Halacha for Monday 20 Tevet 5784 January 1 2024              

Halacha Date: 20 Tevet 5784 January 1 2024

Category: Shabbat

Lighting Shabbat Candles When Staying in a Hotel

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Question: In the hotel where we are planning to stay this coming Shabbat, the management places a table in the middle of the lobby and all of the women light Shabbat candles on this table with a blessing. Is this practice correct according to Halacha?

Answer: Regarding the above question, there are two primary issues which must be discussed: First of all, if it is permissible for several women to light in the same place and secondly, if lighting in the hotel’s lobby is beneficial regarding the Mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles.

Regarding the first issue, we have already explained in the previous Halacha that according to the opinion of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, one may not recite a blessing on additional light. This means that if one woman has already candles in the house, another woman may not come and light more candles with a blessing, for everyone has already fulfilled their obligation to light Shabbat candles through the lighting of the first woman. Nevertheless, according to the Ashkenazi custom, one may recite a blessing on additional light and thus, although there are many candles already lit in a specific location, another woman may light additional candles with a blessing.

Based on this, according to the Sephardic custom, in a hotel where all of the women are lighting in the same place, one may certainly not recite a blessing upon such a candle lighting, for they have all already fulfilled their obligation to light candles with the lighting of the first woman.

Indeed, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that the custom in hotels to place a table in the lobby and all the women recite the blessing on Shabbat candle lighting is an incorrect custom according to all opinions, for the primary obligation of lighting Shabbat candles is in the place where one eats one’s Shabbat meals (or at least somewhere in close proximity to there). Thus, even according to the Ashkenazi custom that one may recite a blessing on additional light, by lighting candles in the hotel’s lobby, the edict of our Sages to light Shabbat candles is not fulfilled at all and this practice is indeed contrary to Halacha (Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat, Volume 1, page 215). This is comparable to one who lights Shabbat candles in the middle of the street in which case one certainly does not fulfill one’s obligation of lighting candles, for the primary place one is obligated to light is in one’s house in the place where one is eating and by lighting in the wide hotel lobby, one does not fulfill this rabbinic enactment at all.

Summary: The custom that when staying in a hotel, all of the women light Shabbat candles on one table in the lobby is contrary to Halacha. Rather, one woman should light candles in the place where the Shabbat meals are taking place and all of the other women will fulfill their obligation with this woman’s candle lighting.

Similarly, one may light an electric lamp in one’s hotel room and recite the blessing before turning it on.

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