shabbos candles

Weekly Halacha Series
Halachos Series on Hilchos Yom Tov

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Written by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita


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



Questions for the Week of Parshas Devarim

Why is it forbidden to light a fire on Yom Tov?

The Rambam [1] writes one may not produce fire from wood, stones or metal, for example by rubbing or striking them, one against the other until fire is produced, or by shaking flammable oil until it ignites, or placing a glass bottle filled with water in the sun and directing the rays onto flax or such until it ignites. All this is prohibited, as it was only permitted to transfer fire from existing fire. Igniting a fire is prohibited because it can be ignited before Yom Tov.

We see that igniting is classed as a preparatory stage, with the halacha being that that can be prepared before Yom Tov must be done so.

The Raavad however argues with the Rambams reason and says that the gemora [2] is concerned with creating a new entity .

Which reason do we follow?

The Shulchan Aruch HaRav [3] and Mishna Berura [4] cite both reasons, which appears contradictory, and yet the Pri Chadash writes that the Rambams reason is not enough because if not for the issue of creating a new entity one would be permitted to ignite a fire even though it could have been done prior to Yom Tov. The Machtsis haShekel writes that if not for the Rambams reason we would think that if indeed one wrongly ignited a fire on Yom Tov it would be ossur to use, where in fact the Magen Avraham [5] says that bdiavad (post factum) one may use the fire. The Mishna Berura adds [6] that most poskim rule that one may use fire ignited on Yom Tov.

So then I suppose striking a match is prohibited?

Indeed yes because one is producing fire. The Ksav Sofer writes [7] that one may not insert a matchstick into hot ash because hot ash is not fire. Likewise, it appears that it is ossur to graze a matchstick on red-hot metal, such as a stove grate, but one may touch the matchstick to coals even when the coal does not have a flame.

What about lighting a match from the heat above a flame?

It is possible to ignite a matchstick by placing it above a flame not in the flame, but it appears from the Ksav Sofer that such an action is ossur because the flame appears from nowhere. Conversely Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach held that it is permitted, as was his custom to ignite a match above a kerosene lamp, because the heat of a fire is part of the fire. [8]

May I use a match to transfer fire?

One may use a match to transfer fire and it is not considered as lighting superfluously. Although havarah is a melacha, lighting a match to transfer fire from one place to another is normal and may be done for permitted purposes. [9]

May one start a fire with a magnifying glass?

One may not ignite a fire with a magnifying glass because one must transfer fire, not produce a new one.

May I singe the wicks on Yom Tov?

It is customary for the husband to prepare the Shabbos and Yom Tov candles and singe the wicks. [10] This question is applicable mostly in chutz laaretz towards the end of first day Yom Tov when preparing candles for the second day Yom Tov. It also applies in Eretz Yisrael when Yom Tov is on erev Shabbos and one lights Shabbos candles on Yom Tov. This may not be done on Yom Tov because one extinguishes the fire , which is not permitted. [11]

Why is it ossur to turn on a light on Yom Tov?

Halachically, an electric filament, like the type found in an incandescent light bulb, is fire and turning on a light on Shabbos is havarah igniting a fire. Based on the above we can appreciate that turning on a light on Yom Tov is ossur because it is a new entity. [12] Flowing current is not fire and hence its transformation from current to fire is . In addition, the Chazon Ish ruled that completing an electric circuit is constructing, which is ossur on Yom Tov as well and therefore even if the filament was not fire it is ossur on account of boneh.

May one benefit from electric light turned on bissur?

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach understands that it is ossur. [13] We mentioned above that one may benefit from a fire ignited on Yom Tov even though it was done bissur, because a new flame is created all the time, whereas an electric light is for all purposes and intent the same fire. Although current alternates 50 to 60 times a second, to the naked eye it is the same original light and is ossur.

[1] Hilchos Yom Tov 4:1.

[2] Beitza 33b.

[3] Simon 502:1.

[4] Simon 502:1.

[5] Simon 502:1.

[6] Simon 502:4.

[7] Cited in MB simon 502:4.

[8] See the SSK 13:3 and footnote 13 the various opinions.

[9] SSK 13:3.

[10] Rama simon 264:9 and MB 28.

[11] Based on the Mechaber (502:1) who writes that one may not make coals and the Ran says because of . MB 502:5.

[12] SSK 13:2, footnote 7.

[13] SSK 13 footnote 8.


Food for Thought

Is there a limit to the amount of candles one may light on Yom Tov?

Is it permitted to light candles in shul?

May one smoke on Yom Tov?

Answers coming be"H next week.

Vort on the Parsha


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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.