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How early, or how late, can I light the Shabbat-candles?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

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Shabbat candles must be lit before sunset since Shabbat begins at sunset, after which it is forbidden to light fire. Standard candle lighting time is 18 minutes before sunset.1  

If one wants to begin Shabbat early s/he may light candles (and begin Shabbat) as early as one and a quarter halachic hours before sunset (also known as "plag haminchah"), but not earlier.

Click here to find the standard candle lighting time or the plag haminchah time for any date and for any location in the world.

Footnotes

  • 1. The reasons being: a) We don't want to wait for the last minute, and b) we want to "stretch" the Shabbat a bit into the weekday. In some communities the standard custom is to light candles (and begin Shabbat) as early as 40 minutes before sunset, for the above reasons.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Women & Judaism » Women's Mitzvot » Candle Lighting

Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.