Friday, 5 July 2013

Nerot Shabbat in the Era of Electric Lights I - The Issues

Background:

Before Electric Lighting caught on, there were already several controversies with regard to Nerot Shabbat.

1. Does it require a b'rachah or not?

2. Since there is no nusach found in Talmud, Sh'iltot, B'Hag, and Rif, what is THE correct nusach?

3. The B'Hag asserts that lighting the candles triggers Kabbalat Shabbat by the woman of the house.

Subsequently, Ashkenazi Rishonim assigned Kabbalat Shabbat to the recitation of the B'rachah on Ner Shabbat.

This in turn created a new problem

4. Lighting BEFORE the B'rachah. Usually the B'rachah is done BEFORE the Mitzvah. And EG the Rema actually does not take sides on this issue.

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Q While today's "Spiritual" Shabbat Candles lend beauty and dignity for Shabbat, they hardly serve the practical concerns of Shalom Bayit anymore. Several well placed lights, and night-lights better serve our needs to avoid obstacles or tripping and also enable us comfort whilst using the privy.

The need for Paraffin or Oil Candles has been reduced to symbolic ritual. And that is fine in and of itself, but can THAT limited role still justify a B'rachah?


Best Regards,
RRW

1 comment:

Micha Berger said...

R Herschel Schachter also noted that our lights have no functional value. He therefore requires turning on the electric lighting in the dining room immediately before the berakhah and including it along with the candles/oil.