13 – When and Where to Light Ĥanuka Candles

01. Where to Light

The Sages state: “Ĥanuka candles should be placed at the doorway, outside the home. One who lives on an upper floor places them in the window facing the street. In times of danger, it is sufficient to place them on the table” (Shabbat 21b).

In the past, most people lived in single-story homes. A doorway led either to the street or to an enclosed courtyard with an exit to the street. The Sages ordained that people should light at the exit to the street, in order to publicize the miracle of Ĥanuka. They added that the candles should be lit to the left of the entranceway. This way, people passing through are surrounded by mitzvot, with the mezuza on the right and the candles on the left (Shabbat 22a).

The Sages further stated that ideally the menora should be placed no lower than three tefaĥim from the ground and no higher than ten tefaĥim from the ground (between 9 and 30 inches). The reason for this is that if it is placed higher than ten tefaĥim, people who see it would think it is meant to illuminate the entrance to the home, since when people used to light candles to illuminate their homes, they would place them in their entranceways at a height of above ten tefaĥim. However, if it is placed lower than three tefaĥim, which is very close to the ground, people would think that the candles were placed there only temporarily, and would soon be moved to an area that needs to be illuminated. Only when the menora is placed at a height between three and ten tefaĥim is it clear to all that it was lit to fulfill the mitzva, and in this way the miracle is publicized. In any case, be-di’avad, if one lights Ĥanuka candles lower than three tefaĥim or higher than ten tefaĥim, he has fulfilled his obligation. However, if one lights candles at the entrance to his home and places them higher than twenty amot (about 30 feet), he has not fulfilled his obligation. In such a case, the candles are so high that people are not likely to see them, as people do not normally look at things that are so high (Shabbat 21b; sa 671:6).

Some people lived on upper floors and exited through the residence on the ground floor. They did not have their own doorway to the street, and had they lit at the entrance to the ground-floor residence, no one would realize that the candles were theirs. Therefore, the Sages instructed them to light in their upper-floor home, in a window facing the street.

In times of danger, when Jews feared harassment from non-Jews, the Sages stated that one should light Ĥanuka candles on a table inside one’s home. The miracle would be publicized only to the individual and the members of his household.

02. Private Homes

The Sages’ enactment seems to indicate that in the past there was no concern that the wind would blow out the Ĥanuka candles that were lit at the entrance to the home. Homes were built close together, many cities and courtyards were enclosed by a wall, and there were no strong winds blowing between the homes. Therefore, evidently, it was possible to light candles outside entranceways and courtyards without worrying that the candles would blow out. Today, though, when one lights candles outside, the wind usually blows them out. The only way to protect the candles is to light them in a glass box, like an aquarium.

However, the Sages never required people to buy glass boxes in order to fulfill the mitzva of lighting Ĥanuka candles. Therefore, one who does not wish to buy a glass box may light the candles inside his home. If he lights in a window facing the street, he beautifies the mitzva of publicizing the miracle to the same degree as one who lights in the entranceway, though he does not further beautify the mitzva by lighting on the left side of the entranceway and thus surrounding himself with mitzvot (the mezuza on the right and the candles on the left). Those who wish to beautify the mitzva to the greatest extent should buy a glass box and light outside the entranceway of the house on the left side. If several family members are lighting, as is the Ashkenazic custom (above, 12:3-4), they should make sure that every menora appears distinct, so that it is clear how many candles are lit on each day of Ĥanuka. Another possibility is for the other household members to light inside the home, at the window.[1]

In the past, many homes had walled courtyards, and people would exit to the street through a gate in the wall. In such a case, the courtyard was considered an extension of the home and the correct place to light was in the entranceway of the courtyard. In contrast, today’s front yards are not walled, and therefore the correct place to light is at the entranceway to the home itself.[2]

In some homes, the entranceway is not clearly visible to many people on the street, while lighting in the window would be more clearly visible from the street. Some maintain that, in such a case, it is still preferable to light in the entranceway, as doing so follows the Sages’ original enactment, so that one who enters the home will be surrounded by mitzvot. Others maintain that lighting in the window is preferable in this case, since the primary reason for the enactment is to publicize the miracle, and more people will see the candles if they are lit in the window. In practice, it seems that the mitzva is rendered more beautiful when one lights in the window. However, there is also an advantage to lighting in the entranceway.[3]


[1]. She’elat Yaavetz 1:149 states that it is preferable to light inside a glass box, and many Jerusalem residents have followed this practice. R. Zvi Pesaĥ Frank discusses this practice in Mikra’ei Kodesh §§16-17. However, even according to these authorities, there is no obligation to buy a glass box. ahs 671:24 states this explicitly, adding that lighting in a glass box makes the candles less visible (apparently glass at that time was not as transparent as it is today), and therefore it is customary to light inside, on the left side of the doorway.

We have already seen in Shabbat 21b that when it was dangerous to light outside, people lit on a table inside. However, even when the danger subsided, people continued lighting inside, to the left of the doorway. Thus states Rema 671:7. Or Zaru’a expresses surprise that once the danger had passed people did not go back to lighting outside. Itur explains that once people began lighting inside, the custom remained even after the danger had passed. Some continue this practice to the present time (Minĥat Yitzĥak 6:66; Yemei Ha-Ĥanuka 3:2; Piskei Teshuvot 671 n. 11). See also Torat Ha-mo’adim 3:4 which states that this is the custom of most Sephardic communities. Nevertheless, the most straightforward understanding of the Gemara and the Rishonim is that it is preferable to light outside the doorway of the home, or in a window facing the street. Both these options are supported by the Gemara in Shabbat 21b, and they both serve to publicize the miracle more effectively.

[2]. The Rishonim disagree where one should light if he lives in a house with a front yard. According to Rashi, Ran, and others, he should light at the entranceway of the house. According to Tosafot, Rashba, and others, he should light at the entranceway of the yard. sa 671:5 rules in accordance with Tosafot without even mentioning Rashi’s position, to the surprise of ahs 671:20. (This topic is more complex than it seems; see Berur Halakha on Shabbat 21b and Torat Ha-mo’adim 3:2.) The accepted ruling in this case follows Tosafot’s position, as mb and bhl state. However, in practice, nowadays one should almost never light at the entranceway of the yard. There are a number of reasons for this: a) Today’s yards are usually not enclosed by a fence or gate. b) Some maintain that if an entranceway does not require a mezuza (such as if it does not have a lintel), one should not light there. (This is implied by Rabbeinu Yeruĥam, as cited in the end of Darkhei Moshe §671). c) Ĥazon Ish maintains that since today’s yards do not function as extensions of the home (as they are not used for laundering, cooking, and similar activities), one who lights Ĥanuka candles in the entranceway of such a courtyard has not fulfilled his obligation to light in his home. (See Az Nidberu 5:39.)

Nevertheless, some contemporary poskim rule that one should light candles at the entranceway of one’s yard. In any case, since in practice everyone agrees that lighting in the entranceway of the house fulfills the obligation, there is no reason to court uncertainty by lighting at the entrance of the yard.

The Sages state that if one’s home has two entrances on different sides, he should light at both entrances, so that household members are not suspected of neglecting the mitzva (Shabbat 23a; sa 671:8). However, as we saw in the previous note, nowadays many people light inside. Therefore, it is not necessary to light at both entrances, because there is no concern that neglecting to do so will arouse suspicion. A number of Rishonim write this, as do many Aĥaronim including Rema 671:8.

[3]. If the entranceway of the home is on the side and not so visible from the street, it would seem preferable to light in a window facing the street because the rules concerning where to light revolve around the fundamental value of publicizing the miracle (sht 671:30; Igrot Moshe, oĥ 4:125). Some maintain that lighting to the left of the doorway is still the best option, as being surrounded by mitzvot has kabbalistic significance. In my humble opinion, publicizing the miracle takes precedence. Even if the window facing the street is over ten tefaĥim high, it is still preferable to light there in order to publicize the miracle (see n. 5 below).

03. Apartment Buildings

Nowadays, many people live in apartment buildings. The best place for them to light is in a window facing the street or on a porch facing the street, as this is the most effective way of publicizing the miracle. Those who light in the window must make sure that both household members and passersby can see the candles. Therefore, one should not use a menora that has a back that blocks the view of the candles from either side.[4]

Even when the window facing the street is higher than ten tefaĥim (c. 30 inches), one should still light there, because it is more important to publicize the miracle to passersby than to be meticulous about lighting the candles lower than ten tefaĥim.[5]

Some maintain that it is better to light in the hallway right outside the apartment door, so that one who enters the home will be surrounded by mitzvot – the mezuza on the right and the Ĥanuka candles on the left. Although one who chooses to light this way certainly fulfills his obligation, it is nevertheless better to light in the window facing the street, to publicize the miracle.[6]

Even if the apartment is on an upper floor and the window is higher than twenty amot (c. 30 feet), as long as passersby can see the candles through the window it would seem that it is preferable to light there in order to publicize the miracle. However, if one wishes, he may light in the hallway right outside the apartment door, as this publicizes the miracle somewhat as well. Even if he lights the candles inside his home, he has fulfilled his obligation.[7]


[4]. If the only menora in one’s possession has a back that blocks the candles from view on either side, one should place it perpendicular to the window, so that it will be visible from one side of the house and one side of the street.

[5]. R. Yosef Karo in sa 676:1 rules that it is a mitzva to place the candles lower than ten tefaĥim. However in his Beit Yosef, he acknowledges that according to Rif and Rambam this is not a mitzva. Nevertheless, according to Rabbeinu Ĥananel, Rosh, Ran, and most Rishonim it is indeed a mitzva (following the Gemara’s conclusion in Shabbat 21b). In any case, it is clear that be-di’avad, one who lights the candles higher than ten tefaĥim has fulfilled his obligation. ma 671:5 states that even if the window is higher than ten tefaĥim, he should still light there. Similarly, sht 671:30 points out that the Gemara explicitly emphasizes the importance of publicizing the miracle. As the Sages stated, the mitzva of lighting Ĥanuka candles applies “until the Tarmodians have departed” (see section 6 below). This is why they enacted that one must light the candles outside the entranceway of the home.

[6]. Contemporary halakhic works contain lengthy discussions about the best way to light in apartment buildings. There are three primary positions, which I will briefly summarize here: a) One should light at the entrance to the building, as practiced by several contemporary authorities. Others disagree, maintaining that one who lights there has not fulfilled his obligation because they view this case as comparable to lighting in the entrance to an alleyway (mavoi), rather than the entrance to a courtyard (based on Ĥazon Ish). Furthermore, according to Rashi, even if this is considered the entrance to a courtyard, it may be that one does not fulfill his obligation by lighting there (see n. 2 above). b) One should light outside the door that opens to the hallway, so that people walking there will see the candles. Some light inside the doorway on the left side, as this has been a common practice for many generations (as mentioned in n. 1 above), in order to be surrounded by mitzvot. c) Some maintain that it is preferable to light in the window, as this publicizes the miracle most effectively. This accords with the simple meaning of the Sages’ statement: “One who lives on an upper floor places [the menora] in the window facing the street” (Shabbat 21b).

In practice, one should not follow the first option, since some maintain that one cannot fulfill the obligation this way. All agree that one can fulfill his obligation by following the second or third option. It is best to light in the window, since publicizing the miracle is more important than beautifying the mitzva by lighting to the left of the doorway. This is the position of many authorities, including ma, sht 671:30, and Igrot Moshe, oĥ 4:125. For those who follow Ashkenazic custom – that multiple family members light candles – it is preferable for one of them to light to the left of the doorway, thus beautifying the mitzva according to all the opinions.

[7]. If the window is higher than twenty amot (c. 30 feet) from the street, it would seem at first glance that there is no reason to light in the window. Since it is so high that people are not likely to see it, the miracle is not publicized, and thus one does not fulfill the obligation by lighting there. Rather, one should light to the left of the doorway. Several contemporary poskim rule this way. Nevertheless, all agree that one who lights at the window fulfills his obligation, since the menora is less than twenty amot high from the perspective of those inside the apartment. Thus, if one knows that passersby on the street do indeed see the candles in the window, it would seem that it is preferable to light there. This is implied by sht 671:42 and stated explicitly by Shevet Ha-Levi 4:65. There are a few reasons for this preference: a) According to the opinion of R. Yoel cited in Tur, if the wall of the house starting from the ground reaches the candles, then one may light even above twenty amot (meaning that one who lives in a ground-floor apartment may light the candles at the top of the wall above him). If so, there is value to publicizing the miracle according to his opinion. b) Pri Megadim (end of Mishbetzot Zahav 671:105) states that even when one lights above twenty amot, passersby still notice the candles to some extent. (Thus, if one is already fulfilling the mitzva by the fact that the candles are lower than twenty amot for the household members, there is some additional value to publicizing the miracle – albeit slightly – to the outside world.) c) Some add another rationale: that residents in the other tall apartment buildings facing one’s own building can indeed see the candles that one lights in the window.

Despite all this, when the window of one’s home is over twenty amot high, the opinion that gives preference to lighting in the hallway right outside the apartment door is more understandable. However, even if one lights inside the apartment he fulfills his obligation, as explained in n. 1.

04. The Proper Time and Duration of Lighting

The Sages ordained that one must light the Ĥanuka candles when the miracle will be publicized most effectively. In the past, when there were no street lights, at nightfall the streets would fill with people returning home from their daily activities. Therefore, the Sages declared that the proper time to light the candles is “from sunset until the marketplace empties out” (Shabbat 21b).The Rishonim disagree whether “sunset” here refers to the beginning of sunset, meaning when the sun disappears from view, or to the end of sunset, meaning when the sunlight disappears from view as well and the stars become visible. On one hand, at the beginning of sunset the streets are more crowded. On the other hand, since there is still a relatively large amount of sunlight at that time, the candles are less visible. Therefore, it is better to wait until tzeit ha-kokhavim to light. Indeed, the widespread practice in Israel is to light at tzeit, which is about twenty minutes after shki’a in Israel.[8]

Another issue that arises, however, is that men are obligated to pray Ma’ariv, and many regularly do so immediately at tzeit. For these men, praying Ma’ariv takes precedence over lighting Ĥanuka candles, since the former is a more constant practice than the latter. Additionally, by praying Ma’ariv they also fulfill the Torah commandment to recite the Shema in the evening. After praying, they should return home quickly, in order to light as close as possible to tzeit. Those who usually pray Ma’ariv later should light candles at tzeit and pray at their usual time.[9]

Even though one fulfills one’s obligation as long as the Ĥanuka candles remain lit for half an hour, some say that nowadays, when people regularly walk through the streets well beyond tzeit, it is preferable to beautify the mitzva by lighting candles that will remain lit for two hours or more. They contend that this is a commendable practice because the more people that see the candles, the more the miracle will be publicized.[10]


[8]. The phrase used in Shabbat 21b to refer to sunset is mi-shetishka ha-ĥama. According to Behag, Rambam, and Maharam of Rothenburg, this means the beginning of shki’a (i.e., when the sun disappears below the horizon). Maharam explains that if we light when there is still sunlight visible, those who see the candles understand that they were lit in order to fulfill a mitzva, and the miracle is publicized. Ran and Rashba agree that the Gemara refers to the beginning of shki’a, but they follow the position of Rabbeinu Tam that it is referring to the “second sunset,” 58.5 minutes (the time it takes to walk three and a quarter mil) after sunset. According to Rabbeinu Tam, Rosh, Terumat Ha-deshen, Tur, and sa 672:1, as well as most Aĥaronim (mb ad loc. 1 and Kaf Ha-ĥayim ad loc. 2), the Gemara refers to the end of sunset, or tzeit ha-kokhavim. That time is debated as well. The Rishonim disagree how much time separates shki’a from tzeit. The Ge’onim maintain that the time between shki’a and tzeit is slightly longer than the time it takes to walk three quarters of a mil; according to Rabbeinu Tam, though, it is the time that it takes to walk four mil, which is 72 minutes. See sa 261:2 and the commentaries there, especially bhl. (Also see Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 1:2:1 and n. 1). In practice, the standard ruling here is in accordance with the Ge’onim.

The vast majority of Aĥaronim maintain that the best time to light Ĥanuka candles is at the end of shki’a, when the stars are visible – in other words, tzeit ha-kokhavim. This is the position of Baĥ, ma, Taz, Eliya Rabba, Ĥayei Adam, Ben Ish Ĥai, and others. (The Prushim community in Jerusalem follow the Vilna Gaon, who writes in Bi’ur Ha-Gra 672:1 that one should light at sunset.) See Peninei Halakha: Prayer ch. 25 n. 3, where I point out that many consider tzeit to be about twenty minutes after shki’a. (Regarding Keri’at Shema, which is a Torah obligation, I recommend waiting thirty minutes. However, since lighting Ĥanuka candles is a rabbinic obligation, one need wait only twenty minutes from sunset. Some maintain that tzeit is about fifteen minutes after sunset.) A comparison of the positions of the Rishonim shows that twenty minutes is an intermediate position. Rambam maintains that one should light at sunset, Ran and Rashba maintain that one should light about 58 minutes after sunset, and Rabbeinu Tam maintains that one should light about 72 minutes after sunset. Accordingly, the view that one should light at tzeit, which in Israel is about twenty minutes after sunset, is the intermediate position. (If the candles remain lit until 52 minutes after tzeit, one meets the requirements of all the different positions.)

[9]. According to those who maintain that one should light at tzeit, Ma’ariv takes precedence. According to mb 672:1 and bhl ad loc., if one prays Ma’ariv at tzeit, it is preferable to light the candles beforehand, in deference to the opinion that one should light at sunset. Furthermore, according to Rambam, one must light within half an hour after shki’a. If one waits to light until after praying Ma’ariv at tzeit, he will miss the opportunity to light at the proper time. Even those who maintain that one should light at tzeit agree that one may light a few minutes before then. Nevertheless, most Aĥaronim maintain that tzeit is the proper time to light, and thus praying Ma’ariv at tzeit takes precedence over lighting. They are not concerned about the opinion that one must light within half an hour after shki’a, since after Ma’ariv there are still people in the streets. Furthermore, as we saw in the previous note, the other opinion maintains that the ideal time to light is tzeit, not sunset (Ran, Rashba, Rabbeinu Tam, and others). We should add that many families sing Ĥanuka songs and give the children candy after lighting candles, in order to deepen their connection to the mitzva and the miracle of Ĥanuka. If their father were required to run to the synagogue immediately after lighting, it would diminish their enjoyment of the mitzva. If one always prays Ma’ariv late, there is no reason to change his practice on Ĥanuka. In fact, adhering to this practice will enable him to light precisely at tzeit (Yeshu’ot Yaakov 679:1).

[10]. The candles must be lit “from sunset until the marketplace empties out.” The Rishonim explain that this means about half an hour, and this is the ruling of sa 672:2. Otzar Ha-Ge’onim (Shabbat, Teshuvot §65) states that it means an hour or half an hour. Perhaps in different areas the Tarmodians would leave the market at different times.

05. Friday Evening and Saturday Night

As we have seen, the Sages ordained that one must light the Ĥanuka candles after sunset. If people were to light earlier, the sunlight would render the candles less visible. However, on Friday evening, obviously one may not light candles after sunset, since Shabbat begins at sunset, and on Shabbat one may not light a fire. In addition, one should not light immediately before sunset because of the mitzva of tosefet Shabbat, which dictates that we begin Shabbat a bit early in order to extend the sanctity of Shabbat into the mundane week. In practice, most Israeli communities accept Shabbat about twenty minutes before sunset, and, accordingly, this is the Shabbat candle-lighting time that appears on Israeli calendars. On Shabbat Ĥanuka, one must light the Ĥanuka candles before lighting the Shabbat candles.[11]

Although we light Ĥanuka candles before sunset on Friday, the primary time for publicizing the miracle is at night. Therefore, one must make sure that there is sufficient wax or oil for the candles to remain lit until half an hour after tzeit.

It is preferable to pray Minĥa with a minyan before lighting the Ĥanuka candles, because Minĥa relates to the outgoing day, whereas the candles are part of the upcoming day. However, one should not skip Minĥa with a minyan to this end (sa 679:1; mb ad loc. 2; Kaf Ha-ĥayim 671:79).

On Motza’ei Shabbat, one must first pray Ma’ariv and then light candles. Many people also make havdala before lighting, because havdala concludes Shabbat, whereas the candles belong to the upcoming day (Taz 681:1; ahs 681:2; Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 1, Hilkhot Ĥanuka 21 [Vayeshev]). Others light Ĥanuka candles before havdala, in order to light as soon as possible after tzeit. Additionally, one should delay havdala as much as possible in order to extend the sanctity of Shabbat to some extent. Nevertheless, in order for lighting candles to be permissible before havdala, one must first recite either Ata Ĥonantanu during the Amida of Ma’ariv or the phrase “barukh ha-mavdil bein kodesh le-ĥol” (“blessed is the One Who distinguishes between the sacred and the mundane”) (sa and Rema 681:1). In practice, both customs are halakhically valid (bhl ad loc.), and each person may choose his own custom.


[11]. The custom in Jerusalem is normally to light Shabbat candles forty minutes before sunset. However, on Shabbat Ĥanuka, many Jerusalemites light only twenty minutes before sunset, so that they can light Ĥanuka candles closer to sunset (Lu’aĥ Eretz Yisrael). Others insist on lighting Shabbat candles at their regular time and simply light the Ĥanuka candles beforehand (see Igrot Moshe, oĥ 4:62).

06. Delaying Candle-Lighting When Necessary

As we have seen, in the time of the Sages people generally returned home at nightfall. Therefore, the Sages stated that the mitzva to light Ĥanuka candles extends “from sunset until the marketplace empties out.” The expression “until the marketplace empties out” refers to the time when the poor people who would collect leftover food from the market stalls would return to their homes (Shabbat 21b). This was about half an hour after lighting time (Rif).

Nowadays, when there is electric lighting and most people continue working for several hours after dark, the best time to light is still the time that the Sages ordained – from tzeit until half an hour afterward. However, if one finds it difficult to return home by tzeit, he may light later. One should try to return home as soon as possible, in order to light close to the ideal time ordained by the Sages. Specifically, one should make an effort not to light later than 9 pm. Until then, it is standard for people to come home from work, so this period of the evening is still considered “until the marketplace empties out” (see n. 13 below). One should make sure not to eat a meal, meaning a keveitza of bread or mezonot, until after lighting (mb 672:10 and 431:6; above 12:13).

In some synagogues, a regular Torah class takes place following Ma’ariv, and if people leave to light candles after Ma’ariv, the class will be canceled. In such a case, it is preferable to hold the class as usual, and the attendees should light Ĥanuka candles afterward, because the mitzva of Torah study takes precedence over the value of lighting candles at the ideal time (see n. 13).

07. Waiting for a Family Member

In many families, the question arises as to the appropriate procedure when one’s spouse cannot make it home from work by tzeit. Is it better to light at tzeit or to wait for his or her return?

Technically, it is not necessary for both spouses to be present for candle-lighting. When either one of them lights candles in their home, they have both fulfilled their obligation. Therefore, it would seem preferable for one to light at tzeit. Nevertheless, in practice it is preferable in most cases to wait for the spouse to return home. In general, there are three primary considerations that would lead us to delay candle-lighting until both spouses are home.

First, if the husband will not hear the berakhot of candle-lighting at the synagogue or elsewhere, although he will have fulfilled the obligation to light through his wife’s lighting, some maintain that as long as he has not heard the berakha of She-asa Nisim, he has not fulfilled his duty to thank God. Therefore, if there is nowhere else for him to hear the berakhot, it is preferable to wait for him. (The same is true if the wife is not home at tzeit, and the husband is waiting.)

Second, the husband or wife may feel insulted or upset if the candles were lit without them. Third, there may be a concern that the connection of the absent spouse to the mitzva will be weakened. This consideration is pertinent when one spouse regularly comes home late from work. If one will not be present for candle-lighting on all or most of the days of the holiday, one’s connection to the mitzva is liable to be weakened.

This third consideration is particularly significant for families that follow the Sephardic custom (above, 12:3), according to which only one member of each household lights. When there is concern that if the parents do not wait for their children to return home for lighting, the children’s connection to the mitzva may weaken, the parents should wait for them.

Thus, the only case in which it is preferable to light the candles at tzeit is if the delayed husband or wife will be able to hear the berakhot elsewhere and if this delay is an isolated occurrence and will therefore not cause marital discord or weaken the absent spouse’s bond to the mitzva. In all other cases, it is better to wait for both spouses – and in the case of Sephardim, for all members of the household – to be home. However, even then, candle-lighting should not be delayed past 9 pm. Members of the household should not eat a proper meal from half an hour before tzeit until after they have fulfilled the mitzva of candle-lighting (as explained above, 12:10).[12]


[12]. See n. 13. The baseline halakha is explained in Baĥ 675:2 and 677:3, as well as Yeĥaveh Da’at 3:51. However, there are three considerations that should be taken into account: a) If the household member arriving late will not hear the berakhot over the candles, it is questionable whether he has fulfilled his obligation of thanking God. According to Rashi, Rambam, Mordechai, and others, in order to fulfill his obligation completely he must recite the berakha of She-asa Nisim over candles that he sees in the street. However, in practice, he should not make this berakha, because of the principle that one does not recite a berakha if it is uncertain whether it is needed (as explained above, ch. 12 n. 4). It would seem that it is more important to fulfill the obligation along with the berakhot, according to all opinions, rather than to light on time, at tzeit. b) If not waiting would adversely affect marital harmony, it is better to wait until the husband or wife returns home. c) Publicizing the miracle is a fundamental part of the mitzva, and first and foremost one must publicize the mitzva for one’s family members. In my humble opinion, it is preferable to go above and beyond in publicizing the miracle for the family, rather than in lighting at tzeit. It is well known that many great Ĥasidic rabbis light late in order to inculcate the value of this mitzva in people’s hearts. We can learn from them that it is proper to delay candle-lighting for an educational reason. Therefore, I wrote in the main text that if the delay is a one-time event, the wife may light on time in the absence of her husband or vice versa. However, if it is a regular occurrence, she should wait to light with her husband. Otherwise, his connection to the mitzva will likely be weakened. For those who follow Ashkenazic custom (see 12:4), the first consideration can be addressed if the wife lights on time, and her husband has in mind not to fulfill his obligation through her lighting. Later, when he gets home, he can light with the berakhot. (The same applies if the wife is not home at tzeit, and the husband is waiting.) However, if this will lead to hurt feelings, or if the family’s relationship to the mitzva will suffer, it is better that they all light together when the spouse arrives.

08. Lighting Before Shki’a or Late at Night in Pressing Circumstances

One who was unable to light Ĥanuka candles by 9 pm may light all night until dawn. However, he should recite the berakhot only if it is very likely that someone on the street will see his candles, or if someone at home, such as his wife or children, will see them. If, however, his family members have gone to sleep and would be upset if he were to wake them, and if it is unlikely that anyone will see his candles from the street, he should light without berakhot.[13]

If one did not light all night, he has lost out on the mitzva of that day. Nevertheless, the next day he should light just like anyone else (Rema 672:2).

Even though, as we have seen, on Friday we light the Ĥanuka candles before shki’a, on a regular weekday one should not light before shki’a. Only when there is no alternative may one light candles as early as plag ha-minĥa. For example, if one needs to leave home before shki’a, there is no one at home who can light on his behalf, and he will return very late at night when no one will be around to see the candles, since he has no alternative, he may light the candles as early as plag ha-minĥa (about forty minutes in Israel) before sunset. According to most poskim, he should even recite the berakhot when he lights. If one needs to leave home even earlier, in pressing circumstances he may light as early as an hour before shki’a, but he should light without the berakhot in such a case.[14]


[13]. Shabbat 21b states that the time for candle-lighting is “until the marketplace empties out.” The Rishonim explain that this is half an hour after candle-lighting time. They disagree about whether one may light later than this. mt, Laws of Ĥanuka 4:5 states that there is no mitzva to light later (and Behag and others rule likewise). Others maintain that the Gemara is describing the ideal time; be-di’avad, however, one may light all night, even though one publicizes the miracle less when lighting late at night (Rashba, Rabbeinu Yeruĥam, and others). Some suggest that the dispute hinges on a debate between the two explanations given in the Gemara. Since the mitzva is rabbinic, the halakha follows the lenient opinion. Thus, be-di’avad, one may light all night (Raavya in the name of Rabbeinu Tam; this seems to be the opinion of Rosh as well; sa 672:2). Many Rishonim maintain that even the stringent opinion would agree that when people light inside and the miracle is publicized for the family members whenever the lighting takes place, one may light all night long, even after the marketplace has emptied out. This is the opinion of Tosafot, Rashba, Ran, Rosh, Sefer Ha-teruma, and many others. Rema 672:2 agrees as well. Nevertheless, Rema adds that it is preferable to light at the time the Sages instituted. In a time of need, one may light later in accordance with the vast majority of poskim, as I wrote in the previous section and in n. 12.

sa implies that one who lights late may recite the berakhot all night. This is surprising, as it seemingly would have been proper to take into consideration Rambam’s position that one may not light late, and rule that one should not recite the berakhot due to uncertainty. However, there are several uncertainties at play in this case: a) perhaps the halakha follows the second explanation in the Gemara, and even le-khatĥila one may light all night; b) perhaps even according to the first explanation, be-di’avad the berakhot may be recited all night; c) perhaps when lighting inside, it is acceptable to light all night. Additionally, the custom in the past was to recite the berakhot even when lighting late. Indeed, according to Pri Ĥadash, Ĥemed Moshe, and others, be-di’avad, even if no one else will see the candles, one recites the berakhot when lighting. This is because they maintain that, be-di’avad, one may light all night. They claim further that lighting late at night is similar to the case of a person who lives in an isolated area, in which all agree that he may light with the berakhot at the beginning of the night, because that is the time the Sages ordained for lighting. This is the view of Igrot Moshe, oĥ 4:105:7 (sht 672:17 states that one does not need to object if people rely on this leniency). However, in practice many Aĥaronim maintain that once the marketplace has emptied out, one may make the berakhot only if the miracle will actually be publicized to others. ma 672:6 rules accordingly, as does mb ad loc. 11. The plural phrase “members of the household” implies that there must be at least two additional people there (Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 1, Hilkhot Ĥanuka 7 [Vayeshev]). However, according to ahs 672:7, as long as there is one additional person, even a child who only partially understands, one may recite the berakhot. This is what I wrote in the main text, as it is the intermediate position.

An additional strong rationale for permitting lighting late appears in the newer edition of Ritva, which states that the law follows local norms. If so, now that we have electric lights, the appropriate time to light extends later than it once did. This can be explained in one of two ways. The first approach is that the time when “the marketplace empties out” refers to when people return home latest from work. This seems to be the opinion of Shiltei Giborim. Nowadays, this is about 9 pm. The second approach is that everything depends upon publicizing the miracle, so if people are still out on the streets late at night, the marketplace has not yet emptied out, and one may still light candles with the berakhot. This seems to be the opinion of Maharshal (Responsa Maharshal §85), who writes that one may publicize the miracle until midnight. Sefat Emet states this as well. In practice, as I wrote at the end of section 7, in a time of need one may delay the lighting until 9 pm, but no later. Since that is when people who work late are coming home, this approach fits best with the idea of the marketplace emptying out. Furthermore, since people sometimes delay dinner until then, there is no great concern that they will forget to light. It should be emphasized that for purpose of making a living, which is considered a great need, it is proper to delay lighting, but for other purposes it is not. In my humble opinion, since people are still returning from work at that time, one may light candles with the berakhot then, even if no one else will see the candles. In a time of need, if one wants to delay lighting later than 9 pm but while there are still people in the street next to his home, he has an opinion to rely upon, but, in my opinion, this should not be done except in pressing circumstances.

[14]. According to Rambam, one may not light candles before shki’a. Orĥot Ĥayim maintains that in pressing circumstances one may light as early as plag ha-minĥa. This position is cited in sa 672:1. Most Aĥaronim, including mb ad loc. 3, permit reciting the berakhot as well. Others, including Torat Ha-mo’adim 4:2, argue that one should not recite the berakhot. Mikra’ei Kodesh (Harari): Hilkhot Ĥanuka 4:4-5 states in the name of R. Mordechai Eliyahu that one should recite the berakhot.

The poskim disagree how to calculate plag ha-minĥa. Some calculate it based on the understanding that the day ends at shki’a (Vilna Gaon), while others calculate it based on the understanding that the day ends at tzeit (Terumat Ha-deshen); both positions are cited in mb 233:4. mb 672:3 states that for the purpose of calculating plag ha-minĥa, the day ends at tzeit. (See Peninei Halakha: Prayer ch. 24 n. 9 and ch. 25 n. 3; see also the end of Igrot Moshe oĥ 4:62, which explains that the two “halves” of the day are not equal in duration.) Since at Ĥanuka time in Israel the length of a seasonal hour is about 51 minutes, and plag haminĥa is thus 63 minutes before shki’a, I wrote in the main text that in pressing circumstances one may light forty minutes before shki’a. If one must leave home earlier than this, he may light up to 63 minutes before shki’a, following the position that we calculate plag ha-minĥa based on shki’a. However, he should not recite the berakhot, because of a double uncertainty: perhaps the law follows Rambam and one may not light before shki’a at all; and perhaps the law follows Terumat Hadeshen, and we calculate plag haminĥa based on tzeit rather than shki’a.

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.

10. Guests on Shabbat Ĥanuka

When a family goes away for Shabbat, the hosts’ home is considered their home on that Shabbat. Thus, the guests should buy a share in the host’s candles for a pruta, which allows them to fulfill their obligation through the host’s lighting. According to the Ashkenazic custom, it is still preferable for the guests to light their own candles with the berakhot. If the family is staying in a separate residence, according to all customs it is proper for them to light there with the berakhot.

On Saturday night, if the guests plan to return home quickly, it is best for them to wait to light candles at home. If they plan to get home so late that people will no longer be walking on the streets, it is preferable that they fulfill the mitzva the same way they did on Friday, either through their host’s lighting or in the separate residence. If they are not returning home immediately but will still arrive home before it is too late, they may choose where to light. From the perspective of the previous day, their place is in their hosts’ home; but from the perspective of the upcoming day, their place is in their own home. Therefore, they may choose where they wish to light.[17]


[17]. If on Friday of Ĥanuka, a guest can light in his own home just before Shabbat begins, and then walk to his hosts’ home, he may light at his own home. However, he should make sure to light after plag ha-minĥa (at most forty minutes before shki’a; see n. 14 above). After Shabbat, Ĥovat Ha-dar ch. 1 n. 65 states that one should return home to light. In contrast, Halikhot Shlomo 14:19 states that if one is planning to remain at his hosts’ home for an additional half-hour after they light, it is preferable that he light there.

If a wedding takes place on Ĥanuka after shki’a, the bride and groom should each light in their previous homes before the wedding. If they get married before shki’a, some maintain that they should light in their new home after the wedding. Others maintain that if they will arrive at their new home late at night, or if they will be staying in a hotel for the night, they should light in the hall, which, after all, they have rented.

11. A Married Person Who Is Away from Home

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.

12. Unmarried People who Live Alone

As a rule, the laws of candle-lighting for independent, unmarried people are the same as those for a family unit (section 9 above). Therefore, if an unmarried person has his own home, regardless of whether it is owned or rented, he must light candles there. If he is visiting friends at candle-lighting time but will return home to sleep, he cannot fulfill his obligation at his hosts’ home. Rather, he must return home to light. (See sections 6-8 above for the proper times to light candles, le-khatĥila and be-di’avad.)

If an unmarried person will be staying for the night as well, his status depends on where he is sleeping. If he will be sleeping in the hosts’ home, he should pay the host the value of a pruta toward the cost of the candles (or the host may give him a share in the candles as a gift) and he can fulfill his obligation through the host’s lighting. According to Ashkenazic custom, it is better if he lights his own candles with the berakhot, thus fulfilling the custom of mehadrin min ha-mehadrin. If the unmarried guest was given a separate residence for sleeping, according to all customs he should light there with the berakhot.[20]


[20]. See Shabbat 23a; sa 677:1. According to Ashkenazic custom, every member of the household lights his own candles, in order to beautify the mitzva. In contrast, according to Sephardic custom (above 12:3), only one person lights in each household. According to Ginat Veradim (cited in Kaf Ha-ĥayim 677:3), as long as the guests are completely dependent on their hosts, there is no need to pay the value of a pruta toward the cost of the candles, because we can assume the hosts give them a share in the candles as a gift. However, according to many Aĥaronim, including mb 677:1, the guests should still contribute the value of a pruta or otherwise acquire a share in the candles. The only case in which they do not need to do so is if they are permanently dependent on the host, as is the case with live-in workers. Even if the guest is one of the homeowner’s children, and thus there is good reason to claim that he is considered a part of the family, since the guest is an independent adult, it is proper for him to pay toward the cost of the candles and meet the requirements of the more stringent position on the matter.

13. Yeshiva Students, Soldiers, and College Students

A yeshiva student who sleeps in his dormitory room and eats in a cafeteria must light in his room, because he resides there for an extended period and the room is set aside for him. If the dormitory room has a window facing the street, he should light in the window to publicize the miracle. If there is no window facing the street, he should light inside his room, preferably to the left of the doorway, so that the mezuza will be on the right and the Ĥanuka candles on the left.[21]

An uncertainty arises regarding Sephardic students. According to Sephardic custom, the way to beautify the mitzva is for the head of the household to light for the entire household. Furthermore, according to many poskim, the true home of a yeshiva student is his parents’ home, even though he lives at the yeshiva. His parents’ home is where he returns regularly, and where he goes when he is sick. Therefore, even when he is at the yeshiva, he fulfills his obligation to light through his father’s lighting at home.

On the other hand, some maintain that since the student lives in the yeshiva most of the year, he is considered an independent person with his own home, and thus he must light candles in the yeshiva with the berakhot. Following Sephardic custom, one student should light for himself and all his roommates. The roommates who do not light must either pay the value of a pruta toward the cost of the candles or acquire a share in them.[22]

The laws that apply to a yeshiva student also apply to soldiers and college students. According to the custom of all Ashkenazim and some Sephardim, a soldier or a college student should light in his room with the berakhot. The custom of most Sephardim is that such a person relies on his parents’ lighting. If no one else is lighting in the dorm room, he should light without a berakha. The same pertains to female students studying at seminaries or universities, who live in a dormitory or in a rented apartment. The custom of all Ashkenazim and some Sephardim is to light with the berakhot, and the custom of most Sephardim is to rely on their parents’ lighting. If no one else is lighting in the dormitory room, they should light without the berakhot.[23]


[21]. Yeshiva students must light on their own because they are independent. Even if we claim that they are considered dependent on their parents or on the yeshiva, according to the Ashkenazic version of the custom of mehadrin min ha-mehadrin, each individual must light independently in order to beautify the mitzva. The students fulfill their obligation by lighting in any place in the yeshiva, whether it is in their dormitory rooms or in the cafeteria, just as they would fulfill their obligation by lighting in any place in their homes (Halikhot Shlomo 14:8). The question is: where is it preferable for them to light? According to most poskim, it is preferable for them to light in their rooms, although Rema 677:1 states that in general it is preferable to light where one eats. Ĥazon Ish agrees that it is preferable to light in the cafeteria. Nevertheless, according to most poskim, it is preferable for them to light in their dormitory rooms. The cafeteria is a communal area like a restaurant, while the dormitory room is designated for personal use. Poskim who rule this way include Minĥat Yitzĥak 7:48, Shevet Ha-Levi 3:89, and Az Nidberu 5:38. This was also the custom at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav when I studied there. (Some of the students were stringent and would eat the main meal of each day of Ĥanuka in their dormitory rooms, such that all opinions would agree that this is the proper place to light) According to Igrot Moshe, oĥ 4:70:3, Halikhot Shlomo 14:8, and R. Mordechai Eliyahu, it is preferable to light in a window or on a porch facing the street. According to my teacher and master, R. Shaul Yisraeli, it is best to light in the hall to the left of the doorway, because the hall is comparable to a public area. In any case, even if one lights on a table in one’s dormitory room, one fulfills his obligation.

[22]. The Sephardic custom: The rationale of the position that a yeshiva student fulfills his obligation through his father’s lighting is explained in the main text. Since he has already fulfilled his obligation when his father lit, according to Sephardic custom he may not light candles with the berakhot at the yeshiva. This is similar to the law that we discussed in n. 18 regarding a married man whose wife is lighting for him at home. This is the opinion of R. Ovadia Yosef, R. Mordechai Eliyahu, R. Shaul Yisraeli, R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, and many others. Yeĥaveh Da’at 6:43 and Torat Ha-mo’adim 2:4 present two additional rationales for why Sephardic yeshiva students may not light independently. First, even if students are not considered dependent on their parents, the entire yeshiva is considered one family, all of whose members are dependent on the rosh yeshiva. Second, every student fulfills his obligation through the lighting that takes place in the beit midrash. Unlike the lighting that takes place in the synagogue (which does not fulfill one’s personal obligation), the beit midrash is considered the home of the students. This is the reason that students may eat and drink in the beit midrash throughout the year. Following this reasoning, there is no need for a yeshiva student to light in his dormitory room. Nevertheless, R. Eliyahu maintains that one student should light in each room without reciting the berakhot. If an Ashkenazic student is lighting there with the berakhot, his Sephardic roommates should contribute to the cost of the candles. There is also a debate about a student whose parents are abroad. R. Eliyahu ruled that in such a case, the student should light with the berakhot, because he is not considered dependent upon them, whereas Yeĥaveh Da’at and Halikhot Shlomo 14:12 state that he does not need to light (perhaps because he fulfills his obligation through the lighting in the beit midrash).

In contrast, R. Shalom Messas and R. Avraham Shapira maintain that even Sephardic students must light candles in the yeshiva. In each dormitory room, at least one person must light and recite the berakhot, while everyone else may contribute to the cost of the candles (see above, 12:3). This opinion is described in Hilkhot Ĥag Be-ĥag 4:4, and is cited in Yemei Hallel Ve-hoda’ah 36:1 in the name of R. Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. It fits with the simple meaning of the statement in Shabbat 21a that R. Zeira was obligated to light candles himself before he was married. According to this opinion, the candles lit in the beit midrash are not enough for a student to fulfill his obligation through them, because that lighting is similar to the lighting in the synagogue, which is not done to fulfill any obligation. One could argue that this issue should depend upon the attitude of the yeshiva. If the yeshiva sees itself as responsible for all of its students’ needs, then all the students are considered one family whose members fulfill their obligation through the lighting in the beit midrash. On the other hand, most yeshivas consider their students responsible for themselves, while the yeshiva simply helps them by providing room and board. In such a case, the students’ dorm rooms are considered their homes, and it is there that they must light. This is especially applicable when the beit midrash and the dormitory rooms are located in separate buildings. Then the students should certainly not rely on the lighting in the beit midrash. In my humble opinion, when young men and women are studying in institutes of higher education where the students are generally over the age of eighteen, the students are considered independent, and even according to Sephardic practice they must light themselves with the berakhot. The same applies to soldiers, as described in Shabbat U-mo’ed Be-Tzahal, p. 336. Nevertheless, it would seem that even according to this position, when a Sephardic student returns home he is not viewed as a guest, but rather as one who is completely dependent on his parents. Accordingly, he fulfills his obligation through his father’s lighting, and is not even required to contribute the value of a pruta to the cost of the candles, as explained in mb 677:1 and Kaf Ha-ĥayim 677:3. Students who live at home but stay overnight at their yeshiva on Ĥanuka are considered dependent on their parents, and according to Sephardic custom do not need to light in their dormitory room.

It is uncertain whether the student who lights the candles in the beit midrash needs to light again in his room. However, if he lights first in his room, he may certainly light in the beit midrash with the berakhot. In our yeshiva, we make a point of appointing a Sephardic student, who normally relies on the lighting of his parents or roommate, to light in the beit midrash, thus giving him an opportunity to recite the berakhot.

[23]. On one hand, unmarried women are more likely to be dependent on their parents than unmarried men are. On the other hand, young women who study in universities often support themselves, and thus are considered more independent than others. Therefore, they may be compared to yeshiva students. The more independent they are, the more reasonable it is to say that they must light in their apartment with the berakhot, even according to Sephardic custom.

14. Hotels

People staying in a hotel must light Ĥanuka candles. Let us briefly review what we explained in the previous sections. Whole families and independent unmarried people must light with the berakhot. If one’s spouse is lighting at home, or if one is dependent on one’s parents who are lighting at home, then according to Sephardic custom one should light without the berakhot, while according to Ashkenazic custom one should light with the berakhot.

It is best to light in one’s hotel room, as this room is set aside for personal use, as opposed to the dining room, which is for communal use. If the hotel room has a window facing the street, one should light there. Someone should remain in the room for at least half an hour after one lights, so the candles are not left unattended and a fire is not caused as a result. If, after half an hour, one wants to leave the room, one should put out any candles that are still lit. If the hotel management does not permit guests to light candles in their rooms, then since there is no alternative one should light in the dining room.[24]


[24]. The preference for lighting in one’s hotel room is recorded in sa 677:1. While Rema maintains that it is generally preferable to light where one eats, in this case the hotel room is much more of a personal space than the dining room, as explained above in n. 21. Nevertheless, some maintain that the dining room is the preferred option.

For those lighting in the dining room, it would seem that even for those who follow Sephardic custom, each family should light separately, as the families are not sharing their food with one another. According to Pri Ĥadash, the families may not join together in the same lighting. This opinion notwithstanding, it would seem that if they do join together in the same lighting, they fulfill their obligation, in accordance with Levush (see bhl 677:1, s.v. “imo”).

15. Hospital Patients

A patient in a hospital is still obligated to light Ĥanuka candles. However, if he is married, he fulfills his obligation through his spouse’s lighting at home. Likewise, if he is young and lives with his parents, he fulfills his obligation through his parents’ lighting at home. According to Ashkenazic custom, even though one has fulfilled his obligation through his family members’ lighting, if he wishes to beautify the mitzva he may light in his hospital room with the berakhot, as explained above (section 11). According to the custom of most Sephardim, he should not light candles (notes 19 and 22; above 12:3).

One who lights candles in a hospital should preferably light in his room, which is designated for him specifically. If he lights in the cafeteria, he fulfills his obligation, as it is considered his home to some degree while he is hospitalized.

A patient who is exempt from lighting because someone is lighting for them at home should still try to see Ĥanuka candles and hear the berakhot, because some maintain that even though someone is lighting for him at home, which allows him to fulfill the mitzva of lighting candles, nevertheless he has not fulfilled the mitzva of thanking God for the miracle (above 12:6 and n. 5). Therefore, he should find someone who is lighting with the berakhot (whether out of strict halakhic obligation or Ashkenazic custom) and listen to his berakhot with the intention of fulfilling the obligation to recite the berakha of She-asa Nisim. On the first night of Ĥanuka, he should have in mind to fulfill the obligation of She-heĥeyanu as well.

16. Fields and Vehicles

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.