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Study and Theory/

Shabbat Candles

From the Journal of a Kibbutz

It is very difficult to mark a clear boundary between the tradition of a specific ceremony and its religious aspect. It is doubtful if such a clear border exists at all in most of the customs. Before deciding to introduce such practices into our daily life – we must carefully consider and study the problem from many and broad perspectives. Anyone following the development of civilian life in our country can easily notice the rapid rise in the number of "traditionalists". Many of our acquaintances and friends, who were conceived for many years as people with clear secular outlooks, whom we suddenly find observing several commandments that are merely traditional. This is not my opinion alone, since this movement is gradually growing and many have been following the lead. I personally, consider this massive development a serious danger and that it is not feasible that we, the Kibbutz members as well, ought to assist the growth of this trend, be it merely for the purpose to reinforce awareness of Jewish symbols. We would be gullible if we do not correctly evaluate the danger entailed in "traditional" conducts and ceremonies, such as Shabbat candle lighting etc.

In any case, out of the Kibbutzes, the camp of those who observe religious traditions to some degree, is growing. It is worthwhile to recall how those who attempted to enforce religion interrogated the Diaspora survivors. They sometimes used an "innocent" question: "Did your mother use to light Shabbat candles, if so, you come from a religious home".

And now we, in our progressive and free home intend to include such customs, that in the not so distant past served as indicators of "authentically Jewish" homes. It's true that we, personally are in no danger by observing the commandment of candle lighting, but we must take into consideration, the way this would be interpreted by people from the outside. We will be first handedly empowering the camp that combats us.

I recall a secular young man who had extremely opposed compromises with the camp that wishes to force us to adopt the lifestyle of its choice. The young man then claimed to me that the Kibbutz movement was not effectively battling religious coercion. In his opinion our opposition is not useful and bears no results. Granted, we cannot deny that the few, rare couples of the Kibbutz movement who have resolved to conduct their family life based on civil marriage, did not have the privilege to be followed by other young people who would join their demonstrative act and imitate them, which led to their silence that left no echoes. On the contrary, other young people adopted the other path a found themselves unhesitating to be married off under a canopy held by four rods; It’s a good thing that at least in recent years we've stopped holding this ceremony in our home, the Kibbutzes.

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