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May I extinguish my Shabbat candles if I want to go to sleep?

by Rabbi Simcha Bart

  

Library » Women & Judaism » Women's Mitzvot » Candle Lighting | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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Question:

Can you tell me whether - for safety reasons - it is permissible to extinguish the Shabat candles when retiring to bed. I do not like the idea of leaving candles lit while my family is sleeping. Thanks! ShabbatQueen

Answer:

This is quite a common concern from people who are new to observing this beautiful Mitzvah.

As it is prohibited to extinguish a fire on Shabbat, there are many practical safeguards which Jewish women have taken for generations to insure both safety, and the integrity of Shabbat.

First of all, the candle holders should be placed on a steady surface, i.e. no shaky tables or candlesticks. Additionally, a tray, usually decorative, is placed underneath as an added measure.

Bear in mind that before the discovery of electricity, candles were the common means of lighting a home - and there were always situations which would necessitate leaving a candle burning even after retiring to bed.

Another thing to remember is that riding in a car, a plane, or even crossing the street involves risk of being in an accident, Heaven forbid. Yet we do it just the same, as the benefits far outweigh the possibility of danger.

I would venture to say that statistically, a far greater percentage of people riding in cars or crossing the street, are involved in accidents, than those caused by unsupervised Shabbat candles.

You are obviously lighting candles to honor the Shabbat - the eternal benefit of not desecrating Shabbat by not extinguishing them, far outweigh any minimal risk.

Additionally, the very same G-d who gives us life, would not give us a Mitzvah which would endanger life.

Personally, my mother lit Shabbat candles, as does my wife (without extinguishing them on Shabbat), and in all my 46 years, nothing out of the ordinary happened.

Shabbat Shalom!


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Candle safety

Posted by: Anonymous on Dec 08, 2008

My mother and grandmother and I always lit candles on Shabbat and on yomtovim (holy days) which were allowed to burn unattended. In the past century there have been no accidents. We use a metal (fireproof) tray. I make sure the candle will not fall by holding the match to the bottom of the candle until the wax is melting. Stick the candle into the bobeche (candlestick protector). When they are secure you will be able to light your candles with confidence.

RELATED CATEGORIES

Shabbat » Candle Lighting

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
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.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.