Shabbat Candles

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Shabbat candles.jpg

There’s an obligation upon every household to have a candle lit for Shabbat.[1] There is a discussion whether lighting Shabbat candles is part of the mitzvah of Kavod Shabbat or Oneg Shabbat.[2] Either way, lighting Shabbat candles is a derabbanan mitzvah.[3]



  1. The Beracha recited when lighting the Shabbat candles is "Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Haolam Asher Kidishanu Bimitzvotav ViTzivanu LeHadlik Ner Shel Shabbat. [4]

The order of candle lighting

  1. The Ashkenazi practice is to say the Bracha of Hadlakat Nerot after lighting the candles. [5] However, according to Sephardim, many poskim say that women should say the Bracha before lighting, however, some say that those who have the practice of saying it after lighting should continue their practice, and if a woman dones't have a practice, she should say the bracha before lighting. [6]
  2. 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. [7]
  3. The practice is the women says a prayer for her children grow to become Torah scholars. [8]

How many candles?

  1. The minimum requirement is to have one candle.[9] However, the minhag is to have two candles.[10]
  2. Some have the minhag to have 7 candles and some have the minhag to have 10 candles.[11]
  3. Some poskim hold that the minhag that if a woman forgot to light candles one week has a penalty to light an extra candle every week afterwards doesn't apply if the electric lights were lit anyways. However, most poskim disagree and hold that the penalty is relevant even in such a case.[12]

Where to light

  1. If one is staying in a hotel for Shabbat, some say that one should light an incandescent bulb with a bracha in one's private room. This may be done even if the light is in a closet or in the bathroom, however, if one lights in the bathroom, the bracha should be made outside the bathroom. However, if this option isn't possible, one should light in the dining room so that people can derive benefit from it, but one may not light with a bracha in a place that no one will get benefit from the candles. [13]
  2. There is a dispute whether one can light Shabbat candles in a place that is already lit up with electric lights.[14] Therefore, some say that one should turn off the electric lights, turn them back on for the sake of Shabbat, light the regular candles, and then say the bracha.[15] Others say to turn off the lights, light the regular candles, and then turn on the electric lights. [16]
  3. The primary place to light Shabbat candles in the room that one is going to eat. However, it is possible to light in other rooms of the house that one is going to use.[17]
  4. One should light in the place that one is going to recite kiddush. If one lit and then changed one's mind that one doesn't want to eat there because it is very bothersome to eat there for some reason it is permitted to eat there even though one lit somewhere else.[18]

Women and Candle Lighting

  1. The obligation is greater upon women in the house than the men.[19] If the man and woman both want to light, preference is given to the women. [20]
  2. However, the obligation of setting up the wicks and oil should be done by the men of the house.[21]
  3. The minhag is that the husband of a woman who gave birth that week, lights Shabbat candles for his wife.[22]

Accepting Shabbat with Candle Lighting

  1. There is an opinion that automatically when one lights Shabbat candles one accepts Shabbat and may not do melacha afterwards. It is customary that women are stringent for this opinion and accept Shabbat when lighting. If they plan to do melacha after lighting they must make a stipulation that they aren't accepting Shabbat.[23] They should only make such a stipulation when necessary.[24] This stipulation can be done mentally.[25]

Obligation of a Guest

  1. A guest who comes to someone else's house for Shabbos and isn't eating meals at their host's house, if he has someone lighting for him at home, such as a wife or mother, if he has his own room, he should light in his room. If he doesn't have his own room, he is exempt from lighting.[26]
  2. A guest who comes to someone else's house for Shabbos and is eating meals at their host's house, if he has his own own room, he should light with a bracha in his room. However, if he doesn't have his own room he is exempted with the lighting of the host.[27]
  3. If a person is eating out Friday night he should light at home before Shabbat with long enough candles that could last until he gets back to enjoy them on Shabbat.[28]
  4. If someone is a guest for Shabbat and has his own room he must light. According to Sephardim he cannot light in a room that someone is already lighting. Therefore, he should light in his own private room. A guest in a hotel who cannot light in his own room should light in the cafeteria where they're going to eat. If she's not the first one to light there, then they should make the bracha upon the electric lights in their private room.[29]

Hadlakat Neirot Shabbat in Yeshiva

  1. Some say that a yeshiva student whose mother is lighting Shabbat candles at home need not light Shabbat candles at Yeshiva as long as there is enough light in his room for his needs. Others, however, hold that a yeshiva student is obligated to light at yeshiva.[30]
  2. According to those who say a yeshiva student is obligated to light in yeshiva, some say that one student should light in the cafeteria on everyone’s behalf and everyone else turns on a light in his room according to his needs without a bracha. Others argue that each student should light in his own room with a bracha.[31]
  3. If a yeshiva student eats the Friday night meal at someone's house and not the cafeteria, according to those that he usually fulfills his obligation with the lighting in the cafeteria, this week he wouldn't fulfill his obligation with the lighting in the cafeteria, rather according to some one fulfills his obligation with the lighting of the family that he is eating at. [32] According to Sephardim, he should light in his dorm with a bracha and make sure that it stays lit until he returns from the meal so that he can benefit from the candles. They should only have one person per room light.[33]
  4. The halachot for a girl living in a dorm at seminary is the same as for a boy living in a dorm at yeshiva in regards to Hadlakat Neirot.[34]

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. [35]
  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. [36]

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. [37]
  2. If one can’t get olive oil, one should use wax [38] or paraffin candles. [39]
  3. If one can’t get oil or wax candles at all, one can use an incandescent bulb and still make a bracha. However, if they only have fluorescent or LED lights (as are most electric lights nowadays), one should turn them on without a bracha [40]
  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. [41]

Electric Candles

see Using a light bulb for Shabbat Candles and Havdala

How to Move the Candlesticks from the Table

  1. If someone left a permitted item from before Shabbat on the candlestick tray and that item is necessary for Shabbat it is permitted to move the tray off the table after the candles went out since it is a bosis for muktzeh and non-muktzeh.[42] Some hold it is isn't valid because a tray is designated for candles.[43]
    1. Examples of items that you could put on the tray to permit carrying it include a challah, siddur, or knife you will need that Shabbat.
  2. According to Sephardim it is permitted to move the tray if you make a stipulation before Shabbat that you will use the candlesticks tray after they go out.[44]


  1. Rambam (Shabbat 5:1) and Shulcham Aruch O.C. 263:2 rule that there’s an obligation to have a candle lit in the house for Shabbat.
  2. In one place the Rambam (Shabbat 5:1) writes that lighting Shabbat candles is considered Oneg Shabbat, whereas in another place (Rambam Shabbat 30:5) he states that it is included in Kavod Shabbat.
  3. Rambam (Shabbat 5:1)
  4. Shulchan Aruch 263:5, Mishna Brurah 263:22
  5. Rama 263:5
  6. Rav Ovadyah Yosef in Sh”t Yechave Daat 2:33 and Sh”t Yabia Omer O”C 2:16 holds that a woman should say the bracha of Hadlakat Neirot before lighting the candles and saying it afterwards is possibly a Bracha Levatala. Menuchat Ahava (Vol 1, 4:5) agrees. The Ohr Letzion (vol 2, 18:3), however, writes that a woman who has the practice to say it after lighting should continue her practice and a woman who doesn't have a practice should say the bracha before lighting.
  7. 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. Beiur Halacha s.v. 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.
  8. 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 Magen 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).
  9. Implied for the language of Rambam (Shabbat 5:1) and Shulchan Aruch O.C. 263:2.
  10. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 263:1 rules that one should have two candles, one for Shamor and one for Zachor.
  11. Magen Avraham 263:2 in name of the Shlah
  12. Dor Hamelaktim v. 1 p. 468 quotes many poskim who hold that the kenas applies even if electric lights were still lit including: Kinyan Torah Bhalacha 6:9:3, Shraga Hameir 7:83:1, Tzitz Eliezer 21:11, Shevet Halevi 5:33, Rivevot Efraim 8:123, and Shevet Hakehati 5:266. However, they also quote some poskim who are lenient including Yalkut Yosef and Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky.
  13. Rav Hershel Schachter in a published pamphlet about Hilchot Shavuot (p. 3, original version). Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Motzei Shabbat Vayigash 5779, min 35-38) explained that one should light with an electric bulb in one's private room and it can even be a LED or fluorescent bulb. He said that one can light in one's bathroom and once he saw his father do that when he was in a hotel for Shabbat.
    • Or Letzion 2:18:13 assumes that one can't fulfill the mitzvah of Shabbat candles with electric lights and concludes therefore one can light Shabbat candles there even if the electric lights are on in that room.
    • The Ben Ish Chai (Rav Poalim OC 4:23) permits lighting even if it is quite light in that area since it enables reciting kiddish in front of the Shabbat candles. Similarly, other suggestions to support this approach include that of the Klosenberg Rebbe (cited by Radiance of Shabbos p. 20 n. 3) who says that it is still a recognizable honor to light candles for Shabbat more than it is to have electric lights. Rav Shlomo Zalman (Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata ch. 43 n. 171) suggests a similar idea.
    • Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe 5:20) suggests another possibility. Perhaps there's an obligation to light candles even though we have electric lights because maybe the electricity will go out. However, others hold that one must turn off the electric lights before lighting as is mentioned below.
    • Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Motzei Shabbat Vayigash 5779 min 50-57) explained that one can light in a room with the electric lights already on but it is better to turn them off. He said that he never heard his father tell his mother to turn off the electric lights before lighting.
  14. Such was Rav Moshe Feinstein's practice as cited by Radiance of Shabbos (p. 20). Rav Ovadia in Chazon Ovadia Shabbat v. 1 p. 216 recommends this practice.
  15. Rav Soloveitchik (cited in Nefesh HaRav p. 156), Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 43:34
  16. Aruch Hashulchan 273:2 explains that it is part of kavod to light where one is eating and oneg to light in the other rooms so that one doesn't stumble. Divrei Yatziv 120:4 argues that the primary place to light is in the place where one eats. It seems that Magen Avraham 273:1, Mishna Brurah 273:2 and 45, and Shulchan Aurch Harav 273:9 agree with the Aruch Hashulchan that there is a mitzvah to light primarily in the place of eating and secondarily everywhere else and it is possible to make a bracha on any room if there's a reason one can't light in the place of eating. Teshuvot Vehanhagot 2:157 holds that it is possible to make a bracha upon the light in the hallway. Chovat Hadar (Hadlakat Nerot Shabbat ch. 1 fnt. 46) writes that it is possible to light in a bedroom if a guest or married child has a private bedroom for them. This is implied by Shulchan Aruch O.C. 273:7. However, Shevet Halevi 3:24 argues on the Rav Poalim 2:51 who takes this position and instead argues that one can only recite a bracha upon lighting in the dining room where one will eat.
  17. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 273:7 quotes two opinions whether it is necessary to make kiddush where one lit Shabbat candles. The Mordechai (Pesachim 101a s.v. ada'azlitu) writes that one can't recite kiddush except in front of the Shabbat candles. However, the Rosh Pesachim 10:5 disagrees and holds that kiddush can certainly be recited even if there's no Shabbat candles there. Shulchan Aruch states that if one lit inside but the house is too hot and one wants to eat outside it is permitted to do so. Mishna Brurah 273:32 advises only following the lenient opinion if it is really bothersome to make kiddish in the place of the candles.
  18. Rashi (Shabbat 32a s.v. 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 Shulchan Aruch O.C. 263:3 and Rambam only gives that second reason of Rashi. This reason is brought by Mishna Brurah 263:12.
  19. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 263:3 quotes 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.
  20. Shaar HaKavanot 61d, Magen Avraham 263:7, Mishna Brurah 263:12
  21. Mishna Brurah 263:11. Sh”t Tzitz Eliezer 15:32:7 writes that essentially the woman who gave birth can light but the minhag is not to.
  22. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 263:10
  23. Mishna Brurah 263:44 writes that a person should only make a stipulation not to accept Shabbat with candle lighting since not everyone holds that the stipulation is effective.
  24. Mateh Efraim 619:6, Siach Dovid 2:10:7
  25. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 45:4 based on Shulchan Aruch 263:6
  26. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 45:2
  27. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat 1-2, 5771, p. 82, 263:37)
  28. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat 1-2, 5771 edition, p. 81, 263:36)
    • The Rambam (Shabbat 5:1) and S”A 263:2 write that men are obligated in the mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles just like women. The Mordechai (Shabbat 294) quotes the Maharam, who says that a person who is going away from home for Shabbat must light in the place he is staying. If, however, a person is at home, he may fulfill the obligation with his wife’s lighting. S”A 263:6 codifies this as halacha.
    • Based on S”A 263:6-7, Bei’ur Halacha s.v. Bachurim maintains that there are two factors that obligate one to light Shabbat candles: 1) a personal obligation and 2) an obligation to arrange that there is light in the room one is staying so that people don’t trip and fall. The Bei’ur Halacha explains that a man fulfills his personal obligation with his wife’s lighting even if he is away for Shabbat. If he is staying in his own room, he nonetheless is obligated to light with a bracha because of the second obligation. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 45:3 writes that just like husband fulfills his personal obligation via his wife, so too children who are “dependent on their parents” fulfill their obligation through their mother’s lighting.
    • Rav Mordechai Willig (“The Positive Mitzvos of Shabbos,” min 39-43; quoted in Halachipedia Article 5773 #4) holds that an unmarried yeshiva student is considered dependent on his parents. Therefore, he fulfills his personal obligation with his mother’s lighting. In regards to the second obligation, if one doesn’t have a positive desire to have a light on in his room he need not light. Ohr Letzion (vol 2, p 165) agrees that one fulfills his primary obligation with his parents, and he adds that the second obligation can be fulfilled by having light from the hallway or street shine into his room.
    • However, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 45:11 argues that a yeshiva student is not considered dependent on his parents and doesn’t fulfill his obligation with his mother’s lighting.
    • Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 45:11 writes that yeshiva students are considered one large family. Accordingly, one student should light in the cafeteria and thereby exempt the rest of the students from their personal obligation. Additionally, each student should make sure to have a light on in his room and, if necessary, should specifically turn on a light there without a bracha, relying on the bracha made in the cafeteria. He concludes, though, that if a student wants to light in his room with a bracha, he may do so, because essentially each student lives in his personal room and not the cafeteria. Teshuvot Vehanhagot 2:157 and Rav Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg (quoted by The Radiance of Shabbos p. 9) agree with the Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata’s first approach that one student should light in the cafeteria and the others should light in their rooms without a bracha.
    • Rav Hershel Schachter (quoted in Halachipedia Article 5773 #4) holds that students should light in their rooms with a bracha. He explains that they cannot light in the cafeteria because it is a public area, whereas the dorm rooms are private. Additionally, Rav Schachter argues, one does not fulfill his personal obligation with his parents unless he is going to be home for Shabbat. Az Nidbru 5:2, Shevet Halevi 1:52, and Chazon Ovadyah (Shabbat vol 1, p. 202) agree.
  29. Piskei Teshuvot 263:11 writes 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 Shulchan Aruch HaRav who holds that by eating at someone's house one becomes like a family member. See the Radiance of Shabbat (pg 10; by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen) who quotes Rabbi Pinchas Shienberg and Rav Moshe Feinstein who are lenient.
  30. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat v. 2, 263:17). Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Motzei Shabbat Vayigash 5779 min 38) explained that ideally they should light candles in the room in a safe place. But if there isn't a safe way to light or the administration doesn't let that it is forbidden to light in the room. Rather one should light with electric light and recite a bracha. They should have one person per room light.
  31. Ohr Letzion (vol 2, p 166) in footnote, Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Motzei Shabbat Vayigash 5779 min 38)
  32. 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.
  33. 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. Shulchan Aruch 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.
  34. S”A 264:6
  35. S”A 264:7
  36. Menuchat Ahava (vol 1 4:3) writes that the electric candles aren’t worse than wax candles.
  37. Sh”t Yechave Daat 5:24 says one can make a bracha on electric lights. However, he is only discussing incandescent bulbs, as evidenced by his argument that it has the halachic status of a fire. There is a minority view attributed to Rav Elyashiv (Hilchos Shabbos BeShabbos pgs. 152-153) that one could make a bracha on any light source, including LED and fluorescent lights. However, Rav Rimon (Shabbat 3 pg. 242 + 244) notes the majority of poskim would not allow one to make a bracha on an LED or fluorescent bulb as they do not have the halachic status of fire, nor are they comparable to a candle (which has a fuel source and a localized "flame") in the same way that an incandescent bulb is.
  38. Shulchan Aruch 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. This is also the opinion of Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 43:4 and Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat vol 1 pg 187).
  39. Muktzeh: A Practical Guide by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen p. 244 cites Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and others who say that it is permitted to make the tray a bosis for muktzeh and non-muktzeh since the tray isn't designated only for the candles. He cites Rav Wosner who disagreed that it is similar to the candlesticks themselves which are designated to be a bosis for the flame and nothing else so it wouldn't work to make it a bosis for muktzeh and non-muktzeh. Yalkut Yosef Shabbat 5773 v. 4 p. 227 agrees that you could permit the tray by placing a non-muktzeh item there. See Kli_SheMelachto_LeIsser as to the discussion of whether candlesticks are muktzeh.
  40. Rav Wosner cited in the last footnote, Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 20:64, Igrot Moshe 5:22:11. Dor Hamelaktim v. 3 p. 1514 quotes Emet Lyakov fnt. 594, Rav Elyashiv (Shvut Yitzchak v. 1 p. 196), Rav Wosner (Mbet Levi v. 6 p. 48), Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat v. 1 p. 343), and Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 20:64 as strict even to place a permitted item on the candlestick tray since it is designated for candles, while Or Letzion 18:21 and Tzitz Eliezer 12:30 are lenient.
  41. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 279:4, Chazon Ovadia v. 3 p. 92, Yalkut Yosef Shabbat 5773 v. 4 p. 227. Chazon Ovadia explains that the candlesticks are permitted with a stipulation since they are no longer a bosis. Furthermore they aren't muktzeh machmat chisaron kis since they are a kli shemelachto lheter according to the Ramban, Raavad, Rashba, and Tashbetz.
Category Topic
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Kiddush Levana - Enjoying Shabbat - Fourth meal of Shabbat - Havdalah - Having a meal on Friday - In the Spirit of Shabbat - Kiddush - Lighting Shabbat Candles - Making Early Shabbat - Making one hundred Brachot on Shabbat - Preparing foods on Shabbat - Preparing for Shabbat - Shenayim Mikrah - Kavod Shabbat - Shabbos Davening - Seudat Shabbat - Seudat Shelishit - Lechem Mishneh - Motzei Shabbat - When Does Shabbat Start?
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