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 Lech Lecha

Some have the notion that the Shabbos may only be violated by people already dealing with the chilul Shabbos but others should refrain. Is that correct?

We learned in previous shiurim that there is a concept that says, [1] 'kol hazariz harei teh meshubach' which means that the quicker the better, no questions asked. When it is necessary for the sake of pikuach nefesh to violate the Shabbos it does not matter who violates the Shabbos - the quicker anyone present does so is praiseworthy.

A doctor once told me that he was called on Yom Kippur to treat a patient in shul and he asked an onlooker to call an ambulance. The reaction was, “you are a doctor and you must call the ambulance”. The onlooker would not call the ambulance, which is obviously a direct contradiction of the halacha.

My neighbor knocks on my door on Friday night asking to borrow my car in order to take his wife to hospital. It is not an emergency but she must go. Must I give up my car, knowing that as a result the battery will fail, or can I say to him that he should call the ambulance service?

We will first present this question in a different context. Imagine days of yore when your living room was illuminated by candlelight, your neighbor knocks on your door on Friday night saying that he needs your candle in order to provide light in his living room for a case of pikuach nefesh. If you were not around he would be permitted to light his own candle. However, figuring that since you already have a candle burning, and carrying a burning candle is only an issur d’rabanan whereas lighting a candle is an issur d’oraisso, he prefers to ask you for your candle. The problem is that you will be left sitting in the dark. Must you relinquish your candle or may you tell him to light his own candle?

We find a very interesting machlokes in this matter. HaGaon Rav Pinchas Epstein ztz”l of Yerushalyim held that one must relinquish one’s candle for the sake of the pikuach nefesh and thus one’s friend will not have to violate the Shabbos. He goes further and says that one must try and obtain a candle, hot water etc. from one’s neighbor even though the neighbor will be left without hot water or will have to sit in the dark.

On the other hand, HaGaon Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztz”l held [2] that since the person dealing with the pikuach nefesh is obliged and permitted to light a candle for the sake of pikuach nefesh, the neighbor does not have to relinquish a candle and thus be left sitting in the dark.

HaGaon Rav Moshe Sternbuch shlita learns [3] that indeed one need not wake one’s neighbor or call upon him to relinquish his candle, but if the neighbor is aware of the pikuach nefesh he is obliged to relinquish his candle even though he is not involved.

It is very nice that we now know that there is a machlokes, what is one supposed to do?

It is not for us, especially through this medium, to pasken on such a heavy issue, rather it is up to the rabbonim to give shiurim in hilchos Shabbos and to teach these matters. Our purpose in these shiurim is to heighten your awareness and thus enable you to ask the right questions beforehand, should the need arise.

Can you apply the above to the car?

According to the above it is a machlokes whether one should approach one’s neighbor for his car. Even if the neighbor is approached, there is reason to believe that the neighbor need not provide his car when he will incur a loss, because the person dealing with the pikuach nefesh can call an ambulance service.

This refers only to a Jewish driven ambulance but a gentile ambulance service is preferable to driving a car when, as explained in previous shiurim, provided there is ample time to reach the hospital without endangering the patient in any way.

Is the above not superfluous, when after all it is a case of pikuach nefesh and one must be as quick as possible?

When time is a factor one must do whatever is quicker, which includes waking a neighbor, borrowing his car, taking his light etc. The above only refers to a case where although it is pikuach nefesh, one has ample time to organize the situation.

We must stress that when time is a factor or when there is doubt whether it is a factor, one must do whatever possible to bring the patient to medical care.

[1] Simon 328:13.

[2] SS”K

[3] Moadim Unzmanim vol. VI simon 23.

Food For Thought

If the patient refuses to have Shabbos violated on his behalf (or for example, he refuses to eat on Yom Kippur) must he be coerced to violate the Shabbos or is it his choice?

How should a phone be used for pikuach nefesh on Shabbos?

May one accompany a patient in a car or ambulance on Shabbos?

Answers coming next week.

Vort on the Parsha

The possuk says that Avram went, as Hashem told him, and Lot went as well (12:4). The Ma'or Hashemesh  says that although Avram was promised physical benefits in EretzYisrael, nevertheless he went because “Hashem told him to”, in order to fulfill Hashem’s wish. Lot joined in order to gain from those physical benefits and to see what he could gain from this adventure. We could add that the possuk says 'vayelech ito Lot', where the Vilna Ga’on explains [1] that 'ito', as opposed to 'imo' means that although they are both doing the same thing they have different intentions.


[1] In parshas Balak, where Bil’am went with the magicians.

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.