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 Vayishlach

May one handle muktze for ochel nefesh?

Yes, muktze may be handled for ochel nefesh, [1] but not in all cases.

Please provide some examples.

Stones and rocks are muktze on Shabbos and Yom Tov (unless set aside for permanent use) and one may remove, by hand, rocks and stones that are on fruit or on a wine barrel. [2]

  • One may retrieve a key to a food cupboard from a wallet or purse containing money. [3]
  • Firewood is not a k’li but may be placed in the fire to enable cooking or for heat. [4] Firewood has a unique status: it may be handled and placed in a fire but not as a doorstopper, because it was never set aside to be a k’li.
  • A stick can be used as a skewer to roast meat on fire or coals, even though, before Yom Tov, it was not set aside for this purpose. The gemora explains that using wood in the fire – as firewood, and on the fire as a spit, is the same thing and permitted. [5] One may not however sharpen, straighten or shorten the stick on Yom Tov on account of tikun k’li – repairing an item, which is ossur even for ochel nefesh, because it could have been done before Yom Tov. [6]

When is it ossur to handle muktze even for ochel nefesh?

One may not use muktze for ochel nefesh, one may only move it out of the way. Consequently

  • It is ossur to use a stone to crack nuts open. [7]
  • It is ossur to use firewood to prop open an oven door or level a stove.
  • Leftover oil in an oil lamp (lit before Yom Tov) may not be used for anything but lighting – it cannot be eaten in your salad. [8]
  • Fruit that fell from a tree on Yom Tov is muktze and may not be eaten. It is ossur, g’zeira lest one picks fruit on Yom Tov (same as Shabbos).

Bottom line is that muktze may be moved out of the way for ochel nefeh but not used.

Is that not the same as Shabbos – after all, one may move muktze out of the way?

On Shabbos one may only move a k’li shem’lachto l’issur, such as a hammer, cell phone, simple camera, pen and other similar items l’tzorech gufo um’komo  - because the space occupied is needed, but one may not handle items that are not in this category. [9]

Stones, ash, sticks, money, a wallet containing money and raw meat are not in this category and may not be moved on Shabbos or Yom Tov, at all, even if one needs to use the space they occupy. On Yom Tov, when any of these items prevent one preparing ochel nefesh – i.e. the wood oven is full of ash, it may be removed by hand to make room for food.

May one remove burned wicks from a candle?

When necessary, one may replace old and burned wicks with new wicks. Extra light on Yom Tov contributes to ochel nefesh and one may handle muktze towards that cause. [10] The disk remaining at the bottom of the glass (used for lighting oil) may be removed as well, even though it is muktze.

Are candles muktze on Yom Tov?

In the last sheet we wrote that matches may be handled to pass fire from one location to another. We must add that they are not muktze at all and may be handled freely, not only to pass fire. Matches, candles, oil used for lighting are not muktze at all on Yom Tov. [11]

Why are these items ‘better’ then firewood, which is muktze?

Firewood is not a k’li and was never set aside as such, hence it is muktze, save for putting in the fire. Candles, matches and oil were specifically manufactured for their respective uses and are proper keilim, hence they are not muktze. [12]

When Yom Tov falls on Shabbos, are the laws strict and similar to Yom Tov?

We learned that muktze and nolad are stricter on Yom Tov than on Shabbos. The gemora in the beginning of maseches Beitza says Rebbi was stricter on Yom Tov with regards to muktze because Yom Tov has leniencies that do not exist on Shabbos, namely cooking. Since cooking and other melachos may be performed on Yom Tov, people tend to regard Yom Tov as being less severe than Shabbos and might violate issurim when prohibited. Consequently he adopted a stricter position with regards to muktze and nolad.

On the one hand when Yom Tov falls on Shabbos, the foundation for this stringency is not applicable and the laws are treated like Shabbos, not Yom Tov, [13] on the other hand, since Chazal said it is ossur on Yom Tov, this is true even when it falls on Shabbos.

[1] Rama, end of simon 509.

[2] M”B simon 509:31.

[3] M”B simon 518:24.

[4] Simon 502:3 and M”B.

[5] Rama simon 502 and M”B 22.

[6] Simon 509:2.

[7] SS”K 21:3 based on M”B simon 509:31.

[8] SS”K 21:3 and footnote 12.

[9] Simon 308.

[10] Based on R’ Akiva Eiger, cited in SS”K 21 footnote 6.

[11] See SS”K 21:5-6.

[12] SS”K 21 footnote 21 discusses oil placed inside the candle, whether it has a different status.

[13] SS”K 21:7. There is a machlokes in this matter, as cited in footnote 22.


Food for Thought

May one make ice on Yom Tov?

What about making ice cream?

May one handle sukkah decorations on Yom Tov?

I need olive oil, may I use the oil hung for decorations?

Answers coming BE"H next week.

Vort on the Parsha

The angel who fought Ya’akov Avinu was the epitome of evil, so when Ya’akov asked him for his name, he replied, “why do you ask my name”? The Malbim explains that being a source of emptiness, evil does not have a name. Just like darkness is lack of light, evil lacks a purpose, a goal. Evil changes form because it lacks its own form.

Rav Sholom Shwadron ztz”l would say that the evil inclination is a figment of one’s imagination. He compared it to a scary movie in a dark room, all one needed to do was to switch on the light and it disappears.

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