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Chanukia from Israel for Chanukah


BY: Yaacov Silverstein

Doing work within 1/2 hour of candle lighting:

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 670:1) brings down that women should not do work, while the candles are lit. The Mishnah Berurah also brings down that the same applies to men, according to the Maharil. The reason for this, is because maybe the lights would go out and she would be in the middle of her work, and then she would use the light of the candles for a prohibited use(Meor Ukehtzeah) . Some say that this only applies for the first 1/2 hour, that the candles are lit after "Tzays Hakochavim"(Mishnah Berurah).

The Levush brings down that there is another reason for women not to do work, because the days of "Chanukah" were set as days of holiday, and praise.

In order to show this, and because the miracle of "Chanukah" was brought out by the women, there are those that hold that one can not enjoy the light of the candles, even after 1/2 hour, they would hold then also not to do work the whole time that the candles are lit

Thus there is reason for women to prevent from doing work while the candles are lit, even till midnight, yet most retain from work as said above, the first 1/2 hour, unless ones Minhag is otherwise.

There are those that say it is a "Segulah" for women to retain from doing work, if possible, even the whole day. Some say that this only applies the first and last day of Chanukah (Baer Haytayv, Ben Ish Chai...)

There are those that don't do any work at all, the first half hour (Rav Y.Y. Fisher Shlita, says this is the Minhag of Yerushalayim).

There are those that do work which is permitted on Yom Tov, like cooking, yet not sewing and washing clothing, ironing (S"HUT Kinyan Torah Part 7, 52). While some allow other house cleaning like washing the floor and cleaning the house (Luach Dvar Yom B'Yomo).

Everyone should go according to his Minhag.

When it comes to lighting the candles, the Mishnah Berurah(671:2:9) says that the wife does not light since she is Yotzay through her husband.

The M.B.(675:9) brings down the Sefer Olat Shmuel, that women and girls also are commanded to light, yet they are exempt by the men in the house.. However, if they do want to light, like when the husband is not home, she does light even with Beracha, since she is required to do this Mitzvah. And because any Mitzvah Asay Sheh Hazman Geramah, a women can make a Beracha on if she wants to do the Mitzvah. However, the girls in the house should not light with a Beracha, if there mother or father (or any other man/boy) is lighting in the house.

The Chidushei Chasam Sofer (Gemarah Shabbat 21:2) also explains why women and girls have the Minhag not to light, because in those days they used to light outside, and it was not proper for the girls to light outside, so they heard the Berachos from the door. Nowadays, even though we light mostly indoors, the Minhag still stands.

What type of simcha may one have ?

The Biur Halacha (O.C. 670:2), says one should have a lot of Simcha during the days of Chanukah (Simcha of Torah). He also goes strongly against those that go and play cards on Chanukah.

However, the game of Dreidel that a lot of people have the Minhag to play, is permissible.

Not only is it allowed, we find that the Chasam Sofer writes about this Minhag in his Sefer Haminhagim, and he himself used to play Dreidel with his silver Dreidel.

We also find by the Kloyzenberg Rebbe, that he writes that there is no problem here of "Meh Sahchayk Beh Kubiah"(gambling), because a father, with a son that is supported by the father, is no problem. Also, since on Chanukah we increase Ahavat Yisrael, that we become all one family, and thus we don't care who wins or looses.

There are also hidden meanings in this game. One of them is that the 4 letters on the Dreidel represent the 4 powers that a person has in him:

Gimmel -> Gufani (Physical)
Nun -> Nafshi (Spiritual)
Shin -> Sichli (Knowledge)
Hay -> Koach Elyon that includes Ha kol.

There are 4 powers in heaven above, opposite the 4 Galut's (Rome, Greek, Persian, Babylon), and they would end by the Moshiach = 358 = Gimmel, shin, nun, he. (Bney Yisachar, article 2, word 25)(I took the above from the Sefer Piskei Teshuvot)

He also brings out that in the times of the Greeks, when they forbade Torah learning, the Jews would pretend that they were playing games like this so the Greeks shouldn't know that they were learning Torah.

The Chasam Sofer (on Yoreh Deah 233) writes that to make a day for rejoicing a miracle is a Torah commandment, how to rejoice (Hallel, Candles, Megilah) is Rabbinical. We don't have meals like on Purim because on Purim Haman wanted to destroy are physical being, thus we rejoice with are bodies, on Chanukah Antiochas wanted to stop the learning of the Torah, which is on the Nefesh, thus we rejoice the soul with Hallel, praise and thanks. (Aruch Hs Shulchan 670:9)

There are those that say that even in a place where one is the only Jew in the city, there is still a need to light outside for Pirsumei Nisa, even when there are only gentiles outside. (Shut Hitorerut Teshuvah)

Where should one light his Menorah?

We find in the Gemarah Shabbat (21:2), that one should light outside of ones house, not in the public area, yet by the opening of his house (M.B.). Yet when there is a danger in lighting outside, one may light inside, preferably by the window facing the public grounds.

If so, why do most of the people nowadays light indoors?

There are many opinions, here are some of them:

Since we started to light indoors because of danger, people continued lighting indoors. (Itur-Chanukah). Why do we still hold this now?? So the Sefer Piskei Teshuvot brings down that just like by blowing the shofer, because of danger we blow after Shacaris, and not before Shacharis, the Minhag used to be, the same here by Chanukah.

Since Chanukah falls out in the winter season with rain, snow, cold, wind...and thus we can't place the menorah outside, unless they are put in a glass case, this much the Rabanan did not request from us, also there is less of a Heker Mitzvah, in the glass case. We also don't have to worry if only the people in the house see and not people outside. One should light the candles within a Tefach from the opening, or on the left side of the opening. (Aruch Hashulchan 671:24)

Some say because of robbers (Darchei Moshe in the name of Rabbeinu Yerucham)

Because of Laytzim (Imrei Noam part 2, 22).

The Bnei Yisachar brings in the name of the Olalot Ephraim, that in the olden days the Chachamim lit outside to hint that Torah is spread to all the Jews from the Gedolim(Yefutzu Mayonahtecha Hachutzah). Nowadays, it is enough if we can stop our own household from going off the correct way, and it is much harder now to bring people off the wrong ways.

Thus we light inside with our family.

If one decides to light his candles in the house, he should make sure not to place the Menorahs all together, in order for there to be a Heker in how many one is lighting.

He should also preferably light the candles opposite the Mezuzah, and if he can do this in a place that people passing by would see the candles, it is even better( balcony door). (Bnei Yisachar) If one can't light it by the door that is see through, than he should still light it opposite the Mezuzah. (Likutei Hamaarich)

Rav Elyashiv brings down that if the window in front of the menorah, allows the light of the candles through, yet it gives a blurry vision of the light, it is still considered Pirsumei Nisa .

One must place the menorah at least 3 Tefachim above the ground, and best to be under 10 Tefachim, yet not over 20 Amos.

Rav Chaim Naeh Chazon Ish

3 Tefachim = 24 cm 28.8 cm

10 Tefachim = 80 cm 96.0 cm

20 Amah = 9.6 m 11.52 m

If one lives in a house above 20 Amos from the ground outside, and thus the window is higher than 20 Tefachim, since there is no Heker to those outside, one should light it opposite the Mezuza( Shar Hatziun 671:42)

There are those that say one should still light in the window, since people can see it from the ground (Pri Megadim), especially if there are other tall buildings close by.

The Shar Hatziun (671:34(brings down the Pri Megadim), that we must make sure that the flame is not above 20 Amos (or below 3 Tefachim), and we don't look at where the Menorah is. There are still those that say that even if the Menorah is larger than 3 Tefachim he should not put it on the ground yet on some sort of small table (M.B. 671:26). While there are those that put it actually on the floor, with a nice cloth in between, in order to meet the requirement of the flame being between 3-10 Tefachim. (Shut Lehorot Natan vol.4 , 63)

Lighting at parties, or in the center of town:

By public gatherings, parties... one should not light candles, for sure without a Beracha, even if one Davens there Mincha or Maariv.

The Yalkut Yosef (page 204) brings down that where Mincha and Maariv is prayed, one may light the candles there also.

There are those that permit lighting with a Beracha at big gatherings in the city, since you would for sure find people that have not lit yet, and you don't have a greater Mitzvah of Pirsumei Nisa than this. (Piskei Teshuvah 671:15)

When to light:

The Shulchan Aruch(O.C. 672:1) brings down that one should light at the end of the Sunset, which is Tzays Hakochavim(M.B.)

There are 2 opinion here:

(1) The Rabbeinu Tam holds that there are 2 sunsets. The first one starts 58.5 minutes after the sun disappears from our eyes. The second sunset starts from the end of sunset 1, and goes for 13.5 minutes, a total of 72 minutes. Then we have Tzays Hakochavim.

According to this opinion, one would light at the beginning of the second sunset, 13.5 minutes before Tzays Hakochavim.

(2) The Shitat HaGeonim, which is also brought down in the Mishnah Berurah, that there is only one sunset, when the sun disappears from our eyes, and 18 minutes after that is Tzays.

Thus for those that light outside, and are stringent to light with sunset, they would light before Maariv. (Like the Grah)

Yet those that light inside, it is best to light after Maariv, like what the Ramah writes that when lit inside, we don't have the Inyan of "the people in the market", yet he should still make sure to try and light within 1/2 hour of T.H. . Also there is "Tadir Veh She Ano Tadir, Tadir Kodem (yet this only applies if right now he want's to do both of the Mitzvahs, and not in a case where his normal Minyan is latter at night...)

In our times, since people come home from the market latter (7-8 and come home at 8-9) (Moadim Uzmanim vol. 2, 141), one has who to rely on if he lights it even after T.H. . Some say that in certain large cities, one may even light until Chatzos, if he was unable to light earlier, and he may even light it outside. ( P.T. 672:4)(Mishneh Halachos vol.4, 79)

The candles should be lit for at least 1/2 hour after T.H., and they should remain lit till 'people come home from the market'. The Sefer P.T. brings down that when the Shulchan Aruch (672:2) wrote that after 1/2 hour one can blow out the candles, is only because that is how long people were coming home from work. Since in our days they come home even latter, they should burn even latter and thus one can't touch them till after this new time. (However, from the M.B. it doesn't seem to be so.) Thus one should put enough oil, that they should be able to last this long. (Mishneh Halachos vol.4, 79)

However, one only needs the Shamash to burn for 1/2 hour.

Also, if one has to leave his house, and he is afraid of leaving the candles burning, one should make a condition before he lights.

What should he light with?

One should preferably use olive oil and a wick to light.

The Sefer P.T., brings down that those that use the floating wicks, should preferably , first dip it into oil, than light it. This is so, because if not, the initial few minutes of the flame is from the wick and wax, and not from the oil.(Rav S.Z. Aurbach, says there is no need for this).

If one does not have olive oil, it is preferred to use Soya oil, or other clean, kosher oil. This is preferred over wax candles. (P.T. based on the M.B. 673:1:4)

According to certain opinions, the candles must be lit in a vessel (Menorah).

The Kaf Hachaim (60) brings down the Sefer Chesed L'Avraham, that there are 15 vessels that are fit for lighting the Chanukah candles in them:

Gold, Silver, Copper like Gold, Red Copper, Iron, Tin, Lead, Glass, Wood, Bone, Clay (pottery) covered with Lead, plain Pottery, Pomegranate peels, Walnut shell, Oak Wood peelings.

Therefore, there are those that say not to put glass cups into a silver Menorah, since this lowers the importance of the Menorah. (Shut Shvilei Halacha vol. 8. ,157)

Others say not to worry in this case, because since the glasses serve the silver, it is nullified by the silver, and it becomes like the silver. (Shut Shevet Hakehati vol. 3 , 201)

The Shaare Teshuvah (O.C. 673:3:8) brings down the Chesed L'Avraham, who says that a person should not light in egg shells or onion shells. The Chesed L'Avraham continues further and says that, any vessel that can not stand by itself, without support from something else, is not considered a vessel, thus can't be used to light the Chanukah candles in it. Similarly, it is found in the Avnei Nezer (500) that the same seems to apply to those that light candles without putting it into a vessel, they would not be Yotzay, according to the Chesed L'Avraham.

However, by the other Poskim, we don't find that the vessel is MehAkev.

Also the Kaf Hachaim (letter 61) and the M.B. (671:4:18) bring down that when we are dealing with candles, one does not need a vessel, and he could even stick it to the wall, as long as he makes sure to leave a space of a finger between each candle, in order to discern how many candles are lit.

Lighting in Shul:

The Shulchan Aruch(671:7) writes that we also light in the Shul for Pirsumei Nisa.

As long as people are still in the Shul, the menorah should stay lit, when everyone leaves, the candles can be extinguished, as long as a 1/2 after Tzays Hacochavim has passed. It is then re lit in the morning for Shacaris.(Sdei Chemed - This is done because that is the way it was done in the Mikdash).

If one is afraid of a fire, or that one may steal the Menorah, one may extinguish the Shul's Menorah even if the 1/2 hour didn't pass yet. (Rivevos Ephraim v3, 453;v5 432)

When one lights in his house first, and then lights in the shull on the first night of Chanukah (like when it falls on Friday), most Poskim hold that one may bless Shecheyanu, even if he already said the Beracha in his house.(More detailed in the Igros Moshe O.C. vol.1, 190)

When lighting in the Shul, one should try to make sure that there is a Minyan present, some say that women and children can be added to make a Minyan in this case. (Shut Rav Palim O.C. vol.2,62.)

The lack of 10 may be found when lighting in Shul on Erev Shabbos, some say that if 10 will see it even latter on, its O.K. Others ( Shaare Teshuvah) say to light without a Beracha in this case. We are Noheg like the Magen Avraham who says to light even if 10 have not arrived yet, since there will be 10 soon. This is also brought down in the Biur Halacha (671:7 *veyash...) that one who lights even if there are not 10, with a Beracha, has who to rely on. (Also the Chaia Adam)

Lighting away from home:

1) When a husband can not be home before midnight, or before his family goes to sleep, he should have his wife light for him at home, and he can be covered by her lighting. (M.B. 677:1:2) Some say that this only applies to the wife, and another family member can't light for him since according to the Ramah every family member must light, unless he specifically told him to light for him.

However, since we have to light "Mehadrin", in a case where the husband won't return that night to his house, he should tell his wife to light for him at home, and he should light wherever he is staying that night. In order for it not to be a Beracha in vain, he should try to before his wife lights and have in mind not to be Yotzay from his wife's lighting (M.B. 677:3:15), or he should be Yotzay the Beracha from someone else.(Also see Igros Moshe, O.C. vol. 1,190)

Finally, the M.B. (677:3:17) brings down that even if his wife lights, most Poskim hold that he should also light, and even if he made his own Beracha he has those to rely on.

2) If a person leaves home and will not return that night, if possible, he should try to light before he leaves. If he can't light after sunset, than he should wait to light by sunset. If this is also not possible, he may light from Plag Hamincha, however, he should make sure that there is enough oil to stay lit at least 1/2 hours after Tzays Hakochavim. (Shulchan Aruch 672:2)

3) If one and his family left home before the Plag Hamincha, and they will not return home that night, he does not light at home, and he is called by the term "guest", and thus lights at the place that he is staying overnight.

4) One who eats in one place and sleeps in another place, like a boarder, if he lights indoors, he should light where he eats and not where he sleeps. (Ramah O.C 677:1)

5) Guests in a hotel should light in their room.

6) A Talmid Yeshivah, who sleeps in the dormitory, and eats in the main dinning room, some say that he should light where he eats (Rav Aharon Kotler-brought down in Sefer Hilchos Chanukah page 37, 12)

While others say that he should light where he sleeps, since his room is his set place.(Rav Moshe Feinstein in Sefer Hilchos Chanukah)

The Sefer Piskei Teshuvot writes that in this case it is best to light where he sleeps, and he should try to eat a meal there on Chanukah.

A Talmid Yeshivah is not Yotzay on the lighting of his parents at home, because this only applies by a husband with his wife.( Ahz Nidabru vol3. 53) The Sefer Piskei Teshuvah (677:6) brings down that nowadays, all Bnei Yeshivah light Chanukah candles. (Some say because since they pay for their lodging, they are considered the Bal Habayit)(Maharsham)

(7) Married children at their parents home, if they are not planning to return home that night, and they plan to sleep at their parents, they should light there. Since they are considered a temporary boarder.

(8) A guest is classified under 3 categories. He (1) needs to be staying at the place for free, (2) the owner is home and is also lighting.

a) A Permanent Boarder - For example, a student who is away from home and he eats regularly at someone else's home, he can fulfill his requirement through the lighting of the owner of the house.(M.B. O.C. 677:1:1) According to the Biur Halacha, he should be Mishtatef with the lighting.

However, if he wants to fulfill also La Mehadrin and light, he may do so.

b) A Temporary Boarder - Is one that eats at this persons table once in a while, and is thus not considered a member of the household, but he is called a guest.

Therefore he is required to light, or to become a partner in his hosts lighting. (M.B.)

c) A Lodger - Is one who sleeps at someone else's home, yet obtains his food on his own, he has the same Din as a temporary lodger.

How does one Mishtatef in lighting?

He should contribute a couple of cents (Perutah) to the lighter, in order to join in part of the expenses for the oil and wicks. Some say that the lighter should add to the oil a bit more than he would put to light 1/2 hour. (M.B. 677:1:3)

The Kaf Hachaim( Letter # 2) has a Nusach to say:

"I am giving you this money to acquire a share in the oil and wicks of the Chanukah lights that you will kindle tonight (or all the 8 nights of Chanukah)."

The host responds, "I am transferring to you, with the acceptance of this money a portion of the Chanukah lights that I will kindle tonight (or all the 8 nights of Chanukah).

The Berochos that one says:

One must say the Berochos prior to lighting.

1) Lehadlik Ner Shel Chanukah (M.B. 676:1:1) - Some say to say Lehadlik Ner Chanukah(Ari z"l, Shulchan Aruch O.C. 676:1)

2) Sheasah Nisim La Avosaeinu - Most say "Bazman" without a "Vav" before the word. (M.B.)

3) Shecheyanu - Only said on the first night If one forgot to say it on the first night, he may say it on the night that he remembers, at the time of candle lighting. (M.B. 676:1:2)

Also, the Ramah brings down to say Lizman (with a Chirik), while the Minhag is to say Lazman (with a Patach).

Haneiros Halalu, is sung immediately after the first candle is lit, while he lights the remaining candles. (M.B. 676:4:8) Yet he also brings down the Pri Megadim, that one who has the Minhag to say it after all the candles are lit, also did it O.K. The Shar Hatziun says not to say Kodesh Haym, but to skip the word Haym(in order to have 37 words and not 36 which is equal to the amount of candles lit.

After this, the Minhag of Ashkenazim is to sing Maoz Tzur. The Sefardim recite Tehilim 30 ( Mizmor Shir Chanukas..) and Tehilim 67 (Lamnatzayach Binginot)

Preparing & lighting the candles:

The candles are prepared before the time that one needs to light, in order to be able to light on time. On the first night, the candle to be lit is placed at the end of the menorah facing his right <diagram 3>. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 676:5) The candles are added towards the left <diagram 4>. A Menorah with a back that is placed in the window, should be lit according to the way he is standing. (Rav Moshe Fienstein)

The order of lighting the candles is, according to most Minhagim, to first light the new candle that was added and go from left to right <diagram 5>. (S.A O.C. 676:2)

The above photo was taken partially from the Sefer "Halachos of Chanukah".