The Shabbat candles were given to the wives of the Holy people to light, and the colleagues [the disciples of Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai] have given a reason for that. They explained (Bereishit Raba, end of Ch. 17) that when Eve extinguished the candle of the world [for a soul is likened to a candle], she brought darkness to the world, and they said well. Nevertheless, a deeper interpretation is that the Tabernacle of Peace [the Shechinah] is the Queen of the world and the souls which are Supernal candles, reside within Her. Thus, a mother [the queen of her home] should light the candles. She unites with Her [the Supernal Queen's] place [of malchut] as she does so.

A woman should light the candles of Shabbat with a joyful heart and goodwill, because it is a great honor for her [to thus be similar to the Shechinah] and it is a great merit for herself to beget holy sons who will be shining with Torah and fear of G‑d, who will bring peace to the world. By lighting the candles, she also gives her husband long life. Hence, she should be very careful with this lighting.

Come and see! The evening and day of Shabbat combine "Remember" and "Keep" [the aspects of Zeir Anpin and Nukva]. It was written [in the first Tablets], "Remember the Shabbat" (Ex. 20:8) and later it was written [in the second Tablets], "Keep the Shabbat". (Deut. 5:12) "Remember" is the "male" aspect[Zeir Anpin] and "Keep" is the "female" aspect [malchut]. When "Remember" joins "Keep," all is one. Joyful are the people of Israel, who are the lot of G‑d, His destiny, and His inheritance. Of them, it is written: "Fortunate is the nation that this is their lot. Happy is that Nation that has the L-rd as its G‑d". (Psalms 144:15)

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida include this and what are they teaching us here?

The entire world, and yes indeed, the entire universe stops when the wife, mother, or woman lights her Shabbat candles. It is truly one of the more significant moments of the Jewish life cycle, for the rectifications done by this simple action performed with full intent helps to heal the blesser, her family, the nation Israel, and the world.

The minimum candles to light are two: one for the male aspect of zachor/remember, and one for the female aspect of shamor/to keep.

Some intend that the candle on the right represents the first hei of the Tetragrammaton, while the candle on the left represents the second hei. The first hei is the Mother/Queen, the second hei is the daughter/Princess. The bringing forth of light to sanctify Shabbat therefore heals these aspects in the woman who lights, putting her in the place of the Shechinah.

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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