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 Vayakhel/Pekudei

What is the halacha with regards to a tablecloth with candlesticks thereon?

As explained in previous shiurim, the table and tray sporting candlesticks turn into a basis l'davar ha'assur (a base for the muktze) and may not be moved during the entire Shabbos. The tablecloth however, is somewhat different.

Seeing that the tablecloth is spread to decorate the table and not to 'uphold' and serve as a base for the candlesticks, there is room to say that the tablecloth is not a basis l'davar ha'assur.

Based on the Mishna Berura [1] the section beneath the tablecloth is a basis l'davar ha'assur but the rest of the tablecloth is not. Practically, one may shake any part of the tablecloth that is not beneath the candles.

When necessary (e.g. wine has spilled on the tablecloth) one may rely on poskim who learn that even the section beneath the tablecloth is not a basis l'davar ha'assur. [2]

Why would the section beneath the tablecloth not be a basis l'davar ha'assur?

One reason mentioned above is that the tablecloth "serves" the table and not the candles. This is based on the understanding that a basis l'davar ha'assur is created when a permitted item is used to 'serve' the muktze, which in this case is not entirely true.

Another reason cited by the Shulchan Aruch HaRav and Beis Meir is that the candles are placed to illuminate the table and are on the tablecloth for lack of choice.

Indeed the K'tzos haShulchan [3] states that they are one of a kind, based on the concept that a basis l'davar ha'assur applies only to items that serve the muktze and not when they happen to be there.

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

We have learned 3 rules, in brief:

Rule #1 the muktze is placed on the heter with consent of the heter's owner. [4]

Rule #2 Muktze was intentionally placed on the heter. [5]

Rule #3 the heter must serve the muktze.


Rule #4 Muktze was placed on a heter intending it to remain the entire bein hashmashos (twilight from sunset till stars out) and it was there for that period.

Intention if one intended to remove the muktze from the heter during bein hashmashos, [6] either by a gentile or through tilting, the heter will not transform into a basis l'davar ha'assur. [7]

Likewise, muktze placed on a heter without mentally specifying that it will remain there for bein hashmashos and was forgotten, will not be a basis l'davar ha'assur. [8]

Present the muktze must be on the heter for the entire bein hashmashos. [9] If not present on the heter for that period, even though one intended it to be there it will not be a basis l'davar ha'assur.

What is the reason for this condition?

The Afikei Yam [10] explains that an item not prepared for Shabbos is muktze and bein hashmashos is the onset of Shabbos. As such, anything not prepared during that period remains muktze for the entire Shabbos.

What if muktze was on a heter during Shabbos but not during bein hashmashos?

The heter will not become a basis l'davar ha'assur. One may tilt the muktze from the heter and carry the heter at whim. Basis l'davar ha'assur is only determined during bein hashmashos. [11]

What is the next rule?

Rule #5 The muktze must be of minimal importance. [12]

Consequently, 5 cents on a table will not render the table a basis l'davar ha'assur because it is of no importance and nobody views the table as "serving" such a trivial amount. Likewise, muktze items in a drawer but are of little value, might not render it a basis l'davar ha'assur.

And the last rule?

Rule #6 the muktze is the most important item on the heter. [13]

When muktze is on a heter it becomes a basis l'davar ha'assur. When muktze and a non-muktze item are on the heter, the heter "serves" the most important item. If the non-muktze is more important than the muktze the heter will not be rendered a basis l'davar ha'assur, but if the muktze is more important, the heter will be a basis l'davar ha'assur.

How is importance determined?

We find an interesting machlokes in the matter.

Rav Moshe Feinstein ztzl: In the sefer Tiltulei Shabbos [14] it is quoted in the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein ztzl that the evaluation is made according to ones needs on Shabbos. Therefore, if on a tray or in a drawer there is money and challos, since one has no need for the money on Shabbos, the challos are more valuable and the tray is a basis for the heter and not muktze.

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztzl: is quoted as saying that it must be an overall estimation of what a person would surrender if he had to. [15] Therefore, in the above case of money and challos, if the money was a substantial sum, a person would prefer to relinquish his hold on the challos and not surrender the money. Accordingly the money would be the important one and the tray or drawer a basis ldavar haassur.

[1] Simon 309 Sha'ar ha'Tsiun 24, where he cites the Beis Me'ir, Shulchan Aruch HaRav and other poskim.

[2] SS"K 20:60 and footnote 223.

[3] Simon 112:7 and footnote 11.

[4] Simon 309:4 in the Rama.

[5] Simon 309:4.

[6] Sha'ar ha'Tsiun simon 309:20.

[7] SS"K 20:53.

[8] M"B simon 309:18 cites a machlokes between the T'rumas haDeshen and the Beis Yosef, where the T'rumas haDeshen holds that muktze placed on a heter on Friday is similar to intending it to be there bein hashmashos (one knows it's Friday and is aware that it can become a basis l'davar ha'assur) and the Beis Yosef holds that Friday is like any other day and intention is paramount.

[9] M"B simon 309:19. See also SS"K 20 footnote 186.

[10] " ' ".

[11] See SS"K 20:53 and the footnotes.

[12] Simon 310:31.

[13] Simon 310:8.

[14] An excellent book on Hilchos muktze in English, written by Rav Pinchas Bodner.

[15] See also the Shulchan Shlomo Simon 310:28/3, and not as it says in the SSK 20 footnote 203.



Vort on the Parsha

Hashem instructed Moshe to play the part of raising the Mishkan even though it was raised through a miracle. One would think Betzalel and Oholiav could have also acted the part of raising the Mishkan, as after all it was a miracle. The answer is that Moshe applied himself to the mitzvah more than others and the miracle was performed through him. (Ta'am v'Da'as).

For a printed version, click here.



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