May men do Melacha after candle lighting time?

May men do Melacha after candle lighting time?[1]

It is even initially permitted for men to do Melacha after candle lighting time, until ]several minutes before[[2] sunset, and so is the widespread custom of Jewry, and so was practiced by Gedolei Yisrael.[3] It is permitted to do so even in public.[4] This applies even in today’s times when candle lighting time is publicized to all Jewry, and women are accustomed to be particular to light by candle lighting time.[5] This applies even in a city in which majority of inhabitants accept Shabbos early, so long as the majority of the members of one’s synagogue have yet to accept Shabbos through saying Kabalas Shabbos in Shul, even if they all already accepted Tosefes Shabbos.[6] Nevertheless, despite the above allowance, it is praiseworthy for one to accept Shabbos early from the time of candle lighting, and even prior.[7] [Accordingly, while it is  incorrect to say that men cannot do Melacha after candle lighting time, and those who erroneously publicize this cause Halachic mistakes to occur as a result[8], nevertheless, it is good to encourage the populous to accept Shabbos early. However, in a time of need everybody may be lenient until a few minutes before sunset.]


Questions to the Rabbi


My husband insists on not doing any Melacha past candle lighting time, claiming that he too is meant to accept Shabbos from that point and onwards and he shouldn’t be relied on to do all the last minute Melachos. This is very frustrating for me, as it either means that certain things that needed to get done will not get done or that I will have to do it and delay my lighting candles. What do you advise?

Certainly, the idea of your husband accepting Shabbat early by candle lighting time is a blessed one, as explained in the Poskim. Nonetheless, you are correct that there is no obligation for your husband to do so and he is allowed to continue to perform Melacha past candle lighting time if he chooses. Indeed, it is more important that you light by candle lighting time, and have your husband perform the last-minute Melachos, then for you to do so and delay lighting candles from the time of the accepted custom. I would suggest the following compromise: You should respect your husband’s desire to accept Shabbos early, and try to do your upmost [in cooperation with your husband] that the things get done prior to candle lighting time. You can share duties and have him take responsibility for some of the last-minute things prior to the candle lighting time. However, in the event that it occurred that something was not done, then your husband should forgo his stringency and do the Melacha needed after candle lighting time rather than causing you to delay lighting candles, or having it not done and causing a Shalom Bayis issue. As a note to the husband, stringencies should never be at the expense of another individual especially one’s wife.     


[1] See Igros Moshe 1:96 in a reply to an individual who wrote him a letter of reproof for the fact that he was seen driving has candle lighting time [Rav Moshe Feinstein] Rav Moshe replied as follows: “I was very happy that my dear friend had alacrity to perform the mitzvah of reproof according to his understanding, and G-d forbid for me to be particular about this, and G-d willing without promising, I will no longer travel in a car from after the time of candle lighting. This is despite the fact that doing so does not contain any notion of prohibition not even due to Maras Ayin….as you do not prohibit doing a matter that is renowned to the public as permitted just because a few people mistakenly think that it is forbidden to do. Now, it is well known to everyone that women accept Shabbos with lighting candles while men accept Shabbos Some minutes prior to sunset…even women know this that men are still permitted to do Melacha within the 18 minutes even initially, so long as they have yet to accept Shabbos. However, it’s possible that there are some women who make the mistake to think then also men are prohibited from doing Melacha after candle lighting and due to this alone we cannot prohibit it due to Maras Ayin, as we don’t care to publicize to them the truth that for men it is permitted since they did not yet accept Shabbos. Nonetheless, since you’re right they God forbid some men and women can come as a result of this to belittling Shabbat I will without making a vow no longer travel in my car from the time of candle lighting”

[2] As one must accept Tosefes Shabbos before sunset [see Admur 261:4, and next footnote], as well as one should never rely on the clocks and perform Melacha so close to Shabbos.

[3] Setimas Kol Haposkim; Igros Moshe ibid; Rav S. B. Levin relates the concept of candle lighting time is only applicable to women while men can choose on their own how much they want to add to Shabbos; Rav L.Y. Raskin relates that in actuality men are not careful to accept Shabbos by candle lighting time; Rav Eli Landa Shlita that certainly from the letter of the law it is allowed for men to do Melacha pass candle lighting time, although some on their own decide to separate from Melacha starting from candle lighting time. All concur that there is no set Chabad practice in this matter.

The reason: The notion that is forbidden for men to do Melacha past the time of candle lighting that is written on calendars does not exist in Jewish literature, Talmud, Poskim, Rishon, Achronim, including Poskei Zemaneinu. In fact the entire idea of there being a set candle lighting time has no record. The above notion [of it being prohibited to do work after that time] likewise contradicts the Talmud and Shulchan Aruch chapter 261 and 263 who all discuss the acceptance of Shabbos either based on sunset, or from the time the majority of one’s congregation Davens Kabalas Shabbos, prior to sunset, and not based on any other factor. There is likewise no custom amongst men to be careful to accept Shabbos by the time of candle lighting, and on the contrary, it is well known to all that while women are accustomed to light candles by the set time of candle lighting men may continue to do Melacha until a few minutes before sunset. So writes the Igros Moshe ibid, and all Rabbanim ibid. Regarding the source for candle lighting time even for women, see next article.

How much time must one add for Tosefes Shabbos? There is no set amount of time prior to sunset that one must accept Shabbos by, rather so long as one has accepted Shabbos any amount of time prior to sunset, he has fulfilled the Biblical command of Tosefes Shabbos. One is given complete choice as to how much time to add to Shabbos prior to sunset, whether a lot or a little. [Admur 261:5; See also 608:3; Igros Moshe ibid; See however Ketzos Hashulchan 93 footnote 1 and Avnei Nezer 498:3 in the Seder Hachnasas Shabbos of Admur, that the time of Tosefes Shabbos is 4 minutes. Eretz Tzevi 60 however negates their proofs and rules one cannot learn from the above area in Admur anything with regards to the minimum Shiur of time, and rather even waiting one moment is valid.] Accordingly, there is no basis to require one to accept Tosefes Shabbos by candle lighting time which is 18 minutes before sunset.

[4] Igros Moshe ibid

[5] Igros Moshe ibid

The reason: As men never accepted the custom to stop doing Melacha from candle lighting time, and they have no obligation to do so. [ibid]

The reason that a woman’s acceptance of Shabbos does not enforce the community to accept Shabbos even if they are the majority: As women are not considered a congregation in this regard [Admur 263 Kuntrus Achron 7 “Viein Tzibur Lenashim Demeiah Nashi..”], and hence only if majority of men accept Shabbos in Shul by Davening, do we say that the community also needs to accept it. [Admur 263:37]

The reason that a woman’s acceptance of Shabbos does not enforce her husband to accept Shabbos: The Poskim rule that a woman’s acceptance of Shabbos by lighting candles only prohibits her from doing Melacha, and not the remainder of her household and therefore her husband and children they still continue to do Melacha. [P”M 263 M”Z 1; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 263:37]

[6] See Admur 263:17 “Even though they were not in Shul by Kabalas Shabbos” and SSH”K 46 footnote 31 in name of Rav SZ”A that the obligation for the rest of the community to accept Shabbos only applies if majority of the congregation accepted Shabbos in Shul through reciting Kabbalas Shabbos, which is considered Kabalas Itzumo Shel Yom, and not through the majority of people simply accepting Tosefes Shabbos at home, and so is implied from all Poskim [See P”M 263 M”Z 1] who depend the acceptance of Shabbos on the prayer, and so is the Setimas Kol Haposkim who never mentioned the great novelty that the majority of the community accepting Tosefes Shabbos can obligate the individual to also accept Tosefes Shabbos. This is aside for the fact, that majority of men do not accept Tosefes Shabbos at candle lighting time, and hence the idea doesn’t even exist. So likewise rules Piskeiy Teshuvos 263 footnote 343; [See Minchas Yitzchak 1:24 who brings opinions who are stringent even regarding if the majority of the town Davened at home. However, even according to his opinion simply accepting Tosefes Shabbos is not enough.

[7] M”B 261:23; See Ruach Chaim 261:2; Pesach Hadvir 261; Kaf Hachaim 256:5; 261:23 See Or Letziyon 2:18-1;This accomplishes several things such as: a) The Mitzvah of Tosefes Shabbos. b) Avoiding a possibility of coming to transgress Shabbos after sunset. C) Fulfills the keeping of Shabbos even according to the opinion of the Yireim who holds at sunset begins 18 minutes before the actual sunset, as writes M”B ibid.

[8] Such as to avoid lighting candles once it is after candle lighting time, or refusing to do any Melachah at home after candle lighting time which occasionally can cause friction with Shalom Bayis, or refuse to take a bath or do other required Shabbos preparations due to an erroneous notion that one cannot do Melacha after candle lighting time.

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