Lighting Shabbos Candles (Assorted Halachos)

1) Although, the sages have established that candle lighting is the woman’s responsibility, the obligation to light Shabbos candles rests equally on every member of the household. When the wife lights the candles she is being motzei her family’s obligation. (Tur Orach Chaim 263)
Rashi (Shabbat 32a s.v. Hareni) writes in name of Bereshis Rabba that women are more obligated in lighting candles since they were involved in the sin of extinguishing the light of the world in the sin of Etz HaDaas.

2) If a man is single living alone, or he is married and his wife is out of the house, or his wife is running late and will not make it home to light,  then he should light candles with a bracha.  A woman alone should obviously light with a bracha.

Mishnah Berurah 262:11

Question: What should a woman do regarding the Shabbos candles when she is in the hospital for Shabbos after giving birth?
Answer: Lighting the Shabbos candles is an obligation that applies even to someone who is hospital bound.
If her husband will be at home, he should light the Shabbos candles at home with a bracha. (See M.B. 263:32) However, she is still required to light at the hospital. Since hospital regulations forbid the actual lighting of candles in the room, one should light an electric incandescent lamp or flashlight in the hospital room. Since according to some poskim, including Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, one may not recite a bracha when lighting electric lights, she should light them without reciting a brocho.
[The poskim debate whether one can recite a bracha when lighting electric lights- 1) The Beis Yitzchak Y.D. 120, Mechezeh Avraham 41, Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l Yabia Omer 2:17, Rav Henkin zt”l Edus Lyisroel page 122, Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso vol. 2 page 34 note 22, Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l Kochvei Yitzchak page 20 all feel that one can recite a bracha on electric lights. 2) Harav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul zt”l and Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l feel that one can only recite a bracha on a battery operated flashlight. 3) While many poskim rule that no bracha is recited on any electric lights- Refer to the Maharshag 2:107, Beer Moshe Kuntres Electric 58, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank zt”l Mekraei Kodesh Chanukah 20, and Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l in Radiance of Shabbos page 12]
There is a custom that the wife adds a candle for every child that she has. If she lit two candles before having the child, she now lights three. (Mateh Moshe 414)
1) If one lights candles and does not benefit from them in any way (e.g. she lights in the dining room and then eats on the porch) and by the time the meal is over the lights will be extinguished, the bracha is a bracha l’vatala (bracha was said in vain). (S,A. 263:8)
2) There is an interesting machlokes between the Shulchan Aruch (sefardim) and the Rama (Ashkenazim). According to the Shulchan Aruch (263:8) only one woman is able to light with a bracha in a room. Meaning, once one woman lights in that room if another woman lights, the second cannot recite a bracha. Therefore, if a mother and daughter in law are staying in the same house and both will light, the mother lights in the dining room and the daughter in law lights in her bedroom. The daughter in law should make sure to eat or read using the light, in order to benefit from them before they extinguish. Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l codifies this law as normative for Sefardim. The Rama, however, maintains that many women can light in the same room with a bracha.
A very common question is where a couple should light when they are eating in one location and sleeping at home. Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Radiance of Shabbos page 13) is cited as ruling that it is preferable for the woman to light candles in her own home where she is sleeping (this is the custom of Sefardim, as we shall explain), however, Harav Moshe explains that if this is difficult she may light in her hostess’ home.
Although, both locations are legitimate options (as cited above), each has its own challenges and stipulations, as we shall explain:
Lighting Where You Eat– The reason to light where you eat is that one needs to benefit from the candles (as we discussed in yesterday’s email) and many times when one lights where one sleeps the candles are extinguished by the time the couple arrives at home. This problem does not exist when lighting at the host. In addition, women accept Shabboswith the candle lighting and if she wishes to drive to the host for the meal, she cannot light beforehand at home. However, the issue with lighting at the hostess’ home is the view of the Shulchan Aruch (cited yesterday) that according to Sefardim two women cannot light in the same room with a bracha. Therefore, Sefardim should light at their home and not at the hostess’ home. As noted yesterday, the Rama maintains that multiple women can light with a bracha in the same room. [Indeed, Rav Moshe endorsed lighting at home in order to adhere to the strict view of the Shulchan Aruch.]
Lighting At Home Where You Sleep– As noted above, Rav Moshe advised lighting at home. However, she must derive some benefit from the candles which she lights. This can be accomplished in multiple ways: A) She should either leave home after having derived some benefit from the candle light (e.g. she should daven next to the candles), B) She should use candles which will burn long enough to provide light when they return home from their meal. She may then derive her benefit from them by eating next to the candles. C) I recently heard from Harav Menachem Genack shlit”a that Harav Soloveitchick zt”l offered a very clever eitzah. He explained that before lighting the candles, she should light the electric lights for the sake of Shabbos and recite the bracha over them as well as over the candles. This ensures that the Shabbos lights (in the case the electric lights) will still be lit when they arrive at home. [As noted above, after lighting she has accepted Shabbos upon herself and therefore cannot drive to the hostess’ home.]
Yesterday I received many variations of the following question. I would like to therefore address it today. In yesterday’s halacha email it said “after lighting she has accepted Shabbos upon herself and therefore cannot drive to the hostess’ home.” I was under the impression that a woman can light with the intention of not accepting Shabbos and then drive after lighting, is that not correct?
Answer: The rishonim debate whether a woman can stipulate that she is lighting with the intention of not accepting Shabbos. The Mishnah Berurah (263:44) rules that normative halacha is that we only allow one to stipulate in “case of great need”. It is unclear what is considered “great need”. For example, Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l is of the opinion that driving to the kotel to daven is not considered a need that would warrant allowance of a stipulation. (Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso page 48. See radiance of Shabbos for a permissible view from the Tzitz Eliezer) In addition, it is clear from the Mishnah Berurah that a stipulation in order to daven mincha is not allowed (and therefore he writes that a woman who has not yet davened mincha should light and daven maariv twice and he does not offer stipulating as an option)  It is therefore difficult to ascertain whether driving to one’s host is considered a “great need” and a rabbi should be consulted.
In addition, the view of the Baal Hatania (263:11) is that the woman can only stipulate if someone from her household will keep Shabbos with her lighting. Generally, when a woman lights only she herself accepts Shabboswith the lighting and not her family members. However, if she wishes to stipulate, someone from her household must keep Shabbos with the lighting. This is also the view of Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso. Therefore, even if she wishes to stipulate and drive to her host someone from the family must walk and keep Shabbos from the time of the lighting.
Reader Question #1- You mentioned that one must benefit from the lights or the blessing is in vain. Many times when there is a simcha in a hotel or a convention in a hotel, there will be a special hallway or room set aside for lighting candles. How is this permitted since people will neither eat or sleep or gain any pleasure from these candles, as you light and then leave to the dining room?
Answer- Unfortunately you are correct this is not allowed. Let me quote Harav Simcha Bunim Cohen shlit”a (Radiance of Shabbos page 13): “If a family spends Shabbos in a hotel, it is preferable that the wife should light candles in their private room, or at the table in the dining room. However, if this is not possible, she should light candles anywhere in the dining room where some additional illumination will be provided for the diners. Regrettably, hotels often request that the women light candleson a table too distant to provide illumination to any of the diners, or light in a small room other than the main dining room. This practice is not in accordance with the halacha and any blessing made there is, unfortunately, in vain (oral ruling of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l).” If it is not possible to light candles in the dining room, it is best that she not light candles at all but rather fulfill her obligation by turning on an electric light in her room without a bracha.
Reader Question #2- You mentioned that if lighting at home and then eating out one needs to gain benefit from the lights or the bracha is in vain. One of the options you mentioned was “She should either leave home after having derived some benefit from the candle light (e.g. she should daven next to the candles)”. Can she do this before Shabbos starts- meaning if candle lighting is 6:00 p.m. can she light and derive benefit at 6:01 and then leave or must she wait for halachic nightfall?
Answer- That’s a fair question and to be honest it is unclear from the poskim. The view of the Piskei Teshuvos (263 note 269) is that one need not wait for nightfall, rather, she must wait for it to be dark outside so that the house gets darker. And since this is difficult to ascertain it is better to gain benefit after nightfall or employ the other options (using candles that are long enough to still be lit or light the electric lights etc.)
1) The Rama (263:1) writes that if a woman forgot to light Shabboscandles, she is penalized to add an additional candle from then on to the number which she generally lights each week. If a woman knows that she will be unable to light, she should have her husband light for her and therefore avoid any penalty.
If she lit candles but neglected to light the regular number, there is no penalty. (Biur Halacha)
2) A woman is only penalized if she was negligent and did not light. However, if she couldn’t light for reasons beyond her control (e.g. she was stuck on the road during the onset of Shabbos or was ill and unable to) she is not penalized. (M.B. 263:7) At times it is unclear whether she is negligent or it’s an ones (out of her control) and a rabbi should be consulted.
The question I have been asked is what happens if a woman forgot to light candles on Yom Tov is she penalized as well? The Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso vol. 2 page 35 note 28 writes that this an actuality a debate amongst the poskim. According to the Kinyan Torah it is not common for women to forget to light on Yom Tov (as she can light all night after the meal- unlike Shabboswhere one cannot light after the 18 minutes) and therefore no penalty was created. However, according to Harav Menashe Klein zt”l there is a penalty if she forgot to light on Yom Tov. For normative halacha, a rabbi should be consulted.
2) If a woman was not religious and baruch Hashem she becomes observant and begins to light candles, she is not penalized for the shabbosim that she was not religious and did not light candles. (Yalkut Yosef shabbos vol. 1 263)

2 thoughts on “Lighting Shabbos Candles (Assorted Halachos)

  1. Aliza Bochner says:

    What can be considered benefiting from the candlelight? I light in the corner of my living room. Even if I lit in the dining room, the candle light is superfluous to the electric lights. Does hana’ah count?


    • You should light in the dining room as it is preferable to light where you eat. Many poskim discuss how we can fulfill the mitzvah now that there are electric lights, indeed many rabbanim felt that one should turn off and on the electric lights for the sake of Shabbos, however, the benefit one gets from the Shabbos candles being lit (meaning that the image of Shabbos one has in one’s mind is enhanced by these Shabbos lights) even within a lit room.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s