Halacha for Monday 25 Kislev 5780 December 23 2019

Chanukah Candles in a High Building

Chanukah candles should preferably be placed in a place where they will be visible to the public in order for the miracle of Chanukah to be publicized through our lighting of the Chanukah candles.

It is for this reason that our Sages enacted that the Chanukah candles be lit next to the entrance to the house on the outside so that passerby can see these candles and the miracle will be thus be publicized. Nevertheless, the prevalent custom today is not to light the Chanukah candles outside; rather, they are lit on the window sill or somewhere else inside the house. However, if one has a private house with an entrance facing the street and there is no concern that anyone will try to vandalize the candles, one may certainly light outside the house next to the entrance (on the side opposite the Mezuzah) and fulfill the Mitzvah in this manner. (There are many details regarding the above law which we cannot delve into at present.)

An Apartment Building
Regarding an apartment building, some wish to light Chanukah candles on the outside of the entrance to their house in the stairwell of the building. Nevertheless, Hagaon Harav Ben Zion Abba Shaul zt”l (Ner Zion, Chapter 4, Section 10) rules that this should not be done since the stairwell is not considered a courtyard and only serves as a passage way for the neighbors to be able to enter their respective apartments. It is therefore preferable for such people to light on the window sill of a window facing the street.

A Very High Building
The Mitzvah to light Chanukah candles in the window of an apartment that faces the street is only when the window is no higher than twenty Amot (approximately thirty feet) from the street. One who lives above this height will not be fulfilling the Mitzvah of publicizing the miracle to the passerby on the street since people do not generally lift their heads up to look so high.

Thus, if one lives on such a high floor, one should light the candles somewhere else in the house and one will still fulfill the Mitzvah of publicizing the miracle since the members of the family will see the candles. On the other hand, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes (in his Chazon Ovadia-Chanukah, page 36) that if there is another high building across one’s own, one should light in the window since the neighbors in the adjacent building will be able to see the candles.

The Custom of Maran zt”l
When Maran zt”l lived on Jabotinsky Street in the Rachavia section of Jerusalem, he did not have a window facing the street and thus, he would merely light the Chanukah candles on his dining room table. He would therefore fulfill the Mitzvah of publicizing the miracle in front of his family. When he later moved to the Har Nof section of Jerusalem, he lit the Chanukah candles on a window sill facing the street as this is the preferable practice, as we have written.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Customary Order of Rosh Hashanah

It is customary to eat certain symbolic foods during the two nights of Rosh Hashanah which signify good fortune for the entire upcoming year. It is therefore customary to eat black-eyed peas, pumpkin, leek, spinach, dates, pomegranates, apples dipped in honey, and meat of a sheep’s head on the......

Read Halacha

Some Details Regarding the Prayers of the Days of Awe

Anyone who appreciates the loftiness of the Days of Awe customarily tries to recite all prayers of these days with much precision and care. There are many Machzorim on the market containing several versions for various texts, some which can be relied upon and others which cannot be relied upon at al......

Read Halacha

Lighting Candles on Rosh Hashanah and the Issue this Year

The Laws of Candle-Lighting on Rosh Hashanah On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we customarily light Yom Tov candles before the onset of Yom Tov similar to the way we light them on Erev Shabbat. If the candles were not lit before the onset of Yom Tov, a woman may even light the candles on Yom Tov i......

Read Halacha

Should One Cry on Rosh Hashanah?

Question: What is the proper way to behave during the prayers of Rosh Hashanah: Should one arouse himself to cry during the prayers in order for Hashem to pity us and grant us all of our requests or should one pray amid great joy? Answer: The Mitzvah to be Glad on Rosh Hashanah The Poskim deli......

Read Halacha


Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha

Preparing for the Day of Judgment

During the days preceding Rosh Hashanah, every single member of the Jewish nation must contemplate his/her actions and perform some sort of self-introspection in order to ascertain how one can improve one’s actions and Mitzvah observance so as to guarantee one’s self powerful defenders o......

Read Halacha

Motza’ei Yom Kippur

Adding From the Mundane Onto the Holiness One must add some of the mundane weekday onto the holiness of Yom Kippur upon its exit, i.e. one should not end this holy day immediately with nightfall; rather, one should wait another few minutes. Thus, it is prohibited to eat or perform work on Motza&rsq......

Read Halacha

Repenting for Speaking Lashon Hara and Rendering a Mistaken Halachic Ruling

Question: If I have spoken Lashon Hara (evil slander) about my friend, must I confront him and tell him what I have done in order to request his forgiveness? Also, what is the law regarding a rabbi who has ruled stringently on a matter when, in fact, there is actually room for leniency, must he ask ......

Read Halacha