Last Friday evening, my husband and I were stuck in traffic. We had left in time to make it for Shabbos, but were unable to reach our destination in time for me to light. Am I obligated to now light 3 candles? If so why? Is this halacha or minhag. Do I continue to light an additional candle once I have a child (G-d willing) ? Many thanks
According to the RaMA (Rav Moshe Isserles) in his gloss on the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 263;1) if a woman forgets to light Shabbos candles one must add a candle from that time on. The poskim stipulate that if one did not light because of duress, this addition is not required. The examples of duress include being incarcerated, in the hospital, or caring for a sick person. Apparently, the degree to which one has to add the candle depends on the degree to which the circumstances were beyond one’s control, and not due to negligence. In the case of arriving late, one might argue that you could have been more careful and left earlier, or it could be that no negligence was involved (unusual traffic due to unforeseeable circumstances. It is difficult to ascertain the exact degree of negligence in your case. I would certainly suggest you see the event as an impetus to leave more traveling time. Some are of the opinion that today, when we have light in the house besides the candles, forgetting to light does not bring the "fine" of adding in the future (see Yalkut Yosef of Rav Ovadiah Yosef; I have heard other poskim who agree with this). Therefore, I would suggest that you do not add another candle, but that you do make a commitment to leaving extra traveling time, as well as giving tzedakkah specifically to help a poor family make Shabbos.