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Lighting Shabbat Candles (2)

Rav Doniel Schreiber
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By Rav Doniel Schreiber



This week’s shiurim are dedicated by Carole S. Daman of Scarsdale
in memory of Tzvi Hersh ben David Arye z”l – Harlan Daman



Shiur #06: Lighting Shabbat Candles Part II



10.  How Long Must the Candles Stay Lit?


            In order to fulfill the mitzva of Shabbat candles and avoid a "berakha le-vatala" (a berakha recited in vain) one should make sure to benefit from the light at some point during the period of time between the time one accepts Shabbat and the light extinguishes (Be'er Heitev 263:14).  It is better if the lights last through as much of the meal as possible.  It is best if they last until one completes the meal (MB 263:40).


11.  How Many Candles Must One Light?


            The Mishna Berura (OC 263:5,9,22,45) rules that while it is sufficient to light one candle, the proper minhag is to light two candles.  Two candles are used to recall the mitzvot of zakhor ve-shamor (Shulchan Arukh OC 263:1).  There is a custom to add a candle for each child that is born to the family (Meshaneh Halakhot vol. 7, siman 35).  In general, it is a mitzva to illuminate one's home as much as possible for Shabbat (MB 263:35, Ma'aseh Rav of Vilna Gaon notes 112 and 140.  For further discussion see SSK vol. 2, 43:2 and ibid. note 10, and Yalkut Yosef 263:2).


12.  One Who Forgot to Light Shabbat Candles


            If one forgot to light nerot Shabbat there is a rabbinical obligation requiring one to light an additional candle every Shabbat thereafter (OC 263:1).  However, if one just lit fewer candles than usual, this rabbinic obligation does not apply and one does not have to increase the number of candles that one usually lights (Bi'ur Halakha 263, s.v. Ve-shachikha; see however Pri Megadim, Eshel Avraham 263:3 who applies the fine to this case as well).  It is the custom that guests light only two candles. This is because it is an assumed stipulation that the lighting of extra candles exists only at home (Yesodei Yeshurun vol. 3, no. 135; see also Igrot Moshe OC vol. 3, note 14:6).


13.  Placement of the Candles


            Since the purpose of lighting candles is to honor the Shabbat, create a joyous atmosphere, and allow for shalom bayit, the candles should be lit at the central gathering place in the home for Shabbat: the dining room.  If it is impossible to light where one is eating one should light in a place where one will certainly benefit from the light (see OC 263:10 and MB 263:45).


14.  May One Benefit From the Shabbat Lights?


            The lights lit for Shabbat are considered huktza le-mitzva (designated for the mitzva) and one is prohibited to use them for anything other than illumination.  A man who has not accepted Shabbat cannot use their flame to light the oven because of this principle.  However, one can light a stick or match from the Shabbat candles in order to ignite other Shabbat candles since this is done to fulfill the mitzva of Shabbat candles.  Even so there is a custom to refrain from doing this as well.  It is permissible to light directly from one Shabbat candle to another (MB 263:4 and Bi'ur Halakha ibid. s.v. Shtei petilot).


            Poskim dispute whether it is permissible (Shulchan Arukh Ha-rav 263:22) or forbidden (OC 263:14 and MB 263:57) to touch the Shabbat candles at all due to their sanctity.  However, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l ruled that it is permitted for one who has not yet accepted Shabbat to even move Shabbat candles (Radiance of Shabbat, by R. Simcha Bunim Cohen shlit"a, p. 24, note 21, and ibid., for other lenient authorities on this matter).


            (We will discuss the laws of muktza as they relate to Shabbat candles in a later shiur on muktza.)





Laws of Candle lighting When One is not in His or Her Own Household


i. Eating Out


            One who eats at a friend's house but sleeps at home is not considered to have left one's own household.  If a couple eats the Friday night meal at a friend's house they do not fulfill their obligation of nerot Shabbat with their hosts.  They must light their own candles..  Similarly, children who are benei mitzva ate the Friday night meal at a friend's house, but will return home to sleep, fulfill their obligation of nerot Shabbat with the candles which were lit in their own home.  (Radiance of Shabbat, pp. 8-12, in the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l.)


            If one is not eating at home, where should the Shabbat candles be lit?  Their hosts have already fulfilled the primary obligation of nerot Shabbat when they lit in their household.  Therefore, it is preferable that the guests light in their own home to fulfill their own primary obligation.  However, some benefit from the light of the candles must be derived before the candles burn out.  If lighting in their own home is not an option, the wife may light in their host's home even with a berakha since she has contributed secondary light to her host's household (Radiance of Shabbat pp. 11-12 in the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l).


ii.  Sleeping Out


            One who dorms but eats at home, as in the case of a yeshiva student, is not considered to have left his household and fulfills the mitzva of nerot Shabbat with his family.  He should make sure, however, that there is some light (with no blessing) in his dorm room for Shabbat (see later).  According to some poskim, this halakha is true also for  one who dorms but generally eats at his friend's home.  He is considered part of his friend's household, since he eats there regularly, and he fulfills his obligation of nerot Shabbat at his friend's house (Radiance of Shabbat, pp. 9-10 in the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l).


iii. Sleeping and Eating Away from Home


a. For Those Who are Single -


            One who will not be home at all for Shabbat is considered to have left his or her household.  In this case, one does not fulfill the mitzva of candle lighting with one's household; one is independently obligated to light candles (Arukh Ha-shulchan 263:5).  This is true in the case of a yeshiva student who lives and eats away from home (see next paragraph).  In the event one is staying with another family for Shabbat that family is considered one's household for the Shabbat and their candle lighting will fulfill his or her obligation (see Mishna Berura siman 263, note 33).


            As noted above, students who dorm in yeshiva and are not going home must light nerot Shabbat.  There is a debate among poskim as how to fulfill the obligation of nerot Shabbat in this scenario.  Some say that one person should light in the dining room for all the other students (Radiance of Shabbat p. 9 in the name of Rav Moshe Shternbauch shlita and Rav Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg shlita).  Moreinu ha-Rav Aharon Lichtenstein shlita rules that where the dormitory is in a separate building from the dining hall each person should make sure that nerot Shabbat are lit, with a blessing, in their dormrooms (see also OC 263:6).  In this case the students must take extreme precaution to prevent any possible fire-hazard.  Where it is not possible to light actual candles, electric lights should be used for nerot Shabbat (with regard to a berakha on electric lights see above).


            If one student lights in the dining room for everyone else, for the purposes of shalom bayit, if a student's dorm room requires light for Shabbat, one should leave a light on without a blessing (MB 263:31).


b.  For Those Who are Married -


            A wife or a husband may light on behalf of the other even if the spouse is not home for Shabbat.  This is only true if nerot Shabbat is done in their own home (OC 263:6, and Radiance of Shabbat p. 10 in the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l).  For the purpose of shalom bayit the absent spouse should insure that there is a light left on where he or she is staying (MB 263:31).  However, since it is customary for women to light nerot Shabbat, she is allowed to intend to NOT fulfill the mitzva through anyone else.  She is permitted to light with a blessing (Shulchan Arukh Ha-rav 263:15 and Tehilla Le-david 263:7).


            If the husband and wife are each spending Shabbat away from home and each other then they both have an independent obligation to light Shabbat candles (Radiance of Shabbat p. 10 in the name of Rav Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg shlita).  If they are spending Shabbat together as guests in another family's home they fulfill their obligation with the hosts.  In the event two or more couples are merely eating together in the same room, as in a hotel dining room, then each wife is separately obligated to light with a blessing (Radiance of Shabbat p. 11, in the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l; see also MB 263:35).


            When a couple spends Shabbat in a hotel, it is best if the wife light candles either in their hotel room or at their dining room table (as mentioned above).  Extreme precaution must be taken to prevent any possible fire-hazard.  Where it is not possible to use candles the wife should use electric lights for nerot Shabbat (and with regard to a blessing on electric lights see above).  If she cannot light in her hotel room or at the dining room table, the wife should light somewhere where her candle can contribute light for the guests.  Lighting in a place which benefits no one does not fulfill the mitzva and reciting a blessing in that circumstance would be a berakha le-vatala (Radiance of Shabbat, p. 13, in the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l).



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