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 Ki Sisa

So what are the conditions needed to make something a basis l'davar ha'assur? (base for a forbidden Shabbos item).

I have had feedback saying that the previous shiurim were too complicated and will therefore try and simplify matters discussed in the last shiur.

First we will define a basis l'davar ha'assur.

Placing muktze on top of a non-muktze item (we will call it heter for short) before Shabbos will render it muktze, provided that certain conditions are met, as we will now see.

Rule #1 the muktze is placed on the heter with consent of the heter's owner. [1]

This is accomplished either by

        the heter's owner places the muktze on the heter.

        another person places the muktze on the heter with the owner's consent.

        another person places the muktze on the heter without the owner's consent but is placed there for the benefit of the owner who will agree retrospectively. [2]

This example will simplify the issue:

Reuven's candle is about to fall onto the tablecloth and set the house on fire so Shimon placed a plate beneath it. Indeed the candle fell into the plate before Shabbos and remained there for the entire bein hashmashos (twilight). Seeing that Reuven would have wanted Shimon to place the plate beneath the candle, the plate will be a basis l'davar ha'assur and is ossur to move until after Shabbos.

What is considered without the owner's consent?

Children were tidying the house before Shabbos and they placed pens and pencils on their father's shtender (learning lectern). Since the father did not want those items there on Shabbos, the shtender does not become a basis l'davar ha'assur and may be moved freely, after tilting the muktze from it.

What is the next rule?

Rule #2 Muktze was intentionally placed on the heter. [3] If muktze was unintentionally placed on the heter or fell onto the heter, it will not be a basis l'davar ha'assur.

If money slipped out of one's pocket onto a bed before Shabbos, since one did not intend the money to be on the bed it will not be a basis l'davar ha'assur.

What if one intended to remove the muktze but forgot before Shabbos?

One knew that money is inside a jacket pocket, which renders it a basis l'davar ha'assur, and intended to remove the money before Shabbos from the pocket in order to use the pocket on Shabbos. In the rush to prepare for Shabbos removing the money was forgotten. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztz"l learns that the pocket is not a basis l'davar ha'assur, because one did not intend for the pocket to contain the money over Shabbos. [4]

What is the next rule?

Rule #3 the heter must serve the muktze.

A drawer into which a camera is placed will be a basis l'davar ha'assur on Shabbos because the drawer serves the camera. A stone turned paperweight placed on papers will not render the papers a basis l'davar ha'assur because the stone serves the papers and not the papers the stone. [5] (The stone will remain muktze unless permanently set aside as a paperweight). [6]

The Mishna Shabbos 142b relates the story of a stone placed on top of a barrel and says that one may tilt the barrel to move the stone, i.e. the barrel was not a basis l'davar ha'assur. Rav Huna subsequently states that the barrel is not a basis l'davar ha'assur because the stone was placed there unintentionally. However, if purposely placed there, the barrel would be a basis l'davar ha'assur.

The problem is that this seems to contradict the above rule, because the stone was obviously placed to hold the barrel's lid in place, i.e. the stone serves the barrel not the barrel the stone and hence it should not be a basis l'davar ha'assur even when purposely placed there.

The Me'iri answers this saying that the stone was valuable and was placed there for safekeeping. In other words the barrel serves the stone and not vice versa.

How does this rule affect candles on a table?

We see that the table is a basis l'davar ha'assur because the candles are placed thereon. It is clear that the table upholds the candles and serves them and not vice versa. However, the candles are muktze mainly due to the flame, which is muktze machmas gufo (a severe type of muktze, on par with sticks and stones), which renders the candle itself a basis l'davar ha'assur (even if it would not be muktze), which in turn renders the candlesticks muktze as a basis l'davar ha'assur, which in turn renders the tray a basis l'davar ha'assur.

Consequently the table is a basis to the tray > to the candlesticks > to the candles > to the flame.

Who does the tablecloth serve?

The tablecloth seems to serve a double purpose. On one hand it decorates the table and not the tray>candlesticks>candles, and yet the candles are purposely placed on the tablecloth.

We find a famous machlokes in the following case: muktze is placed in a drawer for safekeeping but for lack of space it was placed on a heter. For example, a camera was placed in a drawer for safekeeping onto a heter notebook. One does not need the notebook to serve the muktze but for lack of space it was neatly placed on the notebook.

The Magen Avraham (simon 309:6) learns that the notebook is not a basis l'davar ha'assur and the Taz (simon 309:1) holds that it is.

The Mishna Berura rules [7] that when necessary one may be lenient, in accordance with the Magen Avraham, and remove the notebook.

[1] Simon 309:4 in the Rama.

[2] M"B simon 309:27.

[3] Simon 309:4.

[4] SS"K 20:51 footnote 178.

[5] See SS"K 20 footnote 181 for the relevant sources.

[6] Simon 308:22.

[7] M"B simon 309:18.


Food For Thought

What is the halacha with regards to a tablecloth with candlesticks on it?

Is there a distinction made between the section beneath the candles and the rest of the tablecloth?

What are the remaining rules of basis l'davar ha'assur?

Answers coming be"H next week.

Vort on the Parsha

The possuk says the children of Israel shall keep the Shabbos, to observe the shabbos throughout their generations (31:16). Rav Sternbuch explains that 'keeping' the Shabbos means placing fences (g'zeiros d'rabanans) around the mitzvos of Shabbos in order not to violate the Shabbos. He cites a gadol b'torah saying that because B'nei Yisroel erected fences around the Shabbos the Shulchan Aruch was not violated.

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.