Bameh Madlikin

Shabbat (2:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 12 years ago

This week we began learning the familiar chapter of Bameh Madlikin; familiar for those that learn it every erev Shabbat between kabalat Shabbat and ma’ariv. This provides us with two opportunities. The first is to learn in greater depth, that which we should just about know by heart. The second, which will be the focus of this article, is to question why this chapter specifically is learnt.

The Tur explains that Bameh Madlikin is learnt because it discusses the lighting candles as well as the three things that one must remind his household about on erev Shabbat. These are: “Has ma’aser been separated? Has the eiruv chatzeirot or eiruv techumim been performed? Have you lit candles?” (2:7) Granted that the contents relate to erev Shabbat, but why is it learnt every week?

The Aruch HaShulchan explains quite simply that if one uses the wrong candles or forgets to perform one of the above listed things then he can quickly remedy the situation prior to Shabbat.

The Beit Yosef notes however that the Tur seems to imply that Bameh Madlikin is learnt in shul after kiddush in shul. R’ Akiva Eiger explains that he understood this because the Tur brought the Halacha of saying Bameh Madlikin after the laws of saying kiddush in shul. By this time it is certainly too late fix any problem that they noticed through learning Bameh Madlikin.

For this reason the Beit Yosef says it is better to say Bameh Madlikin prior to ma’ariv. As the Gra points out, there what you be the point to institute it after ma’ariv?

The Aruch HaShulchan however notes that this reason made sense in times gone by when they prayed early and brought in Shabbat with Barchu (which follows Bameh Madlikin). Nowadays however, we bring in Shabbat at mizmor shir l’yom ha’Shabbat,which is prior to Bameh Madlikin. Consequently, if the Mishnayot reminded on that they forgot something, then it is too late fix it. He therefore explains that we are not too particular with its recital and there are even some that recite the section of Zohar known as k’gavna in its place.

Let us however return to Tur. Why would anyone recited Bameh Madlikin after maariv? The question of the Beit Yosef appears quite strong.

The Magen Avraham, citing the Maharak, explains that since they prayed early, if people came to shul late, they would be able to finish their own tefillot while everyone else was still saying Bameh Madlikin. That being the case, still why was Bameh Madlikin specifically chosen?

The Bach suggests, in a slightly different direction, that the reason why it was recited after maariv is a follows. They would pray on Friday nights early (after plag ha’mincha) and finish while it was still daylight. Since they would wait until nightfall to say kiddush at home, they would spend the time learning. They chose specifically this chapter for the laws that relate to erev Shabbat. Not so that could fix any wrong doing, but instead to remind them that they could not tweak any candles lit with the wrong wicks or oils; they could not eat any food that did not have ma’aser separated and they could carry if they forget to setup an eiruv chatzeirot.

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