- Question: [Thursday, 2nd Marcheshvan 5783]
I am married with kids and was by my parents for Shabbos and I forgot to light candles [running late and lost track of time until it was after sunset] and would like to know if I am required from now on to add one more candle from what I usually light.
If other people in the home lit candles, such as your mother, then there is no need for you to add another candle for the rest of your life. If, however, you were the only one at home lighting and hence no one lit candles due to you missing the lighting, then you are to add one more candle for the remainder of your life.
Explanation: The Ashkenazi Poskim record that woman took upon themselves the custom that if they missed candle lighting one week due to reasons of negligence or forgetting, then they accept themselves a fine to light an extra candle for the remainder of their lives. If, however, it was beyond one’s control that she missed candle lighting, then no fine was enacted. Now, the Achronim raise a number of questions regarding this accustomed fine and as to the cases in which it should apply. Does it apply in any case that a woman who was accustomed to light candles missed lighting, or only in the case that she is obligated according to Halacha to light. Likewise, does it apply even if one lit candles but simply forgot to light the normal amount that they are accustomed to light each week, or does it only apply if one did not light any candles at all. Practically, while this matter is debated amongst the Poskim, one may be lenient as by any questionable Rabbinical matter, especially if it involves a loss. Now, from the letter of the law a single candle lit in a home suffices for the entire household. Likewise, a guest who is eating the meals in the home of a host is from the letter of the law not obligated to light candles and fulfills her/his obligation with the host’s lighting, even though the custom is to do so. Accordingly, if a guest forgot to light candles while by her host, then she does not need to add another candle for the rest of her life, being that she is not obligated to light and it is just a custom. If, however, the guest is alone at home and is the only one lighting candles then since there is an actual obligation for her to light and not just a custom, therefore if she missed lighting then she must add an extra candle for the rest of her life.
Sources: Piskeiy Teshuvos 263:3 See regarding the fine to light an extra candle: Admur 263:1; Rama 263:1; Maharil Shabbos 1; M”A 263:3; Bach 263; M”B 263:7; See regarding if the fine applies if one was not obligated to light due to being in someone else’s home: Koveitz Mibeis Levi 2:3; Beir Moshe 8:63; See regarding that girls who light at home before marriage are not subject to the Kenass: Piskeiy Teshuvos 263:3 footnote 35; See regarding if forgot to light the number of candles that she is used to lighting: Lenient: Biur Halacha 263:1 “Shachacha”; Stringent: P”M 263 A”A 3; Poskim in Piskeiy Teshuvos 263:3 footnote 40; See regarding being lenient by a fine in a case of doubt: M”B 318:2 in name of P”M; See regarding a guest lighting candles: Admur 263:9