16. Fields and Vehicles

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The poskim disagree about whether the obligation to light Ĥanuka candles is limited to the home. Some argue that the Sages ordained that only one who has a home must light candles. Therefore, one who lives on the street cannot fulfill the mitzva. Similarly, one who is hiking or camping and intends to sleep in a field, or a soldier who is living in a tent that is too small to qualify as a house (about two square meters), cannot fulfill the mitzva. Others maintain that even one who does not have a home must light candles wherever he is.

Since there is uncertainty in these cases, one who does not have a home should light without the berakhot. For example, one who is hiking or camping on Ĥanuka and sleeps in a field or by the road should light candles without the berakhot. Similarly, a soldier sleeping in a trench or a small tent should light without the berakhot. However, if a hiker or soldier is sleeping in a large tent, he should light with the berakhot at the tent’s entrance, as the tent is considered a home.

One who is traveling through the night on a train, a plane, or a ship with cabins should light with the berakhot. Even though he is in transit, the inside of the train, plane, or ship is considered a home for the purpose of lighting Ĥanuka candles. However, sometimes safety considerations do not allow for lighting candles. If those in charge allow one passenger to light one candle for everyone, all the passengers have fulfilled their obligation.[25]


[25]. According to Responsa Maharsham 4:146, the obligation depends upon having a home. This is also the position of Mikra’ei Kodesh (Frank) §18. In contrast, Responsa Beit She’arim §362 states that the mitzva does not depend upon having a home. Tzitz Eliezer 15:29 and Az Nidberu 7:63 rule this way as well. Therefore, a soldier who is in a trench or a small tent should light without the berakhot (Shabbat U-mo’ed Be-Tzahal, pp. 332-333). This also applies to one who is sleeping in the streets or fields. The status of one who is sleeping on a train is based on Maharsham loc. cit., as well as ahs 677:5. We already learned above in section 11 that according to Sephardic custom, if one’s spouse is lighting for him at home or if one is dependent on his parents, he must light without the berakhot. According to Ashkenazic custom, one may light with the berakhot.

If lighting even one candle in an airplane is dangerous, it is proper for the airline to light electric candles (without the berakhot) to publicize the miracle. However, the passengers do not fulfill their obligation through this lighting.

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