Halacha for Tuesday 26 Kislev 5780 December 24 2019

Lighting Chanukah Candles at Chanukah Parties and in the Synagogue

The prevalent custom among the Jewish nation is that Chanukah candles are lit with a blessing in the synagogue in order to publicize the miracle of Chanukah. This is indeed an ancient custom quoted by many great Rishonim. The Sefer Ha’Michtam (Pesachim 101a) writes that the reason for lighting Chanukah candles in the synagogue is because the publicity of the miracle is great in the synagogue where there are many people present as well as because there several people who may not have Chanukah candles to light at home. This custom is quoted as Halacha by Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 671) and is the custom throughout the entire Jewish nation.

It is likewise customary to light Chanukah candles between Mincha and Arvit at the Western Wall (the “Kotel Ha’Ma’aravi”). Many times, the Torah luminaries of the generation are honored with lighting candles at the Western Wall in order to publicize the miracle even more. Indeed, Maran zt”l was invited several times to light the Chanukah candles at the Western Wall and although his time was very precious, he nevertheless felt it important to light the candles there in order to publicize the miracle of Chanukah.

Based on this, contemporary halachic authorities discuss the possibility of lighting Chanukah candles with a blessing at grand Chanukah parties held in halls and attended by many people where rabbis and Torah scholars are invited to speak words of Torah and strengthen the audience’s commitment to Mitzvah observance (as opposed to smaller, more family-oriented Chanukah parties where this question does not arise). The reason for doubt here is because some say that the custom to light Chanukah candles in a public forum is only in the synagogue which is somewhat similar to the Bet Hamikdash where the Chanukah miracle took place; however, one cannot light in places which are not a synagogue.

Indeed, Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l rules that one should not recite a blessing on lighting candles at such Chanukah parties, for even lighting Chanukah candles in the synagogue is not mentioned in the Gemara and is merely a custom observed from the times of the Geonim. Nevertheless, one cannot recite a blessing on public lightings outside of the synagogue.

On the other hand, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules that Chanukah candles may be lit along with a blessing in such places since the basis for the custom of lighting in the synagogue is because this causes a great publicity of the miracle and because there are those that will not be lighting at home (as quoted earlier from the Sefer Ha’Michtam). Thus, those who recite a blessing upon lighting Chanukah candles in such places certainly have on whom to rely. (Chazon Ovadia-Chanukah, page 47)

The great Rishon Le’Zion, Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a adds (in his Yalkut Yosef-Chanukah, page 224) that in such situations, it is preferable that the audience prays Arvit immediately following lighting the Chanukah candles. He writes that Maran zt”l implemented this as well.

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Holiday of Shavuot- Teachings of Kindness

The Torah introduces the momentous event of the giving of the Torah to the Jewish nation with the verse (Shemot 19), “On the third month from when the children of Israel left Egypt, on this day they arrived at the Sinai desert.” Our Sages in the Pesikta ask: Why is it that the Torah w......

Read Halacha

“Shover Oyevim U’Machnia Zedim” (The Twelfth Blessing of the Amida)

Question: In the Blessing regarding the heretics in the daily Amida prayer, how should one end the twelfth blessing: “Shover Oyevim U’Machnia Zedim” (He who smashes enemies and humbles the wicked) or “Shover Oyevim U’Machnia Minim” (He who smashes enemies and humb......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Fire on Yom Tov

In previous Halachot we have explained that Yom Tov and Shabbat are equal regarding all prohibitions besides for certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking, which are permitted on Yom Tov. Igniting a Flame One may not produce a new fire on Yom Tov, for instance by strik......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Cooking on Yom Tov

In the previous Halachot we have explained that although Shabbat and Yom Tov are equal in their prohibition to perform work on them and it is therefore a Torah prohibition to drive a car on Yom Tov, nevertheless, certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking and frying, are permitt......

Read Halacha


How One Should Conduct Himself in the Morning

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 5) states: “Yehuda ben Tema says: Be bold like a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and mighty as a lion to perform the will of your father in Heaven.” Let us now explain this Mishnah. The Tanna writes that one must be as “bold as a ......

Read Halacha

Deceit and Trickery

One may not deceive or trick others when it comes to monetary transactions. Monetary Deceit If one knows that one’s merchandise is flawed or faulty, one must reveal this to the buyer. For instance, if one wishes to sell his home and he knows that the ceiling is full of mold because of a bu......

Read Halacha

The Holiday of Shavuot- Coronavirus

The holiday of Shavuot will be celebrated, G-d willing, at the conclusion of the period of the counting of the Omer this coming Friday (beginning from Thursday night), the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel on Shabbat, the 7th of Sivan as well). Let us, therefore, begin to discuss some of the perti......

Read Halacha

Reciting Kaddish

Question: What is the significance of reciting Kaddish for a deceased individual? Answer: When an individual departs from this world, his surviving children must make a concerted effort to pray with a Minyan three times a day in order to be able to recite Kaddish for their father or mother. Simil......

Read Halacha