Q: Should a Noahide light Shabbos Candles on Friday evening?
A: A Noahide may not light candles in honor of Shabbos in the same manner as a Jew. However, this doesn’t mean that a Noahide may not light candles in honor of Shabbos. There is a lot more to the story…
The principle of chiddushei dat prohibits Noahides from imitating mitzvos which were commanded to the Jewish people unless those mitzvos have a logical, practical, real-world benefit (i.e. the mitzvos of charity, honoring one’s parents, etc.). See Maimonides, Hilkhos Melakhim 10:9 – 10; Igros Moshe OC II:25, V:18, YD I:3, I:6, II:7, II:8, III:90, IV:51:1, and CM II:69; Sefer Sheva Mitzvos HaShem I:1:3. It also prohibits Noahides from inventing or deriving new religious obligations. Nevertheless, Noahides, like Jews, may develop customs to positively enhance their religious engagement and experience. Innovation of customs is subject to two rules: 1) the custom can in no way resemble a mitzvah commanded to Jews, and 2) Noahides must know that the custom is an entirely human innovation made for human purposes.
Lighting candles on Friday night is a specifically Jewish mitzvah, and therefore many not be practiced by Noahides. However, if Noahides wish to light candles for some other reason – i.e. to enhance the meal or beautify the home for the seventh day – then it is certainly permitted. If Noahides wish to light seven candles in commemoration of the Noahide laws, and as an expression of their desire that the 7 mitzvos illuminate the world, it would be permitted. However, this must be done in a manner that does not resemble the Jewish mitzvah of lighting. For example, one may light seven candles, held in a seven branch candelabrum, after nightfall on Friday night. This custom is uniquely Noahide because it is an action that a Jew may never perform under any circumstances. This is for two reasons: 1) Jews are specifically prohibited from using, making, or owning any items that resemble the utensils of the temple – this includes owning, making, or lighting a seven-branched candelabrum, and 2) Jews are prohibited from lighting candles after sunset on Fridays. Noahides, however, are permitted to make, use, and own utensils that resemble temple implements. Therefore, only they may light a seven-branched candelabrum. Noahides are also permitted to kindle fire after sunset on Fridays. Furthermore, lighting a seven-branched candelabrum is a positive expression of Noahide faith: seven candles for seven mitzvos.
When lighting, it is not appropriate to recite the traditional Jewish blessing over the candles because it contains the phrase “…who has hallowed us with the mitzvah He Has commanded us…” Since Noahides were not commanded in lighting Shabbos candles, they cannot make a blessing claiming to have been.
Therefore, I would instead suggest taking the opportunity to pray for the following:
May it be Your will, Lord, Our God, that the light of Your commandments will shine forth, illuminating the entire world. May all peoples see the light and truth of your eternal Kingship, O Creator, and bind their souls to Your teaching and to Your service.
My God, favor me and my household. Grant us long life and we shall serve You. Remember us for goodness, blessing, salvation, and compassion. Bless our household and illuminate Your presence upon us.
May it be your will, O Lord, our God, that we merit to raise wise, upright, and understanding children. May they love and fear You, may they walk in truth, and may they illuminate the world with righteous deeds. Hear our prayers and turn your countenance to us; O Lord, shine your countenance upon us.
For a far more in-depth and advanced study of all the Seven Noahide Laws consider taking the Noahide Laws Yeshiva Course.
Inventory reduction sale on candle holder pictured above HERE