In Esther 8:16, we read that after the Jews were saved from an evil decree, they had "light and gladness and joy and honor." Is anyone aware of Rabbinic texts that discuss celebrating Purim with candles or some other type of light?


The Aruch haShulchan writes (OC 695:8):

ומצוה להרבות בנרות לפנות ערב, כדכתיב: "ליהודים היתה אורה"‏
It is a Mitzva to add candles in the evening, as it says: The Jews had light

He doesn't source himself and I haven't seen this anywhere else. It would seem he is using the word 'Mitzva' here quite loosely.

  • Perhaps by the word "mitzvah" he is referring to the verse כי נר מצוה ותורה אור (though maybe that's a little far-fetched). – b a Feb 5 '13 at 7:36
  • @ba eh.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ – Double AA Feb 6 '13 at 5:12
  • I mean, since the whole thing of אורה זו תורה is learned from that verse (so there is some connection) – b a Feb 6 '13 at 5:37
  • @ba Maybe. It sounds to me more like R Epstein is just making a nice connection himself, and not trying to make any fundamental claims about the nature of X or something. – Double AA Feb 6 '13 at 5:38
  • Well, now that I look at the Elyah Rabbah, apparently the source of this (it seems he is quoting Seder HaYom), the candle-lighting seems to be just part of making the house look nice. – b a Feb 6 '13 at 6:55

Yes, many poskim. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 142:5, Aruch HaShulchan 695:8, Eliyah Rabah 695:5, etc.

For more sources, see the discussion in the Nitai Gavriel on Purim, #70 http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=46446&st=&pgnum=383&hilite=

  • 1
    I specifically did not list the Kitzur and Eliyah Rabbah in my answer (where I mention the Aruch haShulchan) because those sources don't tie the candles to the relevant verse. They say it among other aspects of just making the meal nice (set table, nice tablecloth, good food etc.) – Double AA Feb 5 '13 at 17:04
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    @DoubleAA The question doesn't say it has to relate to that verse. – Curiouser Feb 6 '13 at 0:28

Note, of course, that the rabbinic interpretation of that "light of the Jews" is in fact Torah study. Hence, no candle-type practice derived from that verse.

If I recall correctly one of the later commentaries on Shulchan Aruch -- the Pischei Teshuva maybe? -- mentions a custom of lighting candles for the Purim seudah, as it sets a more festive mood. I haven't seen this one in practice, but I could see why a custom involving open flames around lots of people who've had too much to drink would, well, fall into disfavor quite quickly.

SAFETY DISCLAIMER: If you're too drunk to tell the difference between "curse Haman" and "bless Mordechai", you probably shouldn't be playing with matches either.

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    It's Shaarei Teshuva 695. – Double AA Feb 5 '13 at 7:00

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