Peninei Halakha

09. Guests

When a family is visiting friends or relatives at candle-lighting time, then even though they are eating dinner at their hosts’ home, it is not considered their home for the purpose of candle-lighting, so they cannot fulfill their obligation to light Ĥanuka candles there. When possible, it is best if one member of the family goes home to light at tzeit and fulfills the obligation for the whole family. Additionally, the remaining family members who do not return home should make sure to hear the berakhot and see the candles at their hosts’ home in order to participate in thanking God for the miracle. If the family is far from home and no one is able to return home to light, they should wait to light with the berakhot until they get home. If they wish to eat before then, they should agree to remind one another of the need to light when they return home.[15]

However, if the family is planning to both eat and sleep at their hosts’ home, then it is considered their temporary home and they can fulfill their obligation through the hosts’ lighting. They should make sure to buy a share in the candles by paying their hosts the value of at least a pruta (a token amount of money) toward the cost. Alternatively, the host can give them a share in the candles as a gift, which the guests can acquire by lifting the candles.

According to Ashkenazic custom, in order to fulfill the mitzva in the manner of mehadrin min ha-mehadrin, every family member should light. Thus, even when they are guests in their hosts’ home, each guest should light his own candles with the berakhot.

If the hosts have given their guests a separate residence for their visit, according to all customs the guests should light Ĥanuka candles there with the berakhot. They should try to light where passersby will be able to see the candles, in order to publicize the miracle more effectively.[16]

[15]. See mb 677:12 and bhl s.v. “bamakom.” However, Kinyan Torah 5:72 maintains that visiting family members may not eat at their hosts’ home before lighting candles. Therefore, if they want to eat there, they should fulfill their obligation through the host’s candle-lighting even if they will not be sleeping there (Piskei Teshuvot ch. 677 n. 29). According to R. Mordechai Eliyahu, if they leave home before plag ha-minĥa and will be returning home after the streets have emptied out, they may fulfill their obligation through the host’s lighting (Mikra’ei Kodesh [Harari] 9:21). However, according to most poskim, if they will not be sleeping at their hosts’ home, it is not considered their home for the purpose of candle-lighting. This is why I wrote in the main text that they should make a point of reminding one another to light when they get home, and then make sure to do so. If they do this, they may eat, as explained in Peninei Halakha: Prayer 25:9 regarding Keri’at Shema and Ma’ariv.

Another suggestion is for the visiting family members to ask a neighbor to light for them in their home. According to most Aĥaronim, the neighbor should light without the berakhot, because the family members are not present. Some maintain that it is best that the neighbor light for them at the proper time (Ner Ish U-veito 8:1), while others maintain that it is best for them to light for themselves with the berakhot when they return home (Shevet Ha-Levi 4:66).

[16]. When sleeping over, guests need to pay at least the value of a pruta toward the cost of the candles or acquire a share in them by lifting them, as explained in mb 677:3 and sht ad loc. 9. However, according to opinion of Ginat Veradim, if the guests are dependent on their hosts during their visit, they do not need to pay toward the cost of the candles. Others disagree, apparently including mb 677:4. Some maintain that even a married person visiting his parents must acquire a share in the candles. This is implied by Pri Ĥadash. Therefore I wrote in the main text that, as a rule, guests should acquire a share in the candles.

Mikra’ei Kodesh (Harari) 9:17 states in the name of R. Mordechai Eliyahu that if the guests are provided with a separate residence, according to Sephardic custom they must light there with the berakhot. It is proper for Ashkenazim as well to light in the separate apartment in such a case. Even though Rema 677:1 states that it is preferable to light where one eats, nevertheless the accepted ruling is that if a residence has been set aside for them, it is preferable for them to light there, just as it is preferable to light in a dormitory room or hotel room (sections 13-14 below; this is the law regarding Shabbat candles as well). The preference for lighting where one sleeps is even stronger if lighting there will allow one to publicize the miracle more effectively.

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