Jan 24, 2007

remembering Jerusalem

It is well known that Petah Tikva follows most of the minhagim of Jerusalem. The reason for this is the founders of Petah Tikva were all religious pioneers from Jerusalem, who went there about 130 years ago to start a new community. They, being Jerusalemites, founded Petah Tikva with the minhagim of Jerusalem. It was their way of remembering Jerusalem, instead of taking the minhagim of the rest of Israel.

An example of such a minhag is candle lighting time on Friday afternoon. Most of Israel, and most of the world, lights candles 18 minutes (some light 20 minutes) prior to the onset of shabbos. Jerusalem, and other places that keep the minhagim of Jerusalem, light candles 40 minutes prior to the onset of shabbos.

That is, most other places that keep the minhagim of Jerusalem.

I just found out Petah Tikva is an exception.

Petah Tikva keeps minhagim of Jerusalem, for the most part. However, regarding candle lighting for shabbos, they do something unique. This was the first I have heard of this minhag, and it shows how they kept Jerusalem at the forefront of their minds and thoughts.

The editors of Torah Tidbits noticed some discrepancies in the listed candle-lighting times of Petah Tikva. They could not understand why the listed times looked like they were a few minutes different than what they should have been. While Petah Tikva famously lights 40 minutes prior to sunset, their sunset is a couple minutes earlier than the Jerusalem sunset. 40 minutes prior to sunset in PT should be a few minutes earlier than 40 minutes prior to sunset in Jerusalem.

So why were the listed times equal to those listed for Jerusalem?

The editor called the religious council representative of Petah Tikva and asked him for the resolution to the discrepancy.

The response was that the minhag of Petah Tikva for candle lighting times does not follow the minhag of Jerusalem, being 40 minutes prior to the onset of shabbos (sunset). Rather, the minhag of Petah Tikva is to light the shabbos candles at the exact time they light in Jerusalem!

That makes them light candles 37 or 38 minutes prior to sunset, but it was a unique method of keeping Jerusalem in their minds!

"אם אשכחך ירושלים תשכח ימיני"


  1. Rafi,

    I'd like to add a comment regarding the candle-lighting time in Bet Shemesh.
    The many sirens in our fine community go off 40 min. before shkiya on Friday afternoon, as do some of the common detailed calendars with all the halachick times put down 40 minutes before sunset as candle-lighting time.
    When I asked some of the local rabbis why this was so, i was told that the minhag in Bet Shemesh, from it's founding in the beginning of the 50's, has always been 20 minutes - as is the minhag in most cities other than J'lem and PT, and there is no reason for it to change or be otherwise (unless you personally want to shorten your hectic Friday afternoon rush and you can light candles as early as you want from Plag Hamincha and on).
    But it seems that in the last few years there has been an influx of new residents, in particular to Nachalah Umenucha and Rama B', that have come from J'lem and have brought their minhagim with them (as well as with their sirens and calendar publishers).
    Personally, the sirens do not bother me (or as one of the Rabbanim put it, that when he hears the siren he knows he has to get into his shower soon since he has only 20 minutes left till candle lighting).
    But what does cause confusion is that different calendars and shul time lists refer to different times.
    When a shul list states that mincha on Shabbat afternoon is "10 minutes before candle-lighting time" I do not know what time it is referring to.
    If any shul gabbaim are reading this, can you please put the davening times in reference to sunset rather than the ambiguous candle-lighting time. (Then I won't have an excuse to come 20 minutes late.)

  2. good point yehuda about Bet Shemesh. So many people moved there from Jerusalem they kept lighting (erroneously to a certain extent) like Jerusalem, even though Bet Shemesh had a minhag of 20. Most Rabbis in RBS consider 40 minutes to be the minhag, at least for RBS, because it has become so prevalent. (note that I said most, not all).

  3. There is no basis for lighting anywhere in Beit Shemesh earlier then 20 minutes before sunset.

    Beit Shemesh was founded by Moroccans and other Sefardic Jews whose custom was such, as it is in the rest of the Jewish world.

    The Yerushalmim that have arrived to our city are trying to impose their customs upon the rest of us, often under the guise that it is a 'chumra'. This is similar to gerokts. Gebrokts is not a chumra - it is a minhag virtually unheard of in non-chassidic circles.

    (Now one sounds frumer by declining gebrokts -- but for those who know, such people arent frummer, simply uneducated and often arrogant individuals.)

    Trying to impose the Yerushalmi customs upon Beit Shemesh goes against a Mishna and many other cases of halacha.

    Here's the best part: Go ask anyone for the source of lighting 40 minutes before sunset. It's based on a shita mekubetzet on Masechet Beitza.

  4. D.A. - I do not remember the exact details, but I do remember having learned the mishna berura and aruch hashulchan on the topic and the discussion of how long before sunset to light candles. I remember that (at least) the mishna berura seems kind of clear that we should be lighting even much earlier. 40 minutes according to mishna berura is a kula, if I remember correctly.

    I have to look back at it...

    do you remember that discussion?

  5. Another PT minhag imported from J-m is night-time funerals, although I have heard of them elsewhere lately.

  6. I was not aware that that was a specifically Jerusalem minhag.. I thought it was common in Israel...

  7. woe, that would totally throw my shkiah calculations off. I never knew that about PT, thanks for sharing....

  8. very interesting.

    i stayed by family friends for shabbat a few years ago and was running late. i heard the siren go off and i asked if it is ok with them if i still shower in the 18 minutes. the father answered "sure, and actually you sitll have 40 minutes." this guy used to try to convince to make aliyah. had he told me about the 40 minutes, i probably would have come. i am always running late so the idea of still having 40 minutes instead of great. (yes, i understand that they just light earlier, not they can light later).

    re. minhag yerushalayim in bet shemesh: there were some strange things when my grandfather was burried in bet shemesh and they told us that bet shememsh uses minhag yerushalyaim for burials.

  9. ari - youi are right, but psychologically it makes a difference...


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