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What is the reason for the minhag to have a yartzeit-size candle lit in the bedroom over Yom Kippur? (this is unrelated to candles lit for deceased parents for Yizkor).

Is it just so we have a new flame for havdallah or is there another reason?

How widely is this practiced?

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    (I've never heard of the practice) – b a Sep 25 '12 at 3:51
  • Is this a practice for Tisha B'Av too? – SAH May 22 '17 at 22:30
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/82824/… – SAH May 22 '17 at 22:46
  • @aaron BTW in addition to the candle in the bedroom and the yizkor candle(s) and the candles that are bentshed, you have to have a ner neshama f0r each person (yet another yahrzeit-sized candle). It is the latter that is used to light the havdala candle IMO. (Can someone confirm that these are indeed 3+ different candles? I do know that the bedroom and the ner neshama must be different) – SAH Sep 19 '17 at 21:41
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I can't say I've ever seen this practiced, but lighting candles in one's bedroom is certainly a traditional thing to do on Yom Kippur. The Mishna (Pesachim 4:4) rules that some places light Yom Kippur candles and some places don't. The explanation always given (see, for example, the commentary of Rav Ovadia of Bartenura) is that marital relations are forbidden on Yom Kippur: those who do not light candles do so so as not to see one's spouse and desire them while those who do light candles do so because since it will be light they will not think of having marital relations, something only done in darkness.

The Shulchan Aruch rules this way in OC 610:1 and the pseudo-Rama even comments that those who light Yom Kippur candles (which I think nowadays is everyone) should light them in the room s/he sleeps in. Although some explain why this is not the custom nowadays, the Mishna Berura (sk 4) suggests being careful to leave light in one's bedroom in addition to candles lit elsewhere in the house.

Presumably using the 24-hour candle for this is killing two birds with one stone.

  • So you're saying the primary purpose of the candle is not to discourage relations, but to have a flame for havadala? Then, secondarily, it is put in the bedroom to discourage relations? – SAH May 22 '17 at 23:08
  • @sah no those are two separate things and I suggested that using one candle for both is killing two birds with one stone. You could light separate candles for the two purposes: a few hour candle in the bedroom and a 24 hour candle in the living room – Double AA May 22 '17 at 23:10
  • So it's 2 different inyonim: 1) to have a 24-hour flame for havdala and 2) to have something light in the bedroom? – SAH May 22 '17 at 23:11
  • Right. That's how I see it, anyhow. There's really no need to have your own 24 hour candle if you will do havdala elsewhere – Double AA May 22 '17 at 23:14
  • Just was told by a rabbi that (at least in my community) you can't kill two birds with one stone. ymmv – SAH Sep 19 '17 at 21:46
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This custom is mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch (OC 610:1). It is supposed to serve as a reminder to avoid marital relations on Yom Kippur. It is common to allow at least some light into the bedroom: see "The Laws of Lighting Candles for Yom Kippur" by R' Yosef Zimbal.

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