shabbos candles

The Shabbos Weekly
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Based on the Shiurim Given by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita

developed from the Chabura of the
Pirchei Shoshanim Shulchan Aruch Learning Project

These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita


Questions for the Week of Parshas Yisro

Is it permissible to set a timer on the irrigation system in my garden?

We learned in the previous shiur that according to the Rama one may not begin an operation before Shabbos that will continue into Shabbos if it is something that people are liable to say that one began it on Shabbos. The example in the halacha of such an operation is a flour mill. [1]

The question is whether an irrigation system is similar to a mill. The Mechaber says [2] that one may turn on the irrigation system before Shabbos and allow it to continue watering on Shabbos, but the Mechaber is of the opinion that one may operate the mill before Shabbos as well.

It appears that it would depend on the type of system. According to the stringent opinion, if it is a sprinkler system, which is easily seen or heard by passersby in the street, it would be prohibited. If it is the type that cannot be heard or seen, it would be permitted.

What are the reasons for lighting candles for Shabbos?

Chazal ruled that candles must be lit on Shabbos for two reasons, oneg Shabbos and kvod Shabbos.

Oneg Shabbos to enjoy the Shabbos. We learn from the prophets that one must enjoy Shabbos, as it says   , and if the house is dark on Shabbos, one cannot enjoy the Shabbos.

Chazal also say that one can easily trip over something in the dark, which might disrupt the Shabbos harmony and to prevent this situation, Chazal wanted us to illuminate our homes and enjoy the Shabbos.

Kvod Shabbos to honor the Shabbos by lighting candles. It is common practice to turn on many lights to honor distinguished guests. Therefore to show how we honor and respect the Shabbos queen, Chazal wanted us to light candles in her honor.

Is there a practical difference between the two reasons?

There are several differences. For example, we could say that even though electric lights brighten our homes, we must still light candles in order to honor the Shabbos. [3] (This is not to say that electric lights cannot be used in lieu of candles, it is an issue which we will beH deal with later, but the candles are noticeable that they were lit to honor the Shabbos) but if it were only for the sake of oneg Shabbos, it would suffice that the house is illuminated on Shabbos.

Another difference might be that if one has candles lit before Shabbos for some other reason and Shabbos arrives, if it were for oneg Shabbos one could leave them as they are, but for the sake of kvod Shabbos, one would need to extinguish the candles and light them in order to honor the Shabbos. [4]

Where should the main location of lighting be?

The main position for lighting candles is adjacent to ones meal, as this includes oneg Shabbos to enjoy ones meal, and kvod Shabbos to honor the Shabbos during ones meal. [5] The bracha for lighting should be made over the candles near ones table, but one must make sure that ones house is lit to the extent that one can see into the bedrooms etc. and not trip over items lying on the floor. One need not turn on the lights in the bedrooms, it is sufficient to turn on the electric lights in the corridor if that light shines into the bedrooms.

If one is sleeping at home but not eating at home, may one still make a bracha over the candles lit at home?

Not only may one make a bracha, one must make a bracha, [6] because candles are lit even if one is not eating at home. We will learn beH the halachos pertaining to the lighting of candles when eating out or sleeping out.

How many candles should one light?

Chazal instituted the obligation to light one candle, but common custom is to light at least two candles, one for zachor and one for shamor. There are many customs prevalent as to the number of candles one lights for Shabbos and one should accept the custom bli neder without the obligation of an oath, in the event that one will not be able to light the number one is accustomed to.

Many women add candles according to the amount of children, but when eating out the custom is to light only the two candles. [7]

What happens if one forgot to light Shabbos candles?

One should add another candle from then on, i.e. if one normally lights two candles, in the future one should light three candles. This is a type of penalty for having forgotten to light the candles. [8] There are many ramifications to this halacha, such as, what if lights are on in the house and the house is not dark, but the candles were not lit. In such an instance one must ask a rav for halachic guidance. If one forgot to light the number of candles one usually lights, e.g. usually two are lit, and by mistake only one candle is lit, one need not add a candle from then on. [9]

[1] Rama in simon 252:5.

[2] Simon 252:5.

[3] See SSK 43 footnote 171.

[4] See the Rama 263:4.

 43 footnote 6.

[6] MB simon 263:29.

[7] See the SSK 43:3.

[8] Simon 263:1.

[9] Biur Halacha simon 263:1 .


Food For Thought

Which are preferred, regular candles or olive oil?

Must one light candles if one is going out and there is a danger of fire, or a smoke alarm going off?

Why is it customary that the women light the Shabbos candles?

Answers coming be"H next week.

Vort on the Parsha

The possuk says - 'lva'avor nasos eschem'. The word has two meanings a trial, and be raised. We often think that trials and tribulations are stumbling blocks and they are a major interference in our lives, when the Torah tells us just the opposite, the trials are there in order to raise us to higher levels.

For a printed version, click here.



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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.