By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
I recently saw a great story that Rabbi Yechiel Michel Stern recounted. We can learn some mussar and a halacha from it so it is worthwhile sharing it here.
A newly married young couple was sleeping in their apartment for the very first time. They planned to sleep at home and eat at the wife’s parents for the seudos. The young couple had accepted upon themselves to be mekabel Shabbos ten minutes early. The young wife was delayed in her preparations for Shabbos and came down five minutes after the time they had agreed upon. To her dismay, she saw that her candles were already lit when she went to light them. She thought that her husband must have lit them already and left to go to Shul. As she looked at the flickering candles she realized that she had come down later than the time she had agreed upon with her husband, but is was still before the zman. She could not understand why her new husband lit the candles for her. She did not feel comfortable asking him why he did so. She kept her disappointment bottled up inside her. Although they were sleeping at home, the young couple ate the Shabbos seuda at her parents’ house. The newlywed wife sat the entire meal in silence. Her mother, noticing this, cornered her and asked her why she was so upset. She couldn’t hold it in anymore and she shared the story with her mother. The mother in-turn went and told the story to her husband. The husband got upset as well. No one said anything, but the anger was palpable in the air for the rest of the Shabbos Seudos.
On Motzei Shabbos, the father went to a Rov in his town and discussed the situation with him. The Rov, being a wise person, told the father, “Let me discuss it with your son-in-law.” The Rov broached the subject to the young chosson. The chosson, upon hearing the whole situation from the Rov, grabbed his head and said, “Oh boy! Listen to this! I was preparing the candles for my wife and lit them so the wicks will be easier for her to light later. Before I had a chance to blow them out, our in-laws rang the bell. I ushered them in and helped them get comfortable. I thereby totally forgot that I left the candles lit!”
The first lesson to be learned here is how important it is to judge others favorably.
As soon as I heard this story I thought about the halacha aspect involved. Does the young woman in this story have to light an extra candle each week for the rest of her life since she neglected to light the candles that week? Did the fact that her husband lit the candles cover the mitzvah of candle lighting for their household? When thinking about this question, you must remember that no bracha was recited over the lighting of the candles.
I found this question brought down in the Chashukei Chemed in Meseches Shabbos, daf lamed alef amud bais. Reb Yitzchok Zilbershtein says that it stands to reason that she should not have to light an extra candle for the rest of her life. The candles were lit, albeit not with the intention of doing the mitzvah of hadlokas neiros. The reasons for lighting candles were accomplished. There was Oneg Shabbos because the candles were le’maaseh lit. There is also Kovod Shabbos since the husband prepared the candles for his wife Le’kovod Shabbos. Therefore, there is no need to give the woman a knas. In addition, it is important to note that not making a bracha is never me’akev the mitzvah.
May we be zocheh to judge each other favorably and our Shabbos candles should bring Sholom Bayis.