Monday, May 21, 2007

minhagim of lighting yom tov candles - avoiding a tartei d'sasrei

There are two different customs women follow when lighting Yom Tov candles. Many first say the bracha and then light, as opposed to on Shabbos where they first light and then say the bracha. The logic behind the switch is as follows: the bracha on lighting constitutes a kabbalah of shabbos/yom tov – on shabbos, saying the bracha first would mean shabbos has started and the act of lighting would be prohibited, so we light first and then say the bracha; on yom tov, lighting a candle is permitted, so there is no problem in saying the bracha first (in fact, there is the added benefit of it now being over l’asiyasan) and then lighting. Others do not reverse the order because lo plug – the custom established saying the bracha after lighting as a universal rule, and we avoid creating any differentiation between Shabbos and Yom Tov.

There is an additional difference in customs as to when to light the Yom Tov candles. Some women light a number of minutes before shkiya, as is done on Shabbos. Others follow the custom of lighting after dark before the meal – since lighting a candle on Yom Tov is permitted, there is no reason to push the lighting back to before sundown like we do on Shabbos.

The Shmiras Shabbos k’Hilchisa points out that one should not err and adopt mutually incompatible customs. The whole reason for saying the bracha after the lighting is to not differentiate Yom Tov from Shabbos. Yet, lighting after dark by definition is possible only on Yom Tov and not on Shabbos, a clear differentiation between the two. It would make no sense to light after dark but to only say the bracha after lighting.


  1. Harav Ovadyah Yosef insists that Sefaradim light after the bracha even on shabbat. He reports that R. Issar Zalman Meltzar told his household to also say the Bracha first.

    I have tried to get my wife to do so to no avail. Not that she disagrees (or for that matter cares too much about that - she says that these religious guys are OCD) but she cannot break the habit.

    I have the same issue with myself legabei netilat Yadayim where I have tried to make the Bracha before washing, which I believe is correct, but have never yet managed to remember to do it.

    I can go on and on about all the bad or incorrect habits that i cannot break.... LOL

    Chag Sameach

  2. I light after the berach per Chacham Ovadiah. But one need not make the beracha before washing netilat Yadayim as the beracha is made before the raising and drying of the hands. However, one need to be careful not to dry their hands before completing the beracha according to the halacha in my siddur.

  3. >as the beracha is made before the raising and drying of the hands

    This is a compromise by later Kabbalistic influence. It is the custom everywhere except I believe among the yemmenite dardaim.(at least according to rav Kafih in his commentary on rambam).

  4. Tosfos Pesachim 7b writes that the bracha should be said after the netila but before the hands have been dried.

  5. Tosfos does not say you should only that there is an argument for not seeing it as over la'asyatam. Because of beit Hakisseh apparently lo plug. Interestingly according to rambam there does not seem to be a chyuv netila after beit hakisseh. At least that is how I concludedwhen i learned the inyan a few years back.

    Gut Yom Tov.

  6. Another difference between Sepharadim and Ashkenazim is that Sepharadic women do not say Shehehiyanu after lighting the candles on Yom Tov. They are supposed to have the candles in mind when hearing the Shehehiyanu at Kiddush time.

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  8. Anonymous10:58 AM

    david you are wrong the brocho is said AFTER washing before drying the hands

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