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Chanukah Halacha How To

12/15/2022 09:19:07 AM


Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

Candle Lighting: 

The first night of Chanukah this year is Sunday night. Women and men are equally included in the obligation to light. Ideally we light our Chanuka lights around 25 minutes after sundown, but later in the evening is also alright. The only place where we can fulfill the mitzvah of lighting is in our own home, or if we are out of town, in the place that we will be sleeping that night. (More on traveling during Chanukah, below). It is preferable to light at a time and in a place where others will see the lights, whether those others are outside our home or inside. In the end, even if by the time you arrive at home your neighbors are all asleep and there is no one besides you in the house, you should nonetheless light. (Shulchan Aruch 672, Sha’ar Hatziyun 17)

Many have the practice that wife and husband do not each light, rather one lights with the other in mind. This practice seems rooted in the original Talmudic articulation of the mitzvah as “one light, a man and his household”.  Indeed it is this concept that allows a spouse who is traveling to fulfill the mitzvah through the lighting that the other spouse will do at home. At the same time, our common Ashkenazic practice of each member of the household lighting their own lights points to a preference for each spouse lighting. The Mishna Brurah nonetheless maintains that spouses constitute one unit when it comes to Chanukah lights, while Rav Lichtenstein zt”l wrote that the tradition in both the Soloveitchik household (in which his wife grew up) as well as in his own household was for both spouses to light.

On most nights of Chanukah we make sure to light a light that has enough fuel (oil or wax) to enable it to remaining burning for 30 minutes.  On the Friday night of Chanukah, when we need to light before sundown, we should light lights that will last until an hour after sundown.

If you are traveling out of town over Chanukah you have several options for lighting. First, as already mentioned above, if there is an adult member of the household who is lighting, that person can discharge the obligation for all of the members of the household, presuming that the lighter as well as the travelers all have this intention. Nonetheless, whenever it is possible to do so, it is preferable for the traveler(s) to light his or her own anyway, both because personal participation is always preferable, and because part of the Mitzva is to see the lights and to think about the miracle. (“Seeing” is so significant in fact, that if a person is simply unable to light his own lights, but sees the lights that another has lit, she should recite the bracha שעשה ניסים.) If you are staying with relatives out-of-town, then you also have the option of participating in the lighting that your hosts are doing by making a financial contribution to the cost of the candles or oil. Once again though, if you can light your own lights, that’s always the first choice.

In Tefilla:

Throughout Chanukah, we add Al HaNisim into the Amidah and into bentching. At Shacharit each morning (Minyan is at 6:45 AM) we include the full Hallel and we read from the Torah. We also have the custom to add Mizmor Shir Chanukat Habayit (Psalm 30) at the end of Shacharit

Please be in touch with Rav Yosef with any questions you have!

Thu, May 30 2024 22 Iyyar 5784