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Chanukah Halacha How To

11/25/2021 01:13:38 PM


 Candle Lighting: 

Who: The mitzvah of Chanukah is נר איש וביתו- one candle for each household. The Gemara gives the option to beautify the mitzvah by having each member of the household light one candle (mehadrin). The Gemara gives an additional way to beautify the mitzvah (mehadrin min hamedrin), which is to light an additional candle each night increasing in order for eight nights. This is our practice today, and Ashkenazim even add that each member of the household who is of age to do so should light his/her own chanukiah in the mehadrin minhamehadrin way. Women are fully obligated in this mitzvah, אף הן היו באותו הנס, for they too took part in the miracle. However, some women have their husbands light on their behalf, or light on behalf of their husbands, because of an additional halachic principle that husband and wife are one . Married women may therefore light their own menorahs, light for their husbands, or have their husbands light for them. 

Roommates should light their own separate menorahs as they are not related.

When: Our practice is to light at tzeit hakochavim (when the stars come out) and to make sure that the candles burn for at least 30 minutes after tzeit hakochavim. For full zmanim during Chanukah, go here. We show our love and eagerness to fulfill the mitzvah by doing it as soon as possible. And we also light them at a time when people are able to see our chanukiah (fulfilling pirsumei nisa). If your candles accidentally burn out before 30 minutes past tzeit, you need not relight them, though you may do so without a bracha. Chanukah candles intended solely for Chanukah use may not be used for any other purpose throughout the year. 

If you come home later in the night, you should nonetheless light, preferably in the presence of another member of the household, but if you are the only member of the household or if the other members are asleep, you should still light.

On Shabbat, we light the Chanukah candle first before lighting Shabbat candles, and make sure that the Chanukah candles last long enough (or that there’s enough oil if you use oil) to burn for at least 30 minutes after tzeit (approximately 90 minutes after Shabbat starts).

Motzei Shabbat, we say Havdalah and then light candles. In shul, we light the menorah first and then say Havdalah in order to publicize the miracle as long as possible. 

How: We light with candles or oil. The essential part of the mitzvah is the lighting itself. Electric lights should not be used. Each night we add an additional candle from right to left, and then we light starting with the newest candle, so that we move from left to right. The chanukiah should be lit by a window for the fulfillment of pirsumei nisa (publicizing the miracle). The shamash is used to light, so that we do not derive any benefit from the Chanukah lights other than the lighting itself. We light the shamash, recite the brachot below, and then light the candles. Haneirot Halalu may be said as you light or afterwards, followed by Maoz Tzur.


ברוד אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להדליק נר של חנוכה

 Blessed are You, Hashem, Sovereign of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His

commandments and commanded us to light candle/light of Chanukah.

ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם שעשה נסים לאבותינו בימים ההם בזמן הזה

Blessed are You, Hashem, Sovereign of the universe, Who has wrought miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season.

(On the first night, add)

ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם שהחיינו וקיימנו והגעיענו לזמן הזה

Blessed are You Lord our God, sovereign of the world, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.

Al HaNisim, Hallel, and Psalm 30:

Throughout Chanukah, we add Al HaNisim in our Amidah and in the bentching. The full Hallel is said at shacharit each morning of Chanukah, Tachanun is omitted, and Mizmor Shir Chanukat Habayit (Psalm 30) is added at the end of shacharit. 


What should you do if you are travelling out of town over Chanukah? What are your lighting obligations and options?

Let’s say for example that you are in a hotel overnight, but the rest of your family is at home. The Halacha is that if your family is lighting with you in mind, then you can fulfill the Mitzvah through them (as the Mitzva is fundamentally defined as “a light, for a person and his/her household”). Nonetheless, it is always preferable that you light on your own anyway, both because personal participation is always preferable, and because part of the Mitzva is to see the lights, and as a result to think of the miracle. (“Seeing” is so significant in fact, that if for whatever reason a person is simply unable to light his own lights, but sees the lights that another has lit, she should recite the bra- cha עשה ניסים.) Even if you are eating dinner at the home of a friend, the proper place to light is back at your hotel room, which is your “home” for the night.

If you (and your family) are staying with relatives out-of-town, then you have the option of making a financial contribution to the cost of the candles or oil, and participating in that way in the lighting that your hosts are doing. Once again though, if you can light your own, that’s always the first choice.

Mon, June 17 2024 11 Sivan 5784