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Thought for the Day: Lighting Shabbos Candles and Eiruv Tavshilin

I love questions like this: how are you allowed to light Shabbos candles when erev Shabbos is Yom Tov and you do not have an eiruv tavshilin on Friday afternoon at candle lighting time?  Mark Twain didn't actually say, "For every problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious, and wrong."; but if he did this case would be the exception that proved the rule.  There is nothing simple nor obvious about how to handle the situation.

One reason not to have an eiruv tavshilin is, of course, forgetfulness.  In that case, you can rely on the eiruv made by the rav in the city.  Suppose, though, you have no intent to either cook or bake on Friday for Shabbos, either because you finished all your cooking/baking before Yom Tov (smart!) or you are staying with in-laws for the holidays and they are cooking/baking (once you get married, both sides are in-laws).  Or you finished all your baking/cooking for Shabbos, so you let Shaindy and Sammy (who have been whining about being stuck in all day while you cook) eat the egg and matzah for a snack.  Or you are the rav of the city and you forgot (it happens).  In any of those cases, you are no longer allowed to cook for Shabbos.  What about Shabbos candles?

The kernel of the problem is that Shabbos candles are by their very nature not intended for Yom Tov use.  While it is true that one is allowed to transfer flames on Yom Tov for cooking, and "mitoch she'hutra le'tzorech, hutra she'lo le'tzorech"/once it was permitted for Yom Tov necessities, it is permitted even for non-Yom Tov necessities; it still needs to be "l'tzorech k'tzas"/needed in some way for Yom Tov also.  As noted, though, Shabbos candles don't fall into that category; once Shabbos is accepted, it is no longer Yom Tov.

Suppose you say, "Hey!  I'll make it l'tzorech Yom Tov by benefitting from the light on Yom Tov; clever, eh?"  That answer might have been clever before the advent of electricity, since the room would be dark without the candles.  That's a hard sell now a days, and I think you loose the "clever" moniker if you disconnect the electricity before Yom Tov.

There are ways to manage the situation, but my favorite by far was to note that any woman who is told she can't light Shabbos candles is going to be a basket case on Yom Tov.  That makes lighting the candles definately l'tzorech Yom Tov... both for the husband and the wife, I'd say.

How about if you are spending Yom Tov in Eretz Yisrael and and you have available a ben Eretz Yisrael (for whom it is not Yom Tov) available to you?  We should talk about that.


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