ז׳ במרחשון ה׳תשע״ג (October 23, 2012)

Shabbat 20a-b: Shabbat Candle Lighting

Delighting in Shabbat is not a mitzva by Torah law, but is first mentioned in the book of Sefer Yeshayahu (58:13). However, many of the halakhot and customs of Shabbat are based upon this mitzva. Kindling the Shabbat lights in deference to Shabbat is based on the mitzvah of delighting in Shabbat, as there can be no delight or enjoyment, even in a festive meal, in a house that is dark and bereft of illumination. With the lighting of the Shabbat lights, there is thus an element of delight, as well as deference to Shabbat day. Nevertheless, since there is a strict prohibition against kindling fire or extinguishing it on the Shabbat day, special care must be taken to ensure that the kindling of the lights on Shabbat eve will not lead to kindling or extinguishing fire once Shabbat begins. Therefore, instituted safeguards and precautions with regard to the various substances that may be used in kindling the Shabbat lights as well as with regard to the manner in which their light may be utilized on Shabbat eve and on Shabbat day.

The primary focus of the second perek of Massekhet Shabbat, which begins on today’s daf , is the elucidation of the parameters of the prohibited labors of kindling and extinguishing, along with a discussion of precautionary measures enacted to enable use of the light of an oil lamp on Shabbat.

The first Mishna cites a list of fuels and wicks that one may not use in kindling the Shabbat lights, either because their use might induce one to perform a prohibited labor on Shabbat or because they are not in keeping with the deference due Shabbat. The Mishna begins by listing the materials that one may not use as wicks; this is followed by a list of the substances that one may not use as fuel.

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