Question: May one move the Shabbat candles from place to place on Shabbat?
Answer: Shabbat candles which were lit before the onset of Shabbat, whether they are resting on candlesticks or any other surface, may not be moved on Shabbat under any circumstances. Even if one needs to move the candles so they are not extinguished or to illuminate another place, it is nevertheless forbidden to move them.
The Reason Why Moving Candles is Forbidden on Shabbat
The reason for the above is because one of the categories “Muktzeh” which is forbidden to be moved on Shabbat is a “base for a forbidden object,” i.e. when an object which is innately permissible to be moved on Shabbat has a Muktzeh object placed on top of it, it becomes to move the originally permissible object because it has become a “base for a forbidden object.” For instance, if one places oil and a wick into a glass and lights the wick, although the glass is innately not forbidden to be moved, nevertheless, since a flame was placed on top of it and a flame is completely forbidden to be moved on Shabbat similar to stones, the glass likewise becomes forbidden to be moved since it is a “base for a forbidden object.” (Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 279)
The Time Which Determines the Prohibited Status
Although the flames are extinguished after a while, it is nevertheless forbidden to move the glasses under them, for the time that determines the status of the object regarding whether or not it is considered a “base for a forbidden object” is “Ben Ha’Shemashot” or the twilight period between sunset and halachic nightfall. If during this period an object was a “base for a forbidden object,” it will be forbidden to move this object for the duration of the Shabbat.
Since these candles were still lit during “Ben Ha’Shemashot,” the glasses under the flames retain the “base for a forbidden object” status and are forbidden to be moved for the entire Shabbat.
An Electric Candle
Just as it is forbidden to move a lit candle on Shabbat, it is likewise forbidden to move an electric candle with a filament (conductive wire) inside. In the next Halacha, we shall, G-d-willing, discuss a solution of this matter.
Summary: Candles that were lit before the onset of Shabbat may not be moved for the entire Shabbat. Even if there is a need to do so, it is nevertheless forbidden to move them. It is likewise forbidden to move the objects the candles rest on, such as the glasses, candlesticks, and tray.