Halacha for Wednesday 23 Kislev 5781 December 9 2020

The Order for Lighting Shabbat and Chanukah Candles

There is a disagreement among the Rishonim as to the order of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles on Erev Shabbat Chanukah.

The Ba’al Halachot Gedolot (commonly referred to as “Behag”) is of the opinion that Chanukah candles must be lit before Shabbat candles because women customarily accept upon themselves the sanctity of Shabbat by lighting the Shabbat candles and were they to light Shabbat candles first, they would then be unable to light Chanukah candles thereafter. Clearly then, Chanukah candles must be lit first. This opinion is quoted by the Tur.

Although we have a rule that the more common of two Mitzvot must be performed first, for instance, in Kiddush of Friday night the “Ha’Gefen” blessing precedes the blessing of “Mekadesh Ha’Shabbat” because it is more common (as explained in the Gemara in Berachot 51b), so too, in our case, Shabbat candles are lit more often than Chanukah candles (which are lit only eight nights a year); would it not follow that Shabbat candles be lit first? Rather, according to this opinion, since it would not be possible to light Chanukah candles after Shabbat candles because lighting Shabbat candles constitutes an acceptance of Shabbat, the Chanukah candles must indeed be lit first.

On the other hand, the Ramban and the Rashba disagree with the Behag’s opinion and they maintain that lighting Shabbat candles in no way constitutes an acceptance of Shabbat, and since this woman, and everyone else for that matter, has in mind to light Chanukah candles after lighting the Shabbat candles, according to all opinions she has not yet accepted Shabbat. Thus, they rule that one should first light Shabbat candles and only then light Chanukah candles, based on the rule of performing the more frequent of two Mitzvot first.

Halachically speaking, the ruling on this matter follows Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch who writes that a woman’s lighting of Shabbat candles does not constitute an acceptance of the sanctity of Shabbat, especially if she has in mind to perform work afterwards, for instance, lighting Chanukah candles and the like, in which case she certainly has not yet accepted Shabbat. This applies all the more so regarding the husband of this woman, who is usually the one to light the Chanukah candles, in that he has not accepted Shabbat on the basis of his wife’s lighting of the Shabbat candles.  It would then seem that the Halacha should follow the ruling of the Ramban that Shabbat candles should indeed be lit first.

However, the Radbaz writes that even though we maintain that one does not accept Shabbat by lighting Shabbat candles, since there is a dispute amongst the Rishonim regarding this matter in addition to the fact that the Mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles is more beloved, it is therefore proper to light Chanukah candles first, even against the rule of the more common Mitzvah coming first. Similarly, Maran Ha’Bet Yosef writes that even according to the opinion of the Ramban and the Rashba that Shabbat candles should be lit before Chanukah candles, one may still light whichever one he chooses first.

Summary: On Erev Shabbat Chanukah, one should preferably light Chanukah candles and only then light Shabbat candles. However, if one accidentally lit Shabbat candles first, one may in fact light Chanukah candles afterwards, for according to the Sephardic custom, one does not accept Shabbat by lighting Shabbat candles. Even according to the Ashkenazi custom that one does in fact accept Shabbat by lighting Shabbat candles, nevertheless, a husband surely does not accept Shabbat through his wife’s Shabbat candle-lighting, as we have already mentioned, and he may still light Chanukah candles with a blessing.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Megillah Reading- Coronavirus

Every member of the Jewish nation is obligated to read the Megillah on the day of Purim. One must read it during the night and once again the next day, as the verse states, “My G-d, I call out to you during the day and you do not answer; during the night I have no rest.” This verse is wr......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Hearing Parashat Zachor- Coronavirus

“Remember What Amalek Has Done to You” On the Shabbat preceding Purim, which is this coming Shabbat, after the opening of the Ark immediately following Shacharit prayers, two Sifrei Torah are removed; in the first one, we read the weekly Parasha (which is Parashat Vayikra this year, 577......

Read Halacha

Caution Regarding Chametz Issues

Our Sages (Tosefta Pesachim, Chapter 3) taught: “We inquire about and expound the laws of Pesach from thirty days before Pesach.” Based on this, great rabbis throughout the generations have taken the opportunity to teach the laws of Pesach to the public between Purim and Pesach since eve......

Read Halacha

Matanot La’Evyonim- Coronavirus

In the previous Halacha we briefly discussed the Mitzvah of “Matanot La’Evyonim” on Purim day which is the distribution of two monetary gifts, one to each pauper. What Must One Give? In order to fulfill this Mitzvah, one need not give actual gifts; rather, it is permissible to ......

Read Halacha


The Days of Purim and the Laws of Mishloach Manot- 5781

The Days of Purim Purim will be celebrated in approximately two weeks from today. This year, we must discuss several unique laws, first of all, because Purim day (the 14th of Adar) falls out on a Friday. Second of all, in Jerusalem, a “three-day Purim” will be celebrated since the 15th ......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of the Purim Feast This Year (5781)

Holding the Purim Feast at Night The holiday of Purim is different than all other holidays we celebrate in that whereas regarding other holidays the Mitzvah of partaking of a joyous holiday meal applies during the day and night, regarding the holiday of Purim, there is only a Mitzvah to hold a feas......

Read Halacha

 A Joint Mishloach Manot by Husband and Wife

Question: On Purim I stay home and I do not give out my own Mishloach Manot. May I fulfill my obligation by sending a joint Mishloach Manot along with my husband? Answer: First, let us discuss the obligation of women with regards to Mishloach Manot. A Woman’s Obligation in Mishloach Mano......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Joy and Torah Learning on Purim Day

There is a Mitzvah eat heartily during the Purim Feast. One should preferably eat bread during this meal. The Rambam (Chapter 2 of Hilchot Megillah, Halacha 15) writes: “What is the extent of one’s obligation during this feast? One should eat meat and prepare a delicious meal to the b......

Read Halacha