General Laws of Lighting Shabbos Candles
One lights candles before Shabbos begins. The candlelight creates an atmosphere of peace and tranquility in the home. It is also one of the ways in which we honor Shabbos, and demonstrate its importance.
The primary mitzvah is to light candles in the room where the Shabbos meal will be served.
One recites the appropriate blessing after lighting the candles. There must also be sufficient light in the other rooms of the house that will be used.
The mitzvah of lighting the Shabbos candles is principally the woman’s. Every member of the household fulfills his mitzvah to light Shabbos candles when the woman lights her Shabbos candles. It is commendable for her husband to place the candles in the candlesticks and prepare them for lighting.
When there is no woman in the house, the man lights the Shabbos candles.
From the moment a woman lights the candles, she must observe the sanctity of Shabbos, and refrain from doing things that are forbidden on Shabbos.
A woman who normally recites Minchah must do so before she lights the candles, because once she has accepted the sanctity of Shabbos, she may no longer recite weekday prayers.
Lighting Shabbos candles
After lighting the Shabbos candles, one recites the blessing over the lighting of the Shabbos candles. (“Who sanctified us with His mitzvos and commanded us to light the Shabbos candles”). The woman covers her face with her hands while reciting the blessing, so as not to derive benefit from the light until after she has recited the blessing.
Sephardic women have the custom to recite the blessing before lighting the candles.
A man who lights Shabbos candles has not accepted the sanctity of Shabbos upon himself. Some halachic authorities maintain that he should recite the blessing first, and then light the candles.
There are two verses in the Torah regarding Shabbos: “Remember the Shabbos day to sanctity it” (Shemos 20:6), and “Observe the Shabbos day to sanctify it” (Devarim 5:12). God said both verses at the Revelation on Mount Sinai. Many women light two candles, which correspond to the words “remember” and “observe,” that are mentioned in these two verses Other woman observe the custom to light more than two candles. Many women have the custom to light one candle for each member of their immediate family (one for themselves, one for their husband, and one for each of their children).
One must make sure that the candle’s wick (or the wick of the oil;’~ lamps, if one is using oil) was well lit, so that the flame will burn;;~ brightly when the matd1 is removed. ;i ;i
One may not open a window or door if the draft will blow out the candles.19
One may not taste anything, including water, from the beginning of Shabbos until after Kiddush. Children till bar or bas mitzvah may eat before Kiddush.
Some people who light the candles on the table where the Shabbos meals will be eaten place a challah on the table before lighting the candles. This prevents the table from being muktzah (an item forbidden to be moved on Shabbos).
Where a guest should Light candles
A person who is sleeping at home, but is eating the Friday night meal in another place, should light Shabbos candles at home.
A guest who was given his own room to sleep in should light the candles in that room, even if he is not eating in that room, and even if his wife is lighting candles at home.
One who lights the candles in a room where he will not be eating the Shabbos meal must use large candles that will burn long enough for him to benefit from the light when he returns to that room.
A guest who does not have his own room to sleep in should join in his host’s Shabbos candles by giving his host a token sum to cover his portion in’ the candles. Alternatively, the host may give the guest a portion of the candles as a gift.
If the guest’s wife is lighting candles at home, and he does not have his own room to sleep in, he does not have to share in his host’s Shabbos candles.
If a number of women are lighting candles in one room, each one lights her own candles and recites the blessing.
Some Sephardic Jews have the custom that each woman lights her own candles, but only one woman recites the blessing, exempting all the others. She must intend to exempt them, and they must answer Amen and intend to be exempted by her blessing.
If a number of men are sharing a room, and their host is not sleeping with them, only one man is required to light Shabbos candles. The others partake by giving a token sum for their share of the candles. The one who lights the candles must intend to exempt all the others with his blessing, and they must intend to be exempted from their obligation when he lights his Shabbos can-aes.26 See Section I5, above, regarding how to proceed if the host is sleeping in the same room as his guests.
“A mitzvah is a candle and Torah is light” (Mishlei 6:23)
The Talmud (Shabbos 23b) states that in the merit of lighting Shabbos candles, parents are blessed with sons who will be Torah scholars. This is derived from the verse “Ner mitzvah vTorah or, “a mitzvah is a candle and Torah is light” (Mishlei 6:23), i.e. through the mitzvah performed with candles; one merits the light of Torah.
Therefore, many women recite a prayer after lighting the Shabbos candles requesting that their sons become Torah scholars, that their children follow in the way of Torah, and that they be given Divine assistance in all their endeavors.
For many women, these moments are a special time when they feel spiritually uplifted and close to God.
The prescribed time to light Shabbos candles
Shabbos officially begins at sunset. However, one is required to “add to the holy from the ordinary,” i.e. to refrain from doing work some time before sunset. This refraining from doing work is called Tosefes Shabbos, and it must be observed even if one has not yet accepted Shabbos upon himself.
If one did not light candles on time, and sunset is imminent, one may no longer light the candles since this is a form of work that may not be done on Shabbos.
Source for laws of candle lighting is: “Shaarei Halacha”, Rabbi Ze’ev Greenwald. Feldheim Publishers. New York/Jerusalem.