candles. Where? There is no such commandment anywhere. There are many commandments about shabat, but no commandment to light candles. There just isn’t. Not in the Tora, not in the Talmud.
Most people say the candles are included in the commandment to "rejoice" on shabat (derived afaik from Isaiah 58:13: "call the sabbath a delight"). The rabbis in the Talmud discuss among other things "rejoicing" means that we are to wear special garments on shabat (Talmud Shabat 113a: "thy Sabbath garments should not be like thy weekday garments") and eat nice food (Talmud Shabat 118b: "Wherewith does one show his delight therein? […] With a dish of beets, large fish, and heads of garlic.") – but no candles in the Talmud.
So who do you ask for a spiritual answer? Chabad. Always an article at hand about everything. Chabad claims that people always knew candles were part of the shabat-package:
Now you can see that the Shabbat lamp, even though it is technically a rabbinic institution, has always been an integral part of the Shabbat.
Sarah lit the Shabbat lamp, as did Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. It’s reasonable to believe that at no time in our history did a Friday night pass without that light.
(Chabad: Where Does the Torah Say to Light Shabbat Candles?).
Yeah. And Moses wore a shtreimel. While you can think about Chabad argumentation whatever you want, I would say that technically we might not be commanded from Sinai, but now after minimum a thousand years of candle lighting we certainly are commanded, if only by tradition. And a high-profile and nice tradition at that.