This volume on the laws of Shabbat is the first part of a landmark four-volume series covering all areas of practical halachah relevant today. Originally published a generation ago by Rabbi Gersion Appel, the Concise Code volume on Shabbat has now been revised and updated by Rabbi Daniel Goldstein, in style as well as in substance, to address the needs of the current generation. It is a modern and user-friendly text presenting the complex laws of Shabbat comprehensively, but concisely, in one volume containing everything from the laws of prayer on Shabbat to use of smartphones. Concise Code is a perfect text for everyone from beginners to advanced students who wish to enhance their Shabbat observance and their knowledge of practical halachah. The book follows an easy-to-use format for study, with basic laws contained in the main body of the text, and annotations containing more detailed explanations as well as contemporary applications. The book contains a section of references in Hebrew providing sources for each annotation, as well as an index and list of halachic annotations, making it a helpful reference work as well.
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The kindling of a Sabbath lamp 1 is not a matter left to our volition - i. Nor is it a mitzvah that we are not obligated to pursue 2 - e. Instead, it is an obligation. Both men and women are obligated to have a lamp lit in their homes on the Sabbath.
One is obligated to recite a blessing before kindling 7 [the Sabbath lamp], as one does before fulfilling any of the obligations incumbent upon us by virtue of Rabbinic decree. It is permissible to make use of [the light of] a Sabbath lamp, 9 provided that the matter does not require careful scrutiny. The person who lights the Sabbath lamp should light it while it is still day, before sunset. Women have a greater obligation in this regard than men, 13 for they are normally at home and are involved in the household tasks.
Nevertheless, a man should alert them concerning this matter and check that they have done so. He should tell 14 the members of his household on the Sabbath eve before nightfall, "Kindle the lamp. If there is a question whether night has fallen and the Sabbath has commenced or whether the Sabbath has not commenced, 15 the lamp should not be kindled.
The time from sunset until the appearance of three middle-sized stars is universally referred to as beyn hash'mashot. A person who performs a [forbidden] labor beyn hash'mashot [both] on the Sabbath eve and on Saturday night is required to bring a sin offering.
The stars mentioned are not large stars that can be seen during the day or small stars that are seen only at night, but of moderate size. When such three medium-sized stars are seen, it is surely night. The wick used for the Sabbath lights should not be made from a substance that causes the light to flicker - e.
Instead, [we should use] a substance that burns steadily - e. The person kindling [the lamp] should make sure that the fire has caught on the major portion of the wick that emerges [from the lamp]. One may place a grain of salt 23 or a bean 24 at the opening of a lamp on Friday so that it will burn [better] on the Sabbath.
All [the substances] that may not be used as wicks on the Sabbath may be used in a large fire [that was kindled] either for warmth or for the purpose of light whether the fire is within a holder or on the ground. The prohibition against using them applies solely in regard to their use as wicks for a candle. The fuel 26 used for kindling a Sabbath lamp must be drawn after the wick. Fuels that are not drawn after the wick may not be used.
Why may we not kindle with wicks that do not catch the fire well and with fuels that are not drawn after the wick?
This is a decree [enacted] lest 29 the light of the candle be dim and one tilt it in order to carry out an activity by its light. One may use tallow or fish entrails that have been boiled [as fuel for a Sabbath lamp] provided that one mixes a minimal amount of oil with them. We may not use pine sap 32 as fuel [for the Sabbath lamp], because it produces an unpleasant fragrance, lest one leave [the room] and [on the Sabbath,] there is an obligation to sit [in a room] illuminated by the light of a lamp.
Similarly, we may not use balsam oil, because it is very fragrant and it is possible that one will take some of the oil in the lamp [for use as perfume]. For the latter reason, one may not use white naphtha [as fuel for a lamp] even during the week. It is extremely flammable and may cause a danger. At the outset, one is permitted to use other oils - e. A person should not place a container with a hole filled with oil above the opening of a lamp so that the oil will drip in.
It is forbidden to derive benefit on the Sabbath from oil that was used for kindling, even when the lamp has become extinguished or it has dripped from the lamp [into another container].
We may not place a container under a lamp to collect [the drippings of] oil, for by doing so, one nullifies the possibility of using that container. One may place a utensil beneath a lamp on the Sabbath to collect the sparks, because they have no substance and thus, one does not nullify the possibility of carrying [that utensil].
It is forbidden, however, to place water within it, even if one does so on Friday, since by doing so, one causes the sparks to be extinguished sooner. A person may not 45 check his garments for lice 46 by the light of a lamp 47 or read by the light of a lamp. If, however, two people are reading a single subject, 50 they are permitted to read before a lamp, since one will remind the other if he forgets. Children may read in the presence of their teacher by the light of a lamp, for their teacher will watch over them.
He may, nevertheless, look at a scroll by the light of a lamp to find the beginning of the passage that he needs to have them read. Afterwards, he should place the scroll in their hands and have them read for him. One may not take articles that resemble each other and can be discerned from each other only after careful inspection to the light of a lamp to identify them, lest one forget and tilt the lamp.
For this reason, an attendant who is not permanently employed is forbidden to check cups and bowls by the light of a lamp, since he does not recognize them. This applies regarding both a lamp that uses olive oil and a lamp that uses kerosene although the latter produces much light. In contrast, an attendant who is permanently employed may check cups and bowls by the light of a lamp, since he does not need to check them closely. Nevertheless, if olive oil was used as fuel for the lamp, he should not be instructed 56 to check objects by its light although he is permitted to do so.
This is a decree [enacted], lest he take from the oil. When a lamp is burning behind a door, 57 it is forbidden to open and close the door in one's ordinary manner, because one [might] extinguish it. It is forbidden to open 59 a door opposite a fire on the Sabbath 60 so that the wind will blow upon it [and fan the fire], even if there is only an ordinary wind.
Six shofar blasts 64 should be sounded in every Jewish city and town 65 on Friday. These shofar blasts are sounded from a high place so that they can be heard by all the inhabitants of the city and its surroundings. When the first shofar blast is sounded, the people in the fields should halt plowing, digging, and performing other labors in the fields. Those who are close to the city are not, however, permitted to enter the city until those who are distant come, so that they all enter at the same time.
When the second shofar blast is sounded, the shutters should be secured and the stores closed. Hot water and pots may still be left [cooking] on the ranges. When the third shofar blast is sounded, one should remove those pots one intends to remove, cover those one wishes to cover with insulating materials, 67 and light candles.
One should wait the time it takes to roast a small fish or to stick a loaf of bread on [the side of the] oven, 69 sound a teki'ah , a teru'ah , and a final teki'ah and cease activity. The first teki'ah should be sounded at [ plag ] haminchah 70 and the third [ teki'ah ] close to sunset. When Yom Kippur falls on Friday, 73 the shofar is not sounded. When a festival falls on Friday, the shofar should be sounded 76 and havdalah should not be recited. When a festival begins directly after the Sabbath, havdalah should be recited, 77 but the shofar should not be sounded.
Although the Rambam discusses the mitzvah of delighting in the Sabbath in Chapter 30, he mentions the kindling of the Sabbath lights in a separate chapter, for they require extensive discussion.
He also positions this chapter relatively early in this set of Halachot, for the Sabbath candles are kindled before the Sabbath and bring the Sabbath into our homes. This also follows the pattern of the Mishnah which discusses the kindling of the Sabbath lamps in the first two chapters of the tractate. See Hilchot Berachot ; the Rambam differentiates between mitzvot that are obligations that a person must endeavor to fulfill, mentioning tefillin which is a daily obligation and sukkah and lulav which are obligations that are incumbent on us at a certain time each year, and mitzvot "that are not obligations, but resemble voluntary activities.
In the latter category, he includes mitzvot that we are obligated to fulfill only when we put ourselves in a situation that require it - e. A person is not required to live in a house that requires a mezuzah.
If, however, he chooses to do so, he must fulfill that mitzvah. Similarly, with regard to the mitzvot mentioned by Rambam in this halachah: There is no necessity to eat bread or other foods that require washing our hands, nor is it necessary to carry in a courtyard or perform any of the other activities that require an eruv. Kinat Eliyahu comments that the Rambam chose the washing of the hands and eruv as examples in this halachah, because they - like the kindling of the Sabbath candles - are Rabbinic commandments.
See also Hilchot Sh'vitat Asor which mentions another dimension of the obligatory nature of this mitzvah. Note the Maggid Mesharim, which states that there is another dimension to lighting Sabbath candles. The Karaites did not accept the Oral Law including the Sages' explanation that one could leave a light burning on the Sabbath and by kindling Sabbath lights, one made a statement countering their doctrine.
Since the Rambam also strove against these heretics, one may assume that part of his emphasis on the obligatory nature of this mitzvah is directed toward them. In Hilchot Chametz UMatzah based on Pesachim , the Rambam states that even a person who derives his income from charity should not drink less than four cups of wine on Pesach, we can conclude that the same concept applies with regard to the Sabbath lights.
Indeed, as the Rambam explains in the conclusion of Hilchot Chanukah , the Sabbath lights receives priority over the recitation of Kiddush. See also Megillah 27b which mentions selling or pawning one's clothes to perform a mitzvah.
See Chapter 30, Halachah 5, which explains that kindling a Sabbath lamp is an expression of honor for the Sabbath. See also the conclusion of Hilchot Chanukah which explains that the Sabbath lamps bring about peace in the home, safeguarding the inhabitants from "stumbling over wood and stones.
Significantly, this blessing is not mentioned in the Talmud and even in Rav Sa'adiah Gaon's time was not a universally accepted practice. In the Rambam's time, however, it had been adopted already throughout the international Jewish community. See the Introduction to Sefer HaMitzvot General Principle 1 and Hilchot Berachot , where the question is raised: How can we say that God has commanded us to perform these mitzvot, which are of Rabbinic origin?
Seemingly, they were instituted by men. The Rambam answers that since God commanded us to obey the decrees of the Sages, observing the mitzvot that they ordained is fulfilling His command. In contrast to the Chanukah candles, whose light we may not use Hilchot Chanukah ,8 , we are permitted to use the light of the Sabbath candles.
Indeed, Shabbat 23b associates the Sabbath candles with peace in the home, explaining that they prevent the members of the household from stumbling over obstacles, and also allow them to avoid the discomfort of sitting in darkness. Were one to tilt the lamp for it to burn brighter, one would be liable for the forbidden labor of kindling a fire.
The Kessef Mishneh notes that the Rambam does not mention the obligation to add from the weekday to the Sabbath. The wording of the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim indicates that it does not consider the obligation to much such an addition on the Sabbath as an absolute requirement. Nevertheless, the later Ashkenazic authorities consider it as such. The Shulchan Aruch loc. Bereshit Rabbah , ch. Shabbat 34a emphasizes that this statement should be made gently.
The Rambam does not mention this point explicitly, for in Hilchot Ishut , when he describes the nature of the husband and wife relationship, he stresses how a husband must relate to his wife with tender care at all times.
In his Commentary on the Mishnah Shabbat , the Rambam interprets this as referring to beyn hash'mashot as described in the following halachah. There are three basic positions regarding the duration of beyn hash'mashot.
The other two positions are found in Pesachim 94a. One defines beyn hash'mashot as the amount of time needed to walk four mil after sunset, and the other, as the time necessary to walk five mil. There are two different opinions concerning the duration of the time it takes to walk a mil.
Shulchan Aruch English #6 Hilchot Shabbat Part 3, New Edition
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