When we do a mitzvah, we must pay attention to both its physical details (‘body’), its spiritual intentions (‘soul’), and to its results. Then, we will become proficient at both its performance and at recognizing the spiritual benefits that it brings.

Each mitzvah's body is designed to fit its soul’s purpose. For instance, the spiritual elevation that comes with the mitzvah of lighting Shabbos candles can be revealed by studying the nature of light, its function and characteristics. Even though the soul of an object is not limited to that object, still, at least some of the soul is within the object. This means that the physicality of the mitzvah somehow mirrors its spirituality. In fact, the physical is the spiritual, presenting itself as the physical. Spiritual and physical are two perspectives of the one thing.

Each mitzvah's body is designed to fit its soul’s purpose.

How do the Shabbos candles reflect the spiritual aspects of Shabbos? Shabbos is about elevating time, resting, blessing, and sanctification. Its observance is spiritually uplifting, and brings peace and joy. The Shabbos candles reflect, or facilitate, all of these.

When G‑d made the first Shabbos, He "finished from all His work and He rested [abstained]…. And He blessed and sanctified the day because He rested from all His work". (Gen. 2:1)

This is what we try to do, too. We try to emulate Him. We finish our work while it is still Friday, and we begin to rest when Shabbos enters. We bless and sanctify the day when lighting the candles and when making Kiddush. We do these things because we have rested from our work.

Shabbos is a mitzvah of time. Whether we do anything about it or not, come Friday night at sundown, it is Shabbos.

Light is the most spiritual-like entity in the physical creation. It was the first thing created. (Gen. 1:3) In some ways it is similar to time. As time automatically fills the day, so does light fill the room. We cannot see time, but we know it is here, and we can use it. We cannot see the actual light. (We only see the objects that it shows us.) But we can tell if it is present, and we can use it. Time seems to be multiple: yesterday, today and tomorrow. But actually, those three are one. Time is a single entity that is ongoing (seconds) and accumulative (age). The two candles, with their two flames, make one continuous light.

The two candles, with their two flames, make one continuous light.

The candles are lighted while it is still day, when we do not yet need their light. This shows that they are not there solely for physical reasons. Those flames were not lit on Shabbos. This means that they "rest" on Shabbos. They remind us of what day it is, and to keep the day holy. They make the time and place cheerful.

When helping a woman (or girl) with the mitzvah of lighting Shabbos candles, have her picture the light she just brought into the room going out into the world. Imagine it spreading in all directions. When you touch even a tiny spot in the world, you are still touching the world. Just like when someone touches your little finger, they are touching you. You are one, so no matter where your body is touched, you are touched. Similarly, the entire creation is one, so wherever the creation is improved, that improvement somehow reaches the entire creation. The slightest action spreads its spiritual results like radio waves that go on and on, even out into the cosmos.

Explain to her that she is not only bringing the benefits of Shabbos peace to her own home, but she is also causing peace to increase in her neighborhood, her city, and beyond.

When she lights her Shabbos candles it is a "time of favor," a time when G‑d is listening "with both ears." She should take advantage of this great moment of holiness by praying for her family, her friends, her hopes, for whatever her heart desires.

Although when we pray like this we are thinking of others, the reality is that when we pray for others, our prayers for ourselves are answered first. (Deut. 21:1 Rashi; Baba Kama 92a)