How Many Candles Does One Light On Shabbat?

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

The Daily Halacha Moment - Amount Of Shabbat Candles🕯


‎״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)


“Anyone who studies Halachot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the world-to-come” (Megilla 28b, Niddah 73a)


Question:

How many Shabbat candles does one need to light?


Answer:

According to the letter of the law, one is only obligated to light one light in order to fulfill the mitzvah of lighting the Shabbat candles. However, it is customary to light two lights, one for “zachor” and one for “shamor.”[1]

Some people have the custom to light seven candles,[2]some even light ten candles,[3] and some people light an extra candle for each child that is born in addition to the two candles for zachor and shamor. [4] Another custom is to light the amount of candles corresponding to the amount of aliyot of the day, so that for Shabbat one lights seven, for Yom Kippur one lights six and for Yom Tov one lights only five. [5]

Similarly, A woman who is accustomed to lighting a certain amount of candles every erev Shabbat may not retract her custom without legitimate reason and performing hatarat nedarim. Therefore, if a woman wants to begin to light more candles than is required, then she should state that she is only doing so bli Neder. [6] Furthermore, a woman who gets married to a man who has a differing custom than her regarding the amount of candles that one should light, must abide by her husband’s custom. If she wants to begin to light more than her husband’s custom, then she must ask her husband for permission to do so.[7]


Sources:

[1]. Shulchan Aruch 263:1. See also in Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. 1, p. 172 and in Mishneh Halachot 7:35. Halachah Berurah, vol. 15, p. 163 adds that one who wants to light more than two candles, should preferably light the main two candles a little higher than the others and then light the rest of the candles that one is adding in a smaller candleholder.

[2]. The Shelah Hakadosh (as brought in the Magen Avraham 263:2) writes that there is a custom to light seven Shabbat candles in remembrance of the menorah in the Bet Hamikdash (which had seven lights). This custom is also brought in the Be’er Hetev in the name of the Arizal, Ben Ish Chai, Noach, 2:1 and in Kaf HaChaim 263:9.

[3]. Magen Avraham 263:2. See also in Halachah Berurah, vol. 15, p. 166 who states other customs as well that light even a greater number of candles.

[4]. Petach HaDvir 263:1.

[5]. Chessed LaAlafim 263:1. The Halachah Berurah, vol. 15, p. 166 states that this was the custom of his father, Maran Ovadia Yosef Zatzal.

[6]. Halachah Berurah, vol. 15, p. 167. However, if one only wants to do so for a one time situation, such as if one is in the hospital or out of town, then hatarat nedarim is not required.

[7]. Tzitz Eliezer 13:26; Shevet HaLevi 7:10; Halachah Berurah, vol. 15, pp. 171-172.


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