If shekia (according to sefardim and litvish minhagim) is 4:59, and the lady (who is litvish or sefardi) was busy preparing for the Shabbat. If by the time she got to the candles it was 5:00, what are her options?

Does she forgo the obligation to light the candles since Shabbat already started or is there some leeway? Perhaps one could rely on Rabbeinu Tam.

In the case that she missed the time, does she have to light an additional candle for the rest of her life or is this case not considered "forgetting to light" (something I read what one must do in the event that they forget to light one week) since she lost track of time rather than forgot?

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    It is permitted for her to have a non-Jew light for her shortly after sunset. Otherwise, she cannot light at all. – Fred Dec 14 '15 at 20:35
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    @Fred Is that so even if she has electric lights on? What Tzorekh is this? – Double AA Dec 14 '15 at 20:35
  • @DoubleAA According to Bei'ur Halacha on 261, the fact that the woman may be stressed out over having "not lit" would be sufficient cause to allow a non-Jew to light for her during bein hash'mashos. Presumably this includes even a case where, strictly speaking, there is already plenty of light in the house for Shabbos. – Fred Dec 14 '15 at 20:40
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    Near-duplicate of judaism.stackexchange.com/q/8778 – msh210 Dec 14 '15 at 20:45
  • Somewhat related to your last question about adding candles: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/9648. – Fred Dec 14 '15 at 21:25

If it is within the 18 minutes before sundown, she can light. (Not sure if this is true for the entire 18 minutes, since tosfos Shabbos is required both at the beginning and the end of Shabbos; I remember reading an opinion here that 4 minutes before sunset is the latest. On the other hand, I have also read that tosfos Shabbos is considered when calculating the zmanim, so by just following the prescribed times, one already includes tosfos Shabbos. Various opinions are discussed in comments here. Before 4 minutes, she can definitely still light.)

She definitely cannot light at or after sunset--that is, during Shabbos--and I don't think there is any reason she would be justified in following Rabbeinu Tam for one week, unless that were her regular minhag.

According to several canonical sources (cited here), a woman must add an extra candle going forward for each week that she misses lighting as a result of her own negligence. This discussion suggests that this k'nas (penalty) applies to single men, too. (According to Dov Eisenberg's Guide for the Jewish Woman and Girl, it doesn't apply to baalos teshuva. [Converts are not mentioned but one would think according to this it wouldn't apply to them kal v'chomer.])

I had never heard that she could ask a non-Jew to light for her if missing candle-lighting caused her distress, and have never heard of anyone's doing that. But I assume it is a legitimate possibility based on Fred's source (Bei'ur Halacha, p. 261). I would also wonder if her husband could light for her if he had not yet davened.

Some women have the ~custom to make a blessing in front of candles lit by others if they miss lighting (or generally do not light candles--as is the case for many Yeshivish single women.) This should be, if anything, a blessing without Hashem's name (source: https://www.ou.org/torah/halacha/hashoneh-halachos/1097-mikvah-friday-night/)

Edited to Add: One thing she can do, and which people frequently do, if she expects to miss candle-lighting is ask another woman--anywhere in the world--to have her in mind while she lights. If she has already missed, she may be consoled to hear that someone else had her in mind. (Some people deliberately have a lot of others in mind in case they should miss.) Note that none of this means that she was actually yotzei the mitzvah.

I don't want to overstate how common this is, though--most frum women take hadlakat nerot very seriously and would only miss it in an inevitable circumstance.

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    The Mishna B'rura (261:22) says that some infinitesimal addition to Shabbos is insufficient. Although he doesn't say precisely what is sufficient, he says in the Bei'ur Halacha (ad loc., s.v. "איזה זמן") that the minimum tosefes Shabbos required is definitely not longer than the amount of time it takes to walk 3/4 of a mil (approximately 13.5 minutes). R' Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC I §96) implies that two minutes would suffice. – Fred Dec 14 '15 at 23:07
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    Regarding asking a non-Jew to light for you during bein hash'mashos, the source is Shulchan Aruch OC 261:1. Although there are opinions that the electric lights in the house count for Shabbos lights, it appears from the Shulchan Aruch (ad loc.), Mishna B'rura 261:16 (based on Maharshal), and Bei'ur Halacha (ad loc., s.v. להדליק נר) that there would still be cause to ask a non-Jew even if the electric lights technically count. – Fred Dec 14 '15 at 23:15
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    As far as whether a husband can light for his wife (e.g. in some kind of scenario where the wife accepted Shabbos early or was not able to light), the answer is yes, even though it is customary for the wife to light (Shulchan Aruch OC 263:2-3, Mishna B'rura 263:11-12). – Fred Dec 14 '15 at 23:23
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    Its not honestly clear that the Knas applies to single women. I could see the argument that it applies more readily to single men than single women as well. – Yishai Dec 15 '15 at 0:14
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    @Fred, not sure, but I know a single woman who got the Psak to not add a candle, but rather do other things because she was still single. I suspect because if she is lighting only one candle she would be reserving moving up to two for when she gets married. A single man wouldn't have that issue. – Yishai Dec 15 '15 at 2:12

One may light Shabbat candles until sunset (generally 18 minutes after "candle-lighting time") but not a moment after sunset. To light Shabbat candles after sunset is to desecrate Shabbat.

One may sometimes ask a non-Jew to light for her during twilight (in America, up to roughly 40 minutes after sunset).

As far as the additional candle penalty, one must ask a Rabbi in each case. The factors involved don't lend themselves to a general answer. Specifically, it would depend on the level of אונס (which always requires an individualized psak), extenuating circumstances, what other lights were on in the house and when they were lit, among other factors.

  • 40 minutes is quite a lenient length of twilight. – Double AA Dec 15 '15 at 19:37
  • @DoubleAA Can't one be lenient when it comes to Amira L'akum? I can check my source later. – LN6595 Dec 15 '15 at 20:35
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    You should be careful when stating how long twilight is. It depends on where in the world (and, of course, on different opinions in halacha). In the Land of Israel the lenient opinion is 13 minutes. – Miriam Aug 8 '16 at 19:09

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