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 Shoftim

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

In days of old, the more light in ones home the merrier, consequently there would be no limit as to the amount of candles one may light on Yom Tov. Nowadays candles are not used (in most places) for light and candlelight seems superfluous. If however candlelight has some use, whether to heat food or for aesthetic reasons or if it enhances ones Yom Tov, or for the sake of a mitzvah, for example, one who normally lights candles according to the number of children etc, it is permitted. [1]

Should one light Yom Tov candles before Yom Tov?

Some say that since candlelight is not needed for light one should light Yom Tov candles before Yom Tov. When Yom Tov falls on a Friday it is problematic to light Shabbos candles when electric lights are blazing, [2] or in chutz laaretz on the second night.

The answer is that candlelight adds to the ambience and festivity of Yom Tov and without candlelight the meal is not the same. Dining on Yom Tov night without candles is not the same as with candles, even though they are not needed for light. Accordingly one may light candles on Friday Yom Tov for Shabbos; on Yom Tov night and on second night Yom Tov.

Is it permitted to light candles in shul?

Many are accustomed to light candles in shul on the chazzans podium even though it is not for light (during the day etc.) and it is permitted on Yom Tov as well. [3] The same with lighting candles at a bris milah, even though it is not for light. [4]

May one light a ner neshama (yohrtzeit candle) on Yom Tov?

A candle lit on yohrtzeit must be lit before Yom Tov as benefiting from the light is not the purpose. If however, one forgot to light the yohrtzeit candle, one should light in the dining room thereby deriving benefit from the candlelight or even better it should be lit in shul. [5] The Biur Halacha concludes that in time of need it is possible that one may light it because it is associated with a mitzvah in honor of ones parents. [6]

May one smoke on Yom Tov?

Much has been written on the subject, so we will just present the basics. [7]

The stringent opinion bases himself on a halacha in Shulchan Aruch [8] that says the following: one may not burn incense on coals on Yom Tov, whether to smell or to add fragrance to the house or clothes. The chidush (innovation) of this seif is that even though one derives direct benefit from incense on Yom Tov, it is not (not performed by the majority of the populace).

A major halacha pertaining to melachos on Yom Tov says that a melacha is permitted only when the majority of the populace are accustomed to it - , but something that only finicky or the nobility do is prohibited. Only aristocrats burn incense and therefore it is prohibited on Yom Tov. [9]

Consequently, the majority of the populace do not smoke thereby rendering smoking something is not . The Biur Halacha states that the stringent opinion includes other problematic issues.

The lenient opinion (at the time of the Mishna Berura it was the majority opinion) holds either because many people smoke, making it , or because those who unfortunately smoke suffer without it.

Nowadays, many poskim agree that smoking is prohibited on Yom Tov because of the health risk involved and the enormous decline in smoking habits throughout the world making it not .

May one burn chometz found on Yom Tov Pesach?

It would appear to be a great mitzvah of burning chometz, however the halacha is to the contrary. The Shulchan Aruch writes [10] that one who finds chometz on Yom Tov must cover it. It may not be handled on account of muktze, nor may it be burned (even without handling it), because it is not a fire necessary on Yom Tov, as one can dispose of the chometz without burning it. [11]

The Mishna Berura [12] however cites poskim who are of the opinion that one who did not annul his chometz may discard it and some even hold that it may be burned, based on the law of meaning since burning is permitted when necessary, it is permitted even when not necessary, (notice that even they do not say that it is called needed).

He concludes that most poskim agree that halacha is like the Shulchan Aruch. [13]

[1] SSK 13:4.

[2] Shabbos candles are normally lit on Yom Tov close to Shabbos. According to the above because of the blazing electric lights one does not "enjoy" the light emitting from the candles, thereby presenting a lack of reason for lighting them.

[3] Simon 514:5 and MB 31.

[4] MB simon 514:30, SSK 13:6.

[5] Biur Halacha simon 514:5 " .

[6] See SSK 13:6.

[7] See Biur Halacha simon 511:4 " .

[8] Simon 511:4.

[9] See MB simon 511:21.

[10] Simon 446:1.

[11] Shulchan Aruch HaRav simon 446:6.

[12] Simon 446:6.

[13] He adds that places that burn real chometz found on Yom Tov should continue with their custom.


Food for Thought

May one extinguish fire on Yom Tov?

Does it make a difference if my food is burning?

May one lower the heat of an electric oven?

May one cause water to overflow and extinguish a fire?

Answers coming BE"H next week.

Vort on the Parsha

The possuk says and you will eradicate (the spiller of) innocent blood when you do the right thing in the eyes of Hashem (21:9). The Ibn Ezra explains that it is based on the concept of the reward of a mitzvah is a mitzvah. Rav Sternbuch understands that the Ibn Ezra means to say that as a result of correct conduct there will be no murders in your land. It is not a spiritual reward rather a result of correct education and implication of Hashems laws that leads to a utopian world.

Rav Moshe adds that we see that a proper Torah observant life leads to harmony and happiness.

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.