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Some women have the custom to light an additional shabbat candle for every week which, for whatever reason, they did not have a chance to light shabbat candles in the past. For example, if a woman with 2 kids did not light candles on 3 occasions at various times in the past, she would light a total of 7 candles (2 + 2 kids + 3 for missed weeks) every shabbat, indefinitely. One woman I know who is newly observant (ba'al teshuva) only lights additional candles for weeks she missed starting when she became observant. Where did this custom originate? What is the basis for the custom? Is there a limit as to how many additional candles one should light, both in terms of number of additional candles per week and in how long you should persist in lighting the additional candles? Is there a basis for not counting the weeks before you became observant? Any other "exceptions"?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

This is mentioned in the following places. Darchei Moshe 263:1, Rama 1, Shulchan Aruch HaRav 1, Chayai Adam Shabbos 5:13, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 75:14, Aruch HaShulchan 11, Kaf HaChaim 10. If she forgot many times then she adds for each time she forgot Magen Avraham 3, Shulchan Aruch Harav 1, Chayai Adam ibid, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 75:14, Mishnah Berurah 7, Aruch HaShulchan ibid.

The reason for this, is that it is a (Knas) punishment in order that she should not forget.

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True that it's mentioned in all of these halachic sources, but is nevertheless a minhag rather than an absolute halachic requirement. See Mishnah Berurah 263, Beur Halachah 'ד"ה ששכחה וכו, where he says so explicitly. – Alex Aug 26 '11 at 19:29
Is there a limit according to those sources as to how many times you should punish yourself, both in terms of number of additional candles and in how long you should persist in lighting the additional candles? Is there a basis for not counting the weeks before you became observant? Any other "exceptions"? – Tal Fishman Aug 26 '11 at 19:49
@sheegaon, M.B. there says that it doesn't apply in cases where she didn't light because of duress, such as if she was in prison. So the time before she learned about the concept of lighting Shabbos candles should surely qualify as a case of duress. As for a limit on how many times this should be applied - that might be similar to something else that he says there, that a poor woman can fulfill this requirement by adding a little extra oil rather than a whole candle; presumably if the number of extra candles is going to be excessive, similar leniencies might apply even if she can afford them. – Alex Aug 26 '11 at 20:02
@Alex your comment seems answer-worthy. Thanks. – Tal Fishman Aug 26 '11 at 20:06
You forgot to mention the Maharil which is the original source – sam Dec 15 '15 at 2:52

If I remember, one should not be punished if one does not know better but when one becomes observant to the orthodox ways — you might say enlightened to the knowledge of the belief and why it is done — then I can see one having to make up for one not doing what one was supposed to do. But that`s really all I can remember.

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Hi terry m, and welcome to Mi Yodeya. Please consider registering your account; I look forward to seeing you around. – Double AA Dec 6 '12 at 13:30

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