In Parshat Vayakhel, Moshe gathers all of Bnei Yisrael to speak with them. The first part of his speech was how we should keep Shabbat and not do work. While talking about Shabbat, Moshe was only specific about one aspect, that no one can spark a fire on Shabbat. From the simple meaning of the text, it sounds like we only can’t start a fire, but the Zohar (book on Jewish mysticism) believes that there is another aspect to it. The Zohar says that it is not only that we should not start a physical fire, but a fire within ourselves. This means that we should not get angry and get into arguments on Shabbat.
On the other hand, lighting a candle brings light and peace. In the Gemara on Shabbat 23b it says that the purpose of lighting the Shabbat candle is to bring peace into the home. We have two different approaches regarding what it means to light a fire: one for something good and another for something bad. What is this teaching us, that we need to start and end Shabbat with fire but during Shabbat we can’t have one? It teaches us that in life things are good and bad. It is up to the person lighting the fire to choose the outcome. Shabbat shows us that we don’t need the candle for peace in the home because on Shabbat day we are at peace as long as we control ourselves. It is up to us to keep the fire that is good (Shabbat candles) lit throughout Shabbat and end Shabbat with the same light. True Shabbat is enjoying the original fire and not breaking it by making a new fire; rather, being able to keep the original fire lit.
By Shira Sedek