A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
THE SHABBOS CANDLES: QUESTIONS and ANSWERS
QUESTION: In regard to Shabbos candle-lighting, whose customs should a woman
follow - her husband's or her mother's?
DISCUSSION: There is a general rule that once a woman gets married, she must
follow her husband's customs - both leniencies and stringencies. Marriage
signifies a wife's entrance into her husband's domain, and that entry
obligates her to follow his customs(1).
It is possible, though, that there may be an exception to this rule in
regard to Shabbos candle-lighting. Many women follow the example set by
their mothers in matters of custom, such as the number of candles to light,
the appropriate time to light candles on Yom Tov, etc. Often, their husbands
do not object even though their own mothers followed a different custom. Is
this contrary to the aforementioned rule?
It seems that there is a halachic source for women following their mother's
custom. To prove this point, let us examine a well-known custom which is
connected to the mitzvah of candle-lighting:
It is customary for many women to recite the blessing of shehecheyanu when
they light candles for Yom Tov. Although this custom has no source or basis
in Halachah - indeed, it may be halachically objectionable(2) - it has
nevertheless become almost universally accepted.
Rav Yaakov Emden(3) reports that he, personally, objects to this custom.
Indeed, he rules that if a woman does not have the definite custom of
reciting shehecheyanu at candle-lighting time, she should not do so.
Nevertheless, he says, his wife - who saw this custom in her parents' home -
does so, and he does not object. Since it is not halachically forbidden, he
does not feel compelled to reject her minhag which she witnessed in her
Surely, Rav Yaakov Emden was aware that upon marriage, a woman ought to
change her customs to follow her husband's. Still, he did not insist that
his wife abandon her mother's custom and adopt his own. Perhaps Rav Yaakov
Emden held that customs pertaining to candle-lighting are an exception to
the general rule. Since, as mentioned above, our Sages made it the woman's
responsibility to light candles, it becomes "her" mitzvah, to be followed
according to her customs(4). Apparently, it is not incumbent upon the
husband to insist that his wife alter the customs which she learned from her
mother. Although she may do so if she likes, she is not required to do
MINCHAH AFTER CANDLE LIGHTING
QUESTION: May a woman daven Minchah after she has lit candles on Friday
DISCUSSION: L'chatchilah, all poskim agree that women must recite Minchah
before lighting candles. When a woman lights candles, she automatically
accepts upon herself the restrictions and obligations of the Shabbos day.
This precludes her davening the previous day's Minchah. If, however, a woman
is running late and has not davened Minchah by candle-lighting time, the
poskim differ as to what she should do. There are three views:
1) She should go ahead and light candles. She should then daven the
Shemoneh Esrei of the Shabbos Ma'ariv twice to compensate for the los
t Minchah(6). Even though women do not usually daven Ma'ariv, she may do so
in this case in order to make up the lost Minchah(7);
2) Before lighting, she should stipulate that she is not accepting the
Shabbos until after she has davened Minchah(8). This should not be done on
Yom Tov if she recited shehecheyanu at the candle-lighting(9);
3) Some poskim rule that she may daven Minchah after lighting candles even
if she did not stipulate that she was not accepting the Shabbos(10). When
necessary, women may rely in this view11.
Note that when men light candles, they do not automatically accept the
Shabbos with their candle-lighting(12). They may daven Minchah after
QUESTION: If the wife is away from home for Shabbos, who should light the
DISCUSSION: If one's wife is not home for Shabbos, it is preferable that the
husband himself light candles and not one of the daughters(13). If, however,
a daughter who is over twelve years old lights for him, he fulfills the
mitzvah through her lighting. One cannot, however, fulfill his obligation by
having a daughter under twelve light candles for him(14).
In the event that a brother and sister are at home without their parents,
it is preferable that the sister light the candles(15).
2 See The Weekly Halachah Discussion, vol. 2, pg. 360.
3 Teshuvos Ya'avetz 107.
4 Similarly, see Igros Moshe E.H. 2:12 who rules that a wife need not listen
to a husband who holds that a wig is not enough of a hair-covering, since
this is "her" halachah. See also Igros Moshe E.H. 4:32-10; 4:100-4.
5 According to Harav S.Z. Auerbach (oral ruling quoted in Yom Tov Sheini
K'hilchaso, pg. 188), a husband may allow his wife to keep her former
customs in all cases. For instance, she does not have to change her nusach
of davening after her marriage.
8 Eishel Avraham 263:10; Kaf ha-Chayim 263:35; Harav Y. S. Elyashiv (oral
ruling quoted in Avnei Yashfe on Tefillah, 2nd edition, pg. 201).
9 Tzitz Eliezer 10:19-5. This is because several poskim hold that one cannot
recite shehecheyanu, which celebrates the arrival of the Yom Tov, and at the
same time stipulate that he is not accepting Yom Tov's arrival.
10 Several poskim quoted in Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 43, note 128.
11 Minchas Yitzchak 9:20.
12 Mishnah Berurah 263:42. It is still, however, preferable even for men to
stipulate that they are not mekabel Shabbos when lighting candles.
13 Oral ruling by Harav M. Feinstein (quoted in The Radiance of Shabbos, pg.
7); Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 43 note 46.