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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 7.6:
How do people know when to light candles in the Arctic?


The established candle lighting times are based on the more temporate zones. For other zones, the Rabbis came up with a solution: use the established time for lighting candle currently employed in the largest city to your south (or north, if you are in the antartic... or your hometown, if you are in space) where it is possible to set up proper candle lighting charts.

Why is this? The idea of sanctifying Sabbath lights dates back to the Karaite controversy of the Eighth Century CE. In the controversy, a group of schismatics, led by Anan ben David, rejected the efficacy of the Oral Tradition, sticking to a literal interpretation of Torah. For example, when Torah said that one should not kindle fire in one's habitation on Shabbat, the Karaites disallowed any flame at all, even one kindled beefore the Sabbath. In response, the Rabbanites declared that not only was it permissible to light candles before Sabbath and let them burn, they even instituted rules and regulations -- and even a blessing -- for their kindling in every Jewish home. And thus was the lighting of Shabbat candles "born".

So what are we doing when we kindle these lights? We are separating a period of time and consecrating it to spiritual purpose. Thus, while some might focus on the exact time, others focus on the sanctification.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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© (c) 1993-2002 Daniel P. Faigin <>