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 Tetzaveh

Is there a problem reciting a b’racha when there are electric lights in the same room?

In the previous shiur we learned that Sephardim should not recite a b’racha when lighting candles next to other candles and even for Ashkenazim there is room for a hidur to light, when possible, in a place that does not have other candles.

It would seem then, that nowadays, when we have bright electric lights lighting up our homes, there would be a problem in making a b’racha. [1]

Indeed we find that the poskim [2] discussed this problem [3] and offered several solutions, as follows.

1)       The wife should first light the Shabbos candles with the electric lights off and only after she lights the candles should the husband turn on the electric lights. The wife may not turn them on after lighting candles because she accepts the Shabbos with her lighting.

2)       The Shabbos clock should be prearranged in such a way that the lights will turn on only after she has lit the candles.

3)       She should first turn on the electric lights “lichvod Shabbos”  (for the sake of Shabbos) and immediately light the Shabbos candles, thus reciting the b’racha over both. [4]

If one does not have Shabbos candles (hotel room, hospital etc.) may one recite a b’racha over electric lights?

We find many opinions in this matter that hold that one may recite a b’racha and consequently, one who lights electric lights specifically for Shabbos and recites a b’racha, has on what to rely. [5]

Must one accept Shabbos with the candle lighting?

The accepted custom is that the housewife accepts Shabbos with her lighting and therefore she should finish all her preparations before she lights the candles.

This is also the basis for the manner she lights and recites the b’racha. Since there is an opinion who says that she accepts the Shabbos with the b’racha, and henceforth she will not be able to light the candles, she first lights, covers her eyes and then recites the b’racha. The reason for covering the eyes is in order to benefit from the light only after the b’racha.

May one light and stipulate that one does not want to accept Shabbos with the lighting?

This is a machlokes. The BaHag [6] says that she accepts the Shabbos with her lighting, as mentioned. Several Rishonim [7] learn that she can make a 't'nai' - a stipulation – that she does not accept Shabbos with the lighting. The Kol Bo and R’ Peretz learn that she cannot make a úđŕé and she must accept Shabbos with her lighting.

The Magen Avraham [8] rules that one should not light and make a 't'nai' unless necessary. The Mishna Berura says [9] that the reason for this is because there are opinions that hold that a úđŕé does not have an effect, as mentioned.

What would you consider as being necessary to rationalize not accepting Shabbos with the lighting?

This is difficult to ascertain, for example, if she wishes to travel to the Kosel HaMa’arvi after lighting, and the only way to do that is to light and to make a 't'nai' that she is not accepting Shabbos. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach holds [10] that it is not “necessary” to travel to the Kosel and as such she may not light and stipulate that she is not accepting Shabbos.

If a couple are eating at their parents on Shabbos night and it is much easier to travel there before Shabbos, I think that they would be better off lighting candles at their parents rather than lighting at home and making a 't'nai'. They must nevertheless leave lights on at home, as mentioned earlier, because there must be light in one’s home on Shabbos.

If a man lights, does he have to accept Shabbos with his lighting?

The halacha is that a man does not and he need not accept Shabbos with his lighting, nevertheless the Mishan Berura writes [11] that it is preferable to stipulate that he is not accepting Shabbos with his lighting.

[1] This might even pose a problem for Ashkenazim, because the heter to light and make a b’racha next to other candles is based on the s’varah “the more light the merrier”. This might not be able to be said in the presence of electric lights where candlelight will not add much, if at all. There is however another s’varah that says that the Shabbos candles lend the meal the special ambience of a Shabbos atmosphere which is not provided by the electric lights. Based on this s’varah we could say that one may recite a b’racha even in the presence of electric lights.

[2] See the SS”K 43:34.

[3] See also the SS”K 43 footnote 171.

[4] HaGaon Rav Sternbuch first lights the candles and then turns on the lights and then recites the b’racha. He wishes to light the candles when there are no other lights turned on.

[5] SS”K 43:4 and footnote 22. It appears that Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was not so in favor of it unless the electricity is derived from a battery, see the footnote in the SS”K.

[6] Ba’al Halachos Gedolos.

[7] Hagahos Maimoni in the name of R’ Meir and the Mordechai.

[8] Simon 263:20.

[9] Simon 263:44.

[10] SS”K 43 footnote 137.

[11] M”B simon 263:42.


Food For Thought

If the father of the house accepts Shabbos early, do the members of the household follow suit?

If one forgot to recite the b’racha over the candles, may one recite it later?

If the candles went out after being lit but before the b’racha, may she relight them?

If a gentile lit the candles for me after sh’kiah – sunset, may I recite the b’racha?

Answers coming be"H next week.

Vort on the Parsha

The possuk says “I will dwell amongst the B’nei Yisroel and I will be their Elokim (29:45). The Seforno explains “dwell” to mean that Hashem will accept our service willingly and He will hearken to our prayers. He then explains that being our Elokim means that He will manage B’nei Yisroel’s affairs without a medium and they will not have to fear from the astrological signs.

It is possible that the two parts of the possuk are interwoven, because indeed there is such a thing as mazal – as we say mazal tov to each other on many occasions, and if there was no mazal for b’nei Yisroel, what do we say it for. The answer is that we have the ability to change and modify our mazal through prayer and service. Therefore the possuk says, Hashem will dwell amongst us and He will hear our prayers, which will have an effect to the point that we need not fear the mazal or astrological signs.

For a printed version, click here.



One may receive and distribute these weekly shiurim by calling or writing: Office 99 Rechov Bayit Vegan, Yerushalayim,
Phone Numbers:U.S. and Canada 732-370-3344 Israel 972-3-616-6340
 South Africa 083-714-3166 England 44161-792-2492 Australia 61-296835626 Switzerland 01141430288
e-mail:, or, weekly sponsorships are available as well. 

If you would like to send a question to Rav Ostroff, you can write to him at

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.