Shabbat Candles

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Shabbat candles.jpg
  1. There’s an obligation upon every household to have a candle lit for Shabbat. [1]

Women and candle lighting

  1. The obligation is greater upon women in the house than the men. [2] If the man and woman both want to lit, the preference is given to the women. [3]
  2. However, the obligation of setting up the wicks and oil should be done by the men of the house. [4]
  3. The minhag is that a women the Shabbat after she gave birth lights candles with a Bracha. [5]
  4. A women who is going into surgery and knows she will be unconscious until after the Shabbat candles brunt out should light Shabbat candles with a Bracha. [6]

Who's obligated?

  1. A student in Yeshiva also has an obligation to light Shabbat candles and doesn't fulfill one's obligation with one's parent's if one is not at home. Preferably, one should lit in the room one sleeps in, however, if that's impossible, a student can fulfill their obligation if there's one student or women who lights in the cafeteria with intent to fulfill the obligation of everyone. [7]

Time to light candles

  1. One should light Shabbat candles a "short hour" before Shekiyah each place according to its minhag. If there's no minhag in that place, one should light a half hour before shekiyah or at least 20 minutes. [8]
  2. One should make sure to light close to Shabbat so that it's recognizable that one is lighting for Kavod Shabbat, however, if one accepts Shabbat early one may light as early as Plag HaMincha. [9]

The Bracha

  1. A man should have the match ready in hand, make the bracha, and then light the candles; however, women should light the candles, and then make the bracha while covering her eyes or the flame so as not to benefit from the light. [10]

What should be used for candles?

  1. Even though all oil that is drawn after wick is kosher for Shabbat candles, it’s preferable to use olive oil. [11]
  2. If one can’t get olive oil, one should use wax [12] or paraffin candles. [13]
  3. If one can’t get oil or wax candles at all one should turn on the electric lights with a Bracha. [14]
  4. It's preferable to light with olive oil, if one doesn't have olive oil, the next best is all other oils that burn with a clear flame, and lastly, wax candles are also acceptable. [15]
  5. If no candles are available one may light with electric bulbs (incandescent) and make a bracha. [16]

How many candles?

  1. The minimum requirement is to have one candle. [17] However, the minhag is to have two candles. [18]
  2. Some have the minhag to have 7 candles and some have the mninhag to have 10 candles. [19]

The order of candle lighting

  1. The practice is the women says a prayer for her children grow to become Torah scholars. [20]
  2. The Ashkenzi practice is to say the Bracha of Hadlakat Nerot after lighting the candles. [21] However, even though many Sephardim also practice to make the Bracha after the lighting, the Halacha is that to avoid a possible Bracha Levatala one should make the bracha prior to lighting. [22]


  1. Rambam (Shabbat 5:1) and S”A 263:2 rule that there’s an obligation to have a candle lit in the house for Shabbat.
  2. Rashi (Shabbat 32a D”H Hareni) writes in name of Beresheet Rabba that women are more obligated in lighting candles since they were involved in the sin of extinguishing the light of the world in the sin of Etz HaDaat. Rashi gives a second reason that the women are more obligated in this mitzvah is because they deal with the needs of the house. The S”A 263:3 and Rambam only gives that second reason of Rashi. This reason is brought by Mishna Brurah 263:12.
  3. S”A 263:3 brings this reasons and rules that the woman of the house is more obligated and so, if the man wants to lit, the women can prevent him.
  4. Shaar HaKavanot 61d, Magan Avraham 263:7, Mishna Brurah 263:12
  5. Sh”t Tzitz Eliezer 15:32:7 writes that minhag is that a women who gave birth to light Shabbat candles with a Bracha.
  6. Sh”t Tzitz Eliezer 15:32:6 writes that this case would be the same as a blind person who is allowed to light candles because the blind get benefit in that others will be able to see and help the blind.
  7. Piskei Teshuvot 263:11. See there where he adds that if the student isn't eating in the cafeteria but is eating in someone's house, seemingly one can't fulfill one's obligation with the candles lit in the cafeteria. Nonetheless, concludes the Piskei Teshuvot, that there's what to rely on the S"A HaRav who holds that by eating at someone's house one becomes like a family member. See the Sanctity of Shabbat (pg 10; by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen) who quotes Rabbi Pinchas Shienberg who are lenient.
  8. Mishna Brurah 261:23 writes that one should stop doing melacha a half hour or at least 20 minutes before Melacha. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 43:11 writes that this amount of time is when one should light candles. See Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata (43 note 57) where he discusses the minhag in Yerushalim to light 40 minutes before Shekiyah.
  9. How early can one light Shabbat candles? The Rosh (Brachot 4:6) writes that the earliest time to light Shabbat candles is Plag Mincha (ten and three quarter hours). The Tur 267:2 writes that this is also the opinion of Tosfot and the Bet Yosef 263:4 writes that this is the opinion of the Rabbenu Yonah and Mordechai. S"A 263:4 rules that one should make sure to light close to Shabbat so that it's recognizable that one is lighting for Kavod Shabbat, however, if one accepts Shabbat early one may light as early as Plag HaMincha.
  10. Rama 263:5 writes that the minhag was to light and then make the bracha while covering the flame so as not to benefit from the flame before making the bracha. Buir Halacha D"H Achar Hadlaka brings a dispute whether a man does the same process as a women or not. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 43:30 rules that a man should first make the bracha and then light.
  11. S”A 264:6
  12. S”A 264:7
  13. Menuchat Ahava (vol 1 4:3) writes that the electric candles aren’t worse than wax candles.
  14. Sh”t Yechave Daat 5:24
  15. S"A 264:6 writes that olive oil is preferable to other oils and Mishna Brurah 264:23 adds that wax candles are inferior to oil candles. So rules Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 43:4 and Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat vol 1 pg 187).
  16. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 43:4 rules that one has what to rely on to make the bracha on an electric bulb with the qualification that it's lit for kavod shabbat. Rav Ovadyah Yosef (Yalkut Yosef Shabbat vol 1 pg 188, Yabea Omer OC 2:17) agrees that one can make a bracha on it but emphasizes that it's a last option and that preferably one should have a designation that the bulb is for Shabbat candles.
  17. implied for the language of Rambam (Shabbat 5:1) and S”A 263:2.
  18. S”A 263:1 rules that one should have two candles, one for Shamor and one for Zachor.
  19. Magan Avraham 263:2 in name of the Shlah
  20. The practice to pray for children that will be Torah scholars is based on the Gemara Shabbat 23b that says in reward for keeping Shabbat candles, one get children who lighten the world with their Torah. The Magan Avraham 263:11 in name of Rabbenu BeChay says that it is proper for a person to pray for children that will be Torah scholars when lighting the Shabbat candles. This brought as Halacha in Kaf HaChaim 263:1 and Menuchat Ahava (vol 1 4:3).
  21. Rama 263:5
  22. Sh”T Yechava Daat 2:33, Sh”t Yabe Omer 2 O”C 16, Menuchat Ahava (Vol 1, 4:5)