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Peninei Halakha > Shabbat > 04 - Lighting Shabbat Candles > 06. What Procedure Should Be Followed When Two Families Dine Together

06. What Procedure Should Be Followed When Two Families Dine Together

When a family hosts another family for Shabbat, some maintain that only the hostess should light candles with a berakha, whereas the guest should light without a berakha since it is not clear whether there is a need for her to light. This is the opinion of Shulĥan Arukh and the custom in some Sephardic communities. However, the opinion of Rema and most poskim is that the guest may indeed recite a berakha when she lights her candles, because each extra candle contributes additional light. This is the custom of Ashkenazim and some Sephardim, such as those from Morocco.

In practice, nowadays this issue need not arise, because every home has several rooms, and it is common to give guests their own room. Everyone agrees that if a guest lights there, she may recite the berakha. Similarly, when the kitchen and dining room are separate rooms, the guest may light with a berakha in the kitchen while the hostess lights in the dining room. To be sure, the primary place to light candles is where the meals will be eaten, but there is a mitzva to have some light in other rooms as well. Therefore, when two families spend Shabbat together, it is recommended that the hostess light in the principal place, namely at or near the table, and the guests light in additional places like the kitchen or bedrooms (See MB 263:38, and section 2 above).

Similarly, if the hosts arranged a separate apartment for their guests, it is best for the guest to light candles with a berakha in the guest apartment. In order to be able to enjoy the light of these candles, she should make sure to light candles that will last until they return from their Shabbat meal. If she lights regular candles, she should make sure to stay near them until it begins to get dark. Alternatively, a family member can go look at the candles before the meal. For if nobody looks at the candles on Shabbat itself, they do not fulfill their purpose of honoring Shabbat, and consequently her lighting and her berakha were in vain.

In a hotel where everyone dines together, it is best that one woman light with a berakha in the dining room while the rest of the women light in their bedrooms (SSK 45:9). However, most hotels forbid lighting candles in bedrooms because it is a fire hazard, and so they set up a table in the hotel dining room with candles for all the women to light. Following the custom of Ashkenazim and some Sephardim, all the women may light with a berakha. However, according to the custom of many Sephardic Jews, only the first woman to light should do so with a berakha, and the rest should light without reciting a berakha.

There is another possible solution. One woman may light in the dining room while the rest fulfill the mitzva with a berakha by lighting an incandescent bulb in their bedroom; as we learned in the previous section, the vast majority of poskim maintain that one may fulfill the mitzva using an electric light. Even for those who follow the Rema, it is preferable to light an electric light in one’s room than to light in a way that some maintain should not be accompanied by a berakha. Furthermore, lighting an electric light in the room serves more of a purpose than lighting many candles in the dining room.

However, if the lights in the room are all fluorescent, one may not make a berakha upon lighting them since they do not have a filament similar to the wick of a candle (see above n.3). In such a case, it is proper that everyone light in the dining room. According to most Sephardim, the first woman should light with a berakha and the rest without one. Those who wish to go above and beyond should bring a lamp with an incandescent bulb and plug it into a timer (“Shabbos clock”). Thus, they may light with a berakha even in the hotel room.[4]

[4]. Some Sephardic poskim rule that if several women are lighting in the same place, each one may recite the berakha. This is recorded by Yafeh La-lev 263:10; Gedulot Elisha §18; Kaf Ha-ĥayim §56. Shemesh U-magen 2:38 notes that this is the Moroccan custom. On the other hand, some Ashkenazic poskim maintain that le-khatĥila one should take into account the opinion of SA (Olat Shabbat; Shlah; SAH). Therefore, even those who follow Ashkenazic customs should preferably light by turning on incandescent bulbs in their room. One should be careful to arrange for the light to be turned off by a timer later on, because if it does not, they may have trouble sleeping and will not enjoy Shabbat.

AHS 263:6 states that if a few women are lighting simultaneously, even the stringent opinion would allow them all to make a berakha. Therefore, in his opinion, it is preferable that all the women light in the hotel together so that they all may recite the berakha according to all opinions. Another option is that one woman recites the berakha aloud and the others respond “Amen.”

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Editor: Nechama Unterman