Lee-Ner - Halakhic Background

Lee-Ner - Halakhic Background (Enlarge)

Introduction

Lighting Shabbat candles is a very precious mitzvah, which marks the acceptance of Shabbat for most women. While this precious mitzvah is often fulfilled by lighting a beautiful set of candles or a candelabra, circumstances arise in which fulfillment of the mitzva through live flames is not possible or not recommended; especially for those in hotels or hospitals over Shabbat.

Fire codes and safety concerns often prohibit any form of candles or flames to be lit in one’s hotel or hospital room, or any similar large complexes. These codes limit the ability to fulfill hadlakat nerot , and at times would seem to erase the possibility completely.

At times, hotels or hospitals familiar with hadlakat nerot , might allow for lighting candles in an area of the lobby, and at times, they might provide an option of lighting in the dining hall. The problem with these options is that an analysis of the nature of the mitzvah of hadlakat nerot indicates that the lobby option seemingly doesn't fulfill the mitzvah at all, while the dining hall option carries with it serious concerns and questions.

An ideal option would seemingly be to find a manner in which one can light candles in one's room, without flames that will pose dangers of fire. But, one might ask, is there any way to light a fire that presents no such fears?

Many Poskim (halakhic decisors) have suggested that when unable to light live flames, one could kindle forms of electric lighting which are classified as fire, such as incandescent light bulbs. Yet this option is only of limited use in that it is rare that one will find incandescent light bulbs in one's hotel or hospital room, as well as the reservations of other poskim if the electric lights are not used properly.

With all this in mind (and more), the Zomet Institute has conceived, developed and produced LeeNer , a specially designed, portable, electrical set of Shabbat Candles, ideal for such situations.

Its special type of incandescent light bulb, almost the last in its kind of its size and shape, as well as its unique design, enables fulfilling the mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles according to major poskim in situations where kindling live flames is untenable.

Background

To appreciate the benefits of LeeNer one must understand the rationale behind the mitzvah of hadlakat nerot , coupled with perception of what types of electric lights are classified as fire, and under what conditions they can be used for hadlakat nerot .

The 3 Rationales for Hadlakat Nerot

Appreciating the mitzva of Hadlakat Nerot, the lighting of Shabbat candles, requires clarification of the three primary reasons for the mitzvah. The obligation of lighting Shabbat candles is expressed by Rava in explanation of the mishna (Shabbat 24b) citing the words of Rabbi Yishmael who states:

"One may not light Shabbat candles with itran due to kavod Shabbat , the honor of Shabbat."

The Gemara (25b) cites Rava’s explanation, that due to the foul smell emitting from the itran candles, one might leave the area in which the candles are lit. Abaye questions why this is such a bad thing, to which Rava responds: “For I state that lighting Shabbat candles is an obligation”.

1. Kavod Shabbat (Honoring the Shabbat)

Rashi provides the first rationale for the nature of this obligation:

“[Lighting candles is a mitzvah of] Kavod Shabbat, honoring the Shabbat, as there is no important meal [eating] in darkness”.

Based on Rashi’s explanation, foul smelling candles like itran are ineligible for the mitzvah, as they would lead one to eat their meal elsewhere, undermining the purpose of the candles which is to lighten up the Shabbat meal.

This mitzvah of honoring Shabbat, Kavod Shabbat , is explicitly mentioned by the prophet Yeshayahu (Isaiah) in his description of proper Shabbat observance.

"If you restrain your foot because of the Shabbat, from performing your affairs on My holy day, and you shall call the Shabbat a delight [ Oneg Shabbat ], the holy of the Lord honored [ Kavod Shabbat ], and you honor it by not doing your ordinary ways, by not pursuing your affairs and speaking words". ( Yeshayahu 58:13)

Besides Rashi, others [1] as well explain Kavod Shabbat as the basis of the Shabbat candle obligation. This rationale is explicit in the Rambam as well ( Hilkhot Shabbat 30:5) and cited in the Shulchan Aruch (OH 263:4):

"One must tidy one’s home on Friday in order to honor the Shabbat, and there should be a candle lit and the table set, and the beds made, as all of these are Kavod Shabbat , the honor of Shabbat. "

2. Oneg Shabbat (Delighting in the Shabbat experience)

The basis of lighting candles in order to honor the Shabbat would seem to compliment another rationale provided for the obligation, also referencing the prophet Yeshayahu’s description of Shabbat observance. Besides Kavod Shabbat , honoring Shabbat, Yeshayau described the mitzva of Oneg Shabbat , delighting in the Shabbat experience, especially through the special Shabbat meals.

Tosafot (Shabbat 25b, hadlakat ) explains the obligation of Shabbat candles as stemming from Oneg Shabbat:

"The obligation of lighting Shabbat candles is in the place of one’s meal, as there is an obligation to eat one’s meal in an area with light, [to fulfill] Oneg Shabbat ."

Oneg Shabbat is the source for the special attention to physical enjoyment on Shabbat, as it serves as the basis for the tasty meals that are so essential to the Shabbat experience.

Interestingly, the Rambam ( Hilkhot Shabbat 5:1) also mentions Oneg Shabbat as an additional reasoning for the lighting of Shabbat candles, stating that the obligation of Shabbat candles requires that:

“… even one who has no food, must ask others for funds in order to purchase oil for the lighting of the candles, as it is an aspect of Oneg Shabbat .”

This reasoning as well is codified in the Shulchan Aruch (263:2) and is cited in the Midrash Tanchuma (58, 1) which expresses the source for Shabbat candles as “You should call the Shabbat a delight ( Oneg )” (the verse in Yeshayahu 58:13).

The ability to experience Oneg or enjoyment of Shabbat, especially during one’s meal, but in truth at all times during Shabbat night, is markedly increased when there is ample light. Therefore, Tosafot reasons that Oneg Shabbat is the basis of the Shabbat candle obligation.

3. Shalom Bayit (Domestic Tranquility)

There is a third rationale as well for the mitzva of hadlakat nerot , as the Gemara describes this mitzva as engendering Shalom Bayit, domestic tranquility and peace in one's home. This rationale seems to emerge explicitly from the Gemara where Rabbi Avahu cites a verse from Eicha , Lamentations , discussing Shalom , peace in the home, and interprets the verse as referring to hadlakat nerot :

“And my soul is removed far off from peace, I forgot prosperity” ( Eicha 3:17). What is: "And my soul is removed far off from peace"? Rabbi Avahu said: That is [a reference to the inability to engage in] kindling the Shabbat lights, [which a refugee is unable to do]". (Gemara Shabbat 25b)

Rashi explains that this verse is a reference to kindling Shabbat lights, as hadlakat nerot facilitates peace, "for without light there can be no peace, because people will trip when walking around in darkness".

This rationale of Shalom Bayit is cited earlier in the Gemara (23b, and so rules the Rambam Hilkhot Chanukah 4:14 and Shulchan Aruch 263:3) that one with limited funds must give precedence to purchasing Shabbat candles before purchasing Chanuka candles, because Shabbat candles enable Shalom Bayit , domestic tranquility, as there can be no peace without light. [2]

The Relationship Between the three Reasons

While at first glance there would seem to be a dispute as to which of these three rationales are the basis for the mitzvah , the fact that all three rationales are cited in the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch (as mentioned) seems to indicate that they all complement each other. The obligation of lighting Shabbat candles is rooted in all three ideas: Kavod Shabbat , providing honor for the Shabbat day, Oneg Shabbat , helping one enjoy and delight in the Shabbat delicacies of their meal, and Shalom Bayit, helping to foster domestic tranquility by helping to provide a well-lit Shabbat home.

Therefore, the halachot of hadlakat nerot will require lights that enable all three elements of the mitzva to be fulfilled.

With this background in mind, we can proceed to identify whether hadlakat nerot can be fulfilled through any forms of electric lighting.

Fulfillment of Hadlakat Nerot through Electric Candles:

The question of the efficacy of fulfilling hadlakat nerot through the use of electric candles is a direct outgrowth of the rationales for the mitzvah. Although the term for lighting Shabbat lights is “ hadlakat nerot ”, often literally translated as the kindling of candles, the Hebrew word ner can, in fact, refer to both light and fire. Very possibly, the ner required is any form of light, whether classified as fire or not.

A similar question regards the text of the blessing recited over the kindling, i.e., Lehadlik ner shel Shabbat. The blessing makes explicit reference to a ner , which can be interpreted as either a reference to the kindling of a fire, or the kindling of any source of light. The latter interpretation raises the possibility that all that is necessary for the Shabbat lights is any light producing object, even if it is not a result of fire at all.

In fact, a rudimentary analysis of the three rationales advanced for hadlakat nerot reveals that all three reasons should permit all forms of light, as all seem to lack any reason to require actual fire [3] . (This might not be true for other mitzvot that are normally performed with candles or oil, such as a havdala candles [4] or Chanukah lamps (which might have to resemble the Menora of the Holy Temple [5] ), as both of them may indeed require some form of fire, unlike Shabbat lights whose rationales seem to require light rather than fire).

Although some authorities permit use of any form of light for hadlakat nerot Shabbat, most authorities, however, do require that the lighting for hadlakat nerot be performed with some form of fire, as that was the original form of light used for the mitzva.

Some electric lights, such as the original incandescent light bulbs might actually meet these requirements, as they would seem to be electric lights that provide light by means of an electricity produced fire.

The first to discuss the possibility that incandescent or gas lamps can be defined as suitable forms of fire for hadlakat nerot was Rav Yitzchak Yehuda Shmelkes (1828-1904), the famed author of Responsa Beit Yitzchak (YD 120). He states that one may recited a blessing and fulfill their obligation through gas or electric bulbs as they would be defined as a ner because they fulfill the two basic requirements for Shabbat candles:

1. The metal filament acts as a wick.

2. The electric current would be considered as a fuel, which provides the energy for the fire.

His conclusion that incandescent bulbs are halakhically defined as fire, and thereby can be used to fulfill hadlakat nerot (and some other mitzvot where a ner is required), was accepted by a majority of poskim ( halakhic descisors), among them some of the most prominent in previous generations [6] , as well as contemporary authorities such as Rav Ovadia Yosef zt"l, and Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt"l.

According to these authorities, lighting any form of incandescent bulb (assuming one were readily available) would suffice to fulfill, and even recite a blessing over, hadlakat nerot . However, there were also dissenting opinions who questioned the validity of using such lights for a number of reasons. The unique design of LeeNer took many of these opinions into account in order to allow for lighting electric lights in a manner that would be acceptable according to even more opinions and in a preferable manner according to the previously cited opinions as well.

The Possible Requirement of a Candle

The first reservation involving use of standard incandescent light bulbs for hadlakat nerot , is that some authorities interpreted the requirement for a ner as more than just a form of fire which generates light. Rather, they understood ner as an object that illuminates through actual burning, in a similar manner to the way burning oil gives off light.

This understanding is advanced by Rav Mordechai Winkler, the author of the Levush Mordekhai ( Telita’a OH 59), who explains that the sole reason that even wax candles are eligible for hadlakat nerot is because they burn in a similar manner to oil wicks, as the melted and vaporized wax serves as fuel (which combines with oxygen) for the constant flame. Electric lights on the other hand, even if fire, produce light in a very different manner, and would thereby be ineligible for the mitzva according to his rationale.

Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohein Kook ( Mitzvat Ra’ayah 673) raises a similar reason for possible reservation, saying that the requirement for a ner may specifically refer to a wick of some sort which is lit. He recognizes that indeed all three rationales behind the lighting, especially that of Shalom Bayit , domestic tranquility, would not seem to distinguish between different sources of light, nevertheless, the text of the blessing which specifically refers to the kindling of a ner might require an actual wick.

Rav Asher Weiss (Minchat Asher, Zemirot Shabbat p. 121) at first mentions a similar contention, that the Rabbinic obligation of Hadlakat Nerot that we are familiar was clearly instituted with a classic ner n mind, i.e., with a fire lighting a flammable fuel. Therefore, at first glance, logically, only candles that do the same should suffice.

The Rejection of These Arguments:

These arguments, however, were dismissed by other authorities. For instance, Rav Benzion Abba Shaul zt"l ( Ohr LeTzion II 18:12) states that there is no basis for requiring an actual flame such as those found in an oil lamp. His proof is that clearly the word ner doesn’t actually refer to the burning candle but rather to the receptacle holding the flame; nevertheless, the widespread custom is for many to light with wax candles, even though they lack such a receptacle. Evidently, there is no requirement that the mitzva be fulfilled with a literal ner, but rather with anything which gives off sufficient light to fulfill the reasoning's behind the mitzva .

Rav Ovadya Yosef zt"l as well ( Yechave Da’at 5:24) rejects the reasoning of Rav Mordechai Winkler and explains ner refers to anything which gives off light through some form of burning, and incandescent bulbs certainly suffice.

Rav Pinchas Baruch Toledano ( Sh”ut Berit Shalom OH 67) says that any argument that would disqualify electric lights because such lights weren't in use during the period when tjhe Sages formulated the rabbinic mitzva , would also have to similarly disqualify all wax candles which were not in use at that time either. Evidently, the widespread practice of using wax candles indicates that any form of light through burning suffices for the fulfillment of the mitzva .

In fact, even Rav Asher Weiss himself, who initially questioned the use of electric candles, continued that the fact that the normal form of illumination in our days is through electric lights, and candles are currently produced primarily for ceremonial purposes, electric lights have become the standard form of light. He advances the notion that possibly the mitzva of hadlakat nerot always required one (or at the very least allows one) to illuminate one’s home through the standard form of illumination. He states, therefore, that although electric candles could never suffice for Chanukah candles which he explains must resemble the miracle of the Temple which they serve to commemorate, Nerot Shabbat whose purpose is to benefit from their light, might be able to be served by electric lights as well.

The Conclusions

Besides the various poskim mentioned who permit lighting Nerot Shabbat with any forms of electric lights or at least those that would be classified as fire, a number of the arguments against use of electric lights might not even be applicable to incandescent bulbs. They not only serve as a source of light, but the light is generated in a manner similar to an open flame from an oil lamp or a wax candle (as a metal filament is heated to an extremely high temperature, and in the process gives off light through incandescence). For this reason, many modern poskim allowed one to fulfill hadlakat nerot through the turning on of an incandescent light bulb for the purpose of the mitzva , at least when lacking other available options, and even reciting a blessing over such lights.

Shemirat Shabbat KeHilkhata 43:4 writes that "one who lights incandescent bulbs for the mitzva has what to rely on, and one can recite the blessing if doing so leKavod Shabbat , i.e., when turning on the light for the purpose of Shabbat candles".

Rav Ovadia Yosef zt"l rules similarly, although noting that it is definitely preferable to use oil or wax candles when possible, as their use is clearly recognizable as being done specially for the purpose of hadlakat nerot Shabbat.

Some Added Requirements which can be Met by Special Design

Even though the majority of poskim allowed use of incandescent bulbs for the purpose of nerot Shabbat , some authorities placed certain limitations on what type of incandescent lighting should be used.

Some of these reservations are derived from the text of the blessing which indicates that one is to be lehadlik ner , i.e., to kindle the ner. Some authorities understood that this required there to be in the lighting a source of energy that will result in its kindling already from the moment it is turned on. They therefore questioned whether use of a bulb whose energy source is an outlet in the wall can be considered kindled by the one who turns on the light. They questioned whether the fact that a new electric current is constantly supplied to the wall outlet may be reason to view the man's initial action as merely allowing for the light to be on, rather than serving as an act of kindling. Such a light might be viewed as being kindled without a store of a flammable fuel, and therefore, not fit for the mitzva . For this reason, Rav Ben Zion Abba Shaul zt"l required that one light an incandescent bulb powered by a battery, an opinion quoted in the name of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerabach zt"l ( Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata ch. 43 note 22), and Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank (in a letter by Rav Ya’akov Ariel) as well.

Obviously, any battery powered incandescent bulb would fulfill the requirements of these opinions.

The Requirement of an Act of Kindling

Others added that the text of the blessing requires an actual act of hadlaka , kindling, and questioned whether turning on an electric bulb can be classified as such an act of kindling.

As background, the question of whether an act of kindling is actually necessary for hadlakat nerot is subject to a dispute in the Rishonim . The Tur explains that according to Tosafot ( Shabbat 25b) no such requirement exists, although Rabbeinu Tam differs, and cites the text of the blessing is support for his assertion.

Most authorities differ with Rabbeinu Tam, as both the Rambam ( Hilkhot Shabbat 5:1) and the Shulchan Aruch ( OC 263:2) formulate the obligation is to have a ner lit in one’s home (rather than a requirement to actually kindle such a light). The Magen Avraham (263:11) even allows the light to be kindled by a gentile, for the mitzva is fulfilled when there is light in one's home. According to all these opinions, there is obviously no room for reservations regarding the lack of an act of kindling for incandescent bulbs, as no kindling is ever necessary for the mitzva .

However, both Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank zt"l ( Har Tzv i on Tur OC 263) and the Tzitz Eliezer (I 20:11) explain that even Rabbeinu Tam’s requirement of an act of hadlaka is served through turning on incandescent bulbs. They explain that the requirement of an act of hadlaka means that one must perform an action to ensure that the kindled light will remain lit on Shabbat, which the Tzitz Eliezer notes surely occurs when one turns on an electric light switch for nerot Shabbat . Their understandings of Rabbeinu Tam's opinions are in fact a logical extension of the rationales for the mitzva , which call for the ensuring of light on Shabbat for the three reasons mentioned earlier.

Needless to say, lighting through the insertion of a battery (as with LeeNer) is even more of an act of kindling.

A Recognizable Light and other Design Considerations:

As mentioned, some authorities were worried that use of an electric light would not be recognizable as having been performed for the purpose of Shabbat lights, and would therefore, not be ideal. Others, such as Rav Waldenberg zt"l (ibid.) required that the electric lights be specially set aside for the purpose of hadlakat nerot , in order to ensure that it is evident and recognizable that they were lit for the purpose of the mitzva .

For this reasons as well, we designed LeeNer in a manner where it is very clear what the purpose of the lights is. The words " Shabbat Kodesh " (the Holy Sabbath) are written very clearly on the side of the candles, indicating they are clearly designated for the purpose of Nerot Shabbat. Therefore, LeeNer could be used for electric Shabbat lights even according to these authorities, without reservation.

The specific design of the candles also ensures that other reservations regarding the use of electric lights would not be relevant factors to limit its use. For instance, Rav Waldenberg zt"l wondered whether the electric light of some bulbs might be considered like a torch, which the Rema (OC 671:4) prohibits for nerot Shabbat and Yom Tov.

Rav Ovadya Yosef ztL ( Yabia Omer II OC 17) rejects such a possible claim, explaining how even if a filament is a circular shape, the light emanates from one point and can therefore not be considered a torch (see also Berit Shalom ibid.).

Nevertheless, the design of the LeeNer also takes such reservations into account, as it is made of two small incandescent bulbs, with each having its own filament, and both lights being separate one from another.

Another design addition extra added to satisfy opinions who require direct vision of the candle's flame i.e., in this case, the burning metal filament. These opinions expressed reservations about whether one could fulfill the obligation of hadlakat nerot with any form of light that is encapsulated and cannot be seen directly (even if it is only enclosed a see-through, clear, glass covering). Therefore, the LeeNer is designed in a manner that the glass surrounding the flame is shaped as a lattice, and there are areas where the light illuminates directly, without the need to see it through an additional encapsulation.

Allowing for a direct line of vision to the light itself is another design extra which makes the LeeNer an ideal option for kindling Shabbat candles when one can't light regular candles.

Where to place the LeeNer ?

After explaining the rationales for hadlakat nerot , and the benefits of using LeeNer when one is unable to kindle live flames , we can now deal with the question as to the ideal placement of the LeeNer. We mentioned the problems with lighting in the lobby of a hotel or hospital, as the rationales for the mitzva are very connected to enabling one's Shabbat meal to be eaten with the benefit of their light.

One common situation which arises for those in hotels is that one will be sleeping in their room while dining in a dining hall of some sorts. The question is whether it is preferable to light the LeeNer near one’s place of sleep or near one’s place of dining?

Although the rationales for the mitzva are to ensure one has light, primarily for their Shabbat meal, nevertheless, one must ensure that they derive benefit from the candles they lit. This is an absolute necessity, as the Shulchan Aruch (OC 263:9) rules that one who doesn't derive benefit from the lights hasn’t fulfilled the mitzva , and the blessing recited was stated in vain.

This poses an additional concern, as there is a dispute cited in the Shulchan Aruch as to whether lighting in the presence of other previously lit Shabbat lights is a viable means of fulfilling the mitzva . For instance, after one person has already lit candles in a large dining hall, the Shulchan Aruch rules that no other women should recite a blessing when lighting in that location, as there is already light there. The Rema differs and allows one to recite the blessing over the additional light that their candles provide, even when lit adjacent to other Shabbat candles. Therefore, according to Sephardim (who generally follow the rulings of the Mechaber ), at most, only one woman would be able to fulfill her obligation by lighting in the dining hall, although according to Ashkenazi poskim (who generally follow the Rema )this might be possible. (In our day and age, however, where electric lights fully illuminate the dining halls, one might question if the small candlelight of the Shabbat candles at all adds to the light in the room, therefore, making it questionable if even Ashkenazim would sanction such lighting).

For this reason, Rav Neuwirth zt"l ( Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 45:9) ruled that in hotels, one woman should light in the dining hall, and all others should light in their rooms, adding that they should be certain that their candles are long enough that they will continue to be lit when they return to their room.

This ruling, although logical, proved to be impractical for many; as besides lacking such long candles, most hotels did not permit the lighting of live flames in hotel rooms.

The LeeNer was also designed to service such a need. It will last as long as the battery’s juice allows it to, and it can be lit in every hotel room, without the fear of causing any fire.

Movement of the Lights

What if a need to move the LeeNer arises?

Zomet concurs with the opinion of Rav Asher Weiss, who in his approbation to the recent halakhic work of Rav Yisrael Rozen, the founder of Zomet, explains why he feels that when necessary one is permitted to move electric lights that have been lit before Shabbat. He personally feels that the lights can be moved for any reason, though he does advise that one should ideally only do so in situations of need. He adds that one can certainly move the lights letzorekh gufo u'mekomo ; i.e., when one needs the object itself or its place for a permitted Shabbat usage (as the electric light is certainly no more stringent than a keli shemelachato le'issur, a utensil primarily used for prohibited acts, which can be moved for its place or a permitted usage).

Conclusion:

As you can see, the LeeNer was developed to service the needs of those in places where live flames cannot be lit, and its entire design took into account all the opinions that might discredit the use of other similar electronic lights.

The LeeNer is the ideal from of an electric light that qualifies as a fire, and allows one to light candles that are clearly for the purpose of Shabbat lights, when in situations where regular candles cannot be lit.

The Permitting Opinions

Opinions who permit the lighting of Shabbat Candles by use of Electric Lights that qualify as fire:

Rav Yitzchak Shmelkes ( Responsa Beit Yitzchak Y.D. 120):

"It appears to me that one can kindle electric lights and recite the blessing " lehadlik ner shel Shabbat" ( "to kindle the Shabbat candles" ) when doing so, as this is a real fulfillment of the mitzva of hadlakat nerot ."

This ruling appears to be accepted by the Achiezer (III, 60), Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank ( Har Tzvi O.C. 143), and the Machaze- Avraham (I, 41).

Responsa Kochavei Yitzchak ( Siman 1) quotes Rav Aharon Kotler zt"l as permitting a woman in the maternity ward to perform hadlakat nerot using an electric light.

Rav Ovadya Yosef zt"l ( Yechave Da'at 5:24):

"The primary requirement is that one light with something that lights and gives off light… and one will then fulfill the mitzva of Shabbat candles, and certainly this can be done with electric lights… in situations where there is no option of using oil or wax, and one would be able to fulfill the obligation of lighting Shabbat candles while reciting a blessing."

Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata (43:64)

"One who lights incandescent bulbs for the mitzva has what to rely on, and one can recite the blessing if doing so leKavod Shabbat , i.e., when turning on the light for the purpose of Shabbat candles".

Rav Re'eim HaKohein ( Badei Aharon O.C. page 94)

"It would be proper that every hotel that holds itself in high regard should care for its guests and enable there to be readily available electric lights set aside for the purpose of lighting Shabbat candles…"

Rav Yitzchak Yosef and Rav Meir Mazuz and Rav Shlomo Amar all permitted use of electric "candles of peace" in "guest areas where one is forbidden to light live flames".

Those who Require that one light with Battery Powered Electric Lights:

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerabach (SSK 43:64 note 22)

"One must distinguish between electric lights which derive their power from a power station which constantly produces electricity, as one lighting such lights is merely relying on the electric company to provide power for the period necessary for it to remain lit, and cannot be considered kindling the light… however, lighting with a batter powered flashlight where the current is already clearly available in the battery, one would be able to recite a blessing over such lighting (as it would be considered an act of kindling)."

Rav Mordechai Eliahu zt"l ( Kol Eliahu chapter 6, Responsa Ma'amar Mordekhai 13)

"In a hotel which doesn't allow lighting candles in one's room, or in a hospital, one can light with two incandescent flashlights and recite a blessing."

Rav Ben Zion Abba Shaul zt"l (Ohr LeTzion II:18)

"if the electric light is connected to a wall outlet, one cannot fulfill the mitzva, as it will only remain lit due to the efforts of the electric company, however, electric lights that are battery powered, one can fulfill the mitzva and recite a blessing."

Rav Ya'akov Ariel:

"I merited the opportunity to ask Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank [who explained]… that a battery powered light which contains its own energy is like oil in a candle, and one can even recite a blessing over such lights, especially when readily apparent that they were lit for the purpose of Shabbat…"

Those Who Require that it be Evident that the Electric Lights were lit for Shabbat:

Rav Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg ( Tzitz Eliezer I:20, ch. 11) writes:

"It is permissible to light Shabbat candles with an electric light, so long as one sets up the electric lights in a way that it is evident and recognizable that they were lit (for the purpose of Shabbat candles) for honoring the Shabbat".

LeeNer allows for optimal lighting according to all of these opinions, as it is formed of two batter powered incandescent bulbs explicitly made for the purpose of Shabbat candles.

Movement of the Candles:

Rav Asher Weiss explicitly permits necessary movement of electric lights that were lit before Shabbat (see the previous section).



[1] Sheiltot ( Tetzaveh 72) and Semag ( Asseh 30).

[2] There are those who question whether the rationale of Shalom Bayit , domestic tranquility, is actually a reason for instituting hadlakat nerot , or merely an added benefit of the candles. The Aruch HaShulchan draws support from the Rambam citing this reasoning in Hilkhot Chanukah (rather than Hilkhot Shabbat ) in stating that Shalom bayit is not an essential rationale behind the mitzva . Similarly, contemporary scholars such as Rav Asher Weiss advance the notion that Shalom Bayit is not the basis for the mitzva , questioning why should Shabbat be the only day with a special requirement of Shalom . He therefore explains that Shalom Bayit's significance regarding Shabbat lights is merely a result of the fact that since the candlelight will help foster domestic tranquility, it gives added significance to the mitzva , making it preferred over other mitzvoth.

[3] This understanding is advanced by a number of preeminent contemporary poskim who maintain that any form of light suffices for the mitzva , even if the light is not classified as fire. For instance, so rules Rav Yosef Shalom Eliashiv zt"l ( Shevut Yitzchak ch. 3), Rav Ben Zion Abba Shaul zt"l ( Ohr LeTzion 18:12), and so would seem to be the opinion of Rav Ovadia Yosef zt"l ( Yechaveh Da'at IV:24). Rav Re'eim HaKohein ( Badei Aharon O.C. pp. 80-82) rules similarly, although he qualifies that one should prefer incandescent bulbs which also serve as fire, and only use other forms of lighting when there is no alternative. Rav Asher Weiss rules that in situations where there is no available incandescent or similar bulb, one can light an L.E.D. light (or a similar light which isn't classified as fire) for the purpose of hadlakat nerot, but one should do so without reciting a blessing ( Yeshurun , Nissan 5774). See also Peninei Halacha Shabbat Vol. I, page 68 note 2.

[4] Which were instituted according to the Rashba to recognize the original fire of the first Motzai Shabbat.

[5] See further.

[6] Listed in the section of "Permitting Authorities".

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