Thursday, November 16, 2006

girls lighting shabbos candles from age three

When Rivka comes to Yitzchak’s home the Torah tells us “Vayive’ha Yitzchak ha’ohela Sarah imo vayikach es Rivka vat’hi lo l’isha vaye’ehaveha”, Yitzchak first brought Rivka into the tent of his mother Sarah, and then he married her and loved her. Rashi explains that there were three miracles that were always present in the tent of Sarah – the dough was blessed, the candles remained lit from erev Shabbos to erev Shabbos, and a cloud enveloped the tent. Despite all the miracles which Eliezer related as having occurred on his journey, Yitzchak did not take Rivka as his wife until she proved capable of duplicating the miracles of his mother Sarah.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe (Likutei Sichos vol.15, see here) notes that the assumption of Rashi seems to be that Rivka performed the mitzvah of hadlakas neiros Shabbos even before marriage (see the footnotes of the sicha which discuss whether an arusa is chayeves in hadlakas neiros), even (according to Rashi’s chronology) from the young age of three years old. I have not noticed it lately, but I do recall years ago Lubavitch actively campaigning to have all women, even little girls, participate in the mitzvah of lighting neiros Shabbos.
Regardless of the merits of this proof (might the hadlakas neiros here have been a test of some sort and not simply a kiyum of ner Shabbos?), there is a custom in many homes of having girls light Shabbos candles. The minhag is brought by the Aruch haShulchan, and I have seen quoted in a number of places that this was the practice of the Brisker Rav. My older daughters (11, 8) do light candles, but not my 5 year old. Assuming the hadlakah is a kiyum of mitzvas chinuch, I am not sure a three or five year old is ready for the mitzvah yet (especially using matches and a candle), so in our house we wait for the girls to get a little bigger.

12 comments:

  1. Bill Selliger3:39 PM

    Besides the ner, anan, and chalah, the medrash also states that when Sara was alive, "baisa pasuach lirvacha", but when she died, that was no longer the case. When Rivka arrived, the house was once again frequented by guests. Interestingly, Rashi omits this.

    On another note, you're library is missing a new Minchas Chinuch, but at least you have a Likutei Sichos. All 800 volumes. Probably right next to the Chumashim. How does this happen?! Who is in charge over there?

    Chaim, for your birthday I'm buying you some books. For the love of god. When is it?

    ReplyDelete
  2. July 15. The Likutei Sichos is available online for free (otzar770.com) and it is an interesting ra'aya. When the new minchas chinuch is online for free, then you can have ta'anos. Didn't you even wonder what the basis for the Lubavitcher hakpada on age 3 is?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bill Selliger4:32 PM

    The only reason I go to the 770 websites is to see video of the Rebbi davening mincha for the amud and making havdala (complete with shirayim) - as of 2 years ago. That's fun. Otherwise, I don't wonder about anything about Lubavitch. Really.

    July 15th is too far away. Maybe you'll get it for Chanuka.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Given her initial dealings with Eliezer when he arrived in Haran, Rivka must have been an extremely intelligent and mature three year old girl, and lighting Shabbat candles would have been nothing for her.

    BTW, are you aware the Zohar (in Parsha Toledot)also states her age to be three years old?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Given that Rivka was one of the Imahos, I have no doubt that she was a unique 3 year old. I was not aware that this was the opinion of the Zohar as well.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey, Bill, if you make the seforim a Chanukah present instead, you only have a month to go. ;-)

    I have no sources for this, but once the Divrei Chaim came to the conclusion that our daughters should light candles, I started them at the same age as I enforced elbow covering sleeves on them. (some form of consolation) Also unlike Lubavitcher girls who only light a single candle, our girls light 2 candles -- as I did as a child.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Tal Benschar10:23 AM

    Also unlike Lubavitcher girls who only light a single candle, our girls light 2 candles -- as I did as a child.

    Any sources discuss one vs. two? Lichorah, if the purpose is chinuch then one would want the child to do as he or she would do as an adult -- i.e two.

    ReplyDelete
  8. If you light one as an adult you are yotzei, so there is no reason for the addition (v.yesh l'ayen by neiros chanukah if it is sufficient m'din chinuch for a child to light 1 candle, v'yesh l'chaleik). Also, some say the two candles are for husband-wife (which makes sense for those who add a candle for each family member), which would not apply to a ketana. For a more complete discussion take a look at Likutei Sichos 11 p. 289

    ReplyDelete
  9. Tal Benschar11:54 AM

    "If you light one as an adult you are yotzei, so there is no reason for the addition "

    I hear what you are saying, but if I am not mistaken, the minhag is that even single women light two candles (bec. of hiddur? or zachor ve shamor?) So why not do the chinuch of the mitzvah be shlemusah?

    Compare to netilas lulav. Although one is yotzei with simply picking it up, there is a hiddur to say hallel with naanuim. And the shiur for chinuch is kedai she yeda lenaaneah bo -- that the child can shake it, which is older than simply knowing how to pick it up.

    IIRC, RYBS stated the mitsvah of chinuch applies when the child know how to do the mitsvah be shelmusah -- which IMHO implies that is how you should mechanech him/her.

    ReplyDelete
  10. >>>Compare to netilas lulav.

    Ain hanidon domeh l'ra'aya. Na'anuim are part of the ma'aseh hamitzvah of netilas lulav; the # of candles is a halacha in shiur. It is the same ma'aseh hadlakah whether one lights 1 or 10 candles.

    >>>when the child know how to do the mitsvah be shelmusah

    See the sicha where the rebbe points out that the mitzva b'shleimusa is one candle, and 2 is an added kavanah but not part of the ikar hamitzva. Among other ra'ayos he cites the mishna berura that lighting 1 candle which is mehudar is better than 2 candles which are night.
    With respect to a single woman, see the other reasons mentioned in the sicha which take this into account.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous12:17 PM

    The custom throughout White Russia, Reisin, and Lita was that girls lit shabbos candles.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous12:17 PM

    The custom throughout White Russia, Reisin, and Lita was that girls lit shabbos candles.

    ReplyDelete