Rabbi Yosef Zimbal

[Dedicated to the Memory of my beloved and dear father R' Moshe Elozor Ben R' Shimshon Zimbal z"l]

A Candle Lighting for Women
B The Ner for the Healthy
C The Ner for the Deceased
D Ner Havdala of Yom Kippur


1. The minhag is to light candles on Erev Yom Kippur(1) and to say the bracha(2) after the lighting just as we do on Erev Shabbos(3).

2. The bracha is 'Lehadlik Ner Shel Yom Hakippurim'(4). If she said 'Lehadlik Ner Shel Yom Tov' by mistake, she has nevertheless fulfilled her obligation. Similarly, when Yom Kippur falls on Shabbos, if she mentions only Shabbos or Yom Kippur, she has also fulfilled the mitzva and does not need to repeat the bracha(5).

3. The bracha 'Shehecheyanu' is said when lighting the candles(6). Therefore a woman does not say Shehecheyanu in Shul during the davening(7).

4. Upon lighting candles, a woman accepts Yom Tov (and Shabbos as the case may be) and takes upon herself the dinim of Yom Kippur(8). Leather shoes should be removed at this time(9).

5. On a regular Shabbos, in a case of great need, a woman can delay the acceptance of Shabbos by stipulating this intention either verbally or mentally before she lights candles(10). However on Yom Tov, once she recites the blessing of Shehecheyanu, there is an explicit acceptance of Kedushas Yom Tov(11). Any stipulation not to keep hilchos Yom Tov is ineffective. She is forbidden to do any melachos after reciting this bracha(12).

6. Therefore a woman who must travel by car to Shul or who needs to do any melacha should indicate her intention to not accept Yom Tov at the time of candle lighting and she should not recite Shehecheyanu at candle lighting. She should wait and recite it in Shul with the congregation(13).

7. One must derive benefit from the candles(14). On Yom Kippur, this can be achieved by sitting near the candles and enjoying the illumination that they provide(15).

8. When everyone in the household goes to Shul for Kol Nidrei immediately after candle lighting, and no one benefits from the light, one should employ large candles or use sufficient oil, so that the candles will still be alight when the occupants return(16).

9. There is a difference in minhagim concerning having light in the bedroom of the husband and wife(17). The common custom is to leave some light(18). For this purpose one can use the ner for the healthy or the Ner Neshama(19), (see below) or one can leave the door open such that the outside light shines into the room(20).


1. There is a custom for every married man to light a ner(21) which will last until the end of Yom Kippur(22), which is called the ner for the healthy(23).

2. Non married men(24), children(25), and women(26), do not have this minhag even if they live alone(27).

3. No blessing is said over this candle(28).

4. There is a difference in minhagim as to what to do with this ner. Some bring it to Shul and some keep it at home(29).


1. It is the custom to light a candle for deceased parents on Erev Yom Kippur(30), and it should burn until the end of Yom Kippur(31). This ner is called a Ner Neshama(32).

2. One candle is sufficient for both parents(33).

3. Women also have the custom of lighting a Ner Neshama(34). If both husband and wife have lost parents, they each light a Ner Neshama(35).

4. Single people and even children should follow this minhag if their parent(s) have passed away(36).

5. No blessing is said over this candle(37). Before lighting it, one should say: "I am lighting this candle in honour of Yom Kippur for the elevation of the soul of my father/mother"(38).

6. There is a difference in minhagim as to what to do with this ner. Some bring it to Shul and some keep it at home(39).


1. The reason for making a bracha on fire in the Havdala of Shabbos is to remember that fire was discovered on Motzaei Shabbos. Adam rubbed two stones together to produce the first fire(40).

2. We include a ner in the Havdala of Yom Kippur for a different reason. Yom Kippur is unlike other Yomim Tovim in that we are not allowed to make use of fire on this day. We indicate the special Kedusha of Yom Kippur by taking pleasure from a candle that remained alight but which we were unable to use throughout the entire day(41).

3. The different foundations for the Shabbos and Yom Kippur Havdala candles have halachic ramifications. The Ner Havdala of Yom Kippur comes to specifically stress the separation of the holy (Yom Kippur) from the everyday. When we take a fire which one was forbidden to use on Yom Kippur and actually use it, we are indicating in a tangible way that Yom Kippur has ended. Thus the blessing we make on this fire is a true havdala (separation). One must therefore exert himself to obtain a proper fire(42). By contrast, the Ner Havdala of Shabbos is a remembrance of the first fire. Therefore one is not obligated to exert himself to obtain a candle if none is readily available(43).

4. The Ner Havdala of Yom Kippur differs from the one of Shabbos in having the unique requirement that it must have been burning throughout Yom Kippur. This is called ner sheshavas, a flame that existed during the day but which rested from use. It is only at the conclusion of Yom Kippur that one uses it. A newly created fire made by striking a match after the close of Yom Kippur cannot be used(44). Also a candle lit from this match should not be used as the Ner Havdala(45).

5. Fire taken from a ner sheshavas can also be used as the ner sheshavas(46). Some poskim say that it is preferable to use the original candle that was burning during the day rather than a new candle lit from it.(47).

6. When Yom Kippur falls on Shabbos, one can use a newly created fire. However, the minhag is to use a ner sheshavas(48).

7.For Shabbos the ner sheshavas mentioned above is not required, one could strike a match to light the Havdala candle. Nevertheless there is another type of ner that cannot be used for Havdala for Shabbos, a fire which was lit during the day under forbidden circumstances by a Jew or non Jew. This prerequisite is called ner sheshavas mimelachas issur, a light that rested from prohibited actions. This includes a light, which was kindled on Shabbos by a non-Jew for his own use in his house.(49). This rule applies to Yom Kippur as well(50).

8. The Ner Havdala must be lit solely for the purpose of providing light and not for any other reason(51). The Ner for the healthy and the Ner Neshama are not suitable in this respect because they are lit for purposes other than illumination(52). Therefore, the Poskim recommend that a person should light a special candle on Erev Yom Kippur. This candle should last the whole of Yom Kippur and it is set aside with the sole intention of making Havdala over it at the end of the day(53).

9. Nevertheless, if one did not light a special ner for Havdala, but has fire burning since before Yom Kippur from the ner for the healthy or the ner for the deceased, one can light the Havdala candle from it and say the bracha over that Havdala candle(54). It is also permissible to light the Havdala candle from a gas flame that has been burning since before Yom Kippur or from a gas flame ignited by a pilot light that has been burning the whole day(55).

10. However it is better (for the person who did not leave a special ner for Havdala) to combine the fire that was burning throughout Yom Kippur with a new ner lit specifically for the purpose of Havdala, and then recite the blessing over the flame of both candles together(56).

11. The preferable candle for Havdala is one that is multi-wicked(57), or two single wicked candles held together to form one large flame(58).

12. Practically speaking, there are two ways to do this mitzva:

(a) The ideal procedure is to light a special candle on Erev Yom Kippur to use for Havdala. This candle must burn throughout the day (D8). One uses this original ner sheshavas (second opinion in D5) to light another candle and then combines the two flames to form one large flame (D11) and recites the bracha over this flame(59).

(b) The minhag of many is to light a ner which burns for the whole of Yom Kippur (Sheshavas), even the ner for the deceased or the healthy (D9). One then lights a regular multi-wicked Havdala candle from this ner sheshavas (first opinion in D5) and recites the bracha over just the multi-wicked candle(60).


1. Orach Chaim (O.C.) 610:1. The word minhag is used here because there are places that have the custom not to light candles on Yom Kippur. See Mishna Berura (M.B.) 610:3 which states that the minhag of lighting is the stronger of the two. Therefore a place that does not have an established custom should light. If Yom Kippur falls on Shabbos then there is an obligation to light.
2. O.C. 610:2. Even though it is not so simple since it is dependent upon a minhag, perhaps Chazal did not institute a bracha (see Sha'ar HaTzion 610:5). Nevertheless it is the accepted practice to make a bracha when lighting.
3. Mateh Ephraim 610:2; Shemiras Shabbos K'Hilchesa 44:13.
4. M.B. 610:7.
5. See Piskei Teshuvos 610:1 in the name of Teshuvos Maharm Brisk 2:44. Also Debritziner Rav zt'l as quoted in Radiance of Shabbos p.152.
6. Mateh Ephraim 619:4.
7. Sha'arHaTzion 619:7 in the name of the Mateh Ephraim.
8. Mateh Ephraim 609:5.
9. Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa 44:14. By contrast, the Mateh Ephraim, ibid, rules that she could wear leather shoes to shul and he also explains in the Eleph L'Mateh 609:4, that this is permissible even without making a condition because one's normal intention is to wear shoes to shul. However, HaGaon Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt'l says that this ruling is difficult to understand. See Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa, ibid note 46. It also appears to the author that since today most people wear non-leather footwear and do not walk barefoot on Yom Kippur, the normal intention is to wear non-leather footwear to shul. Therefore one should change before lighting candles.
10. Rema 263:10 with M.B. 263:44.
11. M.B. 619:4.
12. Kaf Hachaim 514:112, Tzitz Eliezer vol.10, 19:5; Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa 43:23. In note 132, he explains that one can stipulate not to accept Tosafos Shabbos, extending Shabbos. However, when reciting Shehechiyanu, one accepts the sanctity of Yom Tov and this cannot be delayed by imposing a condition.
13. Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa 44:14; Radiance of Shabbos p. 153.
14. O.C. 263:9 and M.B. 263:41.
15. Radiance of Shabbos p. 153,quoting HaGaon Rabbi C.P.Scheinberg shlita.
16. Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa 44:15. If one does not use longer candles then the bracha that was recited is a bracha l'vatala, in vain, as stated in O.C. 263:9. In regard to deriving benefit before nightfall, see M.B. 263:40-41 and Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa ch. 43 note 100.
17. Pesachim 53b; O.C. 610:1. See M.B. 610:1 who explains the reasons for both minhagim. Each custom is in both places, on the table and in the bedroom, M.B. 610:2. However the Aruch Hashulchan 610:4 explains the difference in minhag is only in regard to the light in the bedroom.
18. The Rema 610:1 writes that if one has a light on in the house, then they must light also in the bedroom, even in a place where the minhag is not to light, M.B. 610:4, Shaar HaTzion 610:4. It follows then, that today when we have electric lights throughout the house, one should be obligated to light in the bedroom. This is also the ruling of the Nitei Gavriel, Yomim Noraim 40:10 and Yom Hakippurim 25:1.
19. Mikraei Kodesh, authored by Rabbi Moshe Harari, Hilchos Yom Hakippurim 2:90 in the name of HaGaon Rabbi A. Nebentzal. There is no concern of fulfilling many mitzvos with one item. Oseh Mitzvos Chavilos Chavilos.
20. Ibid, 2:75; Nitei Gavriel Yomim Noraim ch.40 note 16
21. Rema 610:4 and M.B. 610:11. Many reasons are given for this minhag from both the revealed areas of the Torah and Kabbala. The Mateh Ephraim in Eleph Hamagen 603:14 brings two reasons.
[A.] In commemoration of the Torah, since Moshe descended from Har Sinai with the second pair of Luchos, tablets, on Yom Kippur and the Torah is referred to as a candle as it is written "For a mitzva is a candle and Torah is light" (Mishlei 6:23.)
[B.] For a remez, sign, of Kapara, this ner should atone for one's neshama which is also called a ner as it is written, "A man's soul is the candle of Hashem", ibid 20:27.
The Beis Yosef, 610, explains that a candle is kindled so that one will have a ner sheshavas, and be able to recite Havdala after Yom Kippur. see section D8 with footnote 52 below.
22. Mateh Ephraim 603:8. (Most people use a 'yahrzeit lamp', which burns 24 or 48 hours.)
23. Ibid. (Dos gezunteh licht).
24. M.B. 610:11 and Mateh Ephraim ibid both write that presently only married men light. However, the Chayei Adam and the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch use the term the ba'al habayis, head of the household, implying that if one lives by himself he is also included in this custom. Furthermore, the reason to light appears to apply to them as well.
25. Ibid.
26. M.B. 610:10. See Magen Avraham 610:3 for the reason of this halacha.
27. Mateh Ephraim, ibid. He also writes that a woman who desires is permitted to light this candle.
28. See M.B. 610:8 which states that if a candle is not lit for shalom bayis, harmony in the home, a bracha is not recited.
29. Mateh Ephraim 603:8 see Eleph Hamagen 603:18, M.B. 610:14 in the name of the Chayei Adam, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 131:7.
30. Rema 610:4. The M.B. 610:12 explains that it is a kappara for them, for the departed also require atonement. It is written that the proper name of Yom Kippur is Yom HaKippurim, Day of Atonements. The plural is used because the day atones for both the living and the deceased.
31. Mateh Ephraim 603:8 (most people use a yahrtzeit lamp which burns 24 or 48 hours.).
32. Ibid.
33. M.B. 610:12, Mateh Ephraim ibid.
34. Mateh Ephraim ibid.
35. The Nitei Gavriel, Yom Hakippurim ch.21 note 5 is unsure about this halacha. He concludes that it can be assumed that one lamp is required for the husband's parent(s) and another one for the wife's parent(s).
36. Nitei Gavriel Yom Hakippurim 21:4. This halacha is obvious since the purpose is to atone for the parents.
37. See note 28 above.
38. Kaf Hachaim 610:27.
39. Mateh Ephraim 603:8, with Eleph Hamagen 603:18, M.B. 610:14, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 131:7.
40. Pesachim 54a; M.B. 298:1; 624:7.
41. Tur 624, based on above Gemara; M.B. ibid.
42. O.C. 298: 1: M.B. ibid. See Sha'ar HaTzion 298:2 and Mateh Ephraim 624:8. See the next halacha for the requirements of the havdala candle after Yom Kippur. If one does not have such a light in his house, they should go to a neighbour that does. The Teshuvos V'hanhagos 2:302 writes that if a proper ner is not easily accessible, one could first make havdala without a candle and break the fast and then seek a candle to recite the bracha on. One should not obtain a candle from a non- Jew, (see below law 7).
There is a dispute concerning whether a bracha can be recited over an electric globe. Even those who are lenient only permit this in case of need and only a non-fluorescent and unfrosted globe may be used. See Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa 61:32 with note 105, Tzitz Eliezer vol.1, 20:13, Be'er Moshe 6:61, 66: Teshuvos V'Hanhagos 2:302. Radiance of Shabbos p.137 writes that HaGaon R' Moshe Feinstein forbids using an electric globe.
43. O.C. 298:1.
44. O.C. 624:4 with M.B. 624:7, O.C. 298:8 with M.B. 298:26.
45. There is an opinion in O.C. 624:4 that one can recite a bracha on a newly lit candle if it is not the original source of fire. The Levushei S'rad, explains that since the fire is not being newly created, a bracha may be recited. The halacha though does not follow this opinion, see M.B., there 624:10 and Biur Halacha, s.v. V'Yeish Omrim. The Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchosa ch.64 note 73 writes that if one mistakenly recited the bracha on this candle, one would not recite another bracha on a proper candle. This is in accordance with the maxim 'Safeik brachos l'hakeil' when in doubt, a bracha is not recited, for the Biur Halacha brings opinions that in a case of difficulty one can rely on this view. In an actual situation of need, the Aruch HaShulchan 624:6 and the Chayei Adam 145:40 both write that one can rely on this view, however the M.B. writes that a bracha should not be recited. If Yom Kippur falls on a Shabbos then one can be lenient. See M.B. 624:7 and Sha'ar Hatzion 624:11. See also law 6 below. 46. O.C. 624:5, see Sha'ar Hatzion 298:26. From the Aruch HaShulchan 624:4 and Mateh Ephraim 624:8, it appears that there is no advantage in using the actual light that was shavas in preference to one that was kindled from it. This is also the view of the Eshel Avraham (MiBotchatch) 624.
47. M.B. 624: 12, Shulchan Aruch HaRav 624:8.
48. See M.B. 624:7 and Sha'ar HaTzion 624:9.
49. O.C. 298:5. See there concerning when it was lit for someone who is ill. See Shemiras Shabbos K'Hilchesa 62:32 for two meanings of "ner sheshavas".
50. Concerning Yom Kippur this halacha is discussed in O.C. 624:5. See Pri Megadim, Mishbetzotz Zahav 298:4who rules that we cannot borrow an existing light from a non-Jew because we can assume that it was kindled on Shabbos or Yom Kippur.
51. O.C. 298:7-8 concerning Shabbos; Rema 624:5 with M.B. 624:12 in regard to Yom Kippur. It can be argued that only on Shabbos is a candle kindled for the purpose of providing light and this is not required for Yom Kippur. However, the Shemiras Shabbos K'Hilchesa ch. 62 note 78 explains that when the Chachamim instituted this halacha, they did not distinguish between them and therefore whatever is necessary for Shabbos is required for Yom Kippur as well (lo plug), see there.
52. Shemiras Shabbos K'Hilchesa 62:33 and note 79. See also Piskei Teshuvos 624:2. (However according to the Beis Yosef 610, the purpose for kindling the ner for the healthy is to have a candle for havdala after Yom Kippur, see above footnote 21. According to him it should be permissible to use this ner.)
53. M.B. 624:13 quoting Derech HaChaim .
54. Rema 624:5.Concerning the lamp in Shul , see M.B. 624:12. The new light was kindled specifically for illumination and since its source is a ner sheshavas, it attains the status of a ner sheshavas.
55. Biur Halacha 624:5 s.v.V'yeish omrim she'ein l'havdil. See Igros Moshe O.C. 4:122.
56. Rema 624:5 with M.B. 624:13, concerning candles lit in Shul. The Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa 62:34 writes that the same applies at home to a Yahrzeit lamp and the ner for the healthy. The reason to use both lights is that each one rectifies the deficiency of the other. The candle that was lit before Yom Kippur has the benefit that it is an actual ner sheshavas as opposed to the candle lit from this one. And the candle recently kindled has the benefit that it was lit to illuminate while the ner sheshavas was only kindled in honour of Yom Kippur.
57. O.C. 298:2. The purpose is to make a torch (avuka)
58. M.B. 298:8. This is also relevant on Yom Kippur as the Kaf Hachaim 298:11 writes in the name of the Kol Bo, because the bracha recited is Me'orei Ha'eish, which is plural. Hence a torch is required to appear as many flames. The Eshel Avraham (MiBotchatch) 624 also brings this halacha in regard to Yom Kippur. See also Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa 62:84. Some, suggest that a torch might not be required for Yom Kippur. See ibid note 85, and Piskei Teshuvos 624 note 26.
59. Heard from current day Poskim, also mentioned in Nitei Gavriel Yom Hakippurim 67:21 and Piskei Teshuvos 624 note 26. I would recommend that a 48-hour candle be used because a regular 24-hour candle has burnt so low by the end of Yom Kippur that it is almost impossible to put together with another candle.
60. See Eshel Avraham (MiBotchatch) 624 who writes that this is the practice of most people and it is the accepted halacha to permit lighting a havdala candle from a light in the house. He seems to be discussing a yahrtzeit lamp or the ner of the healthy and one could recite the bracha even without combining the havdala candle with the ner sheshavas. Igros Moshe O.C. 4:122 writes the same in regard to a 'pilot light', see Piskei Teshuvos 624 (vol. 6. P. 304). It is not clear why they ignored the Rema's ruling that it is proper to recite bracha over both together. Perhaps it is because it is difficult physically as was mentioned in the previous footnote. However when possible, it is definitely preferable to combine the two candles.

Back to Moadim Uzmanim Homepage

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel