11. A Married Person Who Is Away from Home

https://ph.yhb.org.il/en/05-13-11/

If a married man goes alone on Ĥanuka to visit friends or family while his wife remains at home, his wife must light the candles, and this exempts him from lighting. Nevertheless, even though he fulfills his obligation to light, some maintain that he does not fulfill his obligation to publicize the miracle and to see the candles. Therefore, he should hear the berakhot and see the candles in his hosts’ home or in the synagogue in order to participate in thanking God for the miracle (as explained above, ch 12 n. 6).

If the married guest wishes to light candles himself, according to Ashkenazic custom he may do so with the berakhot, but he should try to light before his wife lights at home. According to Sephardic custom, he should not light.[18]

If he is staying in a hotel or in an empty apartment, even if his wife is lighting candles at home, he should light where he is. According to Ashkenazic custom, he should recite the berakhot; according to Sephardic custom, if he is in Israel he should not recite the berakhot, while if he is abroad he should recite them.[19]

A married soldier on reserve duty does not need to light candles, as his wife is lighting on behalf of both of them at home. He should hear the berakhot from a different soldier who is lighting. If no one on the base is lighting, he should light in the mess hall with the berakhot. Even if he follows Sephardic custom, in this case it is a mitzva to light candles for the rest of the unmarried soldiers. If everyone at the base is observant, married, and has someone lighting at home on his behalf, the above does not apply. Nevertheless, in such a case, if there are ten people present, they should light candles at the base’s synagogue with the berakhot.

The law that a married man fulfills his obligation through his wife’s lighting applies as long as she remains at home. However, if she is a guest elsewhere (for example, in her parents’ home), her husband is once again obligated to light. In such a case, according to all customs he must light where he is with the berakhot.

Similarly, if a woman is away and her husband is lighting at home, she fulfills her obligation through his lighting. She should try to be present when her hosts light candles at their home. If she is alone in a hotel, she should light candles herself. According to Ashkenazic custom, she should recite the berakhot; according to Sephardic custom, she should not.


[18]. We have seen that according to Ashkenazic custom, if a woman wants to light her own candles in addition to those of her husband, she may do so with the berakhot, as explained in mb 675:9 and above, ch. 12 n. 2. However, some maintain that this is only on condition that both spouses are home; then, according to the Ashkenazic interpretation of mehadrin min ha-mehadrin, every member of the household may light his own candles with the berakhot. In contrast, if the husband is not home and he is fulfilling his obligation through his wife’s lighting, he cannot fulfill the custom of mehadrin min ha-mehadrin by lighting on his own at a different location. (Mishbetzot Zahav 677:1 makes a similar point, and it is also implied in Responsa Maharshal §85.) Alternatively, Eliya Rabba and Shlah suggest that a guest can light but should not recite his own berakhot. Rather, he should hear the berakhot from his host and respond “Amen.” Afterward, relying on these berakhot, he should light his own candles. However, Rema and most Ashkenazic poskim maintain that the guest may light with the berakhot even though his wife is lighting for him at home. Several Aĥaronim write that he should try to light before his wife does. All of this is cited in mb 677:16. According to Sephardic custom, the guest’s obligation is fulfilled, his intentions notwithstanding, through his wife’s lighting. He may not recite the berakhot, and furthermore, there is no reason for him to light at all, as the Sephardic custom maintains that the mitzva is not beautified when all family members light (Birkei Yosef §677 and Kaf Ha-ĥayim 677:25). In contrast, if his wife is also away from home, the connection to their home is broken, and he must light candles himself; even if his wife is lighting elsewhere, he does not fulfill his obligation through her lighting. If the husband is in a different country, according to Kinyan Torah 4:82 and Mishneh Halakhot 6:119, he still fulfills his obligation through his wife’s lighting at home. In contrast, Minĥat Yitzĥak 7:46 rules that he does not fulfill his obligation through his wife’s lighting in such a case. This seems to be the halakha in practice. Therefore, according to Ashkenazic custom, if one is a guest in a different country, even if his hosts are lighting candles, he should light on his own with the berakhot. According to Sephardic custom, he should buy a share of the candles from his host by paying him the value of a pruta; if he is alone, he should light with the berakhot.

[19]. According to Mordechai, Orĥot Ĥayim, and R. Yitzĥak Aboab as cited in sa 673:3, if a Jew is in a place where no candles are being lit, he must light with the berakhot. This is because there are two aspects to the obligation of lighting Ĥanuka candles: the personal obligation to light and the obligation that candles be lit in one’s location. If no one is lighting candles in one’s location, then even though his personal obligation has been fulfilled through his wife’s lighting, the obligation on his location requires him to light with the berakhot. However, according to Sephardic custom he should not recite the berakhot. This is because some maintain that one fulfills his obligation completely with his wife’s lighting, and we refrain from reciting berakhot in cases of uncertainty (Kaf Ha-ĥayim 677:23). In contrast, according to Ashkenazic custom he certainly must light with the berakhot. This is because even when one’s host is lighting, many light on their own with the berakhot, as described in the previous note. Here the case for doing so is even stronger, since some maintain that he is obligated to light.

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