BA-MEH MADLIKIN (Heb. בַּמֶּה מַדְלִיקִין; "with what may one kindle?"), opening words of the second chapter of the Mishnah tractate Shabbat which deals with the oils and wicks proper to be used for the Sabbath lights, and with what must be done on Fridays before the commencement of the Sabbath. This chapter, which consists of seven paragraphs, is recited, according to traditional practice, during the Friday evening service either before the start of the Arvit prayer (Sephardi and Ashkenazi ritual in Ereẓ Israel) or at the end of it (Ashkenazi ritual). Some ḥasidic rites do not recite it at all. The reading of the chapter of the Mishnah was instituted in the geonic period as a reminder of the duty of kindling the Sabbath lights, as a precaution against any unintentional desecration of the Sabbath caused by adjusting the lamp, and as a safeguard for latecomers to the synagogue (the recital of this chapter by the congregation made it possible for latecomers to finish their prayers with the other congregants and to leave for home together without fear of injury in the dark). Ba-Meh Madlikin is not recited on a Sabbath falling on or immediately following a holiday because latecomers to the service would be few.
Eisenstein, Yisrael, 3 (1909), 95; Eisenstein, Dinim, 46ff.; Baer, Seder, 192; Elbogen, Gottesdienst, 11ff.