Halacha for Wednesday 22 Tevet 5784 January 3 2024

Turning Off Electric Lights Before Lighting Shabbat Candles

Today's Halacha is dedicated for the merit and protection of
All Our Dear Soldiers
May Hashem give them strength and courage to vanquish our enemies and may they return home safe and sound amid health and joy. May Hashem protect all the captives and have mercy upon them so that no harm befalls them and may they be released quickly, Amen!
* * * * * * * * * *

In the previous Halacha we have explained that according to the letter of the law, one fulfills one’s obligation of lighting Shabbat candles by turning on electric light, for the primary enactment of our Sages to light Shabbat candles was in order for there to be light in one’s home on Shabbat because of the Mitzvot of the honor and enjoyment of Shabbat and one fulfills this purpose with electric lights as well. Thus, if one cannot light candles with actual fire, one may turn on electric lights and recite a blessing before doing so, as we have discussed.

According to Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, after a woman has lit Shabbat candles, no one else may recite a blessing on the lighting of any additional candles, for although extra light does constitute a greater honor of the Shabbat, nevertheless, since the enactment of our Sages to light candles has already been fulfilled by the first woman who has lit, one may not recite a blessing on any additional candles lit thereafter. Based on this we can learn that according to Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, after the mother of the house has lit Shabbat candles, the daughters of the house (or anyone else who needs to light Shabbat candles such as daughters-in-law, guests, etc.) may not light additional candles and recite a blessing upon doing so, for one does not recite a blessing on any additional light and the blessing may be recited only on the original lighting. (If they wish to light additional candles, they may do so without reciting a blessing.)

Thus, based on what we have established that one may, in fact, fulfill one’s obligation of lighting Shabbat candles by turning on electric lights, Maran zt”l writes that it is especially proper to turn off the electric lights around the house before lighting Shabbat candles. Only after doing so should the woman recite the blessing upon lighting, have in mind to include the electric lights around the house which will be turned back on after lighting the Shabbat candles, and light the candles. The lights should be turned off before lighting the candles because since the enactment of our Sages to light candles can be fulfilled with electric lights as well, we must be concerned that it is possible that one may not recite a blessing with any additional candles lit afterwards. Thus, when one turns off the lights in the house, there is certainly a new opportunity to fulfill the enactment of our Sages by lighting the Shabbat candles; one should likewise certainly recite a blessing on such a candle-lighting which includes in it the lighting of the candles specifically in honor of Shabbat and the lighting of the regular, electric lights around the house soon thereafter.

Summary: It is especially worthy to turn off the electric lights around the house before lighting the oil or wax Shabbat candles. Before blessing, one should have in mind to include the rest of the lights around the house and after lighting the candles, one should then turn the lights around the house back on.

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